Written by Nicholas Beeson – Marketing Associate at Buzzwords Manchester
Social media has changed the way we interact with our friends, family, customers and colleagues. It has enabled consumers to become opinion leaders, leaving marketers only one option: to listen to their customers’ opinions.
Social media can be explained as, “The sum total of people who create content online, as well as the people who interact with one another.”
Through social media, consumers are now able to add their own opinions and content to sites. This has enabled them to form opinions between one another on social networking sites, blogs and forums. As a result, marketers have developed Social Media Marketing (SMM) which can best be described as;
‘A term used to encompass any online marketing strategy or tactic which uses social media as the medium for its communication. Further use of social media is where the marketer engages in discourse with members of the general public (potential customers) in virtual communities.’
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are at the forefront of social media sites and, as the world knows, they are growing exponentially. Expert Larry Webster states that social networks are “Member-based communities that enable users to link one another based on common interests and through invites”.
Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all provide users with different experiences. Ultimately, however, they all give users the ability to find and connect with friends, family, colleagues etc. Social networking sites enable marketers to advertise, improve online exposure/reputation and nurture pre-existing brand advocates. Although the security and privacy that these sites provide is often questioned, they continue to grow and influence modern society.
As an example: when a US blogger called Vincent Ferrari felt that he had been insulted by an AOL customer service representative, he decided to take revenge. Ferrari posted the audio recording of the conversation online. As word spread, 300,000 listeners requested downloads of the audio file, the story was picked up by thousands of other bloggers and websites, and eventually made national news. This is a great example of the power blogs have and the true freedom consumers now have to vent their frustrations and offer opinions.
Businesses are also using blogs to add a human connection to a previously bland corporate image. Marketers have realised the importance of blogs as they can create massive exposure and also engage consumers on a personal level. Micro-blogging site, Twitter, gives business the opportunity to put out short 140-character blogs that can be just as effective as conventional blogs in moulding and influencing public opinion.