What the heck is social media and why should I care?

I have been seeing the term “social media” quite a bit in the last few weeks. The term kept grabbing my attention and as I read the term, I would pause for a minute and think that it didn’t make sense in the context I was reading it. But I just kept on reading and going about my business because I’m busy.

The term kept grabbing my attention because it was not used in the right context. When I taught Marketing 101 a year or so ago (I also learned quite a bit about social marketing in graduate school), I was very clear on what social marketing was and what it meant.

Yesterday a light bulb went off and I realized I was seeing and thinking two different things. I was seeing Social Media, not Social Marketing. That’s why it wasn’t making sense to me.

Social marketing is about making changes – oftentimes health related change – throughout society as a whole. It’s creating a social change through marketing. One example of social marketing is the message of not drinking and driving. Others include: Quit smoking, stopping Aids, and promoting the use of condoms. Visual messages of your brain on drugs and the fried egg are images we are probably all familiar with.

Social marketing doesn’t promote a specific company, but a cause for the good of society. Social marketing is done through traditional marketing methods as well as public service announcements.

I saw the term social media quite a bit while I was doing research for a class I recently taught on how to start a blog when I realized that I have been confusing social marketing with social media. They are two very different things. (I’m a little slow to catch on sometimes).

Social media is a newer term and is the use of media in a social setting. A blog is a perfect example of that. Other forms of social media include; message boards, podcasts, vlogs (video you can view online) or RSS feeds. Smart marketers are using these newer social media outlets to communicate with their prospects in different ways that initiate “socializing”.

Take a minute to think about that. Socializing and marketing, together. It makes me think of word of mouth marketing – which involves socializing.

How similar are word of mouth marketing and blogging?

How easy is it to generate word of mouth marketing through blogging, forums, and other social media outlets? Isn’t that one of the benefits of blogging – to link to others who in turn will link to you and bring visitors to each other? Just think of the possibilities.

It’s important to realize that search engines – like Google – are not the only way to drive people to your web site anymore. Marketing your business through blogging and other forms of social media give you great opportunities to drive visitors to your site without relying on search engines to find and rank you.

Utilizing social media gives you both more opportunity and more control.

According to Hans Peter Brondmo “Marketing with Social Media”, 1% of those involved with social media are creating content, 10% will enrich that content and 90% will consume it.

Take an honest look at your social media efforts. First, are you using this new media at all? Then look at HOW you are using it. Are you creating or enriching content through blogging or other social mediums or are you regurgitating information just to do it? Which one will make you a leader in your industry?

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