As the prevalence of social media continues to rise, organizations of all types and sizes are recognizing the ways in which social media can help them better understand, respond to, and attract the attention of their target audience. As a result, businesses are now jumping on the social media bandwagon at a rapid pace, embracing blogs, social networks, wikis, and other vehicles to achieve their marketing and public relations goals.
What types of benefits can corporations achieve with an effective social media strategy? Get the Message Out Faster – and to More People Social media enables more rapid sharing of information. It may take hours, or even days, for a new announcement to reach the end consumer through traditional channels. Why? Because when a press release is issued, a journalist or writer must first wade through all the sales and marketing lingo to find the key points. Then, the content must be re-purposed in article format, and sent to an editor or proofreader before it is published.
Social media vehicles, on the other hand, allow for instantaneous dissemination of not just news, but images, audio, video, and other multimedia content as well. And because releases geared toward social media outlets contain only key highlights, pertinent facts, and hyperlinks to related statistics and quotes, the information they contain can be immediately picked up and posted by bloggers and other online journalists.
Social media also provides more widespread coverage, enabling breaking news to reach a much larger and broader reader base than standard media outlets alone. While magazine readership and the number of available print publications continue to decline, the number of consumers using the Internet to access and share information continues to rise sharply. For example, one recent study showed that almost one out of every four Internet users – over 41 million people total in 2006 – visits MySpace on a regular basis.
Improve Branding Social media, and blogs in particular, can be a highly useful tool for enhancing both awareness and image. Blogging can help “spread the word” about a company, its products, and its services to more people, dramatically increasing brand recognition and awareness. Additionally, social media can enable executives to gather input and feedback directly from their target audience, and use that intelligence for more effective reputation management.
Insight into why people like – or hate – a brand is needed to help change and control audience perceptions and preferences. Boost the Impact of Direct Marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key component of today’s direct marketing and lead generation strategies, and social media has proven its ability to significantly complement SEO initiatives. Many social media techniques – such as frequent use of common jargon and key phrases, title tags, ticker symbols, and links to blogs and other relevant Web content – can dramatically improve search engine rankings.
Additionally, while SEO relies on just a handful of popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive target prospects to a site, social media expands the potential audience by creating alternate channels. For example, when content is published to a site, and that content is then linked to from del.icio.us or reddit, it can generate a tremendous boost in Web traffic.
Many companies also find it much easier to generate compelling content that is likely to be picked up by bloggers, than it is to keep up with the “rules” required to rank high in today’s popular search engines.