Social media is a relatively new phenomenon which can appear bewildering to many people, but is it really that complicated?
This is very much dependent on how complicated you want it to be. You can, if you choose, be, totally overwhelmed by the multitude of social media sites there are available and what they offer. Some to be fair are a little more complicated than others, Facebook for example.
The ones I am referring to here are the social bookmarking sites that are a little less complicated in nature; good examples are Digg, Mixx, StumbleUpon etc.
So consider this proposal, lets say social media sites of this type are really only about 4 things:
- Giving an item a name or description
- Saying whether you like it or dislike it
- Sharing the information
- Building a trusted relationship with like minded people
Giving an item a name or description
- What you provide on the Internet through a digital medium is content and that content has a subject. So when that content is given a name or description it is generally so other people can find it by searching. The name you give your content is often referred to as a tag or if you want to get technical, its a keyword. This is what someone might enter into the search box when they are looking for it also it does not have to be a single word; more often it is a phrase that describes what the content is about.
Saying whether you like it or dislike it
So now you need to indicate what you think of the content, you can vote it up, vote it down or give it a star rating, these are just ways to communicate whether you like like the content or not. Obviously if you are the one providing the content then you are hoping people will vote for it in a positive way. Clearly the best way to ensure that they do is to make the content valuable and of a high quality.
When you join a social media site you are effectively joining a community and you are normally seeking like minded people or people who are interested in the same things you are interested in. Lets face it people wouldn’t be searching for keywords or tags unless they are interested to some level. So when they find the stuff you are interested in and they are also interested in it, then they are likely to want to become friends with you so that you can continue to share similar content on that subject.
Building a trusted relationship with like minded people
This is the next natural progression of this process, you will either discover that you can go on to trust this person and enjoy sharing content with them or you may find that actually you didn’t have that much in common after all. The latter get dropped and the former become friends that you continue a relationship with (online relationship that is) and ultimately you will begin to trust one another. When you have reached that point of being trusted then the other person is likely to listen to and take your recommendations seriously.
So from a marketing perspective it becomes pretty obvious that until you are at the 4th stage you are unlikely to be able to convince anyone that you know what you are talking about and have something valuable to offer, whether that is products, services or simply opinions.
So there you have it Social Media Marketing in a nutshell, you need to earn the respect and trust of your online friends before you can use social media to sell what you are offering.
This is as equally true for large organisations as it is for individuals, take Amazon or eBay as examples, they would not be nearly as successful as they are if they were not a trusted Internet entity.
So now you need to decide if marketing through social media sites is worth the effort.
Oh by the way I spotted the video on this post on Social Media, which also discusses how it can be used as a useful marketing tool, but from a slightly different perspective to this one.
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