Is social media shaping the face of online marketing?

Lots of companies look to online methods to get their brands known. They try different tactics to get their target audience to notice them, and one of these is social media. It has evolved from being a soundboard for personal opinions, to being an important part of a company’s marketing strategy.

Social media drives traffic

In the past, content was created, published then left untouched. It stood still on a site just waiting to be found and read. These days, content gets promoted on social media sites as soon as it’s published.

With features such as hashtags, likes, shares, retweets and +1s, a newly published article can reach an enormous number of people in just seconds. In fact, 75% of marketers reported an increase in traffic from using social media. That is quite a staggering figure for those who remember marketing before the internet came along.

Social media fosters engagement

You can see that lots of brands on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ do more than just post updates. You see them interacting with their audience by asking them questions, inviting them to share stories and soliciting their opinion.

Social media has become a platform where companies can interact directly with their target audience. This makes it easier for them to get ideas on what customers actually want so they can improve their products and services.

Social media also serves as an avenue where customers can directly contact brands. On Twitter, all a user needs to do is address a company through their @username. So, any complaint or suggestion gets to businesses faster. Getting a quick response, however, does not always happen.

Social media grows communities

A lot of brands see their audience increase substantially when they launch a social media marketing campaign. One of the best examples was Nike’s campaign during the 2012 London Olympics. Although Adidas was the official sponsor for the event, Nike managed to get more attention through their #MakeItCount campaign which involved 11 athletes showing how pushing boundaries helps “make it count”.

In the end, more tweets associated Nike with the word Olympics. Nike also managed to get more fans on their Facebook page compared to Adidas.

The effectiveness of a campaign has a direct correlation to a brand’s increase in followers. Nonetheless, it goes to show that with a bit of creativity, and with the help of social media, businesses can grow their communities.

Social media aids customer service

For the average person, Facebook and Twitter are mostly used for networking with friends, following celebrities and airing their thoughts to the world. What makes these platforms so unique, and so potentially powerful, is that the same social sphere where these personal interactions take place is equally amassed with businesses and brands. This presents an enormous opportunity for marketers, but also opens up a very direct, and very public, avenue for the customer. If a business has any sense, it will be open to this new-world way and will not only be promoting themselves, but recognising social media as a great customer service tool. Obviously, having such an open forum has its risks – one false move could spell a public-relations disaster. Manage it well, however, and the rewards could be truly great.

Social media serves as an authority builder

Businesses used to rely on their websites as their only method of publishing content. They adhered to search engine rules in order to be found, and hoped for the best. Although implementing best-SEO-practice is essential, combining this with a solid social media strategy can really help build authority. Sharing niche-related information, promoting site content and interacting with followers are just a few great ways to earn customer trust on social media.

To answer the question posed in the title: YES, social media is shaping the face of online marketing. It has paved the way for faster and better communication between brands and customers. It’s also constantly changing to cater to the needs of its users. Plus, with tools like Vine and Instagram which can be integrated into the social media experience, it’s exciting to see how far this will take online marketing.

Author: Richard Eaves is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Smart Traffic, an SEO company helping businesses across different sectors gain web traffic for better sales and enquiries. Rich oversees more than 300 campaigns for the company.

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