Why Social Media Matters to Marketers

Why is all this important to marketers? As with most things, it’s all in the numbers but also the connections. Numbers first. More than a half-million users today are connecting with one another via social media. 

That’s a huge potential customer base to tap into, and I’m not just talking about bleeding-edge technophobes; you’ll find just about anyone online, from preteens to senior citizens, students to retirees, blue collar workers to high-level executives. It’s truly a universal media.

As an example of the universality of social media, consider the demographics of Facebook, the leading social network site. Now, you might think that all Facebook users are teenagers giggling with their pals, but you’d be way off base. While youngsters do represent a strong component of Facebook’s user base, a full 41% of users are age 35 or more; 64% are 26 or older. These are real adults with real spending power, well worth your attention.

Indeed, social media is becoming so mainstream that it’s likely you’ll find many of your existing customers already there, ready to hook up with you when you make the plunge. In fact, they may already be talking about you online. Social media is all about conversations between people, and people talk about a lot of different things. Even if you aren't listening, your customers may be talking about you on Facebook or Twitter or Digg. These conversations go on with or without your active participation; can you afford not to join in?

Speaking of what you can or can’t afford to do, there’s the matter of cost. Do it right, and social media can deliver a large number of highly targeted customers at a relatively low cost. It’s one of the more efficient marketing vehicles available to you.

As you know, traditional advertising is expensive; building word of mouth through social media, less so. To that end, if you can build a large friends or fans list on Facebook, get bookmarked on Digg, or become the subject of a popular tweet on Twitter, you can see a significant spike in website traffic as well as a lasting long-term increase in your customer base. Social networks have a lot of users, and getting in front of them can make or break a company’s traffic goals.

I like the notion that social media is a great equalizer. Given that it doesn't cost big bucks to participate, little guys can play right alongside big marketers.

In reality, little guys can actually outsmart the big guys in social media, just by being more attentive and active. It’s all a matter of how you play the game.

Then there’s the benefit you get from getting mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, or one of the social bookmarking sites. Each link or bookmark you receive creates a new link back to your website. Links are good in and of themselves, of course, but these inbound links also increase your site’s ranking in the search results of Google and other major search engines. 

That’s because, if you recall, search ranking is at least partly dependent on the number of inbound links a site receives. The more you’re “dugg” or tweeted about, the higher your site will rank with Google and its competitors.

Another upside to participating in social media is that links coming from these sites are organic. Individual users make the decision to create these links; they’re not being paid or otherwise induced to do so. To the business’ benefit, search engines view these organic links as high-quality links and reward the site with higher search rankings.

Quantity is nice, but so is quality. It’s important to remember that social media marketing is a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Online or off, a strong word-of-mouth campaign trumps any form of paid advertising or promotion. It’s quality attention, which results in quality traffic to your company’s website.

Finally, we come to connections those social connections you establish between your company and your customers. Social media provide a unique opportunity to conduct ongoing conversations with your most loyal customers, which not only helps to cement customer ties, but also provides valuable feedback about your company and products. 

When you get your customers involved with social media, they become more invested in your company; they feel like they’re part of your team, participating in the day-today workings of your company and products. There’s nothing better than that.

The fact that all these benefits can accrue with minimal financial investment is the final plus for social media marketing. You don’t have to buy expensive advertisements, you don’t have to spend a lot of big bucks; all you have to invest is your time. Spend the time participating in social media and you’ll find you have a new and interactive Internet presence, one that can potentially reward you with large numbers of new and highly devoted customers.

see also :

Social Marketing Success Secrets
Social Media Marketing
Integrating social media marketing
What Is Social-Media Optimization?
Social Marketing in Asia Pacific

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