Targeting Consumers With Social Media

"How can one man in one night visit all the children of the world?"

"There's some sort of time continuum that breaks down once Santa's in his sleigh."

-The Santa Clause

How can one company have a personal conversation with thousands of customers and potential customers all over the country and the world? The relatively new marketing tool called social media breaks down the old "time continuum" and allows companies to have a conversation with thousands of people all over the country, indeed all over the world.

There is a great deal of talk about social media and special agencies have sprung up to take advantage of the growing marketing spend in this medium. But what is social media really and what is the best way to use it?

What Is Social Media?

Let's start by looking at the latest facts for this holiday season. A new survey by comScore Inc. found that 28% of holiday shoppers said that social media influenced some of their purchase decisions this season. That is a large percentage of people for what this media directly influenced a purchase. It is clear that smart marketers can not ignore this. But what exactly did this survey define as social media? Interestingly, they expanded the definition to include online reviews and articles. Many social media disciples do not consider online reviews and articles to be part of this category. In fact, most of the buzz is about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. But without that broadening of the definition to include these reviews and articles, the results of this survey do not look so good. Only 6% of consumers were affected by Facebook and 3% by twitter. The vast majority of consumers were affected by reviews.

A newly published white paper surveyed 700 marketing professionals who are actively engaged in social media marketing. By a long shot Twitter was the top social media tool used by these professionals followed by LinkedIn and Facebook. So, only a very small percentage of consumers are affected by tweets but Twitter is the top property the surveyed marketers are using to reach their audience.

Content is King

There is great value in content marketing, the creation and distribution of articles, press releases, videos etc. through the internet. When you create this content not only are you informing the consumer about your products or services but you are establishing link back to your web site. Done properly your content can have thousands, even hundreds of thousands of link backs from sites all over the net. This has value on several levels. Obviously it creates additional interest in your business but it also has great value for SEO, raising your web site's search engine rankings.

I'm not saying that Facebook is fallacy or you should be a Twitter quitter. These are very valuable tools that will continue to grow in value over the years. You should use these tools as well as blogging, social bookmarking, and all other tools available. There will also be new tools cropping up and it will be wise to embrace some of them as well. The goal is to have an on-going conversation with your customers

So, by all means, embrace social media. Just do not narrow the definition to the more talked about strategies and consider adding content marketing to your online arsenal.