While the end result can be acquiring a new customer or encouraging a customer to make a purchase, social media marketing is more about building an interactive relationship with customers and potential customers than it is about facilitating a sale.
Key metrics or short term goals of social media marketing typically involve getting attention online--drawing more traffic to a website, generating "likes" on Facebook, attracting followers on Twitter. Most of the metrics attempt to quantify "engagement" or online interactions between a company and its social media followers or fans.
Definition of Social Media Marketing vs. Social MarketingPeople often use the shorter phrase "social marketing" to refer to "social media marketing" tactics as if the two phrases were identical, but strictly speaking, the phrases have different meanings.
Social marketing refers to marketing efforts that are designed to change behavior and achieve societal change, presumably for the benefit of society. It can involve the use of social media but doesn't have to; it could simply involve traditional media, offline word-of-mouth or other means. Social media marketing, however, always involves the use of social media.
Type of Social Media MarketingKey types of social media marketing conducted by businesses mirror the kinds of social media used for personal purposes by individuals. Among them:
- Blogs-- Blogs increasingly are used by businesses to communicate directly with customers and other members of the public. They're cheap and easy to maintain, and they allow companies to join the "blogosphere" where millions of people are communicating back and forth via blogs. WordPress and Blogger are the two most popular blogging software platforms.
- Microblogging -- Twitter is the king of microblogging, and businesses need to monitor the conversation on Twitter at a minimum. Most companies go way beyond just listening to participate in the conversation by tweeting on a regular basis.
- Social Networks-- Facebook and LinkedIn are two social networks heavily used by businesses. Facebook encourage companies to set up special pages, and LinkedIn of course encourages companies to use its hiring and recruiting tools. Yammer is an up and coming platform allowing firms to create their own versions of social networking for businesses.
- Content sharing and social news sites -- Reddit, digg and other news-sharing sites fall into this category. Another variant of content sharing are the social bookmarking sites, which include StumbleUpon and the highly visual, highly popular Pinterest.
- Review and opinion sites -- From TripAdvisor to Yelp, there are a ton of sites devoted to user reviews of businesses. Companies that fail to monitor these sites and contribute to the conversation are losing out on important business opportunities.
- Geolocation services-- Foursquare was the mobile check-in app that caught everyone's attention, but hundreds of place-based or geo-location apps are now available for smart phones, laptops, tablets and yes, those old desktop computers.