Despite the latest growing popularity in social media marketing, many businesses still ask the question “Why social media?”. The most simple answer is that if a company isn’t managing their social media, then their customers will manage it for them. In retrospect, why not let your customers do all the work – right? Then you (as a company) can focus on marketing that has a proven track record of return on investment. Like SEO, PPC, Banner Ads, Email, Market Research, PR, Sales, Business Development, etc…
We’ve all heard someone introduce themselves as a “Social Media Marketer”, but what does that mean? When you look for companies hiring social media marketers and the responsibilities they require of them – they are all over the place.
Some examples:

  • Supervision and execution of client campaigns including social media channel and community management, content creation, digital public relations, promotions, partnerships, blogger and influencer outreach initiatives, online events, etc
  • Provide day-to-day supervision and execution of client campaigns including (and not limited to) social media channel and community management, content creation, digital public relations, promotions, partnerships, blogger and influencer outreach initiatives, online events, etc.
  • Collaborate with the media planning and search marketing / SEO teams to leverage digital advertising and organic/paid promotional activities where appropriate.

The above requirements were copied exactly from job postings from very large corporations.
The truth is, that without a solid plan and structure for your social media, the rest of your marketing efforts are simply a waste of time. Social media plays a role in so many aspects of what makes a successful brand.

For Example:

Social Media and Marketing

Social media is most commonly referred to as being used for marketing. Creating and managing Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, Linkedin Groups and Pages, FourSquare locations, Google+ profiles and Pages, and so much more. In a general marketing sense, building a community around a company or brand and leveraging that community is the most common use of social media for marketing purposes.

Social Media and Branding

As previously mentioned, “building a community around a brand” is a very common use of social media. Every Company should have solid documentation that is distributed and followed with regards to logo, colors, font, tagline, description (short and long), etc as a company manages it’s brand in social media channels.

Social Media For Business Intelligence

Using social media to measure the lifetime value of a customer over time is extremely valuable to business intelligence. While analytics programs still have a ways to go when tracking social media and customer engagement, the data is getting there. Over time we will be able to pin point not only the value of a customer individually, but the value of that customer as they share, engage, and recommend on social media channels.

Social Media For Research and Development

Companies in the process of launching new products can use social media to test, or even develop the product. By using social media channels to survey, ask questions, and engage with current customer base a company can launch products with a higher success rate more so than ever before.

Social Media for Market Research

David Evans Ph.D. uses social media channels often to understand a company’s consumer base and what motivates them to buy. From category analysis, competitive intelligence, and product innovation – social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like can all be used to gather insights into those that make purchase decisions.

Social Media for Public Relations

Many PR managers use social media to get an in-depth analysis of what is being said about a company or brand, allowing them to move beyond what to why. From a general understanding of what is being said about the company to crisis management, PR managers can use social media to understand sentiment, analyze sound bites, and use these channels to address.

Social Media for Sales

Social media is most commonly used for sales to develop lead generation. Knowing where potential customers are and engaging with them will help develop confidence, and qualify the lead without ever picking up a phone.

Social Media for Customer Service

Twitter accounts, Facebook Pages, Linkedin Profiles, Blogs, etc. are all ways that social media is used for
managing customer relations. Customer Service Managers should monitor these channels and engage with customers on an intimate level, making them personally available to their audience. In few cases that crises have developed, a customer service manager can quickly manage the situation before it gets out of hand.

Social Media for Category Managers

A retailer may need to decide which brands and how many brands a store should offer in a particular product category. Social media can be used to do a brand audit on each brand in the category. In looking at the top three positives for each of them, and any brands have exactly the same top three positives, then one of them can go. Through social media, a retailer might eliminate a brand with the lowest sentiment score, and keep the others because they have distinct benefits for consumers.
So as you can see, social media can have many uses and purposes beyond traditional marketing.