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Social media marketing (SMM) uses social media platforms to positively influence consumers toward a company’s brands, products or services. In other words, the goal of social media marketing is to create a “buzz” online, so that complementary content about a brand, product or service goes “viral,” with consumer-generated media endorsements spreading like wildfire across the Internet (--think of a highly watched YouTube video extolling the virtues of a product or service).
It is not hyperbole to say that social media marketing is fundamentally changing the way businesses communicate with consumers. In fact, social media marketing has become so powerful it is now driving search engine results. Today, people are using highly accessible social media tools to find, create, and share content online. Social media enables people to collaborate and form consensus opinions, connecting and forming relationships in ways never before possible. This presents a new challenge and opportunity for business—to positively influence this ongoing conversation about the company’s offerings.
Think of it this way, social media marketing is the 21st Century digital “word-of-mouth” advertising. However, instead of discussing a company’s offering in person or over the phone, Internet users have turned to social media platforms to express their opinions. Popular social media platforms include blogs, (which can be found using blog search engines such as Technorati and BlogPulse), micro-blogs (e.g., Twitter and Jaiku), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn), video and image sharing sites (e.g., YouTube and Flickr), podcasts, bookmarking (e.g., del.icio.us and StumbleUpon), wikis (e.g., Wikipedia), and social network aggregators (e.g., Mybloglog and Plaxo).
Some useful resources for defining and better understanding social media