Marketing 101: Marketing And Social Media
Social media has become a buzzword today, not just for personal users but also in the business world. As a matter of fact, it seems to be gaining a lot more ground in the business world as its popularity increases and the number of users of social media explodes. One of the best definitions for the term social media was give by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein who defined it thus – “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content“. Examples of the popular social media available today include social networks, wikis, blogs as well as online communities. Amongst these examples exists specific tools or resources which include Youtube.com, orkut.com, linkedin.com, xing.com, facebook.com, twitter.com amongst many others. Social media marketing which has become so powerful today simply refers to the use of these tools for promotional purposes. These purposes could be for marketing, sales, customer service and feedback, Public Relations and even prospecting.
Obviously, for social media to be increasing popular with marketing executives of blue-chip companies today, there has be some advantages it has over traditional media. Some of these advantages include;
a. Ease of Use: In order to operate traditional media, there has to some form of training, usually specialized for example in print and electronic productions. Social media has a low skill entry factor which makes it easy for anyone to operate and production per se is not a deterring issue.
b. Regularity: The frequency or production involved in traditional media could extend as much as days and in many cases, more. However, social media is almost spontaneous. Often, it takes just a short while to get news out.
c. Changeability: The inability to edit what has gone into print or input additional information is a drawback which attends the traditional media but absent in social media where input can be altered by editing.
The most important thing about the social media with regards to marketing is not just the opportunity it affords companies to sell their goods/services to a wider audience but more importantly the opportunity to initiate and listen to discussions between their target audience and their brands. Social marketing is actually more about the interaction between people and brands. This is made easier by the features which many social networks possess such as the ability to create groups and pages. Networks such as Linkedin, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter have allowed many of such groups to be formed and have a following thus providing a platform for interaction.
The conversations generated by various brands on these social media are unique in the sense that it is one-dimensional. It is not controlled by the brands but by the users themselves. One of the outstanding examples in recent times includes the discussions generated by the Barack Obama during the build-up to the last presidential elections. He garnered more than 170, 000 followers and created an astronomical amount of buzz within that period.