Social media marketing is an essential component of any online campaign as it allows you engage directly with your customer and more importantly, allows your customer to interact directly with you. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube all allow “members” to both post information and comment on postings from others, including businesses. Content is immediate and constantly changing. Members are quick to post a bad experience with a product or business and within minutes all of their friends and their friend’s friends know about it. If you’re part of the conversation you have the chance to turn the problem into an opportunity.
Web 2.0 ushered in an exciting new era of interactive Internet use, with the creation of sites such as MySpace and Facebook that encouraged user-generated content. Use of these sites quickly expanded beyond teenagers and college students. LinkedIn, a business networking site, was launched in March 2003 and within seven years had more than 60 million registered users from over 200 countries. Members quickly discovered LinkedIn’s effectiveness in lead and referral generation and its potential for social media marketing through an extensive network of business connections and discussion groups. LinkedIn imposes tight controls on content to prevent overt self promotion. It is a one kind of Social Media Optimisation.
When Facebook was first created by four college students, its use was strictly limited to Harvard University students for the purpose of helping them get to know each other better. It was expanded to include other Ivy League schools, then Stanford University, and finally to anyone over age 13 with a valid email address. Facebook is now the most widely used social network and any social media marketing plan must include it. Businesses and organizations are able to create their own “page” and invite other users to “like” their page and receive regular updates. Facebook also offers highly targeted pay per click advertising.
Blogs (a contraction of web logs) are a very important component of Web 2.0. Anyone can set up a blog and publish whatever they want on any topic they choose. There are no limits on size or restrictions on content, and readers have the ability to comment. Small business owners were quick to take advantage of blogs as a social media marketing tool and encourage comments or “consumer generated media.” Twitter is a “microblogging” site which limits posts, called tweets, to 140 characters. Several applications, including TweetDeck and Search.Twitter.com, have been created to optimize usage. Twitter recently added paid placement advertising.
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