Simply put it is just another marketing channel, but we still need to understand how to use it in order to move forward and understand the 'stickyness' of social media. SMM is interacting with your internet users, not by selling them your products or services, but by building relationships with them about authoritative information, entertainment, humor or controversies.
Think of this channel as a way to sit in a room with your target market and have a discussion, toss out thoughts and ideas. The communication can be controversial or humorous, the goal of course would be to build a relationship with the people of the community. It's that relationship that will bring them to your site.
YouTube is a great example of social media, look at what this site did for Mentos and Diet Coke. There was no selling involved, it was entertaining, informative AND everyone loved it! People all over the country has been talking about it and even trying the experiment, making the video a viral marketing explosion. I used this example to show the potential, even though this particular video was not created or distributed by either company, the result is still remarkable. It shows how the social element of the Internet could be used as an avenue for marketing.
Andy Beal states: Fox Interactive Media – and about half a dozen other companies – conducted a study to determine the value of social media for marketers. Sampling 3,000 US internet users, they discovered …
"More than 70% of American's 15-34 are actively using social networks online, and the research showed social networking sites taking a strong foothold in the primetime hours. starting to use a social network.
Brands such as Adidas and Electronic Arts attributed more than 70% of their marketing return on investment to the "Momentum Effect." That "Momentum Effect" is a cute term coined by the study to define "the impact of a brand within a social network beyond traditional advertising impressions to encompass the" pass along "power of consumer-to-consumer communication." In other words, viral marketing, tipping point, word of mouth, etc. "
Now those are pretty big numbers, and is worth exploring the avenues to take your business into the social networking arena. Remember to maintain an awareness of how quickly people move from one sphere to another, 'stickyness' (the ability to keep the visitor interested) is the biggest challenge in this marketing channel.