Most people know what social media is, and even belong to many social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, to name just a few. But how can you use these sites to help your business? What exactly is social media marketing?
The term social media marketing, also known as SMM, can sometimes be misleading and confusing. Generally, the term means actively and aggressively advertising your small business on online venues. While you should be both active and aggressive in your SMM campaigns, the focus is not directly on selling your product or your service but instead on engaging your fans.
It’s about selling your brand and the concept and idea of your company. It’s about being a friend to people on Facebook, giving them tips and tricks; regularly tweeting helpful information and thanks to your followers; and uploading and sharing content around sites like YouTube, Digg, and Stumble. While you are promoting your business, you’re doing so in a casual way and starting conversations with the customer, rather than blasting advertising at them.
So what does your business have to benefit from just giving information and help away for free? It all translates into how many people visit your website, which in turn translates into sales and profit for your business. SMM is done 100% online, meaning that all advertising is done through marketing on the social media networks and is directly translated into visitors on your website. That being said, SSM can also work alongside and be integrated with conventional forms of advertising (such as encouraging people in your radio ad to visit your Facebook page.)
Social media marketing can build backlinks to your website that will help with every part of your search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, and it can bring in a large amount of traffic to your site. People who use social networks (which is just about everyone these days,) are now searching for people and venues online. For example, if you have a flooring company, people might find you after looking through different Facebook pages and groups for a company in their area.
3 Benefits of Social Media Marketing
In addition to adding to your SEO efforts and getting your name out there on the Internet, social media marketing also has many other benefits.
- Results. Will you get results? Yes. Will they be immediate? No. Social media marketing doesn’t deliver huge results overnight. It also takes more than great content to have an online presence, and using this kind of marketing is not something that’s easy to do. What it is, is the most effective form of advertising online and will bring you and your customers together – so they’ll come to you when they need you.
- Affordable. Compared to conventional methods of advertising, using social media marketing is by far one of the cheapest ways to promote your business, cutting your advertising budget drastically. However, you need to spend time on analyzing your return on investment and then target those social media channels that are producing the most results.
- The power of reviews. People are more likely to hire you or buy your product if someone they know recommends you on Facebook or another social media channel. Every time someone mentions on Facebook what a great time they had at your restaurant, or talks about how much they love the new stove they bought from your store, that’s one positive online review about you and your company – and that’s gold in today’s advertising world.
Social media marketing doesn’t encompass all, or even nearly all, types of online advertising. In fact, it’s just one small area of online advertising – but it is one of the most effective. People are becoming so used to pay-per-click ads and banner ads that they almost don’t even see them anymore. Social media marketing, though, is so direct, so interactive, and so unique that people can’t help but notice it – and then get involved in what you’re selling.
About the Author: A social media marketer and trainer in Sonoma County, Frances Caballo has 22 years of communications experience. She helps writers, businesses and nonprofits with their social media and public relations needs. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor and Board Vice President for Redwood Writers, the largest branch of the California Writers Club, and the Director of the Sonoma County Book Festival. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.