There is a new buzzword in the Internet – “social media”. We used to refer to the new rich interactions on the Internet as being Web 2.0 or Social Networking, but the term social media is used as a much broader term to encompass not only the social networks like Facebook and Bebo, but also blogging, podcasts, user-generated content such as wikis, social bookmarking, micro blogging such as on Twitter and life streaming such as on Friend Feed. In this post we examine what social media means for a marketing person – what does their role encompass in this new realm?
If we were to try and write a job description for a social media marketer it might include such terms as brand evangelist, engagement of customers, community building and even viral marketing. Clearly the role might be described as retaining your current customer base and growing it.
This makes sense if you think in terms of bottom line profit – it is much easier to make money by retaining your customer base and adding to it than it is easy to be continually rolling over your customers for new ones. A person engaged in social media marketing aims to keep their current customer happy while adding new customers.
One of the main things about social media marketing is the way in which the company message can be spread to literally hundreds and thousands of people at once. The social media web is built on patterns of friends, followers and even strangers. Bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious can take a website from backwater to prominence at rocket speed, and micro blogging sites like Twitter allow a company to communicate very quickly, whether it be through responding to a complaint or launching a new product. Customers are able to follow and track the companies message in real time.
Social media is here to stay – case in point the likes of Google looking at buying Digg for US$200 million, the rapid rise of Twitter and the even faster growth of life streaming site Friend Feed. Customers almost automatically go online to interact with their chosen companies. Companies that simply ignore the social media and blogosphere risk large public relations blowups outside of their company and lost bottom line profits as their community of customers move on to companies that talk their social language.
The role of social media in a marketers role is absolutely imperative. Building communities within your customers, reaching out to new customers, building much stronger customer business relationships are keystone foundations of social media and equally should be fundamental goals of any successful business. It is essential that you are part of the sharing of thoughts and complaints of your customers and not simply an naive bystander.