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Key practical areas of social media marketing

A social media campaign, to put it succinctly, integrates different interactive tools and communication strategies into the many facets of marketing. Theory is no substitute for real-time experience and process of incorporating user-generated content (UGC), blogs and forums into a fine blend of online marketing.

Social media’s reach and power is for real. It is having a dramatic impact influence on crucial purchasing decisions on the Web. Your more tech-savvy competitors are already looking to grab the prospect’s attention online so you cannot afford to stay away, believing your customers are not there on social media. You will only end up alienating your brand from the prospects. As a result, your business will suffer.

Though Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc tend to form the core of any social media strategy these days, it should not necessarily be confined to the three powerful names alone. While a majority of social networking sites are aimed at tapping the mass base, certain niche sites cater to segmented audience classes.

Enterprise 2.0 networks such as Chatter from Salesforce.com, IBM’s Lotus Connections and UserVoice have been created for the corporate world. They work on the same socializing principle and are worth a look. A host of other social channels are there. These include customer review sites, blogging platforms and forums that are extremely helpful when it comes to networking. Social media marketing channels like video-sharing site YouTube, photo-sharing site Flickr, network building tool Ning, built-in blogging (e.g. Blogger) and instant messaging applications are equally handy.

Content aggregators such as StumbleUpon and Digg are also useful. Add to the mix free blogging tools, such as WordPress and FriendFeed, so you will discover the real depth of social media.

Specialized sites find a good amount of following. They enjoy a distinct advantage of quickly and easily connecting with users who share similar interests and of a larger as well as more influential voice heard loud and clear within a niche social network. A majority of them draw their initial constituency from a specific geographical, linguistic or common interest group. They tend to embrace a wide variety of users over time.

According to some analysts, niche social sites are a natural extension of the popularity of mainstream networking sites like Facebook for those who would rather prefer a more personal experience. Such niche sites typically take off with a small base and then grow into a larger entity.

All these areas of social Media need to be taken into account while devising your strategy. It may seem all simple, but social media marketing has its own norms and challenges. You may not get it right in the beginning. But as you move along, experiment and innovate, you will know the intricacies of it. It’s a process involving continual learning on a trial and error basis sans a pre-defined way to success.  This also demands proven experience and expertise.