What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is the use of public venues such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube to communicate with a client base less likely to be influenced by older forms of advertising. If done properly, social media marketing can be simple, cost-effective, and profitable, a win-win for businesses of all sizes. Let's take a closer look.

The goal of marketing in general is to communicate the message offered by one's business to potential customers. One of the simplest forms of marketing is the placement of a sign outside one's store, restaurant, or salon that reads "Open". However, there is a major problem with line-of-sight marketing. If the customer can't see you, they don't know you exist.

Now while you could hire a man in a small airplane to fly over the town and pull a banner behind him, it is much more effective to use means of communication that consumers use on a daily basis to share with each other. Most forms of marketing use media as the vessel for their messages. For example, ads placed in the newspaper, on the radio, and on the television all rely on the fact that potential customers will be drawn to the media outlet for content, and can possibly be drawn to purchase something totally unrelated to the content provided. Social media marketing is far different, though.

Since customers use it to connect with their friends and associates as well as to keep up with the latest news and trends, social media is more like a large public conversation than a media outlet. Therefore, potential customers are more likely to connect with companies involved in social media marketing simply because these same customers in masse are responsible for the content that makes up social media. There are two keys to effective social media marketing, and let's briefly look at those.

To best use social media as a marketing tool, you must develop a positive rapport with your customers as a friendly, personable organization. You must also mix your company into your conversations with these potential customers. An occasional sale here, an ad there, and a picture of some company function or product will remind your followers of what your business is and what it does. Social media is growing in popularity as a marketing form, and only time will tell if this public dialogue will turn into the web's best way to connect with customers.