Online Marketing 101: Social Media
As discussed in an earlier post, I am going to be taking a step back from some of my previous posts and start focusing on some basic and foundation articles surrounding online marketing. I am going to be calling these posts, Online Marketing 101. I am hoping that these posts will provide some needed insight to people who may not have the experience that others do in this field and hopefully provide them with some useful information.
I am going to start this experiment by discussing Social Media.
Topic: Social Media
Definition: In simplest terms, social media is when conversations take place online.
Where: These conversations can be taking place all over. This includes the following:
- Dynamic web sites – Amazon.com – Customers can comment and rate a product they have purchased, but other users then can rate the commenter on whether their comment was helpful or not.
- Blogs – Marketinghipster.com – I post an article in which I give my opinion. Users can and are encouraged to comment on what I wrote and express their own opinions and thoughts. I can then choose to follow up their comments with a comment of my own as well even post a new article based on feedback from my readers. Finally, users who read my post can go back to their own blog and post an article discussing my post and their specific thoughts on it.
- Discussion boards/Chat rooms – There are so many of these types of web sites where people can chat in real time or post comments and wait for follow up posts. A couple of examples include Ebay. They have discussion boards for anything and everything in regard to Ebay that both sellers and buyers can discuss anything under the sun. Yahoo Message Boards are pretty much a one stop shop for anything that people have interests in and want to discuss. They run the gamut from discussing finances and stocks to chat rooms for finding love.
- Social Networks – When I log into my Facebook account, I can see everything that my friends have done within Facebook. Whether that is joining a new group, uploading pictures or videos, recommending a movie or a book or just what they are presently up to. I can then follow up with them via email. Other social networks like MySpace have their own blog where users can write about anything they like and choose who gets to see what they have written and who does not.
How does this pertain to marketing & advertising?
For a very long time advertising, marketing and PR has been a one to many proposition. A company or organization wants to promote something, so they hire a marketer to try to get the word out to as many people within their target market as possible. One to many.
Social media is changing that dynamic. Social media focuses on a one to one model. Marketers now need to focus their marketing to an individual and if done correctly that individual will communicate that message to another and then the other person will pass that on to yet another and on and on it goes. This is not anything different than in years past other than that the internet has created a perfect platform for these one to one messages to be passed and spread at incredible speeds.
Why is this important?
We have seen in a multitude of studies done recently that consumers do not trust advertising. And more importantly, technology is enabling and empowering users to take control of who and what markets to them. The standard ways of marketing and advertising that has worked for years just is not working anymore, but our clients are still looking for us the marketers to communicate their message effectively as well as deliver them a return on their investment. Social media is one area that if done correctly can do just that.
How do we start?
The best way to begin is to better understand where your target market congregates online and what they are talking about. Begin by doing the following:
Develop a set of keywords that are most relevant to your client. They can include company, brand or product names, competitors, issues, questions, etc.
Once you have created this list of keywords, start doing searches with those keywords at sites like Technorati, Google Blog Search, Boardtracker and even through an ordinary search engine like Google.
Find links that look interesting, follow and read them.
Start a spreadsheet where can start capturing URL’s of interesting posts or discussions you find. Make notes on what was interesting and the main points for each.
Once you have captured enough of this information, you will begin to see patterns emerge and begin to discover certain themes that repeat themselves as well as specific areas throughout the web that your target market congregates.
This is the first step into truly understanding where your target market hangs out on the web, but also what is truly important to them. With this information, you will begin to understand what kind of messages will resonate with the people you covet most.
The next 101 post will be a quick checklist on how to recognize from all the information you have just gathered which people are truly influencers and who are not.