Understanding the Role of Social Media in Marketing

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First off, let's talk about what social media is. Social media represents low-cost tools that are used to combine technology and social interaction with the use of words. These tools are typically internet or mobile-based. A few that you are probably familiar with include Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Social media gives marketers a voice and a way to communicate with peers, customers, and potential consumers. It personalizes the "brand" and helps you to spread your message in a relaxed and conversational way.

The downfall of social media, if you could call it that, is that it must be a part of your everyday life to keep the momentum and attention you need for it to be successful.

These days, everyone from small business owners to some of the biggest companies in the world are using social media to spread the word about their brands, products, and services.

Companies That Use Social Media

Absolut Vodka - Online Video on YouTube and using Facebook to house their Top Bartender fan page.

BMW - Utilizing Facebook to promote their 1-Series Road Trip and they have created a Rampenfest Page for fans.

Dunkin Donuts - That's right, they've found value in social media and have set up a microblogging Twitter account.

Donald Trump - In our examples, we can't leave out President Trump. He has taken the use of Twitter to a whole new level. He has dictated policy, influenced the stock market, and generally used Twitter as a way to communicate directly to the people, going around the traditional news media.

As you can see we have adult beverage companies, exotic automobile manufacturers, pastry shops, and our President using social media tools. It's not too hard to see that there is something to it.

What role should it play in your marketing? Marketing is a tool we use to inform consumers about our products, who we are, and what we offer. Social media does that. Here is how:

  • We can use social media to provide an identity to who we are and the products or services that we offer.
  • We can create relationships using social media with people who might not otherwise know about our products or service or what our companies represent.
  • Social media makes us "real" to consumers. If you want people to follow you, don't just talk about the latest product news, but share your personality with them.
  • We can use social media to associate ourselves with our peers that may be serving the same target market.
  • We can use social media to communicate and provide the interaction that consumers look for.

As you can see social media carries with it a lot of value, but how do you do it right?

  • You cannot just depend on social media; you must integrate it with other vehicles of marketing. While social media will create awareness, we're not convinced that in the beginning it will sell a million dollars worth of product. That's not to say that one day once you've built up your social media "stardom" that it won't, but it probably won't happen tomorrow.
  • Be yourself, reflect personality. There are no written "right" or "wrong" rules when it comes to social media; only you can determine what will work for you.
  • Be consistent, if you do not plan on being consistent don't do it at all - it's a waste of everyone's time.

Success stories are abundant when it comes using social media from headhunters that find job applicants to new businesses that want to introduce a new product as well as already established Fortune 500 companies that want to strengthen their brand. The role of social media in your marketing is to use it as a communication tool that makes you accessible to those interested in your product and makes you visible to those that don't know your product. Use it as a tool that creates a personality behind your brand and creates relationships that you otherwise may never have gained. It creates not only repeat-buyers but customer loyalty. The fact is, social media is so diversified that it can be used in whatever way best suits the interest and the needs of your business.