Sunday, January 1, 2012

What it means to be a social media marketing professional

Commits alumna BANIAIKYNMAW LYDIA SHANPRU (Class of 2007) works with Mindshare, a subsidiary of Group M, in Bangalore. Here she tells us what social media, increasingly being used as a marketing tool, is all about:

“Social media” is a phrase that is bandied about quite frequently these days. But what exactly is social media? And why has it become an important marketing tool?

Social media is all about the five C’s: Communication, Community, Connection, Creation, Convergence.

What are the elements that are considered as social media?

Networks: For social and professional networking.

Blogs: Individuals write about their views and opinions on various personal, social, and marketing issues they face; posts are updated frequently.

Forums: Users post queries and responses about brands and products

Almost all brands concentrate on acquiring fans in the case of Facebook or followers on Twitter. Contests and contents are the main drivers for building a community.

In addition, brands also acquire fans and followers through paid media which comprises social advertising on Facebook and promoted tweets/brands on Twitter.

How are these platforms utilised?

A. The brand’s fans/followers can be kept informed about developments concerning the brand. This is done through status updates on the Facebook Fan Page, Twitter Channel, etc.

B. The brand engages with fans/followers when their queries/comments are replied to on a regular basis. If they post queries/comments about the brand, it is best to respond immediately to prevent negative comments about the brand and to avoid creating a bad impression about the brand.

C. Brand advocates, who speak positively about the brand to their peers, can be created.

Point to note: When speaking with its fans/followers, the brand should converse with them in a personal tone and avoid using difficult marketing terms as far as possible.


The rules of social media are Listen, Learn, and Leverage.

Listen: As a social media marketer one should be thorough with ORM (Online Relationship Management), that is, tracking and keeping up-to-date on the brand sentiments whether they are positive, neutral, or negative conversations.

Learn: Identify and analyse conversation trends for appropriate content response.

Leverage: Engage with the users by persuading them to participate in the brand conversation and in contests. You can also give them exclusive access to content to make them your brand advocates.

And finally, something to remember:

1. Just as we pay for our ads in print and on television, social media strategy doesn’t come free of cost.

2. Knowing how to post a status update on Facebook or how to tweet does not qualify one to be a social media specialist.

3. Most importantly, brands have to listen to their consumers and become their friends and not marketing advisors.
  • UPDATE (July 25, 2013): Carrie Kerpen, the CEO of a social media agency, explains why she believes strongly that there are key areas within social media upon which you may build a career. Read the article she contributed to Forbes here: "Is Social Media a Career?"

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