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Why Social Media Marketing is an Opportunity


eMarketer reports that while social network advertising gets the attention, it's only one of many ways marketers can reach customers. Social networks can be used for branding, improving customer loyalty, lead generation, direct marketing and e-commerce.

"The beauty of social networks is that they are a place where nearly any marketing goal can be achieved, with nearly any marketing tactic," said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst.

Common wisdom over the past few years has been that people are interested in interacting with social network friends, not marketers.

Not so, according to Anderson Analytics May 2009 survey -- 52 percent of social network users had become a fan or follower of a company or brand, while 46 percent had said something good about a brand or company, that's double the percentage who had said something negative (23 percent).

In a December 2008 MarketingSherpa survey, 92 percent of respondents said social media marketing was effective at influencing brand reputation and 91 percent said it worked for increasing brand awareness. But, these same executives found it far less effective for generating sales leads or increasing online sales.

However, some marketers are apparently demonstrating the effectiveness of using social networks for direct marketing and lead generation. Brand pages and applications can be vehicles to deliver coupons and offers to consumers to drive trials, store traffic and response.

A July 2009 Starbucks promotion, for example, distributed coupons for a free pastry via Facebook and other social outlets. The chain was soon one of the top trending topics on Twitter and the top brand on Facebook, with more than 3.7 million fans.

That said, the typical slow shift of budget funds to digital marketing activities seems to indicate that legacy marketers are still not motivated by these results. Most prefer to focus on traditional media buys as their safe bet. Meaning, the window of opportunity for those progressive marketers -- willing to experiment with social media -- is still wide open.

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