What is social media marketing?
It could be advertising on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. It could be spreading your sales message across those same social networks. I like to think of it as communicating on social sites to engage your potential customers, build trust and connections and promote your values, brand and ideals. Those people who match you will naturally be more inclined to do business with you.
Using Social Media For Marketing
If you were to search the Google Webmaster forums for how important social media is to getting taken seriously by Google, you’d again find an impressive amount of advice. So the question is, why do so many small and medium businesses still shy away from engaging in social media?
At first sight it could be because the headlines are confusing, take this one for example
Which at first glance would seem to contradict the hype around social media, read on though and you’ll see the real picture emerging. This report indicates that the benefit to businesses from social media is in the ‘influence chain’ where many instances of the brand being noticed causes a consumer to trust the brand more.
It’s been known for many years that any sort of advertising or marketing needs for the most part to be repeated before consumers will buy. This means that before someone trusts you enough to make a purchase your name needs to seep into their subconscious.
Of course this is superseded by word of mouth from close family, friends and colleagues, because we tend to trust the judgement of the closest to us and so don’t need to trust the company. We trust the person making the recommendation not to refer us to a company or person they don’t trust.
This word of mouth marketing in the off line world is quite restricted, it only really occurs with those with whom we socialize the most. On line however it’s a vastly different story. We can and do socialize on line more regularly than we do off line. We can ‘chat’ with friends on Facebook on the way to and from work, while shopping and even while out in a restaurant or cinema.
On line, we can ask our ‘friends’ what they think about services, products and people and often get back immediate responses. This is where the ‘influence train’ can be seen working, you may see an ad on Facebook, you see it many times but you do nothing. Then one day you mention you’re think of buying whatever product that ad was for, you ask if anyone else has any experience with it.
Your friends reply and often you’ll go straight to the corporate website or to a review site to check further. You never click the ad but, seeing it time after time, influenced you to enquire further. Of course, if the company has a Facebook page and one of your friends ‘like’ the page, the influence now that you know someone who thinks this company or product ‘safe’ enough to like it. Even if you’ve never noticed the ad before, you probably will now because you’ve been made aware of it from a ‘trusted’ source.
You may decide to ‘like’ the page too, your friends will see this and you’ve now become someone else’s ‘trusted’ source. That’s influence at work on social media and only on one site. Image that effect multi[lied over several social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google + pages.
Social media, even if it doesn’t bring direct sales is still crucial to your marketing mix and you ignore it at your peril.