Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master's degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management.
What Is Social Media?
Have you ever lost touch with a business acquaintance? Do you want to know what others think about your customer service? When you are hiring employees, would you like to increase the labor pool you are recruiting from? If you answered yes to any of these, you need to know about social media.
Social media refers to a group of online channels where communities exist to share content, such as ideas, information, entertainment, and even life's moments. These channels may focus on personal, professional, or business networking. You can follow, friend, link, share, promote, join, discuss, tweet, retweet, favorite, and more. Social media is all in the name of interactive communication.
Users and developers started using the internet differently in the mid 2000's when something called web 2.0 was developed, and social media was the beginning of these changes. There are several types of social media, including wikis, bookmarks, and networking. We will focus on networking channels, which include Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Let's first look at why these channels are important in marketing and business.
Social Media in Marketing and Business
So why is social media important in marketing and business? First and foremost, social media channels are important because they can increase profits. How they do that depends on how they are used to market the company. With the surge of mobile devices and access to the internet, it's almost impossible to have a business that isn't on the internet. And, if you are on the internet, the best way to communicate with consumers is through social media channels. They give a business the following things:
- 24-hour access to consumers: Businesses can communicate with, get feedback from, address complaints, and build a trusting community with the public.
- Advertising opportunity: Social media offers low-cost ways to distribute coupons and other deals, market products and services, and distribute blogs and multimedia.
- Ways to build business relationships: Online you can discuss partnerships and projects, building your community even more.
You need a marketing plan for your social networks. Your first step is to determine your budget and priorities. If you are just starting out, you will want to put most of your investment into getting Twitter and Facebook accounts established. They are the most popular. Each social network offers different advantages when marketing. Let's look at a few examples of what might work for different situations.
Examples of Social Media Marketing
Let's say that you work for a marketing firm and one of your clients is a jewelry company called Gemz. This is the first time Gemz is venturing into social media. What options do you have? Let's start with Twitter.
Twitter gives us 280 characters per tweet to build a brand. It's a fast-paced place to share quick morsels of information, and it is a good place for Gemz to start.
For example, you want to take your time setting up the Gemz Twitter account. The Gemz history and mission should be in the Twitter background, the Gemz logo should be the thumbnail, and @GemzJewelry should be the Twitter name. This will make it easy to recognize Gemz. Quickly grabbing the attention of Gemz followers is where you want to concentrate your marketing efforts.
Facebook is a community where you can 'like' friends and follow companies. You want to create unique content for a Facebook account, but don't be afraid to use it to share information from your other social media channels and website. For those who choose to follow Gemz on Facebook, posts from the company will show in their newsfeed.
It would be wise for Gemz to use its Facebook account to share posts that are more in-depth than Twitter will allow. For example, videos showing how to properly clean jewelry and pictures of new lines of jewelry can grab attention. Commenting on posts and always responding to comments will help Gemz grow its following.
Google also has products they can use. Google Ads will let Gemz bid to display short advertisements or videos to web users. It is pay-per-click but can drastically increase the number of viewers. Using keywords in Gemz own publications and advertising will also build up their SEO score so that Gemz website will show up on the google search page when customers enter the words.
LinkedIn is a social network designed for making professional linkages and creating business relationships. This is a good opportunity for Gemz to highlight unique services, link to its partners, and recruit future employees.
For example, Gemz could use LinkedIn Showcase Pages to accentuate its jewelry cleaning and design branches. These pages are linked to the company page and are designed to feature niche services.
Pinterest is a social network that Gemz can use to create and organize virtual pinboards that include interesting pins. These pins are then shared with other Pinterest users. Most users look for images that are different and useful. Pinterest is a great opportunity for a jewelry company.
Let's say Gemz is interested in selling a line of holiday jewelry. Having pinboards that showcase this jewelry are great. But, showing how to blend jewelry for the holidays would start a conversation, and this is what Gemz wants. Focusing on what makes Gemz unique will entice users to visit the Gemz store and see the holiday jewelry in person.
All of these channels offer the opportunity for user generated content. Letting customers showoff how they use your products for example, or the great holiday jewlery is the ultimate in customer involvement, especially when other users begin to comment.
Although we have the opportunity to use other social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are the most popular and powerful. These are where you want to get started. Each offers something different to a company like Gemz that is just beginning.
Twitter and Facebook are musts for any company. You can even link them if you are short on personnel to maintain them separately. Pinterests offer other ways to communicate with customers and create business relationships. Together, these will give you the tools you need to implement an effective social media marketing plan.
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