Social media, Facebook marketing, Google Plus, Twitter – do these words ring a bell? This series of articles is for those who definitely heard the buzz, but have no clue what it is and how to use it.
There are 800 million people on Facebook alone. Many people who will read this article already have good understanding of how social sites work on the personal level of things. The question is, what is social media for business?
Definitely, social sites boomed in no time judging by the number of users and amount of investments. However, adoption by business is really lagging behind. Based on this fact alone, I can say there is no revolution, at least for businesses.
Let me explain social media marketing from a technology perspective. By now, everyone is probably familiar with technologies such as search engines, pay per click, directory listings, feedback and client support portals.
Essentially, social websites integrate some basic components of these technologies in one platform. In fact, some companies, such as eBay and Amazon have had most of the “social” elements in place for a long time.
Let’s take a look at typical business page on Social and compare it to other existing technologies.
Take a look at the “About” section on the social page of any company, and compare it to a typical listing such as Yellow Pages. It's clear that the structure and information of the About section on a social page resembles a listing in a good directory.
A typical business website will have web pages that describe their products and services, talk about their company, provide contact information, showcase testimonials, list news, feature blog posts and much more. Well, social pages offer sume of the same functionality but with much less flexibility. Nevertheless, great social pages, as well as websites, can prove very engaging in the hands of a skilled marketer.
Social media sites offer various options of reaching your fans - through private messages, wall posts, notifications and etc. These options, if looked at carefully, closely resemble what email marketing has to offer. Often times, these social elements offer more flexibility and fan engagement than e-mails. However, with e-mail marketing, you can currently reach more of your clients and prospects. Therefore, where your clients can be reached via social media, Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and other may prove to be invaluable for your business.
Social websites have search that works similarly to how search engines work. The difference is that social search relies on social feedback and response in order to find the information you are looking for. It is evident that search engines are now being integrated with social sites in order to improve their services. In a sense, search engines - such as Google and Bing - are trying to combine social knowledge with their own knowledge of WWW. For that reason, Google is pushing its Google+ while Bing relies heavily on Facebook.
Facebook and other social websites have their own internal PPC advertisement network with Google+ being an exception. Major search engines have had Pay-Per-Click long time before social exploded. The difference is that social websites, and especially Facebook, have an enormous social database that allows slicing and dicing your target market for precision. Search engines, on the other hand, offer precise keyword-based targeting which social sites can't do at this moment.
Sites like eBay and Amazon, some advanced listing directories, and many other sites have had their feedback systems in place for a long time. Facebook’s feedback technology is the famous “Like” button, Comments, Wall Posts and Messages. Google Plus is similar where their "Plus" button replaces the "Like". On their social pages, companies receive feedback from their clients for products, services, ideas, and other things using these means.
Larger companies use Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and other social sites to help their clients with their problems. Often, an irritated or curious client will ask questions on a company’s page or leave feedback. Experienced companies will respond immediately and publicly solve the issues, or otherwise help their customers in any possible way. Thus social pages incorporate some basic elements of customer service portals and CRMs.
So, does it sound like social media is a revolution? Probably not by now. I am convinced that social media is nothing short of an evolution. It will take time for businesses to adapt to this hybrid technology. It will also take time for this technology to evolve. Rest assured, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and other social sites will not replace your website, directory listings, SEO, E-mail marketing and CRMs. Social users will also need a lot of time to adapt to this technology in terms of talking to their favourite (or not so favourite) companies, searching for products and services, and learning about companies through their social pages.
I can attest that businesses which have been extensively using all of the marketing technologies listed above, will easily incorporate social media in their marketing. That's because Social Media is no revolution. Social Media is simply a tool that perfectly integrates with their existing marketing tools. However, because social media provides some additional and unique benefits, I think you should jump on board the social media bandwagon, and socialize with your clients.
As you can see, this blog post focused on explaining social media marketing from technology prospective. My next blog post - Demystifying Social Media Marketing, Part 2 - will focus on explaining social media from the marketing prospective. Expect Part 2 on August 31st, 2012.