13.12 Focus on Social Media Marketing

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the fundamental concepts behind social media
  • Understand the rules of engagement in social media and what the benefits are.


The term Social Media Marketing (SMM) refers to Internet marketing that utilizes social networking sites also known as channels (Facebook, Twitter YouTube etc.)  as marketing tools by companies to expose their products and services and interact with both their current and potential customers.

Social media is sometimes referred to as consumer-generated media (CGM), participatory media, and new media. In fact, comparing social media to traditional media is probably the most useful way of defining what exactly this means.

Most simply put, social media are media (from written to visual to audio to audiovisual) that are designed to be shared. Sharing means that it is easy to comment on, that it is easy to send, and that there are no high costs associated with viewing the media. Because of the connected nature of the Internet, it means that sharing, commenting, and viewing can all be tracked and measured.

The land of social media is about collaborating, generating content, sharing, and most of all, connecting.

Social Networking

 The term Social networking refers to the forming of online social networks for communities of people. The communities are people who share interests and activities or are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

Social networking sites also known as social media channels are dominated by the big boys of the industry, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. These social networks or channels together is what is also known as social media.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Social networks are free for their members but tend to rely on advertising for their revenue. Because of demographic information collected by the social networks, advertisers are able to target their advertisements to a particular audience.

Social media have changed the world we market in and can be used as an integral part of an online marketing campaign. Social media are all about the ways that we create, connect, and share online.

Companies must however note that simply because it is a social network does not mean it is the right place for every company to be marketing in. As a good marketer, you must first determine if your target market is using the social network, and then determine if it is the right place to be marketing to them.

Marketers can use social networks to identify how users are perceiving or interacting with their brand and open up new avenues of communication with them. For example, if you are marketing a bar, look to see how many people are using a social network to organize events at your bar. Find a way of rewarding those who are bringing you extra customers.

Social networks are also an avenue for members to voice frustrations and annoyances, and these should be closely watched by marketers to gauge sentiments.

Social Media and Marketing: Rules of Engagement

Social media imply a democratization of information and require authenticity and openness from those who would deliberately use them for marketing. Relying on the Internet, this means that good stories as well as bad stories spread and stick around.

Although they are engaging publicly with a wide audience, marketers need to remember that they are communicating with individuals. While marketers should engage in the conversation and can lead it, they cannot control it.

1. Marketing to Content Consumers

Social media allow anyone to have a say, and the same tools that are available to individuals are available to companies. Company blogs allow a brand to build a personality and to interact with its target market. Entertainment created and spread via social media increases brand touch points. Using the same channels that are available to your consumer aids in understanding the consumer and evens the plane of conversation.

When using social media to reach out to content consumers, go to where your consumers are. The media used are dictated by your users.

For example, a nightclub for students can create a Facebook group to advertise its weekly specials and interact with fans, while Land Rover enthusiasts would probably be more comfortable with a forum.

With all interactions, marketing messages need to be labeled as marketing messages, with a disclaimer added if necessary. Trying to hide them as something else will only decrease authenticity.

2. Marketing to Content Sharers

Content sharers are content consumers who also pass your message on, whether by using chat or e-mail, by sharing a link on a blog, or by submitting your content to a bookmarking or aggregating service. They are a crucial link in the chain that passes your message around. Make it as easy as possible for sharers to share by using chicklets and unique and easy-to-read URLs.

3. Advertising on Social Media Platforms

While marketers can use the tools of social media to convey their message, the user characteristics that define a social media Web site are also important. Social media allow users to express themselves, and this means that demographic information can be compiled to allow for more useful and targeted advertising. This presents many opportunities for targeting advertising and for finding creative ways to reach an advertisement-fatigued demographic.

The Benefits of Social Media to Marketers

There are many benefits to companies and marketers for taking advantage of the services that social media sites offer. The following are just some of these benefits:

  1. People are finding it easier to switch off or ignore traditional advertising, particularly through traditional media environments such as television or radio. Social media give brands the opportunity to interact with customers through targeted communications that customers can choose to engage with on their terms. For example, a consumer may visit a branded YouTube channel as opposed to deliberately ignoring advertisement breaks on television.
  2. Social media’s potential to go viral is one of its greatest benefits; if users like the content, then they will share it with their communities.
  3. Social media allow you to create an online community for your brand and its supporters.
  4. Social media can tie in nicely with any of your other online marketing tactics; a holistic e-marketing strategy is always the best strategy.
  5. Social media allow you to engage with an online community and allow you to connect your brand to the appropriate audience.
  6. Social media have created a forum for brand evangelists. Companies should embrace as well as monitor this, as users with negative opinions of your brand have access to the same forum.
  7. The various platforms allow you to access a community with similar interests to your own, that is, networking without borders.
  8. The numerous interactions allow you to garner feedback from your communities.
  9. Feedback from social media sites helps drive both future business as well as marketing strategies.
  10. The range of media enables you to learn more about your audience’s likes, dislikes, behavior, and so on. Never before has this much information been available to marketers; market research just got a whole lot cheaper.
  11. Niche targeting just got a whole lot easier.

There are huge risks as well as opportunities. Social media facilitate a two-way conversation between customer and company. This necessitates that the company shifts approach from “deploy and watch” to one of constant involvement with the audience.

Social Media and the Changing Media Landscape

To keep up with their audiences, traditional media have had to adapt. This has changed the way that they publish, both online and off, as well as how they can sell advertising.

For example, many newspapers now publish their content online as well as in their print publications. Online, they can allow for instant commentary on their articles. It allows an instant snapshot of what their readers think, which can then be used to make editorial decisions. Print stories can be supplemented online with video, and this has been embraced by many news organizations.

As mentioned, television advertisements can be placed online for free via channels such as YouTube. This opens advertisements to a new audience and allows for advertisements that can be created without the restrictions of television. Advertisements can be extended, and now additional footage can become as important as the original. Quality advertisements are voluntarily and deliberately viewed, as opposed to deliberately ignored.

Check out the Links Below to Learn About Some Canadian Companies Using Social Media

  1. Canadian social media usage on statcounter.com
  2. 5 Canadian Companies That Excel at Social Media Marketing (2019) By QuickBooks on Intuit.


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Introduction to Marketing II (MKTG 2005) Copyright © 2020 by NSCC and Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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