Social media forms its basis on the concept of an online community, and fostering connection and communication between individuals. On profile-based websites such as Facebook, users have the ability to share their interests with others by “liking” certain pages, or enabling certain “social” features so that people connected with them (directly or indirectly, depending on the user’s personal preferences) can see things like what online articles they’ve read, or what they’ve “pinned” on a site like Pinterest. In addition, users typically fill out more basic information upon joining, such as their basic geographic data, age, marital status, schools attended, employment history, etc.
Advertising through social media websites has taken many forms, from creating a page for the product itself (like the Slurpee one pictures above) to purchasing ad space on the sites, for reasons that include:
Reach: The sheer amount of people on social media websites is staggering. Facebook alone boasts over 500 million users, half of whom log in more than once a day. In addition, social media websites do not have the boundaries that most other forms of communication have. Online, you have the ability to reach virtually anybody anywhere with an internet connection. Very few borders exist in online communication.
Ease: It’s relatively easy to create a page for a product on Facebook, or to compose a Tweet. It’s also free, which is great for marketers on a budget (of course, more advanced online campaigns tend to cost more, but social media is a great way to get your foot in the door).
Interactivity: Social websites provide an opportunity for marketers to interact directly with customers or potential customers, creating a dialogue that may not otherwise exist. Getting people engaged sparks interest, which in turn heightens the chance of a non-customer purchasing your product or service.
Information: As mentioned before, social networks are gold mines for market information. Do I really need to elaborate on this?
With so many companies taking advantage of the relatively recent social media frenzy, it’d be wise to take note (especially of those who are doing it right). Social Media Examiner is a great blog for staying up to date on tips and trends, and I would certainly recommend keeping an eye on some of your favorite companies to see how they’ve found ways to integrate themselves with your (online) social life.