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Posted by ROI.com.au

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What is Social Media Marketing?

A satirical view of social media

Short Answer: Social Media Marketing is an increasingly popular way businesses drive website traffic and inbound leads by sharing content on social media networks.  A central goal to a successful social media marketing strategy is to connect with others who share your content across their social networks to rapidly grow an audience.

What are the Most Popular Social Media Platforms?

Scores of different social media tools and channels have flooded the market. New choices are emerging frequently. Below, we list the most popular channels used by businesses.

1. FACEBOOK

The world’s most popular place for people to hangout and share everything from what they ate for breakfast, to breaking news; and reviews of the latest movie release to the coolest new gadget. Businesses have also switched onto the potential of Facebook as an advertising and marketing medium to get directly with their customers.

Recent industry figures suggest there are more than 2 billion account holders registered on Facebook – more than the population of China. More than half of these are active, sharing posts with their connections at least once a week. And the vast majority access their accounts on mobile devices – whether they’re at home, work, a restaurant, on the road or on holiday.

Facebook brings photos, videos, graphics, words and locations to life – unlike any other forum – with no limits on what and how much can be shared.

Increasingly, Facebook is becoming a documented record of what people are doing and thinking at different stages of their lives.

A Facebook business page is like a digital business card that customers can never lose.

The benefits cut both ways. For business owners, Facebook opens doors to interact with customers. For customers, it’s a chance to sample a company’s wares and see what others are saying about them.

Social media apps

2. LINKEDIN

In world population terms, LinkedIn also ranks comfortably in the top 10 with well over 500 million users.

For many, LinkedIn is the go-to resource for job seekers and employers. Many HR departments won’t even consider an applicant who hasn’t developed a professional LinkedIn profile. And more jobs than ever are appearing exclusively on LinkedIn.

The recent introduction of LinkedIn Publisher gives every account holder the chance to share posts, build a following and grow their connections in a more visual-centric way than ever before.

Photos, files, Infographics, presentations and videos now all have a place on LinkedIn for individual and company accounts. For example, images of an event, a presentation or exhibition are a powerful way to showcase products and services.

Recommendations and skill endorsements provide an insight into what you do and how you do it. A detailed employment history can help re-establish links with people you worked with in the past and open doors for new opportunities.

3. INSTAGRAM

Facebook’s controversial billion-dollar buyout of Instagram caught most people off guard.

But tens of millions of individuals and businesses are swamping the platform because it is a quick and simple way to share pictures and videos with a surprising twist or two.

Special effects add an artistic touch to photos and the mapping function plots the location of all photos and videos. It’s a fun way to record a holiday or an event and track the history of your images, while showing your friends where you have been and what you have done.

Businesses are easily able to capture pictures of their staff, products and functions and keep their customers informed about special offers or upcoming events. Now Instagram advertising enables businesses to sell products directly from Instagram.

Social Media Landscape

4. PINTEREST

Quite possibly the fastest growing of all the social media channels, Pinterest is the prince of platforms for businesses looking to share their wares in photographs.

It’s simple, it’s fun and it has great traction with heavy browsers who like to share and keep track of what they’ve discovered.

With a growing feature list – such as creating curated, private and public boards to categorise your Pins – businesses have switched on to its potential and are having success running competitions, sharing information and introducing staff and product lines to build engagement.

Pinterest is an easy entry point for social media beginners to quickly build a presence by promoting their latest products, people and services direct from their website.

5. TWITTER

Twitter is the true social media temptress – revealing only a tiny portion of itself with the promise of so much more if you press the right buttons. But blink and you’ll miss its bite-sized grabs as they fly off your screen at lightning speed.

As social media influencer Jeff Bullas explains: “It’s more about brutal brevity, smart succinctness and simple shortness than monstering the masses with multi-media sensory overload. It’s about doing more with less.”

Twitter is where customers turn to vent their spleen if they’re unhappy with a product or service, or just plain let down by something they’ve experienced.

Dealing with dissatisfaction on Twitter fast is a good recipe for rebuilding trust. And Twitter is a brilliant launchpad for marketing campaigns because it gets the message out fast and results can be instant.

Recent changes to the web version of Twitter make it a much more visual platform to share multiple photos and videos in a single post.

Rules of engagement are ever changing

Social media wears many costumes and plays myriad roles on today’s world business stage. I’ve highlighted some of the popular channels and how they are changing the face of marketing.

But new products keep entering the market. Vine is causing a storm as clever creators come up with ingenious ways to engage viewers on its micro video platform.

Like the rise in popularity of short form cricket, Instagram tapped into an endless appetite for quick grabs with 15-second videos. Vine has shortened this mark to just 6 seconds.

The smorgasbord of choice keeps growing and is limited only by the boundaries of creativity.