Social media marketing is all the buzz in the world of online marketing these days. From Facebook’s not so fabulous IPO’s failure to launch making news headlines, to Tweets from the campaign trail, to every embarrassing moment of your life displayed on YouTube, social media has seemingly inundated Western society. Online marketers are capitalizing on social media’s reach and popularity to make it a part of their selling strategies. Ignoring social media marketing is akin to sales suicide these days. So, for the uninitiated, or the overwhelmingly confused, here’s an introduction to the neighborhood that is social media marketing.
Social media is any platform that allows for interaction between the users. It includes the really familiar, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest. It also includes lesser known platforms like Reddit, LinkedIn and FourSquare. And then there are the blogs. Yes, believe it or not, blogs are considered social media. Why? Because of the opportunity of the author of the posts to interact with the readers through the comments section. What you are doing right now is engaging in social media, whether you realize it or not. It’s this interaction, this dialogue with the reader that makes social media a perfect platform for marketing endeavors. Where else can you have a first-hand discussion wiAnth your customers anytime, day or night? Where else can you answer questions, take advice, seek advice or simply get to know consumers from all over the world in one place? It’s a marketer’s gold mine, but it can also be a field of land mines, as we’ll soon discuss.
Social media marketing is all about the “social” and less about the marketing. A conversation on Reddit or a funny story shared on your blog are not the time and place to try to sell anyone anything. It’s all right to leave gentle reminders of what it is you’re actually doing – selling something – but coming right out and selling via a social media channel is a big no-no. Your customers frequent your social sites for one of three reasons: they want to get to know you, they already know you, or they want what you have to offer them (and I don’t mean your product or service.) Proper use of social media platforms is to engage in a relationship with your target audience. They’ll feel more comfortable buying from you when they know the history behind your company, or the history of your product. They’ll stick with you because you offer great giveaways on your blog, or share corny jokes on Twitter, or disseminate great info through your Facebook page’s links to others’ blogs and sites. They’ll leave in droves if all you do is sell, sell, sell. Or worse yet, they’ll simply not show up at all.
You have to be careful with social media, too. Your business probably isn’t right for every platform out there. And even if it is, unless you have someone dedicated to nothing but social media marketing and account management, you’ll end up with too much on your hands. We’ll discuss how to choose platforms in another session of Newbie U, but for now, let’s just say a good rule of thumb is no more than 2 platforms for the beginner. You can manage a blog and Facebook, or Twitter and YouTube. But more than that, and you’ll likely find yourself overwhelmed.
Social media marketing isn’t rocket science, unless you are a rocket scientist selling rocket science stuff. If you avoid the pitfalls of trying too hard to sell, and spreading yourself too thin, you’ll be sitting on a gold mine of potential buyers. Leave the land mines to the military and take a walk on the sunny side of the (social) street.