On the most basic level, social media refers to the tools and platforms that combine technology and social interaction. This combination facilitates the sharing of ideas, information, photos and other content in online networks and communities. With the rise of social media in recent years, companies are slowly realizing that a powerful marketing tool has been born. Leveraging this unique tool has become a hot topic among advertisers and marketers alike.
Social Media Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
This table breaks down the differences between social media marketing and traditional marketing.
Social Media Marketing
|– Inbound||– Outbound|
|– 2 way conversation||-1 way conversation|
|– Open system of communication||– Closed system of communication|
|– Transparent||– Opaque|
|– One-on-one marketing||– Mass marketing|
|– About YOU (personalized based on audience interest)||– About ME (one size fits all)|
|– Brand and user generated content||– Mainly professional content|
|– Genuine and conversational content||– Polished and precise content|
|– Unstructured, spur-of-the-moment communication||– Controlled, managed communications|
|– Real time creation and reach||– Pre-produced and scheduled|
|– Active involvement (interacting)||– Passive involvement (prospecting)|
|– Occurs on social networking sites and sharing sites||– Offline medium|
The table displays the differences between traditional marketing and social media marketing nicely; however, there are 5 overarching benefits that can be drawn from it.
Social media allows companies to create a unique brand identity that a magazine ad or billboard cannot. For example, Starbucks Coffee has branded itself as a place for human connection and community – “a third place between work and home” – their tweets, Facebook page and overall voice on social media exemplify their brand identity. A local boutique or new cafe holds the power to create any brand image they desire. Once businesses create this image, social media helps customers recognize the brand and eventually trust the brand.
The second major benefit of social media marketing is lead creation and maintaining a network.
This benefit closely relates to familiarity with and awareness of your company. Whether you are a big company trying to engage loyal followers, or a start up attempting to leverage your first customers, social media can help and can be tailored to fit your needs. Social media allows companies to seek out and find new prospects, while maintaining relationships with existing clients, customers and fans…all while preserving a consistent brand identity!
The beauty of two way communication between the buyer and seller is the third notable benefit.
Being able to quickly respond to customer needs and concerns has propelled an incredible increase in customer service satisfaction. Companies can nip problems in the bud by addressing negative comments immediately and correctly through active listening. This two way communication street also allows businesses to chime in and communicate with happy customers, as well as potential clients. The ability to directly communicate with your audience is priceless.
Finally, social media marketing provides valuable marketplace insight.
Companies can follow competitors, see trends in the marketplace and discover customer wants ALL without leaving the office. Two way communication and online honesty mean businesses can quickly and efficiently find out how to best serve their customers.
Overall these the benefits boil down to the ability to build lasting relationships, increase exposure and drive traffic.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of the importance of social media in today’s marketing world and realize why your company NEEDS a social media marketing strategy! Social media marketing is slowly but surely shifting from a business luxury to a business necessity.