1. Social media is ubiquitous
Over 2 billion people worldwide use the internet, for various purposes, and almost all of them come into contact with social media through one means or another. It’s difficult to get an actual statistic on how many people use social media since a single person might participate in multiple ways, from tweeting to blogging to posting, but Facebook alone is poised to top 1 billion active users by August 2012, over 3 billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube, Twitter is at 100 million active users and Google+ is at well over 100 Million. Since social media is how people are communicating and interacting with each other online, brands and businesses have to be a part of those conversations.
2. Social media is accessible
Social media is really, really easy to access. Anyone with a name and an email address can sign up for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Foursquare or any number of social networking sites, and start connecting with friends. Even people who don’t have friends can get their social media fix by starting or reading a blog and making comments. As smartphones and wifi become almost omnipresent, your target audience no longer needs to be sitting down in front of a desktop to be able to access the internet, meaning that social media has become a constant, easily-accessible presence in public (and private) life.
3. Social media is personal
Unlike typical advertising, social media is intensely personal because it depends on word-of-mouth (or -blog, or -post) relations to communicate your brand messages. In an age where the general public demands transparency and is distrustful of big corporations (see Occupy Wall Street), social media communications take on a legitimacy that large previously-faceless companies, such as Dow Chemicals or Coca-Cola, could never capture on their own. By bringing communication down to the most basic, from-one-person-to-another level, social media allows brands to connect with consumers on a more intimate level.
4. Social media is anonymous
As well as providing a form of communication that is more personal and intimate, social media can also provide the perfect landscape for anonymity. For some people, the internet is a magical place where one can do or say anything from behind a dense wall of anonymity. For brands, this provides a goldmine of information. Social media allows brands an unprecedented opportunity to mine positive and negative feedback and find out what consumers really think of them, from the specifics of their products to the good and bad marketing choices they’re making. This type of feedback, solicited or unsolicited, is especially valuable during new product development and launch phases.
5. Social media provides cool factor
As humans, we’re social creatures and we hate being out of the loop. Social media is the perfect place for brands to plug into pop culture and become part of the ongoing conversation. The internet is a fast-paced landscape of constantly-renewing media and brands need to make sure their ads, videos, and communications not only catch users’ attention, but that they are instrumental in creating or becoming part of popular trends and memes. It only takes a couple thousand shares for something to start going viral because people want to know what their friends are into, and like to show off their discoveries, interests, and passions.
6. Social media allows for dialogue between brands and consumers
Perhaps the most obvious and revolutionary point of all is that social media allows for dialogue between brands and consumers. For the first time, consumers are being asked by large brands about what they’d like to see in their products. Consumers tend to find this flattering, and become even stronger brand advocates as a result. Win-win. The key in this relationship is for brands to keep the conversations going by engaging on a personal level, measure overall consumer sentiment, and look for positive change.
7. Social media allows for precise demographic targeting
The instant responses brands receive to their ads or products mean that they can very quickly gauge their current status in a certain demographic, and adjust their marketing tactics accordingly. Brands can also launch broader, though specialized, marketing campaigns, with each ad or video tailored slightly for a different demographic, resulting in greater clout and efficiency. Some social media sites, such as Facebook, even allow your fans to deselect the ads that don’t pertain to them, and other sites allow consumers to choose from a selection of ads, insuring that the right ads get to the right consumers.
8. Social media provides consumers with immediate access
Not only does social media provide brands with real-time market research information, it also provides instant access for consumers. After viewing a TV or video ad, consumers can go to that brand’s social media sites to interact with others, get advice, or go directly to the brand’s website to learn more, and purchase products instantly. Stores may be closed for the day, but the internet never sleeps.
9. There’s no one “right” way to do social media marketing
Since social media is still relatively new, it means that there’s a whole plethora of new ideas, strategies, and campaigns that haven’t even been attempted yet, much less dreamt of. Consumers are as excited as brands are about what’s going on. We’re all still trying to push the boundaries and figure out what this thing called social media is capable of, and it’s awesome. If your brand is engaging and interacting with your consumers online, and sales are going up, then you’re likely doing it right.
10. People love to be entertained
People will watch or play just about anything online that is entertaining, informative or engaging, provided it interests them as individuals. Work your brand message into video and gaming content that matches your audience’s likes and dislikes. If they like what you’re offering, they’ll spend time with your brand. Just search YouTube for “puppies” and tell me if you’re not still doing the same thing half an hour later.