The business of social media marketing
Social media is a tool for sharing and discussing information relating to your brand. To make best use of the fact that the world is now full of user generated content and conversations you need to be able to put your brand in front of an audience and be prepared to join in and respond to points made.
A good example of this is how companies use Twitter.
Twitter is getting a lot of press at the moment and has started to be used by companies both for PR and for areas like customer service and reputation management. If you have a Twitter profile and are open to listening to people talk about your brand then you also earn the right to tell them things about your brand as promotion or PR.
For example if you were holding an exhibition on ‘British watercolour artists’ it would be great to announce it on Twitter, then tweet the opening live and get feedback on your event.
e.g. “The toilets were too busy”
or “I couldn’t find how you got the audio tour”
These them become: a) opportunities to fix customer issues b) an opportunity to show you are a responsive brand and c) an opportunity to create sales from the huge quantity of traffic that Twitter can drive.
There are a number of options for tapping into social media, some of which could include:
- Creating a blog to announce new products, events and news. As is the case with most blog systems you are able to ping different news aggregators such as Technorati that will distribute your news and announcements to sites all over the internet. Using a blog will not only make your website more relevant to the search engines, which are notified of regular fresh content, but it will encourage external websites to publish your news or announcements and link back to your site. The result of such linkage is not only increased traffic: it builds your site’s credibility with the search engines leading to better search engine rankings.
- Social bookmarking. This is a method for internet users to store, organise, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages that interest them with the help of metadata. By adding bookmarking widgets to product or news pages you enable users to easily save or share your pages on their social networks. This again leads to increased traffic and linkage from what are nowadays seen as a very credible source by the search engines.
- Video sharing. By adding any video content to sites such as YouTube and Stumbleupon you can expose your brand and content to an external audience. This is a very effective way of building traffic and brand awareness at no cost.
- Social networking sites. Creating groups on sites such as Facebook, Bebo and Twitter allows you to communicate your news and events (similar to the blog) to members of your group and is a very effective traffic driver. Groups are one of the simplest ways to do viral marketing. Once members have joined your group, they can easily invite their friends to join the group via a built-in invite feature. If your members are excited about your group, it can grow really quickly. Groups are also discoverable through predefined categories that many users use to connect with their interests.
- Applications and games. While social networking sites offer groups and social ads for brand owners interested in building a presence in the social environment, applications and interactive content can go much deeper and offer experiences much more directly aligned with the values of the brand. With applications and games, brands can create more directly aligned and integrated brand experiences – both within the application itself AND in the “viral” messages that users send to their friends.
- Co-brands. This involves sponsoring Facebook groups, providing exclusive offers on selected sites, and launching Twitter competitions and giveaways.