What is Social Media Marketing?

There's increasingly more and more written about Social Media Marketing.  I wanted to offer a few thoughts about the topic.

I'm not going to define it in strict terms, but instead i want to distinguish it from other traditional forms of marketing.

Social media marketing allows companies to engage with their customers, prospects, and partners in ways that have never before been possible.  It's augmenting, enhancing, and, in some companies, replacing "old" forms of marketing. It's radically different from traditional forms of marketing in a few fundamental and dramatic ways.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing has typically had two major forms:
  • Direct marketing. This type of marketing focuses on directly generating leads and revenue: tradeshows, websites, seminars/webinars, email blasts, direct mail, pop up ads, etc.
  • Brand marketing. This type of marketing is "softer" and seeks to create an image or reputation for the company in the mind of the customer: advertising, public relations, analyst relations, sponsorships, logos, tag lines, etc.
Both of these types of marketing are characterized by a few common attributes:

  • They are one- way, push-oriented and interrupt-driven. These activities are from the company to the prospect. The prospect doesn't ask for them. They are "pushed" onto the buyer, interrupting them from whatever they're doing.
  • They are brand-generated. The content comes entirely from the brand to the customer.

Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is defined by a new set of characteristics:
  • It's a multi-way dialog. Brands talk to customers, customers talk to brands, and - perhaps most importantly - customers talk to each other. This is a new type of engagement that was never possible until the arrival of Web 2.0.
  • It's participatory. Social media marketing depends on user participation - that's what makes it social. To truly be Social Media Marketing, you users must participate.
  • It's user-generated. Most of the content and connections in an online community are created by the users - not by the brand. Sure, there will be content and conversations that are brand-generated, but they will be the minority. The goal is to get your users to talk.

Do you agree or disagree?

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BY: Kevin Boon (10/24/2008 10:47 AM)
COMMENT: While I understand that Social Media marketing can create new opportunities for companies, I feel the biggest obstacle in the corporate and marketing worlds is a fear of losing control of that one-way message. My observation is that most companies are struggling with this form of communication because, first they can't control the message and second they don't know how to communicate through these channels without sounding too corporate-like. How does a company overcome these obstacles and move effectively into this area?

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