The Five Most Important Things You Need to Know about Social Media Marketing

Humans Buy From Humans

      Schaefer argues that markets have maintained the same characteristics throughout their entire existence by simply adapting to new technologies. One example he uses is that the success of a market used to depend on word of mouth recommendations. This is still true, except these recommendations have new means of transportation: people are now recommending or disapproving via the web. Markets also used to be highly personal and interactive because of people's physical presence in the markets. This characteristic has also been maintained throughout time, but because markets have expanded and now attract people from all over the world, their personal interactiveness is preserved through social media.

      Although it may sound redundant, it is important to always remember that for social media marketing to be effective, one must actually be social. One cannot think of marketing as selling to someone so much as appealing to their interests, and social media allows marketers to do this. Consumers yearn for the human side of business, the personal interactions that occur during a business transaction. They make a customer feel important. The idea that technology has taken over all human interactions, including those with business, is a recent idea that stems from an interruption in the natural course of business. Humans have always bought from humans. This is still the case, but they are doing so through new technology, and social media can help maintain the human interactions necessary for a good business transaction.

Small Interactions Lead to Loyalty

      Having loyal customers is crucial in sustaining a business. But how does a business get these loyal customers? Think about it as you would any other relationship. It takes a series of successful, small interactions to install trust in a relationship, and the same thing goes with the relationship between a customer and a company. Although it takes some time, the only way to maintain a customer’s loyalty is to reward them along the way with things like personalized attention. It allows businesses to appeal to that human side of business mentioned above.  For example, if you follow McDonalds on twitter, each tweet is signed by an employee, making McDonald’s customers feel like they are getting special attention. This makes someone want to keep coming back to a company because they have been positively reinforced with small rewards. Social media allows companies to reach out to individuals and make them feel like they are important in their business. 

The Social Media Mindset

      A third aspect of social media marketing is the social media mindset. This involves having an open mind, and ending the approach of just advertising as much as you possibly can in order to promote your company because without authentic, helpful information, this fails. This idea of only publishing authentic helpful information is what can make your company’s social media truly effective. It solidifies a customer’s interest in what you have to offer because they see that you are genuinely dedicated to helping them and are not just going to give them useless spam, something we all experience frequently. In order to prove this theory, Schaefer uses his own life as an example. His blog gives away his expert knowledge on social media marketing for free. It is genuine, helpful knowledge about strategies to make your company a success. For free! One would think that this results in a deterioration of the value of this knowledge, but it does just the opposite. Schaefer has made an entire career of this, and although he originally gave the information away for free, he has received many tangible benefits in return: he has been paid to write books, give workshops, speak at conventions, etc. This proves that if you are transparent and show that you have no hidden agenda but are just trying to help your customers or audience, you will be rewarded.

      In addition to this genuine content strategy, a network strategy is necessary for social media to be a success. Your social media will be most effective if  you systematically and continuously build your network. This is how your content will be ignited and amplified. The more fans a business has, the more people who will not only see the message, but potentially share it as well. Of course this still relates back to and revolves around the idea of authentic helpful information, because if you are providing this, your customers are bound to share it with others. 

Information Eco-System

      The next aspect of social media marketing is the idea of the information eco-system. This is the circulation of information on the web that comes from many different sources, who are all fighting to be the one to influence web users. With all of this information circulating how do you make sure yours is the one that gets through to them? In response to this question, Schaefer introduces an idea presented in class, "Search Engine Optimization." Tarleton Gillespie describes this process, also known as SEO, as "redesigning our expression so as to be better recognized by search algorithms" (Gillespie, p.18). What he means by this is that you can structure your social media in a way that will boost you to the top results of search engines. Schaefer goes back to his point about providing authentic helpful information when he points out that Google has set up its algorithms to favor businesses that create helpful, high-quality information for their customers. 

      Besides being used as a tool of search engine optimization, social media's more obvious use is publicity. It gives your company an online presence, and brings it to the attention of consumers around the world. Social media platforms can be thought of as surrounding a company’s website. If a company intrigues someone when they first discover them on the social web, then this will give them the nudge they need to go to the company’s website itself. Here is where they can get more in depth about the details of the company, and hook the customer. This leads into the last of the five most important things to know about social media marketing, using it as a new channel of influence. 

Content is the Catalyst

      On social media, content is spread virally, especially if it is high-quality and helpful. So in order to make your content stick out even more, one can use "influencers." In the past one needed to have all the right credentials in order to be considered a prestigious person. However now it is easier than ever to find brilliant, influential people in places that may not have seemed obvious or likely in the past. Today people can become well-known over different social media platforms, and through this they gain the ability to have influence over people's opinions. In "Where Web 2.0 Went Wrong," Henry Jenkins explains this phenomenon by saying that these influencers maintain their blogs or whatever social media platform it may be not because of economic reasons (like paid journalists), but social reasons. Their opinions are truly valued in their communities because they have earned the respect of their audience members (Jenkins, 2013, p.79). 

      The interesting and effective part about using someone who is popular on social media as an influencer is that they don’t necessarily have to talk in depth about the company they are representing. A simple picture of  a well-known person allows social media users to understand a company’s message quickly, perhaps even virally. 

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