Social media marketing is an addition to personal, small business, corporate, and non-profit organizations’ integrated marketing communications plans. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "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." Integrated marketing communications is a multifaceted, orchestrated marketing and advertising practice organizations follow to connect with their target markets. Integrated marketing communications coordinates promotional elements: advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion. Increasingly, viral marketing campaigns are also grouped into integrated marketing communications. In the traditional marketing communications model, the content, frequency, timing, and medium of communications by the organization is in collaboration with an external agent, i.e. advertising agencies, marketing research firms and public relations firms. However, the growth of social media has impacted the way organizations communicate. With the emergence of Web 2.0, the internet provides a set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online.
Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. A corporate message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it is coming from a trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself.
Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internet access. Increased communication for organizations fosters brand awareness and often, improved customer service. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensive platform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns. With emergence of channels like Twitter, the barrier to entry in social media is greatly reduced.
How to effectively use Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. It lets you update your status and lets the whole world know what you are up to. There are millions of Twitter-addicts all over the world, and the number of active users has increased by 900% in the past year. Companies can also use it to promote themselves.On Twitter you will have people “following” you, and you will be “following” others. “Following” is being updated every time a new post is added to one of your contacts’ profiles. Being followed is the same; every time you have something to add, all your “followers” will be updated. The more people that follow you, the more exposure your business will get. But it’s not about adding as many people as you can to your friends list. You need to be smart about building your follower base.
The problem is that many companies that try to market using Twitter don’t understand how this community works, and consequently their Twitter Marketing efforts don’t pay off.
To help you avert this fate, the following steps will guide you in understanding what to do and what not to do to give your company huge exposure using Twitter.
Step 1: Import Your Contacts Twitter allows you to to import contacts from Gmail, Hotmail and your own address book. Do it.
Step 2: Make Sure that Your Profile is Complete Fill in all the fields (both required and optional) and include your website URL. You can also personalize your Twitter page to match your company’s branding.
Step 3: Understand the Dynamics of Twitter Twitter is a social tool, not a classifieds site. These are some tips that will help you to get followers:
Don’t spam others about your specials
Follow other users
Be active in the community (tweet and post comments about others’ tweets often)
Only post useful and relevant information
Don’t tweet every 5 minutes. It becomes annoying.
Engage in conversations. Retweet (reply to others’ tweets) often
Don’t promote your company directly. Do it the smart way. For example, if you sell widgets, write a buyer’s guide about the kind of widgets that you sell and tweet about that blog post. That is useful information. Avoid tweets like “Great Widgets On Sale – Starting at $9.99!”
Step 4: Build Your Followers Base There are many things that you can do to build your followers base:
Put a link to “Follow Me on Twitter” everywhere (your email signature, forums, website, and business cards)
Every time you post on your blog, invite people to follow you on Twitter
Search for Twitter users whose followers base you would love to have for yourself. See who is following them and follow those users. They will follow you back.
See who is following your friends and follow them.
There are Twitter directories that are great to find members who are likely to follow you. Examples include Just Tweet It and Twellow.
Use Twitter’s search feature to find profiles that interest you. Use Twitter’s RSS feed to be notified every time a tweet containing a certain keyword is made.
Step 5: Balance Your Followers/Following Ratio Try to have a balance between people you follow and people that follow you. If a lot of people follow you and you don’t follow them, they will stop following you. If you are following plenty of people but just a few are following you, you’ll be seen as a spammer trying to grow your follower base as quickly as possible.
These are some ideas to keep both numbers balanced:
Grow slow. Instead of adding 200 new friends all of a sudden, add maybe 50 and wait for them to follow you back. Then follow another 50.
Use tools like Friend or Follow. This tool lets you check who is following you whom you are not following. It also allows you to see who you are following who are not following you. This is the best way to balance your ratio in just a few minutes.
Avoid following others so they follow you, only to stop following them once they are on board following you. If you do this, you will be seen as a spammer.
Step 6: Make it Worthwhile to Follow You Tweet interesting stuff. Every time you are about to post something, ask yourself “Is this something I would be interested in?” If the answer is no, chances are that your followers will feel the same way.
Step 7: Learn from the Best Find users with several hundred followers and learn from them. See what they are doing right and get ideas from them.
Done right, Twitter Marketing can lead to positive exposure for your business. Companies have been known to make tens of thousands of dollars from customers that found them through a Twitter account. Depending on your business, Twitter could be one of the most successful weapons in your Internet Marketing arsenal.
Finding a good place to showcase your products, services and websites for free in the online world is a dream for everyone – Facebook has made this a reality. With half a billion Facebook users and thousands of online communities to choose from, Facebook has brought potential customers much closer to you.
It’s no big secret that Facebook can help you in online marketing. However, I know there are many of you who believe that just registering on Facebook is enough… it’s not. Your Facebook success story ends before it even begins!
There is much more to marketing on Facebook than just creating a profile. Keeping your fans engaged is the key. Don’t be a brand, but be a community they love being a part of. In this article, I’m going to tell you how you can use the medium of Facebook to increase your customer base as well as retain the ones you have!
CREATE YOUR PRESENCE ON FACEBOOK1. Facebook Profile:
By creating a profile for yourself or your business, you are establishing your identity. This will take you a long way in developing relationships with fellow users and in positioning your business. You profile lets you interact with people on a personal note, more so if it’s a local business. Here are some aspects of a profile page: Profile Picture: Always put your best foot forward, which means use the most flattering picture as your profile picture. No matter what they say, a book is judged by its cover. I came across M.A.C makeup’s profile and thought it was really catchy with the colors used on the face. Hundreds of indifferent people with little time to spare are going to decide whether to add you based on your picture. So, make sure you get this one right!
o Add Friends: After creating a profile, don’t wait for things to happen. Add new friends every day and the word will spread that you’re on Facebook. Before you know it, you’ll be starting your day by accepting friend requests! However, make sure you don’t add more than 25 – 30 people a day as excessive adding can get your profile removed from Facebook.
o Wall: This is your main platform to interact with Facebook users. Post messages on your wall and also comment on members’ activities, though, only when relevant. A cafe once commented on my status when it was something about food. And there! A personal connection was built in a second! I knew that I was going to visit this place more often. However, make sure you don’t spam people every other day or they may remove you from their friend list.
o Photo Albums and Videos: Photos and videos are a great way to showcase the latest collection of your product. I know many people who love to see what goes on behind the scene during a photo shoot or while a baker does his magic in the kitchen. Moreover, the first thing most Facebook users check are photo updates. So take that camera and start shooting!
2. Fan Pages: Facebook Pages, known as Fan Pages, are designed for businesses, brands, companies, products and celebrities. It enables public figures, organizations and other entities to create an authentic and public presence on Facebook. You can encourage users to become fans of your page and share information with them by uploading pictures, videos, status updates, hosting discussions and displaying wall posts. Unlike Facebook Profiles, Pages are visible to everyone on the internet and are generally better for long-term relationships with your fans, readers or customers.
3. Groups: Facebook Groups allow people to come together around a common cause or activity to express their views. One of the best features of groups is the ability to send messages directly to members’ Facebook inboxes. It’s a great way to form a community and help your brand image. Nowadays, it’s almost a necessity for movies to establish their presence on Facebook during its post-release period as Facebook users look for movies here. The good thing here is that you can send bulk invites to your friends, while it is manually done on Pages. Groups are generally better for hosting quick active discussions and attracting attention.
4. Events: Simply put, Facebook Events can help you connect with your target audience and invite them for your events, even if they aren’t on your friend list or one of your fans. Events can be created individually or even from Profiles, Pages. What I like is that Facebook gives you a choice between making the event Public and Private. Let me explain the difference. I got an invite from Alanis Morissette Unplugged Acoustic Performance for a show next month, though I’m not a ‘friend’ or a ‘fan’. This is an open invitation for a public event where anyone can access the page and RSVP to it. However, if you want to maintain an exclusive guest list, choose the ‘Private’ option and the event page won’t be visible to anyone except those you choose. If you’re planning a launch or celebrating a landmark event, the ‘Private’ option lets you selectively invite people and give details on a page that can’t be accessed by anyone else.
The Next Step: HOW TO USE FACEBOOK FOR ONLINE MARKETING
Social Media Marketing is still in its infancy. I consider this as an advantage because there are not many set rules, you can try & experiment with different methods & techniques. However, if you don’t want to experiment, here are some tried and tested methods that will ensure success:
5. Be Unique and Keep Updating: There’s nothing more boring than bland Facebook pages. Add lots of personality andfun to your profile. If possible, try to create applications just for your page. Offer something different so that they keep coming back, instead of letting them wait for updates from you. If you checkDell’s Facebook page, you’ll see that it keeps updating its status and gives new information on their products and about technology.
6. Use a Big Profile Picture: Who says size doesn’t matter? Using a big profile picture is one of the best ways to brand your Facebook page. Facebook allows images of up to 200pix wide x 600pix high to be used as profile images Pages. This way, you stand out in a crowd. Check out Bob Marley or Johnny Depp’s page on Facebook and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
7. Tag Fans in Photos: You can tag your fans in pictures of new collections, or even ask them to tag themselves as a part of a game or contest. Musician Lenny Kravitz uploaded pictures of his concert in Italy in 2009 and asked everyone to tag themselves. This gave him good publicity as the update on being tagged appeared on the fans’ walls.
8. Exclusive Landing Page for Users:Use different pages to target different sets of people. Take new users to a page that encourages them to ‘Like’ you or to a page they would find interesting enough to keep coming back. Members/fans can be directed to the wall or a game page that might interest them. Red Bull’s profile page is designed in a way that users are given a hint to ‘Like’ the page, while fans are taken directly to the Wall. You can get innovative in designing landing pages and targeting different people.
9. Reward Loyal Supporters: Encourage loyal supporters to join yourPage and reward them. Tabs or badges like ‘member of the month’ that can be placed on their profiles for visibility can be awarded to them. A happy customer on Facebook can get you lots of attention. Remind users to Like and Share information about you. When their friends see the updates on the News Feed, it’s highly likely for them to do the same.
10. Use Contests and Polls: Holding contests encourage fans to interact directly with you. Domino’s ‘Show Us Your Pizza’ is a contest where people can send pictures of Domino’s pizzas they’ve orders. The best picture will be chosen by Domino’s and the photographer gets a prize of $500 and a chance to get his picture featured in an ad. This has received a lot of attention from Facebook users.
11. Actively Participate Outside Your Page: Find other Facebook pages related to your industry or topic using Facebook Search & start actively commenting on their posts & updates. This is a great way to build relationships in your industry and even adds credibility to your business. If you’re willing to offer free advice on communities and discussions, it will encourage people to check your website out.
12. Integrate Facebook Social Plugins to Your Site: When I go to CNN’s website, I can see what stories my friends have ‘Liked’, or what movies my friends ‘Recommend’ on IMDB. The Like button on your site enables users to share pages from your site back to their Facebook profile and the Recommendation button gives users of your site personalized suggestions for pages that they like. There are many more buttons like LikeBox, Comments, Live Stream etc that you can add to your website. With this, you can see for yourself what your target likes and design your product/service accordingly.
You can also integrate Facebook Connect Plugin in your blog which will enable Facebook users to leave comments on your blog without registering. The comment they make will be put up on their wall instantly which will be visible to all their friends. So, you effectively get a lot of exposure without doing much!
13. Marketplace: With Facebook Marketplace, you can buy and sell anything using the listing service. The Marketplace application page displays all the most recent listings in your networks. The difference between normal listings and the Marketplace is that you don’t see another boring list of business, but they show up as the site’s own updates. For example, a sales listing would show up in news feeds as “John is selling Abstract Art.” In this case, John can be a ‘friend’ of your or even a friend’s friend. You can find out what people want, what they are offering and also how you are connected to these people on Facebook. This is what the page looks like:
14. Don’t Just Write for an Audience of Teenagers: It’s time we free ourselves of this misconception. Facebook isn’t filled with youngsters. Though Facebook has many youngsters who belong to the age group 16 to 25, we see an increase in the number of people from other age groups who use Facebook regularly. According to Pingdom, 61% of Facebook users are over 35 years old. In fact, the 26 – 34 age group rivals the 18 – 25 age group in both the US and the UK. So, make sure communicate to your target the right way.