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Enter Social Media Marketing

Introduction to Online Marketing

Enter Social Media Marketing
Marketing and networking have been integrated into the business world long before social media and the internet itself. Of course the digital era has brought these two tactics together under one roof to make integration seamless and convenient. The social web has emerged, and with an audience of billions plugged in, it has become a force no online marketer can afford to ignore. Extended reach, greater awareness, and viral marketing opportunities are just some of the benefits up for grabs.

There are hundreds of social networks but an obvious few that get more attention than others. Following is an overview of the sites deemed as the most prominent and influential:
Facebook
At one time, it looked as if Myspace would forever dominate the top of the social networking charts. The site that put social networking on the map was riding high until Facebook seemingly came out of nowhere and seized the number one spot. Facebook is currently the most powerful social network by far, leading the way with more than 600 million members. The platform has evolved to better suit users and brands, providing a way to connect the two through targeted advertisements, apps, and genuine dialogue. Facebook is equipped to support the best of both worlds, giving you the opportunity to bolster your marketing through earned and paid advertising.

Facebook has tremendous potential, but using it effectively as a marketing tool is tougher than you may have imagined. While some are seeing positive results, several more are finding it difficult to make a real impact. Marketers are increasingly learning that this platform is not the Holy Grail for generating direct sales. With social media marketing and Facebook especially, you must work to build relationships rather than engage in aggressive advertising. This means you may have to devote a considerable amount of time and effort in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor. People must see you as a credible brand they can benefit from before deciding to do business with you.
 LinkedIn
The mere size of Facebook qualifies it as a platform that warrants a marketer's attention. However, the focus of LinkedIn makes it potentially an even better option. While Facebook is geared more for consumers, LinkedIn is exclusively designed for companies, entrepreneurs, and other professionals. The LinkedIn network is on the rise, rapidly approaching the milestone of 100 million users and launching major updates on a regular basis to increase its relevance in the social media space. Most people go to Facebook to socialize with friends and family. Everyone goes to LinkedIn to seek out networking, marketing, and recruitment opportunities.

LinkedIn's strong focus on networking and marketing makes leveraging it a bit trickier than other social networks. All of your connections are out to accomplish similar goals. They're seeking opportunities. They don't want to be sold to and tend to be selective about who they connect with. Making the most of LinkedIn is all about knowing who is potentially most valuable to your network and how to communicate amongst your connections. You must resist the easy temptation of overly promoting yourself and demonstrate value that makes you a worthy professional others want to link up with.
Twitter
Twitter is another social networking platform that allows you to incorporate both earned and paid advertising into your marketing mix. This platform can be very cost effective when considering that it costs nothing at all to engage your audience through simple 140-character communications. Twitter also has paid advertising options with Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends, and Promoted Accounts. The true beauty of Twitter can be seen in the enhanced functionality that is enabled by a variety of third-party applications and adaptability that makes it easy to integrate into almost any marketing strategy.

While Twitter certainly has its advantages, there is a dark side marketers need to be aware of as well. The service is reputed as a spam haven, which often makes the process of filtering out the meaningless tweets and determining just who is truly valuable to your network a challenge. Twitter is also very addictive, so much so that you may find yourself straying off course and involved in discussions that do not relate to your business objectives. In the world of Twitter, there is a very fine line between socializing with your audience and keeping things professional. Finding the right balance is crucial.