• Social Media Optimization

    Social Media Optimization

    SMO - Social Media Optimization: Social media optimization is the use of a number of outlets and communities to generate publicity to increase the awareness of a product, service brand or event.

    Why you need Social Media Optimization or Social Media Marketing?

    Ans: Social media is hot. Social Media is now the trend. And for businesses it represents a marketing opportunity that transcends the traditional middleman and connects companies directly with customers. This is why nearly every business on the planet from giants like Starbucks and IBM to the local ice cream shop are exploring social media marketing initiatives. 

    A year ago, businesses were uncertain about social media. Now it's here to stay and companies are rapidly adopting social media marketing. Much like email and websites first empowered businesses, social media is the next marketing wave. Social media marketing is marketing using online communities, social networks, blog marketing and more. It's the latest "buzz" in marketing. India is probably among the first proponents of social media marketing. These days, the organizational cause has replaced the social cause as companies seek to engage with their audience via the online platforms. The explosion of social media phenomenon is as mind boggling as that and the pace at which it is growing is maddening. 

    Trust and goodwill are the basis of social networking, and by marketing in the realm of social media these fundamental notions need to be adhered. It is probably the only marketing platform that encourages fool proof communication and accountability among sellers as well as consumers. Global companies have recognized Social Media Marketing as a potential marketing platform, utilized them with innovations to power their advertising campaign with social media marketing.

    Social media: Social media is engaging with consumers online. According to Wikipedia, social media is internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. Social media is all about networking and networking in a way that espouses trust among parties and communities involved. Any website which allows user to share their content, opinions, views and encourages interaction and community building can be classified as a social media. Some popular social media sites are: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Digg, MySpace, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Scribd, Flickr etc.

    The meaning of the term ‘social media’ can be derived from two words which constitute it. Media generally refers to advertising and the communication of ideas or information through publications/channels. Social implies the interaction of individuals within a group or community. Taken together, social media simply refers to communication/publication platforms which are generated and sustained by the interpersonal interaction of individuals through the specific medium or tool. Wikipedia has a general definition of the term: Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers.

    Social media uses the “wisdom of crowds” to connect information in a collaborative manner. Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, and video. 

    Social media is made up of user-driven websites that are usually centered on a specific focus (Digg = news) or feature (del.icio.us = bookmarking). Sometimes, the community itself is the main attraction (Facebook and Myspace = networking).

    There are two benefits of social media that are important to businesses, they include:
    1. Cost reduction by decreasing staff time.
    2. Increase of probability of revenue generation.

    Social media enables companies to:
    1. Share their expertise and knowledge.
    2. Tap into the wisdom of their consumers.
    3. Enables customers helping customers.
    4. Bngages prospects through customer evangelism.

    Thus the benefits of social media include: brand reach and awareness, consumer interactions through transactions, referrals and reputation management.

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    Growth of social media marketing:
    A recent study, “The State of Small Business Report,” sponsored by Network Solutions, LLC and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, points to economic struggles as the catalyst for social media’s rapid popularity. The study results show that social media usage by small business owners increased from 12% to 24% in just the last year, and almost 1 out of 5, actively uses social media as part of his or her marketing strategy. In 2009, only 23% of marketers were using social media for years. Now that number has grown to 31%. Here’s a breakdown of what the small businesses reported as the main uses of social media marketing:

    1. 75% have a company page on a social networking site.
    2. 69% post status updates or articles of interest on social media sites.
    3. 57% build a network through a site such as LinkedIn.
    4. 54% monitor feedback about the business.
    5. 39% maintain a blog.
    6. 26% tweet about areas of expertise.
    7. 16% use Twitter as a service channel. 

    According to the study, different industries are adopting social media marketing at different rates, and while many industries have started using social media marketing in their efforts to reach more customers, many still have not positioned it as their top priority.

    Current marketing budget spending on social media:
    August 2009: 3.5%
    February 2010: 5.6%

    Marketing budget spending on social media in the next 12 months:
    August 2009: 6.1%
    February 2010: 9.9%

    Marketing budget spending on social media in the next 5 years:
    August 2009: 13.7%
    February 2010: 17.7% 

    It can be understood that even though many are still experimenting and learning how best to use social media tools, these results indicate that marketers think social media marketing is here to stay and will play an increasingly important role in their work in acquiring and retaining customers in the future.

    Benefits of social media marketing:
    Significantly different from conventional marketing strategies, Social Media Marketing (SMM) offers three distinct advantages. One, it provides a window to marketers to not only present products / services to customers but also to listen to customers’ grievances and suggestions. Two, it makes it easy for marketers to identify various peer groups or influencers among various groups, who in turn can become brand evangelist and help in organic growth of a brand. And, three, all this is done at nearly zero cost (as compared to conventional customer outreach programmers) as most of the social networking sites are free.

    Social media marketing helps in:
    1. Generating exposure to businesses.
    2. Increasing traffic/subscribers.
    3. Building new business partnerships.
    4. Rise in search engine rankings.
    5. Generating qualified leads due to better lead generation efforts.
    6. Selling more products and services.
    7. Reduction in overall marketing expenses.

    Understanding the Relevance of Social Media in Marketing:
    The role of social media in marketing is to use it as a communication tool that makes the companies accessible to those interested in their product and makes them visible to those that don't know their product. It should be used as a tool that creates a personality behind their brand and creates relationships that they otherwise may never gain. This creates not only repeat-buyers, but customer loyalty. Fact is social media is so diversified that it can be used in whatever way best suits the interest and the needs of the business.

    According to 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2010, a majority of marketers (56%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, and nearly one in three invest 11 or more hours weekly. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, in order. A significant 81% of marketers plan on increasing their use of blogs. A majority of the marketers are employing social media for marketing purposes and small businesses were slightly more likely to use social media. 76% of marketers are spending at least 4 hours each week on their social media marketing efforts.

    Role of social media in marketing:
    Social media is now increasingly becoming an ingrained aspect of political campaigns, national defense strategies, public policy, public relations, brand management and even intra company communication.
    Since the major task of marketing as tool used to inform consumers about the company’s products, who they are and what they offer, social marketing plays an important role in marketing.

    1. Social media can be used to provide an identity about the companies and the products or services that they offer.
    2. Social media helps in creating relationships with people who might not otherwise know about the products or service or what the companies represent.
    3. Social media makes companies "real" to consumers. If they want people to follow them they need not just talk about the latest product news, but share their personality with them.
    4. Social media can be used to associate themselves with their peers that may be serving the same target market.
    5. Social media can be used to communicate and provide the interaction that consumers look for. 

    Why businesses need to consider social media marketing services?
    1. Size: Facebook has over 250 million users globally. On an average, 70-100 tweets happen by the second. An average user on Facebook has 120 friends. This is the kind of enormity Social networking sites espouse and with this comes the license to communicate powerfully. But when such large numbers are involved, there is a danger of something going wrong and when it does, it happens in a big way. An expert should be hired to do what is best for business.
    2. Transparency: No cheat code involved. No black hat techniques allowed. Everything that happens in the social networking landscape is fool proof. Companies cannot fake authenticity in an attempt to get more people involved. Members can choose to associate with the company or opt out. Opinions made on social networking platforms are taken seriously and the more authoritative the companies get, more seriously they are taken.
    3. Reach: It is possible to make mark globally and do it quickly using social networking sites.
    4. Boost website traffic: Social media is probably the fastest and easiest means of redirecting traffic to company’s website. By simply placing their website URL in their profile, the company can have all their profile visitors check out their website and a percentage of traffic is sure to get converted in course of time. This is the virtual way version of “word-of mouth”.
    5.  Branding: Buying a candy may have been impulsive all your life, but if it is discussed on a social networking site, there is likely to get brand conscious even a candy. Social media is a smart way to build brands. Social media platforms are known to be one of the most powerful and fast means of branding. Some of the big brands like Coke, Ford, Dell, IBM, Burger King are some of the well known brands have powerfully used social media platforms to endorse themselves.

    Barriers to Implementation of Social Media at companies:
    On the other hand, social media use scenario is more encouraging at small businesses. According to the State of Small Business Report, social media usage by small businesses increased from 12 percent to 24 percent in the last year. Further, almost 20 percent of small businesses actively employ social media as an integral part of the marketing strategy. In fact small businesses are currently allocating 6% of their marketing budgets to social media. It is expected that this is expected to reach 10 percent by 2011 and further to around 18 percent over the next 5 years. Some of the findings from the survey are particularly encouraging from business via social media point of view, these include:
    1. 75 percent of small businesses have presence on a social networking site
    2. 54 percent are monitoring feedbacks
    3. 69 percent post updates or interesting articles on social media sites 

    Social Media Marketing in India - An Overview:
    India has 71 million active internet users. Social Media is really picking up new heights in India. According to the 2010 Regus Global Survey of business social networking, India tops the usage of social networking by business – it has the highest activity index, 127, far more than the US’97, and 52% of the Indian respondent companies said that they had acquired new customers using social networks while 35% American companies managed that. Many companies are coming big way for Social Media Optimization for their Product or Services nowadays. During Election 2009 Social Media was used for Influence Indian Voters. Social Media Marketing in India is being undertaken by brands like Tata Docomo, MTV India, Channel V, Clear Trip, Tata Photon, Axe deodorants, Microsoft, Naukri, Shaadi and many more. Besides, numerous Indian celebrities are also using SMM platform to promote their movies, music and events via Twitter, Facebook and personalized blogs. Social Media Marketing is also boosting public relations business. Several PR agencies in India are undertaking brand building exercises for corporate organizations, brands and celebrities. However, to the delight of many among us, the biggest gainers from SMM till date have been the organizations from the Not-forProfit sector. Several Campaigns like ‘Bell Bajao’ and ‘Jaago Re’ have been quite successful on Social Networking Sites. These campaigns have been spreading the word about their cause through blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

    Social Media Marketing Strategies:
    1. This is the age of consumer satisfaction. It is not about selling it is more about interacting. There is a lot to learn from the customers. Using social media one can identify customers, listen to their feedback and use them to improve and innovate on products or services.
    2. SMM is not a mass advertising strategy. It can be used to identify peer groups and advertise to that particular group. Social Media can help in identifying influencers and through them one can guide a prospective customer into making a purchase.
    3. SMM calls for novel advertising methods as the attention span of online junta is very low. This is largely due to the multitasking phenomena. A person watching a video clip on YouTube might be simultaneously updating a blog, while reading another one and watching friend’s photographs on Facebook. In order to garner their attention away from distractions the advertisement must be innovative and interesting to hold the imagination and attention of the prospect.
    4. At the same time the message must also provoke the recipient into action; like seeking a detailed description of the product/service, or suggesting to a friend, or initiating purchase. So, if the advertisement is trying to sell something then it should be conveniently placed with links so that the prospect can make a purchase with least effort.
    5. Similarly Social Media can be used to increase customer loyalty through customer support services and hence improve customer retention.
    6. Social Media Marketing can also be used by brands to ward off any negative publicity. But the brands will have to be cautious here as over doing it may further aggravate their customers / stakeholders.

    To successfully implement one’s SMM strategy the following points must be kept in mind:
    1. The company shouldn’t just jump on to the bandwagon just because others are jumping into it. The market should be analyzed first to understand whether their brand would really benefit from SMM. It should try and find out whether SMM strategies fit its brand.
    2. The company shouldn’t expect results over night. SMM is a long term strategy. It will not happen overnight. The results might become visible anywhere from three to six months.
    3. SMM is not a standalone tool for marketing. It has to be used along with all the other conventional marketing strategies. 

    There are many things that social media can do for business. Developing a strategy for using it means that the firms need to think about what they want to accomplish this year and determine how social media fits into the plan. One of the benefits of a social media strategy is the fact that the available tools can customized for their particular needs. The firms can choose to concentrate their efforts on the sites that seem to offer the best return on investment, while taking a “wait and see” stand on the others. 

    References: Hello Buyer® Corporation India, A Leading Digital Marketing Company in India & Specialist in Social Media Marketing in India.
    Ring us: +919971972070
    Write us: Info@hellobuyer.in
    Visit: www.HelloBuyer.in
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