Thursday, July 9, 2009

Social Media & Marketing – Inbound Marketing

As a management graduate, I couldn’t agree less for the importance of social media & marketing. During my MBA days, I learnt the importance of networking and how we can leverage it to our benefit while at work for ourselves or for others.

No one can take the sheen away from the great networking websites like linkedin, facebook, twitter and orkut. This wave should actually be credited to Mr. Orkut Buyukkokten, a Turkish software engineer for conceptualising and developing orkut and earning millions out of it. This started a wave called social media, a place for everyone and anyone. At first it was for just an interaction and getting in touch or just getting back in touch. And this gradually turned into a common place where people would spend their time, enjoy being online, get jobs, share experiences, discuss anything in this world and earn money out of all this. This has become a multi million dollar business opportunity.

Similar is the state of other social media like communication websites like Blogger, LiveJournal, Twitter, etc, Collaboration websites like Wikipedia, Social bookmarking like Delicious, Google Reader, Social news like Digg, Reddit, multimedia platforms like flickr, youtube, reviews and opinions logs like epinions, Yahoo Answers, Wiki Answers and host of other such websites. The way these websites and companies are growing and earning business and revenues for themselves, they are doing a great job. The craze they have started in the demand for their services has led to a new wave in the internet world and a totally new concept in marketing.

With the widespread use and access of social media, our marketers couldn’t be left behind to use it for their benefit and make it a big thing on the marketing industry. Today social media is the “in thing” and marketers are leveraging it to gain brownie points everywhere. The way businesses are using linkedin, facebook, twitter, flickr, etc and blogging to gain presence everywhere, to reach out to their potential clients, to prospect and generate leads is staggering on one hand and mind boggling on the other.

Social media marketing is also called social influence marketing. It is way people interact with each other and businesses reach out to their potential customers and try and generate business out of it. It’s the way businesses and brands have conversations. It is inbound marketing where people find businesses or brands and products and services. It is the concept of getting found by customers and in this sense is related to relationship marketing. In inbound marketing, information about customer needs is given to the businesses and their knowledge on products and services and feedback drives future development of products and services.

Social Media’s importance can be easily gauged by the extensive and exhaustive use of internet and new age web. Hence the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) that would help in maintaining high positions and in search lists and help gain visibility and popularity. Social Media helps with SEO. It helps promote our blog, both personal and business. These blogs can be used to promote our products and services and improve ROI. Social Media is permission centric, where, marketers request permission to go ahead with the next step with their prospects. It is mostly used by online marketers and hence used at length in social media.

Social Media in a way is only ones state of mind. To start with, we should start meeting new people and start interacting with them. Answer questions from others, build credibility and listen to other’s advice to build trust. This way we can build our network and become a real member of the community. It is more effective than any party with no boundaries of space and time and others can join in and listen.

The 3 major kinds of social media available right now are: Share, Network and Publish.

Sharing social media can be utilised to promote anything to everyone. Companies like Reddit, Digg, Delicious, etc are the ones which are doing great business in promoting these services. To effectively use such services, one must try and find where our target audience hangs out and promote our content and other allied content there. We should take care to produce content that our audience will love.

Networking social media is used to connect with everyone from anywhere. The famous names in this industry are Facebook, Orkut, Linedin, myspace, twitter, etc. This can be effectively used to build our personal, professional and social networks. We can make friends by searching out existing connections, networking through groups and add the link to our e-mail signature, blogs, profile, etc. We should utilise it to answer questions from others, get our questions answered and get and provide cool advice and share experiences and content and links.

Publishing social media can be used to publish anything for everyone. Some most famous companies are flickr, wikipedia, rss, youtube, etc. Social media can be used to publicise and promote our content. It can vary from songs, video clippings promoting products and services. We can use it to monitor what others publish too and empower our customers to publish content about them too.

The most important way to enable social media improve ROI for our business is by getting found on the web. On Page SEO is where we make a right and thoughtful selection of words or keywords for our website pages that enable fast internet search and optimize search results. This helps build high rakings on web search. Off Page SEO, where identify opportunities to generate extra returns from our existing links. Blogging is another technique to promote our products and services. One should enable a natural and consistent process to update content and achieve more frequent search engine results in your favour. We can develop and attract more inbound links.

Social Media & Marketing is an important step to enable businesses to achieve those extra points at very low costs. This improves the ROI very easy and fast. Mail me to learn more about it and how we can partner to utilise it to your benefit.

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