What is Social Media?
Social media is a term that covers both social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, and Google Bookmarks. Social media marketing is the use of these types of sites to promote a business. It promotes a business by increasing a site’s visibility on the web, increasing awareness of the business among people of similar interests, provides free traffic, and gains backlinks to the business website.
Initially social media was viewed as a gimmick and not much more than an ego trip for people with too much spare time. The emergence of two hugely popular social media platforms in the form of Facebook and Twitter has been a game changer. The use of social media is now at the heart of all good online strategies.
How does social media benefit a business?
1. Brand Awareness, Identity, and Protection
Social media is a fact of life and increasingly, a part of everyday life for billions of people. A business needs to be where the customers are and create an awareness of its brand. Online is now the equivalent of the old idea of “footfall”. Not being a part of this is to ignore the reality that this method of doing business is very much here to stay. By being part of the online community and creating a “buzz,” businesses are able to place themselves at the center of all the activity.
Brand identity is a vital component of any business strategy. Having an active online presence through the use of social media is a highly effective and cheap method of promoting awareness of a brand. Using social media also allows a business to monitor and respond to positive, negative and even inaccurate mentions of a business online.
2. Niche Marketing
The assumption is often made that niche means small. It might often mean small in the offline world but due to the global nature of the Internet niche can often be massive. Conversing and forming relationships online with people of similar interests can be highly lucrative when done correctly. One of the great benefits in this area of social media marketing is the fact that because of the shared interests many visitors are already pre-sold.
3. Site Traffic Generation
Promoting and sharing a site using social media such as Facebook and Twitter can often mean substantial traffic to a site. Reports suggest that in excess of seventy percent of online referrals come via Facebook. Both Twitter and Facebook boast very high click through rates to content mentioned on their platforms.
4. Search Engine Results Pages
Increasingly the major search engines are displaying Facebook and Twitter pages of the relevant search term in their search engine results pages. A Facebook page that is properly search engine optimized is an excellent method of attracting free traffic to a business site.
Facebook and Twitter are the two main social media agents, but there are many more. Google+ is being heavily promoted by Google in a determined effort to get a slice of the lucrative pie that is social media. The use of Google+ and Google’s own domination of the search engine results pages will surely see Google+ become a major force in this area of online marketing. If a business develops trust and offers real value to its online contacts, it can greatly improve its bottom line.
A business needs to carefully promote itself online; it needs to offer real value. If a business “keeps it real” in its use of social media, the rewards can far exceed anything the offline world could offer. If a business is to survive in an increasingly competitive business environment, it simply has to have a prominent online presence. Engaging in social media marketing is at the core of securing a high profile on the Internet. Social media has taken the idea of networking to a far higher level.