What Is Social Media Marketing?

An intro to the concept of social media marketing

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"Social media" and "marketing" have totally different definitions of their own. But what do you get when you put them together?

The Definition of Social Media Marketing

In general, social media marketing is the process of marketing through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. By utilizing the social aspect of the web, social media marketing is able to connect and interact on a much more personalized and dynamic level than through traditional marketing.

A social media marketing strategy can be as simple as having a company blog, a Twitter account, or including social share buttons at the end of articles. It can also be as complicated as having a full campaign that encompasses producing viral videos through YouTube, using paid Facebook advertising and launching contests on Instagram.

Social Media Marketing and Social News

The simplest form of social media marketing is to tag articles and blog entries for easy submission and voting on social news sites like Reddit. If you've ever come across a Share This widget at the end of an article, you've seen this form of social media marketing in action.

This type of marketing can often be automated, so it is simple to implement. It can also be very effective for media companies and can be a great way to promote a company blog.

Social Media Marketing and Blogs

In many respects, blogs can serve as an extension of traditional media. Just like review copies of products might be sent to traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines, they can also be sent to popular blogs on the subject.

Blogs also offer the opportunity to put together "virtual tours." For example, many authors have gravitated towards having virtual book tours, which allows them to reach their fans without the travel expenses. These virtual book tours can include author interviews and Q&A sessions as well as book reviews and book giveaways.

Social Media Marketing and Social Networks

It has become increasingly important to have a presence on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even MySpace. In addition to these popular social networks, there are also many specialized social networks that might be the perfect place to set up camp for specific products.

For example, a musician might set up a profile on Spotify as well as Last.fm, while a movie might be best promoted through Flixster in addition to Facebook.

Social networks not only give the marketer a place to get the word out, they also provide a place to interact with customers and allow customers to interact with each other. This can be a great starting point for the marketing to go viral and pick up a grassroots effort.

Twitter As a Social Media Marketing Platform

Twitter has picked up a lot of steam in recent years for being a great place for social media marketing.

While Twitter has grown far beyond its microblogging roots, it is important to think of Twitter similar to a company blog. While the primary purpose is to get the word out about something, it is just as important to add a personal touch rather than relying on RSS feeds to deliver stale press releases or simply repeat the company blog.

In addition to growing a number of followers and getting messages retweeted so that they reach even more people, Twitter can be particularly effective when interacting with customers and fans.

YouTube As a Social Media Marketing Platform

Some of the most effective social media marketing strategies center around YouTube and the viral video. While often more time-consuming and expensive, YouTube can easily become the center piece of a larger social media campaign.

Because of its social nature, YouTube can be a great way to interact with customers and get them involved with the marketing as well as the product. An excellent example of social media marketing on YouTube that was done well was Microsoft's response to the "I'm a Mac" commercials.

Rather than face Apple head on through commercials, Microsoft engaged in a viral "I'm a PC" marketing campaign that centered around customers uploading their own "I'm a PC" video responses. This type of customer interaction is at the core of what social media marketing is all about and is the cornerstone for building an effective strategy.

The more you interact with the customer, the more brand loyalty you build.

Article updated by: Elise Moreau