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Social Media Marketing (SMM): An Introductory Guide Post by: Trudy Pellicaan, March 5, 2012

Social media marketing has largely replaced the idea of more traditional marketing practices like billboards and advertisements in the yellow pages. If you have an Internet connection, you’ve probably already experienced at least some form of marketing via a social platform. And, if you run a business, it’s a smart idea to learn how you can make SMM work for you.

What Is Social Media Marketing?
More likely than not, you’ve been exposed to this form of marketing already. It’s the most recent strategy employed by businesses to reach their target audiences, and it involves using websites like Facebook and Twitter (in addition to your company website) to reach new customers, actively engage existing customers, and develop an online presence. All of this can help your business grow and expand.

Why Do I Need One More Advertising Gimmick?
This isn’t just about advertising; it’s about connecting with your customers in a way that’s never been possible before. Businesses are already providing fresh content through their blogs and websites that keeps customers interested and coming back for more. By then promoting that content through social media sites, customers can easily share this information with friends, essentially promoting your business for you with very little extra effort on your part.

Immediate Feedback
Of course there is a risk involved as well; developing a fully public presence that allows for uncensored comments from your customer base to be posted, both positive and negative, can feel very vulnerable at first. It’s important to remember that the negative feedback is happening either way, however, if it’s on a social media site, you’ll have the opportunity to address concerns immediately and change those perceptions before they expand. This kind of immediacy has never before been possible in the business relationship, and those companies who already employ such strategies are being met with resounding approval from their customer base.

Easy Promotional Tools
Interacting with customers is not just about handling customer feedback. It also offers a free way to promote special offers, distribute coupon codes, or hold contests. In fact, the more regularly your social media site is used for these purposes, the more fans are likely to maintain their connection. After all, who doesn’t want a deal for free once in a while?

New Ways to Reach an Audience
This is the age of technology, and social media is available to users across many devices. Many people have direct access to their favorite platforms through their mobile phones, tablet computers and a host of other gadgets. As an advertiser, this gives you access to your customers regardless of where they are or the technology they use.

Marketing Vs Advertising
In the age of social media, marketing is not just about advertising anymore, it’s about participation and interaction. This new marketing is less about finding target audiences, and more about encouraging a natural dialog within those audiences. In the end, it accomplishes three things:
● Cultivates a community which revolves around your business
● Builds relationships with new and existing customers
● Promotes image branding and builds an Internet presence

A Final Word
Tomorrow’s successful companies are those that today realize social media marketing is not a passing trend; it’s the new face of advertising and business. The public’s expectations have changed, and the old ways of reaching out just aren’t as effective anymore, or acceptable. The public doesn’t want to be communicated to; it wants to be communicated with. And businesses that are not willing to engage socially with customers will lose them to businesses that are engaging.

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