It is often quite difficult to say what social media marketing is. However it is quite easy to say what it is not. Social media marketing is not a ‘thing’, nor is it an event. Social media marketing is a process. This process is now an integral part of the ever evolving successful marketing model.
All vehicles are more than the sum of the individual parts. Likewise the entire marketing model always becomes something more than the sum of its perceived parts.
Let’s use the analogy of an automobile as an example. To function, all the parts of the car must be in place for the car to function properly.
However, once we arrive at our goal, we cannot say that the gas pedal got us to the destination; nor was the engine or the steering wheel responsible for the distance traveled. Instead, all these ‘parts’ worked together as one unit to get us to the destination. Each of these parts is made from the base material known as metal.
Likewise communication encompasses and umbrellas the entire marketing model. Communication cannot be split out from the model as it is an integral component of each and every ‘part’ of the process. Communication could be said to be the base metal of the ‘parts’ of the marketing model – the vehicle – that gets us to our marketing destination.
Like the term social media, social media marketing is a just another buzzword. In fact, social marketing is the oldest form of marketing in existence. It existed before radio, before TV, before newspapers, magazines, billboards, flyers and direct mail. It is merely one person telling another about a product or service. In years past this has been called many names. In the decade just past, it was termed referral marketing. All those in marketing know the value of a qualified referral. A referral is the holy grail of marketing for myriad reasons.
This is why social media, when used as a marketing tool, produces results on a scale and of a quality that no form of old school, intrusive advertising will ever touch. These social media conversations can produce referrals on a massive scale.
Communication is simply one person speaking to other people. That person might be the president of the company, the PR department, customer service or, perhaps more importantly, the customer. The plethora of social media tools out there merely enable conversations between all the people involved – good, bad and ugly.
What does all this mean? Social media tools are another set of ‘parts’ formed from the base metal of communication, which have been added to enhance the overall performance of the vehicle known as the marketing process. Granted, the vehicle will still move and will function without this ‘part’, but those who do not incorporate this into their own marketing vehicle may soon find themselves lagging far behind the rest of the field.