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Understanding the Power of Social Media
To understand Facebook as a social media platform, we need to clarify what social media is and what social media marketing does.
Gone are the days when people used to buy TV time or a column in a newspaper to broadcast a message.
Today, people have their own DVRs and they read news on the web.
What used to be broadcasted on air to small groups, now happens in huge forums
of millions of people.

The Internet has given us the power to outsmart  the viral videos and we
do not have to hire the biggest ad firms anymore.
Everything is at our fingertips today !
That growth in technology didn’t lead to our enhanced desire to use social media.
Humans have always liked to socially interact with people,but in the past,
it was face-to-face and technology to do otherwise was not at our fingertips.

Today, we have access to various applications that help us socialize
and we can do it virtually.

The big wave of change came in with the advancement of Web2.0.
Before the invention of Web2.0 websites, the online communication was restricted to creating and sharing content on static web pages, which seemed more like

During that time, companies used to design their websites and keep the same
content for years.
However, the technological drift came in early 21st Century and the change was so tremendous that it was tagged as Web2.0.

This version of the web introduced various social media networking sites and mobile technology and allowed websites to be dynamic.
Technology has completely changed the way we socialize through online
communities and networks.

With Web2.0 today, there are millions of active Facebook users, millions of bloggers,
millions of Twitter users, millions of Youtube viewers, and people across the world are more connected than ever before.

If you are not utilizing the power of this social media, you are losing an opportunity.
Social Media Almost everything has changed since the Internet arrived.

The way we shop for groceries, communicate with friends and family, travel across the globe, and do our business – everything has evolved drastically and in such a short span of time.

If there is one thing that has catapulted this onslaught of technological elevation,
it has to be the Internet in general and social media in particular.
If you think that you can succeed with your business product or service based on yesterday's marketing principles, you are in for a rude shock.

Nothing, literally nothing, works today the way it used to work ten years ago.
The number of clients and their expectations is mind-boggling.

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The speed and churn of business are astonishing.
If in spite of owning a great product or service, a dedicated team, and the passion to serve, you have not been succeeding, then I can almost bet on one thing - you have not been using effective social media presence.

Just visualize the number of times you do a web search in a day.
Millions of search results are displayed in a fraction of a second.

Most people hardly ever scroll to the second page of a search result.
First, you are not alone in your business.

There are millions of others selling similar products and services.
Competition is intense and even having a small edge over your competitor counts.
Second, if your business is not listed among the top ten results, there is practically no chance of it ever being discovered by people who do not know you.

This is where your social media presence can help you;
it will make you visible to the world.

In the end, it will save you costs, drive relevant traffic with high conversion potential, and help build trust and credibility for your business.

According to Nielsen, e-users spend more time on social media websites than
any other type of site.

Also, it has been reported that the total time spent on social media websites in the US
(across computer systems and mobile devices) increased by 99% in 2012,
which translates to roughly 2 billion hours in a year.

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The benefits of using this robust social media platform have surpassed anything in the past to build a presence and increase revenue by reaching the target audience directly.

Leveraging Social Media effectively allows your business to reap benefits of its inherent features like Virality.
This is a feature of social media which is the more powerful version of ‘word-of-mouth’.

There is a great possibility that users will re-share content posted
(by another user or business) to their social network.
Many social media sites provide specific functionality to help users re-share content, for example, Facebook’s share link, Twitter's retweet button,
Pinterest pin or Tumblr's re-blog function.

To help you understand what social media is,
it needs to be defined in context with our conventional media.
While conventional media such as newspaper, radio, television etc.
are static broadcast, one-way platforms, social media allows its users to create
and distribute the content.

For instance, to get your advertisement added in the movie or serial, you have to spend money and the person who is viewing this also needs to spend money.
Moreover, if someone disagrees with something that was shown in the news, you cannot send your feedback – your voice can’t be heard.

On the other hand, a blog post or a Facebook post can be created and viewed for free. Advertisers, as well as viewers, do not have to pay anything to the publishing platform;
it just needs to be interesting so that it gets more viewers.
Moreover, it facilitates two-way communication.

This is what social media is: a group of websites where content is created
and published by users and communication happens both ways.
Social media helps improve your visibility, expand your business, and strengthen
the relationship with your customers by connecting with them.

Social media has various forms, for various purposes – social networks, sites that share media, forums, social bookmarking sites etc.

History of Advertising
This is the way most people define advertising:
Advertising is one-way promotional, paid communication on mass media channels.
According to American Marketing Association,
it is defined as the placement of promotional messages in media space purchased by organizations, individuals, or businesses for the purposes of informing or persuading their target audience about their services and/or products.

It has been a key element of a brand’s awareness.
However, if conceived from an online marketplace in its attributes and capabilities,
it requires a new archetype.
With the advent of social media, the act of marketing has undergone a major revolution.

The basis of advertising used to be creating persuasive messages and placing them on purchased media space to reach an audience.
This was considered to be the most effective means of marketing for many years.
But humans are never satisfied and hence,
the marketers and advertisers continued to look for something different.

The dramatic change that shook the advertising industry in 2009 marked the beginning
of advertisements made over the Internet.
Since then, there have been several changes in this domain; mass marketing
moved into a digital era and now the consumer has a more engaged
and involved connection with the sellers.

Today, marketing and advertising experts have entered an era where there is minimal influence over what the consumer sees, reads, watches, and hears.

They have adopted more controlled marketing strategies to offer the world more interactive and engaging marketing.

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While the focus of mass media has been on broadcast and print methods, online advertising involves more targeted, direct and brand-building tactics for social media marketing.

The digital advertising is more about connections, engagements,
and shared control, and less about static content.
Today, the customers create and control their media content to attain media democracy. There were flaws in the traditional advertising model:

Flaw #1: The main flaw in the traditional advertising model is its tight coupling with the mass media, such as newspapers, radio, television etc.

The focus on mass media is on broadcasting and printing.
The world was looking for something much more than what mass media offered.
There was a need for a platform that can reach everyone and anyone; something that doesn’t depend on the size of the audience.
This is fulfilled by a web platform as it comprises of infinite websites – niche and general
(for mass reach).

Advertising on the web could mean broadcasting using a display ad on sites that have mass reach, example Google,
or it can be reaching someone 1:1 through targeted messages.

Flaw #2: Another flaw in the traditional means of advertising is that it is a paid communication.

Today the definition of advertising has changed.
Even some of the most effective forms of online advertising are unpaid or paid indirectly.
Flaw #3: Another big flaw is advertising has been one-way means of communication
since its inception where the messages are delivered by the marketing experts to the target audience with the help of ads.

This kind of communications exerts limits on the communication as it happens
in a controlled manner.

On the other hand, Web2.0 brought with it a perfect storm that enabled two-way communication between brands and users.
It added an element of interaction or consumer involvement to the world of advertising.

Today advertising is more about connections and conversations.
The ad era is over and we are a part of new digital ad era, but the marketing experts
do not need to stop using traditional ways of advertising.

According to the researchers, the combination of both forms (traditional and Web2.0) has resulted in an overall increase in marketing touch-points, and both methods have their own unique value.

The traditional media can certainly not be replaced by the new digital marketing media;
it should add to the success of marketing efforts.

But one must evaluate all the possible methods and see what works the best for their organization or brand keeping their customer base in mind.

In order to succeed and achieve marketing goals, marketers, and advertisers must draw inference about the customer’s interests and see where their attention is shifting.

Accordingly, they should proceed to advertise in a way that allows their customers to respond. If they are losing interest in traditional media and shifting toward social media, advertisers and marketers should also move their focus to social media to maintain their brand awareness.

This, by no means, implies that Web2.0 is killing traditional marketing methods;
it has just evolved to match the needs of today’s advertising and marketing.

Social Media Marketing
The baffling channels of social media advertising make it difficult to understand what they have in common – shared platform or the means of communication.

Although these social media messages look similar to all the messages on conventional advertising platforms,
the interactive attribute that is embedded in these messages is what makes them interesting and attracts reader’s attention.

Social media marketing is the method of using these services to attract customers based on your connection and your rapport.

This type of marketing makes use of the latest online technologies to achieve marketing goals of the advertisers.

Social media marketing comprises of several operations and methods to generate publicity through the use of these social websites.
Businesses should be where their clients are.

Here are the facts:
There are more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who use the Internet. More than 70% of these are habitual of reading blogs.
Of those who use the Internet, about 40% write their own blogs.

More than 60% of them are active on at least one of the social media platforms.
More than half of Internet users have pictures uploaded on social channels.

More than 85% of the Internet users watch videos online.
More than 70% of the Internet users visit the social channels.
Wikipedia consists of more than 20 million articles.

There are more than 100 million Youtube videos that are viewed.
Twitter users post more than 50 million tweets in a year.
Facebook is used more than 80 million hours each day.
Facebook adds more than 100 million users in 10 months.

More than 80% of organizations use the social media platform
LinkedIn to find candidates.
You can clearly see the reach and popularity of social media channels;
it has brought the biggest reformation to society since the 19th Century.

It has changed the way we think, communicate, and connect with others.
You cannot avoid this powerful platform if you are trying to market your product
or brand as it is inseparable from the society of today.

If you are a business owner and trying to make your mark in the marketplace,
you must create a social media plan for your brand,
evaluate which is the best social media channel for your business,
and what are the blogs that can be closely connected to your business/brand.

Analyze what is available and decide on two or3 social media websites that can work for your business.
Next, evaluate and create blogs that will target your intended audience.
You can either write your own blogs or include existing ones in your social media plan.

By commenting on other blogs and participating in forums, you can make your presence in the marketplace known where your target audience hangs out.

The foremost step in social media marketing is selecting the best platform
for your business or brand.
Social media is your best advertising solution because:
It helps you grow your fan-base and ultimately creates sales.

Co-create: It helps you create customer-generated content for your marketing goals, which certainly perform better than any other advertising medium.
Customer reach: It aids you in targeting new as well as existing customers.

4. Measurement and Analytics: You can use analytics offered by these platforms to determine how your business is performing.

Before you jump into this digital sphere of marketing, look at some of the aspects to ensure social media marketing is actually right for your business.

You need to determine who and where your target audience is.
One of the key reasons social media became so popular so quickly is the reach and extent of the online marketplace today.

Most products can be bought and sold online.
The Internet has become an ideal marketplace and an ideal platform to market your products and services.

If your customers use the web for research or shopping purposes,
social media is the right choice for you.

However, not every business can be successful on the web, and at the same time,
it is not really difficult to make your presence known online.

Some people say you need to have a deadly search engine ranking in order to get heard or seen. If you do the research properly and find the right tools to get into action,
you are good to go.

For instance, you can use the free listing option offered by Google Local Business
to list your business details to be visible when anyone searches for your product
or similar products online.

An important factor is that an online presence helps you attract your customer’s
attention in “reviews”.

If you have a handful of positive reviews, you can attract others to visit your site.
You have to keep a constant eye on all your competitors to see what they have been doing. Discover their activities and strategies.

If you find them active on the forum or attending certain trade shows,
you should also attend them.
If you see them following certain communities, pages, commenting regularly in certain groups, writing blogs, then you should do the same.

This way you will not just know what they are doing but also what they are not doing, and this should be your lead to leave them behind.

Deciding on a strong social media plan requires a significant amount of time and effort.
You need to spend a lot of time to find out what’s trending and what would work best for your business scenario.

You will have to spend time every day on a number of platforms, read blogs, check videos, follow your competitors, post regularly, make comments, and add to discussions in the forums and communities to make your presence known.

If you don’t have enough time for all this, social media marketing is probably not the right thing for you. In that case, you must reevaluate your marketing goals to see what you can do with the available resources (time, money, and effort).

However, Social Media has the potential to replace any other form of marketing.

Time – Creating and setting up ads and campaigns on social media platforms are less expensive than the traditional ads, but if you consider time as money, then yes,
social media marketing is going to be an expensive show for you.

Social media campaigns and ads do not run on their own, they are quite demanding.
If you want to reap maximum benefits from a platform, you need to have lots of time, time, and more time.

You need time to set up ads, to monitor the progress, to keep an eye on your competitor’s activities, to keep your customers engaged,
to comment on related blogs, to be active on forums that are related to your brand,
to connect with influencers; these are just a few of the things that you need to do.

Effort – Put in all that it takes to learn the tricks of the trade.
Social media is so vast that no one can ever call himself a master of this domain;
there is always something new to learn.

Read as many blogs as possible.
Learn the tricks from communities and forums where people always
share their experiences.

Learn from books (like this one☺) that teach you about various social media platforms. Attend trade shows and conferences/sessions on social media marketing.

To be continued


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