Social media is a group of internet-based applications that build interactions among people where they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.
Social media technologies take on many different forms that include magazines, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. They may be classified into six different types:
- collaborative projects (for example, Wikipedia)
- blogs and microblogs (for example, Twitter)
- content communities (for example, YouTube and DailyMotion),
- social networking sites (for example, Facebook)
- virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft)
- virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life)
Note, however, that these different types may sometimes be a combination of them. For example, Twitter is considered a combination of broadcasting service and social network, and thus better classified as a “social broadcasting technology”.
The Technologies used by social media may include: blogs, picture-sharing, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, and voice over IP and are integrated via social network aggregation platforms.
Managing social media
Like any other tool of marketing, social media can be made most effective by managing it efficiently. The following tips may be very useful in how to handle social media:
1. Clearly define your goal in using social media – The most common mistake people make is not defining their social media goals at the start. Decide which effective social media to use (refer to the six general classifications) based on your purpose. Ask questions why are you on Facebook, or Twitter, etc.? Will the social media you choose going to support your professional goals? Initially, forget about the Return-of-Investment. Define first what your idea of success will look like by using the social media you have chosen. Most companies do not know why they are using the social media they have chosen. Actually, there are only three reasons for using social media, namely:
- Increase brand awareness by growing your reach
- Build customer loyalty by increasing engagement and providing support
- Increase sales by getting more people to purchase, more frequently
By focusing which of the above reasons is your goal for using social media, you save a lot of wasted effort, cut down losses by spending more time, energy, and energy somewhere else.
2. Apportion and Divide Your Time for a Day – Do not spend longer than 20 minutes on social networks at one time. So instead of wasting hours on continuously checking in and going off a social media site every 5 minutes, break your day up and check-in and out of social media for 20 minutes, three times a day. You’ll be more active throughout the day, and each time you check-in you’ll have a purpose because you have no time to waste.
“If you don’t come up with a plan for managing social media, then it will manage you.”
3. Work “Top Down”, Not “Bottom Up” – There are two ways to build a large social network audience. One way is to start from the bottom and try to build your presence organically. You start by tweeting to an empty room, try to engage the few followers you have, and participate in Twitter chats. This strategy takes perseverance and hours of effort. But it’s pretty inefficient. Instead, work from the top-down. Start using content marketing to get featured on larger media sites. Reach out to other bloggers and try to run a promotion for their audience. Interview influential people in your niche.
4. If you feel too small, partner up with peers or other new comers. In online marketing, the biggest audience is not necessary, the right fit is all that is needed and you’ll be able to convert well. Another strategy that works well is to discover what the partner needs (that you can supply). Note that partners usually look for (1) exposure, (2) money, (3) expertise. If they’re lacking in one of those areas, try to supply it and have a better chance to succeed.
“If you want to grow a brand, then focus more on business development instead of community management.”
It is more effective eventually to build your brand (and traffic) first, and the social media audience will follow.
Suggested Social Media Marketing Tools
In Social Media Marketing, there are tools available to make the task of marketing more efficient and effective. Here are some social media marketing management tools, platforms and services to help manage and scale your online marketing efforts on the social web:
- Shoutlet – Manages social media marketing communications with one platform for building, engaging and measuring social media. Includes multiple account and platform support, social CRM and ecommerce for Facebook, email marketing and mobile features.
- Direct Message Lab – Provides consulting, implementation and a platform (REACH) for centralized management of social media promotions & contests, advertising and measurement.
- Objective Marketer – Offers social media marketing and analytics with integrated campaign management (Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, YouTube), multi-channel execution, engagement reports and user management.
- Wildfire Interactive – Platform for easy creation, implementation and management of branded interactive campaigns including: sweepstakes, contests and give-aways.
- StrongMail Social Studio – Comprehensive social media marketing platform with a referral marketing platform, social sharing tool and campaign management application.
- Sprout – Cloud-based visual authoring software used to build interactive Engage Ads and Engage Apps that deliver rich, interactive, and social content across the web and mobile devices.