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What is social marketing—The new word of mouth

For generations, word of mouth has been one of the most influential marketing tools around. In the twenty-first century, word of mouth has taken a new form—online with social media.

As a marketer, social networking websites—such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—can help you increase brand awareness and reach new customers. Incorporating social media marketing as an integral part of your marketing strategy can pay off with huge dividends for your company.

Social media enables you to directly interact with your audience. It allows you to share news and product updates. Create buzz about your company and build visibility by providing content that people want to share. As people comment on your reviews, social media feeds, and posts. momentum builds and your brand’s profile is enhanced with a growing number of new customers.

It’s a versatile, all-purpose tool for marketers. Social media can help you more directly interact with your audience and become a bigger part of their lives. It allows you to share news about updates to your products and services, upcoming events, company and industry news, customer success stories, tips and pointers, and so much more. The sky isn’t even the limit. You can go beyond the sky, depending what your marketing and business objectives are. Social media reaches audiences at every point of the customer journey. With social, you can position your brand and show that you are current and relevant. Build customer relationships by sharing information and responding to feedback. Drive traffic to your website. Get people to sign up for emails, newsletters, and other lead generation content—and even get them to make purchases.

Plus, the stronger your social media presence the likelier it is that you will show up in a Google Search.

Social media engagement—Hear from your customers

Successful, ongoing brand and customer relationships are no longer just transactional in nature. Instead, they grow over time through integrated experiences that span transactional-, content-, and social-based touches. Oracle Social Engagement and Monitoring Cloud Service provides businesses with the tools required to shift to this new, ongoing—and always-on—customer relationship. Being able to monitor and listen to what customers are saying, reply timely to posts and messages, and keep tabs on the industry will set you apart from your competitors. But more important, being able to automate and schedule posts, publish to multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts at scale, and from a single interface, will transform your business into an agile organization.

When you hear from your customers through social channels and interpret real-time, relevant signals you have to ability to capitalize on what matters. It is only with this understanding that your brand can create meaningful content that will allow your business to connect with customers in valuable and impactful ways.

What social media platforms should my business be using?

Social media can help you reach billions of users throughout the world at a relatively low cost. Choosing the right platform for your social media campaign depends on your specific marketing goals and the kind of audience you are trying to reach.

A key factor to consider is how your social media presence shows up in Google Search. To make it easy for potential customers to find you online, you want your webpage to show up high in search results. As you build your online presence, you want to be able to leverage it to gain more visibility online by getting your content shared.

To create an effective social media campaign you should have a presence on at least three platforms. The social media ecosystem is constantly changing. More and more social media platforms are emerging all the time, each with their own features, audiences, and options. Here is a list of the most popular platforms to date:

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social media site in the world. According to statistica.com, Facebook had 2.27 billion users in the third quarter of 2018. People of all ages make it part of their daily lives. If you’re going to be on social media, Facebook is simply too large and too powerful of a platform to ignore.

More importantly for marketers, Facebook provides marketing analytics tools such as Facebook Audience Insights that provide information about your audience’s preferences, behaviors, demographics, and interests so that you can better target them with your ads.

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service. It is particularly appealing to a younger audience. Instagram’s visual platform can help you establish a relationship with your followers with attention-getting photos.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business and employment social network, used by more than 65 million professionals worldwide. It’s a valuable resource that can help you build your business and connect with other professionals. Companies can use the site to provide information, post job openings, share announcements and industry news, and publish articles and other relevant content.

Twitter

Twitter is an online news and social networking site where people post and interact using 280-character messages called “Tweets.” With more than 336 million users, it’s one of the largest social networks. Marketers can use their Twitter profiles to build a following by tweeting out news and other content. Twitter is also a great source for real-time insight on how your brand, products, and competition are being perceived in the market. By simply listening in on Twitter, you can get instant feedback.

YouTube

Owned by Google, YouTube is a free video-hosting website that allows members to store and share video content. With billions of users throughout the world watching billions of hours of video content, YouTube offers a lot opportunities to drive traffic to your website.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking site where users post multimedia and other content. The majority of Tumblr users are between the ages of 18-34. If your brand lends itself to a more visual message, Tumblr provides a unique platform to reach potential new customers.

How social can enhance your inbound marketing campaigns

Inbound marketing refers to the creating and sharing of content that helps intrigue and attract interest to your brand or business, close a deal and convert someone into a customer, and keep in touch afterwards.

The goal of inbound marketing is to attract the interest of qualified prospects, convert them into leads and customers, and maintain those relationships to foster repeat business. Social media and social cloud solutions can play an integral role in broadening the scope of your inbound marketing methods.

Essentially, social media gives your brand a place to be found. Social media provides a relatively low-cost way to nurture prospects and build relationships that could very well lead to purchases and repeat business. Social networks also provide users with a chance to comment on what you post and give you valuable feedback. They may even repost your content and give it more visibility. You can interact with customers and prospects on a comments thread—and even have a whole conversation.

Your social media posts can give your audience a view into what is going on with your business. What industry news and technology advances are happening now? What new add-on services have you just developed? Did you just win an award and want to share that achievement? Social media gives you a way to get that message out.

With social media, you can create relationships not just with your customers, but also with influencers—people who are famous, have established credibility, or have a large number of followers. Using social media influencers can help you reach new markets. When an influencer reposts your content and exposes it to their online followers, you have the advantage of that strong relationship with a new audience. These relationships can also aid your link-building efforts, which will go a long way toward improving your SEO.

Social media and blogging—Partners for life

Social media also gives you a great opportunity to promote your blog. Even in the age of social media, blogs are still an essential tool in the digital marketing mix. Many businesses maintain a blogs for the following reasons:

    To increase online visibility
  • To position your company as an authority in your business or industry
  • To increase SEO results
  • To drive more traffic to your website
  • To provide another place for news and other valuable information
  • To communicate with customers by answering questions, etc.

Blogs and social media can work together to establish more brand loyalty. People tend to check both the social media streams and the blogs that they like on a regular basis. They know where to go to if they want the content that they are interested in.

Blogs can drive long-term traffic. Once a blog post is up, it stays online indefinitely and keeps showing up in searches. Long after its original posting, the post will continue to build your brand, attract interest, and generate leads. Consider repurposing your old blog content as ebooks or white papers. Or, take the opposite approach by turning an ebook or customer story into a blog post.

How long should a blog post be? That depends on your audience and the topic you are blogging about. The general rule for online content is to be concise and to the point. Always strive for clarity, readability, and—most important—offer something of value. Your audience has to come away with something useful from your blog, be it how-to tips, a nugget of information, or an offer.

Social media analytics—Get more out of your posts

Social media analytics software gathers information from social networking streams, such as Facebook and Twitter as well as blogs, newsfeeds, and comments from rich media sites, to better understand customer attitudes and characteristics. This information informs social media marketing campaigns, which use these same outlets as marketing channels. Social media marketing software automates the processes and activities associated with marketing campaigns geared toward these channels.

Social media creates new opportunities for companies that want to improve customer engagement. Real engagement, which binds customers to companies, can drive revenue gains and reduce the costs associated with customer churn. However, engagement through social media requires new ways to manage and understand customer interactions.

The key to properly managing social media customer interactions is to first listen to customers, individually and as a group. Using the data gathered by social media listening, correlated with other data from internal and external sources, it is possible to better understand customer wants, needs, and desires.

From these insights, marketing professionals gain a full picture of how to best approach and message to a customer. The message then has to be deftly transmitted using compelling content delivered through social media channels, which allows marketing professionals to leverage the network amplification characteristics of the social media. Finally, the company has to continue to listen in order to modify and fine-tune the message, gauge its effectiveness, and look for other effects that the message may generate.

In other words, social media marketing is like every other marketing campaign: It’s a process that needs to be monitored and managed. The difference is that the social media marketing process is iterative and can change and adapt more quickly than traditional marketing campaigns. Being this adaptive requires platforms that help marketing professionals properly design, initiate, and manage social media marketing campaigns as well as perform the social media analytics that allow for deep customer understanding and monitoring for the effectiveness of these campaigns.