Social media is changing the way individuals communicate with one another. It is how many of us stay up-to-date with news near our homes and around the world, keep in touch with those who we went to school with years ago, are notified of class reunions, seek advice from peers, and much more. Social media has also changed the way companies are doing business. Within social media channels in particular, businesses have the opportunity to push content, news, promotions, and more out to a targeted audience. As an individual, to be connected with a company through your social network of choice, you need to fan their page, follow them, or opt-in in some way or another. Therefore, as a company, while you may not have thousands of followers or fans, you know that those who are connected with you are already interested in your products or services and want to know when and what content you share.
One of the most powerful parts of social media, in my opinion, is how consumers can have an affect on brands and products. Consumers contribute to a brand’s presence within social media from the very beginning when they fan or follow the company’s page or profile. Within Facebook, for example, typically those individual’s friends are then notified that they are now a Fan of X company’s page. In Twitter, that person’s news feed will then include the company’s tweets, enabling the individual to retweet that message instantaneously. This is very powerful because as a business you are now a part of your fans’ communities and they can help to spread your message for you.
SheSpeaks Annual Social Media Study shared data about social networking that I thought was pretty profound. Although those surveyed were women, the information still shows how powerful consumers are within social networks.
The largest new media purchase driver is email, but purchases based on information within blog posts increased dramatically from the prior year.
It is quite obvious that participation in social media facilitates brand awareness and purchases. It’s important to note that direct sales are not always made immediately from a link placed on a Facebook page or within a tweet. Instead, someone may share an experience that they had with a brand or product within their social network and that information is then spread to their connections, potentially influencing their friends’ perception of that brand or product.
If your company is not in social media today, and particularly if you have a consumer-oriented brand, it’s something that should be seriously considered in 2010. Now more people are able log into their social networks instantaneously from almost anywhere, including from their phones, which will leads to a continued growth of these social networks and their marketing potential.
Many of us have used LinkedIn as a way to maintain a professional profile within the social networks. LinkedIn is a great platform to communicate with business professionals and it can also be used to open communications with businesses. By direct communication or joining a group, it is easier than ever to reach important members of any business.
Can businesses use LinkedIn as a way to market to other businesses? LinkedIn DirectAds is an additional channel for business-to-business advertisers to capture qualified visitors. It offers advertisers many targeting options to help qualify the audience. With 7 top level categories, businesses can choose up to 3 of the categories to target, including industry, company size, job function, seniority, age, gender, and geography. LinkedIn is a good option for businesses, because they can target the exact industry, company size and even job function of their potential clients.
Most business to business companies know exactly who they want to target in a company. For example, advertisers may want to specifically reach a marketing manager in an enterprise level company. Creating very custom ad messaging to capture these people can turn them into customers.
LinkedIn DirectAds have no minimum spend requirements and can also be paid via a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions) platform. Similar to Facebook ads, LinkedIn DirectAds can also have images in the body, which helps to brand the message as well as help to gain user attention.
With LinkedIn DirectAds, businesses are able to target qualified decision makers in their industry.
Is there such a thing as social media privacy? Just weeks after Facebook announces that they have gone public with their user’s personal information, Google announced the launch of real-time web and personalized search queries. Google’s new search functionality will allow anyone looking for information, news or events to see live updates in real-time. Users can now view live public social media messages and have an insight into live breaking news the moment it happens. Google’s launch of real-time search engine results is anticipated to have a significant impact on the social media marketing industry. This new development may have both a negative and positive impact on social media users. This new real-time feature may improve the results of social media campaigns and efforts, by allowing user’s news and events to be published within Google’s search results. Companies will now be able to achieve more consumer engagement and drive more traffic to their websites. This move toward sharing more personal information is enticing for companies with Twitter, Google and Facebook profiles. It is a great incentive for companies to invest more time and effort into their social media efforts and gain more exposure. It is hazy as to whether or not consumers will see the value in sharing their personal information with more than just their friends, but with everyone online.
(Screenshot of Google’s real-time news feed)
Pessimists believe that the new Google real-time feature may be opening a Pandora’s Box, by allowing spammers to get their foot in the Google search door. No one knows whether or not social media users will continue to participate in social media efforts knowing that their news will now go public. Before consumers make up their mind on the new social media circumstances, businesses should take full advantage of social media efforts while the iron is hot. This could be a very beneficial attribute that will allow businesses to gain more targeted publicity.