What is Social Media Marketing?

I like to understand how things work before I attempt to master their use. And social media is mighty big thing to understand. But at a basic level, social media and marketing with social media is good ‘ole fashioned networking from the comfort of your digital domain.

There was a day when this happened mostly at conferences, seminars, golf courses, bars and business luncheons. Rather than working the literal room handing out business cards, samples and coupons, we now post our brand’s quips, opinions and one liners in hopes of influencing or luring a much larger audience. It’s obviously much easier to connect with a lot more people online, since the simple act of a “like”, “share” or view can bring exponential exposure. Of course there is more to it than just showing up.

The results are similar to real-world social dynamics. If you’re a bore, and you have nothing relevant to say, chances are you’ll go away empty handed. If you’re interesting, charismatic and have helpful information, you could leave with a some interested leads. But you’ll still have to close the deal like always. No one is going to just hand you their business, their money or their loyalty.

Taking advantage of social media can be low cost and much of it is free. You can post as often as you like, to as many platforms as you like. You will invest time, or pay for the expertise you may need. If you can’t find an audience, you can pay for targeted campaigns. And results will vary with the budget, amount of focus and strategic planning you also invest. But simply talking about yourself, your products and services, or your accomplishments won’t make the most of this investment.

Social media is still the same as any other media when it comes to marketing and PR – you have to know your target. You have to know what they want, where they gather, and you have to provide information that they find useful. You must be helpful as much as being persuasive or entertaining. For your biggest fans, you must deliver recurring engagement that they truly value. So you must clearly understand what they most value.

Should businesses participate in social media marketing? Of course. Should they create a strategy and implement it in order to capitalize? Few do. We’re all learning and the key is to define a solid strategy before you start.

There’s always a new game and there are no clear rules!!

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