Social Media Marketing Explained
Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn have been popular for a long time, but have recently become extremely popular as more people are beginning to understand the power of the internet. Most of us have been using these social media websites to keep in touch with friends and family, build new relationships and partnerships and generally grow our ‘networks’, but the focus seems to have changed from keeping in touch, to building awareness of your business and dominating the search engines (isn’t it funny how most things regarding websites boil down to search engine rankings?).
Many people now ask “why is it important to have a Facebook fan page?” or “How will Twitter help my website and/or business??”. The problem is most people are under the impression that by simply creating a Facebook page and Twitter account, awareness of their business will immediately increase tenfold, their rankings on the search engines will automatically skyrocket, and business will be better than ever. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Facebook is probably the most familiar and popular social media website around. In case you don’t know what Facebook is (which means you must have been living in a cave in some mountain range for the last 5 years), Facebook is a website that allows you to create a profile for yourself (and your business), post information about yourself, upload pictures and most importantly, connect with people. You can add other users to your friend list, which in turn grants you access to their profiles. I have heard many stories of people finding long lost childhood friends, relatives etc on Facebook, which is nice as it let’s you re-connect and catch up relatively quickly. But as Facebook grew in popularity, so did the business interest in using it as an online tool to promote businesses. This made sense since most people had Facebook accounts and connected with new ‘friends’ via their website, so it was pretty much a matter of time before more businesses began understanding how Facebook could be used as an effective marketing tool.
This is where Facebook pages, or fan pages, come in. I created one for Evolution in DesignZ and within a couple of weeks, found about 30-40 people became fans. This doesn’t really help me directly on the search engines, but it does get the company name out there, to people who may not have found us in different countries. As their friends check their status updates and see they have become a fan, they in turn may check out the page and become a fan too. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘viral’ or ‘snowball’ effect: it starts with one or two people and grows without you really doing anything! Why is this useful? (do I really need to answer this question??) It is useful because it lets more people learn about your business, services (or products) without actually spending any money on advertising. The ‘viral’ effect can potentially lead to hundreds of people finding your company’s Facebook page and becoming ‘fans’.
I have to admit, I have never been a fan of Twitter- I simply cannot see myself updating the world with what I or my designers, programmers and project managers are doing every 2 hours… you really have to have a lot to say to really make use of Twitter in my opinion, and let’s face it, most of us who work all day do not have the time or patience to update our status every 2 hours or so. However, posting relevant company updates is useful. I have also noticed more Twitter pages showing up in search engine queries recently, so if you have the time (or a very bored marketing team), then by all means- tweet away!
LinkedIn is one of the most useful business tools I have used in a long time. It let’s you set up your profile with your employment history and based on that it will suggest other people you can link to. If you have friends on LinkedIn and link to them, you will be able to browse their connections and request a link as well, thus growing your network. However, don’t request links to people you do not know directly as most people on LinkedIn use it as a serious tool- not like your normal Facebook page where you can have 1000 friends but only really know 30 of them.
The power of effectively using social media websites is endless. They are basically free advertising platforms for your business, and will increase awareness of your products and services in a way no other medium can.