Social Media are online tools which allow the generation or sharing/ exchange of ideas, opinions, interests, and other types of communication through social networks and virtual communities. The term is usually used when referring to any type of online user generated content like blogging, pod casting, wikis, MySpace pages, forums, user submitted content, images and video and more. Social Media are the new face of traditional media as we have all become members of these social networking sites which allow us to interact with each other and share what we find with the rest of the world. Social Media allow the user to create profiles, share information about themselves, and allows the community to develop and provide a forum for communication, discussion and self expression.
The first reason why companies use social network as a marketing platform is to engage their customers. Engaging customers means letting them feel that they are a part of the business which gives the feeling of being a part of something larger than themselves. This can be achieved by providing useful and relevant information, engaging, listening and supporting the customer on a personal level. Companies also use this platform to reach out to prospects and to gather information about them so as to support or sell their products and services. Companies use social media to connect with their existing customers, to gain new customers and to create a connection with prospective ones.
The second reason why companies should start using social media for marketing is to increase their brand visibility and hence improve their market position. It is estimated that in the next two years, this will be one of the biggest trends of online advertising and marketing as it will allow the companies to promote themselves and their products and services to millions of people through various platforms. As a result, Social Media will allow the companies to reach their audience at the heart of the business and connect with them where they are. Social media provides a platform that allows the companies to interact with their customers directly, to test and learn more about their business and how customers perceive them, to respond to customer reviews and get feedback, and to build stronger ties with the prospects and customers. All this can help the company improve its reputation and market position.