Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Social Media Marketing

The emergence of Social Media Marketing is the ultimate outcome of a balanced combination of Internet Marketing and Social Media. This integration though brought a revolutionary change, the success of an SMM campaign still depends on the situational model. Integrating the two modes, i.e. Internet Marketing and Social Media cannot run the show until the common goals of both are identified and planned accordingly, and this is what needs a thorough understanding of Social Architecture and designing marketing strategies in accordance with the prevailing situation.

Social Architecture in its original essence is one of the determining force of functionality of social media, and the major components on which it bases, are: users, their identity and the relationship of users with each other and their interaction with the rest of physical and or virtual environment. On the other hand content and context are the ruling forces of Internet Marketing. When combined, Internet Marketing and Social Media, a new Media Marketing Circle originates sharing the bases of both and having a strong bond in between them. The shared bases of Internet Marketing and Social Media generating the SMM Circle can also be termed as the pillars of Social Media Marketing.

For a better understanding of these pillars of SMM, let’s start with Users; being the only target of marketing campaigns users are of utmost importance. In fact the whole SMM circle revolves round users in one way or other. Considering this pillar as of prime importance, let’s keep it at the top.

Since SMM is a user-oriented approach, it’s crucial to identify and classify these users in accordance with their potential and the market segment they hold. Coming to practical examples of SMM in action, let’s consider the User profiles; public and private, based on their location, ethnicity, preferences and aptitudes. User profile itself is a unique identity and provides a base for the right marketing strategy. Why I classified ‘Identity’ as a pillar is simply that excluding such from the list will impinge on the whole SMM plan. For more and more exploration of this attribute of users, five methods identified by Ben Wills (a leading Social Media columnist) can help to a greater extent, i.e. Identity Declaration through ‘about us’ page or network like Linked In, Association in the form of blogroll, del.icio.us, Stumbleupon etc, User-initiated conversations like Yahoo and Google groups, Provider-initiated conversations allowing 24/7/365 support and In-person interactions.

Another pillar of equal volume is ‘building relationships’. The strength of relationship actually determines the effectiveness of SMM plans, and the key to build such relationships is the selection of appropriate communication strategies that may be better set by tagging after the five methods of identity exploration mentioned above.

The pillars of Social Media Marketing mentioned above are actually the privy ends of the SMM world and need some vigorous representation in order have an online presence. While discussing the vigorous representation, it’s turn for king content to put light on. Along with having a hold of SEO hall of fame, content rules the SMM arena as well, the only difference is that here people are given preference over bots, i.e. content in a particular context. Content romps home of social media networks if it gens up about something that most of the users search for.

Vigorous representation is incomplete without the better use of social media tools, i.e. digging, stumbling, technorati favorite, commenting, sharing, bookmarking etc. These tools are, however, mixed blessing, as criticized as well and this criticism does hold justification, i.e. quantitative use deploying the quality of content. This is a serious issue and probably a hurdle on the way towards success of SMM as well. Replying to this criticism, another school of thought is of the opinion that quality still finds its way because the users are people, not bots, and content if not providing what users are looking for or is in old hat, will not be able to gimmick any attention even if made very much popular artificially.

Summing up the pillars of Social Media Marketing, i.e. Users, Identity, Relationships, Content and Social Media Tools, it can be stated that SMM is based on clear concepts of interlinked concepts of media marketing and social networking, and long term results need to hunt up the existing patterns and to rearrange them according to the prevailing situation.

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