Social media marketing (SMM)
Social media marketingis a recent component of organizations'integrated marketing communicationsplans. Integrated marketing communications is a principle organizations follow to connect with their targeted markets. Integrated marketing communications coordinates the elements of the promotional mix—advertising,personal selling,public reations,publicity,direct marketing, andsales promotion—to produce a customer focused message.In the traditional marketing communications model, the content, frequency, timing, and medium of communications by the organization is in collaboration with an external agent, i.e. advertising agencies, marketing research firms, and public relations firms.However, the growth ofsocial mediahas impacted the way organizations communicate with their customers. In the emergence of Web 2.0, the internet provides a set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online.
Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention, generates online conversations, and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. The message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it is coming from a trusted source, as opposed to the brand or company itself.
Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internet access, opening doors for organizations to increase their brand awareness and facilitate conversations with the customer. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensive platform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns. Organizations can receive direct feedback from their customers and targeted markets.
Social media marketing benefits organizations and individuals by providing an additional channel for customer support, a means to gain customer and competitive insight, and a method of managing their reputation online. Key factors that ensure its success are its relevance to the customer, the value it provides them with and the strength of the foundation on which it is built. A strong foundation serves as a stand or platform in which the organization can centralize its information and direct customers on its recent developments via other social media channels, such as article and press release publications.
Themost popular platformsinclude:
The goal of a strong foundation is to create a platform that engages and empowers its customers with the opportunity to communicate with the organization. This platform is important because it also allows the organization to measure and monitor the effects of their organization on their customers. All platforms are tailored to each organization’s endeavors, taking into account factors such as the biggest opportunities and challenges brought on by the platform, the primary demographic being targeted, and metrics used to assess the information gained from its customers. Tools offered by certain platforms are more applicable than others in achieving goals set by their customer. Examples of such tools and customers are as follows:
- Likes, wall posts, and fan size on the Facebook page of an organization
- Tweets & blog posts to announce new releases
- Rating and ranking videos, as performed by YouTube
- Music posts as performed on MySpace
How organizations use social media
In order for organizations to most effectively use social media for marketing, they must recognize and embrace that the emerging platforms are additional resources to complement and expand their entire marketing arsenals rather than replacements for existing marketing initiatives. Among the goals for which social media can be used are:
- Customer service, e.g. direct response to customer complaints
- Broadcasting updates, announcements, news, e.g. additional PR resource
- Behind the scenes look at the organization
Organizations need to define their goals for social media in order to be successful. Goals may vary among platforms. For example, Facebook may be used for customer service and broadcasting updates while Twitter may be used for promotions. YouTube could give the behind the scenes look at the organization. The success factor may depend upon the goals: a certain number of new customers as a result of a promotion may be one goal; another may be responding to all customer complaints within a specified window of time in a customer service situation.
Because social media is emerging at a rapid pace (and is still quite recent overall), organizations often establish a presence organically rather than strategically.In most cases, this evolution is appropriate to a point at which the organization needs to develop a strategy for its social media use and integration into the overall marketing strategy.
Social media has been adopted by a critical mass of the population which means it is important for organizations to have a social media presence.Generally, some official presence is better than none, even if a specific strategy has not been defined. With or without strategy and policy—just like with other marketing initiatives—social media efforts can succeed or fail.
Most organizations have personnel for their marketing efforts. Public relations, advertising, web & print communications are areas to which personnel and resources are devoted. Though social media is a young area in marketing strategies, the most successful organizations have devoted personnel to coordinate and aid the use of social media. These individuals should use the tools that are currently popular but have the flexibility to experiment with new and emerging tools as they appear and evolve.
Some organizations actively use social media in their marketing plan to keep the brand fresh in customers' and non-customers' minds. Linking with an organization on a social media site allows the organization to stay connected with individuals who may or may not be customers instead of relying on them to initiate a contact only when they are looking for additional information.
Social media is an enormous advertising platform. Organizations are able to target individuals based upon specific interests shared on social media. For example, if an individual watches a YouTube video about jogging, a shoe company can serve an ad, or a coffee company can target ads to individuals who post on social media sites that they are tired. Social media has allowed advertisers to refine ad nets extremely narrowly.
Some organizations did more harm than good when implementing social media marketing initiatives; others were very successful in the new media forum. The key to their successes was to leave the corporate attitude at the door. In social media marketing, customers are looking for authenticity and a trusted rapport with the organizations with which they are building relationships.
Dell Computerhas a strong blogging presence with itsDirect2Dellforum. Not only is this a chance for bloggers to learn about new products but it has also helped improve the organizations reputation. The amount of negative blogs dropped from 49% to 22% since the start of the site.Dell was able to connect with the customers and immediate address their concerns, comments, and questions through the blog. Dell also made its presence felt on micro-blogging site Twitter through its @DellOutlet account and earned around $3 million sales from Twitter by offering exclusive discounts to its followers.
Targethas been successful onFacebookby getting real" with customers and exposing products which resonate with the customers. Target took time to understand the medium and how to use it to benefit connecting with the customer. They embraced the learning curve and did especially well by allowing customers to help shape the group.
Starbuckscan be found onFacebook,YouTube,Flickr,Twitter, and on their own blogging siteMy Starbucks Idea. Starbucks is considered to have one of the best social media strategies. The focus is geared toward the needs, wants and likes of existing companies and building that relationship to help gain new customers.
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