When people think of social media marketing, they normally think or either pay per click types of advertising within the social media websites, or simply of creating a business page and promoting it to gain likes / followers and build up a community etc. These are both great forms of social media marketing but there is often one very important aspect that people forget to consider.
Social media is a place for consumers to discuss a product  / service or company with friends and family. Often this information can also be seen by people that follow the company and may not know the writer of the comment. It is very important to read comments made about your business and proactively respond to positive and also negative comments. A negative comment can have more than 5 times the impact a positive one can and therefore it makes sense to act on these. It may be that the person has made a mistake in which case you need to confirm this in a public response (always making sure you are friendly and professional) but if the person has a valid point then do not be afraid to admit that you are disappointed in the service they have received and will ensure that the situation is rectified. People can be very forgiving and will often not be put off by a company who admits that they had a problem but that it has been resolved and that is very proactive in sorting out any issues that arise.

Social media can be great for targeted marketing campaigns, having your advert appear at the side screen of your targeted audience, however this can be quite costly as is a very direct form of advertising that may not suit all businesses.

For many start up companies advertising is much about brand awareness as the promotion of any particular product or service. It’s said that generally you have to see something new at least 3 times before it will actually stick in your mind so for brand recognition purposes setting up a free page for your business could be a good place to start. The page needs to be quite simple explaining who you are and what you do then once you have invited as many people as possible to ‘like’ your page add updates every few days to ensure it appears in peoples news feeds.

A great idea to promote your brand is to offer a competition to people for ‘sharing’ your page, or for leaving you a review on the social media website, this will encourage others to look at your page increasing your audience.

LinkedIn can be a powerful marketing tool if used correctly. LinkedIn is a social media sites that allows professional people to join a network of similar professionals or local businesses.

Unlike other social media sites, it is predominately used by companies and individual professional people looking to expand their clientele or business contacts, you do not often find posts and updates relating to personal dramas and situations that are happening to a person.

It can be a great way to meet new people and keep in touch with what is happening in your industry or area. Many businesses gain quite a number of customers through LinkedIn networking and often by just having an active presences on their.

It is often a bit of a numbers game, build up a network of people and share your expertise and company details with them. Some companies will use LinkedIn to find another company that can a supply a service or product that they need.

Facebook is one of the largest social media websites out there with over 1.23 billion users now registered. It is one of the fastest growing companies in the world and can be a great place to advertise your business. Facebook offer a Pay per Click advertising section similar to that of Google or Yahoo. The added bonus of Facebook is that you can chose which audience will see your ad by setting up specific parameters. For example, if you had a wedding dress business, you may create an advert and send it out to all females that have a status of engaged, as they are your most likely customers. Facebook users often wondered why the ads that were shown seemed particularly relevant to them, it is not coincidence, Facebook use the data that they are given carefully show ads to selected groups. Having this type of control allows a business owner to carefully choose where they spend their money and can closely monitor the return on investment they receive.

Social Media Advertising campaigns continue to deliver shocking results on the subject of post-marketing analysis. Its not that the results are bad, its that there is NO result at all.

Yes, corporate executives, market analysts and management grads who just love to scrutinize almost every financial aspect of the business, seem to be either unaware or deem it unworthy to conduct a detailed analysis of their social media campaigns, thereby either bleeding funds where its not required or failing to capture a new market which can very well prove to be their primary source of income.
Now the first question which one might, not surprisingly, ask is – “Is it even possible to do the tracking and ROI analysis of social media marketing? Are there any available tools to give us any meaningful data?”. The answer to both is a resounding YES. In fact compared to analysing offline campaigns, online campaigns are far more easier to track if you are creative enough. Basic examples include analysing the behaviours of page visitors, and handing out a small data-centric questionnaire to customers.

All this being computerized and automated saves you a lot of time and money. There is a catch though, you have to take some effort and resources to get it working properly. But considering that corporates are more than happy to pay huge sums and download largely inaccurate white papers on ‘Facebook’ and other social communities, it is reasonable to present these alternatives.
One of the most ingenious and cost effective methods to do the tracking and ROI of social media initiatives is to reward customers for taking their time to participate in the campaign. These rewards can include discount coupons, exclusive deals, and quickly updated information on the products for sale. Not only this tactic will make social media tacking and ROI analysis easy, but it can also help setting up the internet as a sizeable market for the products. It is important to note that these “Rewards” should unlock only on a traceable user action, else the results would be inaccurate.
In case of B2B marketing, companies can, if not must, rely on social CRM software, which can uniquely identify the visitors, track their response and give hard facts about the enterprise’s social media initiative. There are many of these enterprise software which allow market analysts to understand online trends, thereby helping them divert the majority of resources onto a community which is most responsive and generates most leads.

One important aspect that every analyst must understand is that SMM should not be used like TV adverts or Billboards. Social media marketing is at its best in retention of customers and using them to generate new ones. Think of it this way – in Facebook, most, if not all, replies for your posts come from your friends and subscribers rather than strangers. So if you are looking to introduce a completely unknown product to a completely new audience who probably have no experience with your business, then the results may not be the great.
Implementing SMM for boosting your business’ growth and reach is a great idea, however it is becoming increasingly important to do the tracking and ROI analysis as the social media continues to evolve as a great market.