What is Social Media?
Social media can be defined as follows; “social media is essentially the act of being social on a media platform”. In a more educated definition, social media refers to the means or methods of interactions between people online as they share, create, exchange and read information and ideas. At times, this exchange can happen in groups or designated networks for approved individuals. Social media platforms expand over several mediums, including the computer, the mobile platform and tablets.
The idea that social media marketing is becoming the ideal form of sharing content could introduce the theory that it changes the communication between organizations, communities and individuals. Before diving into the more complex reasons why people use social media and how they can target specific people online, let’s define social media in a broad manner, so you truly understand social media through several lenses.
It seems like everyone has at least one social media profile these days. Young people use social media to share their lives with others, check up on celebrities, musicians or business profiles, or to stay in contact with friends all over the world.
Professional individuals will use Twitter to follow those who share updates about their given profession. For example, financial advisors may follow some big names in the banking or trading industry. Marketers may follow authors or speakers who share the newest from the industry. And of course, big names or famous individuals will use Twitter to share snippets of their lives, whether they just tweet.
Social media is the action of sharing content with the goal of starting discussion with others. It is action of interacting with people online. With that said, people can share pretty much anything these days. People tweet links to articles, music videos, instructional videos, e-commerce stores or just share their thoughts in status updates for others to read. There are no limits on what you can share, so if you have a creative idea that stands out, social media marketing is for you.
If you don’t enjoy using Facebook or Instagram, you can use other networks. If you are tired of staring at the same layout and getting the same results, you can use various other social media networks to get what you want. If you are aiming at marketing products for your business, then tackling the smaller social media networks may be ideal, so you can be the big fish in a small pond. Where you want to have a presence is ultimately up to you, but you should be careful about signing up for too many networks, as it can be hard to update all profiles constantly.
It doesn’t really matter how much you are sharing content if you are just doing it for personal reasons. These days, people share everything from pictures of their children to pictures of each meal. However, if you are using social media for the sake of marketing a business, you should establish a schedule for when you should update your accounts. In the end, it is all up to you in regards to when you want to share content, but sharing too little content could affect your marketing efforts. Sharing too much could be interpreted as spam by your followers and readers.
You have several options available to you when it comes to how you want to share content on your social media profiles. You can share social media profiles from your smart phone, your tablet, and your computer. You can check your profiles from anywhere internet is available. If you are running several accounts on several platforms, you can use web-based programs, such as Hootsuite, which help you manage all of your accounts at once. You save time because you don’t have to log in to every profile whenever you need to make an update.
People have many reasons for using social media, some of which can be personal. But many companies use social media to find new customers. Their presence on social media platforms is purely for marketing, no matter what they share online.
Characteristics that Define an Effective Social Media Presence
As mentioned above, writing a single status update probably won’t get you far when it comes to business marketing. Many people may find your business and start liking it on Facebook, following you on Twitter or join in the following of your boards on Pinterest. However, having a following doesn’t guarantee that social interaction will happen, even though discussion is what social media marketing is all about. Getting that ‘like’ on Facebook or follow on Twitter shows that the person in question has acknowledged your business.
Social media is very effective in terms of immediate marketing and connections, as having a billboard on the side of the street or a commercial showing on a television may not provide the same results. If a person sees a billboard for a business, it is not guaranteed that the name of the business will be remembered hours later when the person is on the computer, liking other companies on social media platforms.
However, seeing a tweet about a business could spark an instant ‘follow’ or ‘like.’ This is just one example of the power of social media. There are several characteristics that define social media marketing, some of which certainly overpower industrial or traditional marketing.
Social media marketing and traditional marketing have one thing in common; both methods target the same large group of people – your target audience. However, the similarities are very limited otherwise. The quality of traditional or industrial content is often mediated by a company or a publisher. The content is structured to reach a certain niche. Social media marketing, however, can reach all types of groups or audiences, even if you are targeting one group.
If your marketing efforts are of high quality, the niche group may start spreading the word about your company for you. The quality of your efforts determines whether other people outside of your niche will bite on to your business. That isn’t necessarily a downside; you could be reaching your niche along with other people who may be interested. You could be expanding your scope a little.
In addition, traditional marketing may only reach so many people. However, social media marketing can reach everyone online. Even though you are just sharing a link from your Twitter and Facebook profiles, someone else can share the link as well meaning hundreds or even thousands of people could be reading your content. In addition, you are limited when you share a billboard on a busy street, because you are only paying for a certain time period of exposure. However, a link on a social media network could circulate for months at no cost to you.
The frequency is another advantage that social media offers you. In traditional marketing, you may only have a few opportunities to reach your target audience. For example, a magazine campaign will only reach people during the time the magazine is printed and sold. Once another issue hits the stand, your particular magazine issue won’t be sold in retail stores anymore. Some publications will even take the issue out of print and place it in their archives. However, the frequency can easily be increased on social media platforms, as advertisements can be shared continuously for no extra costs. You are not limited in the same way as you are with print marketing campaigns.
Social media marketing also gives you the power to directly access and connect with your audience at any given time. You just have to sign in to your accounts and start sharing content. You have the access to share things whenever you please, which gives you more power than traditional or industrial marketing. Even though you have the power to share your marketing materials in traditional marketing, you don’t have the access to pick those who see your campaign. You have to assume and hope that the right people will see your marketing efforts.
With this comes the idea of immediacy. You can add things to your social media accounts immediately and let your users know if you have a new product or a promotion happening. You don’t have to schedule things too much in advantage for the sake of marketing. Social media saves you both time and money, as industrial or traditional marketing campaigns could take weeks or months to schedule, prepare and launch. And they are often very expensive.
As you may already have discovered by now, anyone can use social media for marketing. If you know how to log on and use your email, you can create and manage Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest and other accounts. The usability of these networks is straightforward, meaning anyone can use the tools provided on the networks.
And if you make a mistake, you need not worry. Unlike industrial marketing, social media marketing is not permanent. You can delete a tweet, change the wording in an article or delete a blog post, if necessary. You can change things instantly and present a correct copy of whatever you are doing. Lastly, social media can be done for free, which is great on a business budget. While traditional marketing may cost thousands of dollars, you can target people directly for free online.