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Social Media Marketing

Social Media marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses utilizing various social networking sites to communicate directly with end-users. It's greatest strength is that it allows for two-way dialogue never previously achieved between big business and consumers. Other notable advantages of social media are that it allows for immediacy of information and news to be disseminated, and it's free, genuine, honest feedback straight from the horse's mouth. Your fan page is a place for customers to influence other customers and share opinions about your brand and products. The more you join the converation, open channels of communication and are accessible, the the more positive an impact you can make on the audience and industry.

To a newcomer, it may seem like a waste of time because how much can facebook really influence the bottom line? My answer to that is "you only get what you give." Social media is a great tool for brand awareness, but you have to put some personality and genuineness into it. Your audience will see right through you if you're just using it as another sales channel. Be vulnerable. Be you. Tell them what you would want to hear as a consumer.

Finding the Right Mix

With so many networking sites out there, how do you know which ones are right for you to have a presence on and how much time to dedicate to each? That requires an analysis of your industry, the kind of personalities your customers have, and what they're primarily using the internet for. This can be a unique combination of blogs, community forums, chat rooms, wikis, RSS feeds, social bookmarking sites like Digg and Technocrati, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Youtube, Podcasting, Virtual Worlds like Second Life, and future web 2.0 initiatives like apps and smartphone tools. While that list may seem exhaustive and repetitive, each is a tool that can be leveraged for a different purpose. Don't blindly guess where your customers are, do some research or ask an expert.

The Benefits of Social Media


1.  Create Lasting Relationships- Social media creates "stickier" relationships with potential customers than traditional advertising. With print ads and tv, you'll reach a lot of people, but the vast majority of them won't remember what you're selling few hours or even minutes later. In contrast, if you can get someone to join your Facebook group, pass on your viral video, vote for their friend's entry in a contest, it creates a level of engagement that's much more valuable than a fleeting ad impression.

2. Two-Way Communication- It's far better to have your own voice exposing people to the message you want them to hear rather than others creating their own messages about you. To not use social media gives anyone a platform to discuss your brand positively or negatively, with correct or incorrect information. The biggest potential fear or trepidation companies have with social media networking is the potential for bad PR, but if there is no message from your company out there, people are free to come to their own conclusions. By participating in the conversation, a company can disseminate their own information and rebuttals to questions and/or concerns about your product and services.

3. Gain Market Information- Social media allows a company to get a better understanding of its customers, especially what the public is interested in. A social site can be considered a form of market research. Though there may not be any actual marketing going on, the site allows consumers to express themselves in ways they haven't been able to before as an open forum for the brand.

Twitta-What?

Keep hearing that mysterious Twitter word and feel like you should be doing it, but don't know a tweet from a twit? Every business should have a Twitter account as it is a great place to share news, get direct feedback from your customers, and network within your industry. With a customized page background that shows your personality, the right influential group of followers that will draw others to your page, and writing posts that contribute to the community's knowledge (not just what you're eatiing dinner), anyone can be taught to succeed in the twittersphere. The goal is to establish yourself as a respected thought-leader and a genuine brand rather than just another manufacturer.

In a span of 2 weeks, I took the SANYO account from a score of 0 to 95/100 on twitter grader, a service which calculates your rank based on the power, reach and authority. On my personal account, I have been ranked a twitter elite member in Chicago.

 

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