Social media offers business owners the opportunity to build their business brand without heavy advertising costs. Your social media campaign should not begin until you understand some of the major concepts of social media. If you use social media websites without regard for whether your brand will be improved or undermined by messages you communicate to customers, you might damage your company’s reputation. Before trying to market your business in social media venues, consider these key terms.
Blog, short for “weblog,” is a website in which an individual or organization makes regular posts. Each post varies in range, but many blog posts are shorter than web articles. The topics are either random or concerned with one or more niche topics. A blog can be effective for attracting search engine traffic to your company website.
The micro-blog is a short form of the blog. For example, Twitter “tweets” are mini blog entries that are easy to type and send from the web, over email, or from a cell phone. On Twitter, a message must be 140 characters or less.
Users with devices such as the iPod equipped with iTunes software can identify and download files (or episodes stored in digital audio or video files) from a website or web syndication service. A Podcast might be used to provide a series of informative updates on a topic. Similar to blogging, some users use Podcasts to record events from their life.
The acronym RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. In a standard Internet web browser, the computer user can click on the RSS icon to subscribe to frequent updates posted on a website or blog. The feed may also be specific to a portion of a website, such as the topics and responses to a particular category in an online forum.
Social media differs from traditional media because the Internet opens up a market for computer users all over the world. Various types of Internet-based social media reach across generations and national boundaries to a global audience of Internet users. Examples of social media are Facebook and MySpace.
Social Media Marketing
This term refers to using social media to communicate with customers instead of talking at them. In any marketing program, the company builds a positive image (i.e. a brand) for its products or services among people who research has shown are likely to become buyers. The company hopes that when the customer needs a product or service, he or she will choose its offerings. Companies may focus on business-to-business marketing and business-to-individual marketing. A company, individual, or organization builds its web or Internet presence through interacting with customers in social networks and communities.
Tracy L. Tuten, author of Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World, defines the social community as a variety of “online venues, including forums, online social networks, brand-sponsored virtual worlds, open virtual worlds, social video and photo communities, and social news and bookmarking Web sites.” Many of these communities have content contributed by thousands of users.
A niche community is similar to a social community, but the users have a common reason for joining. Users might share features such as a love of coffee, a profession, or residence in the same geographic region. An example is a forum for freelance writers who specialize in writing articles for the web.
People use web-based communication to interact with others. They might be motivated by finding people with common interests or characteristics, or they might be interested in randomly meeting people. One example of social networking is joining a dating site to meet singles from many locations.
Keeping up with social media developments is challenging because this dimension of the Internet is changing so quickly. If you want to market your business or organization, you can use tools like blogs, microblogs, and niche communities to reach your target audience. Remember to consider each piece of content you post on the Internet, including audio, video, photos, and text. All content should align with your marketing goals.