The controversial though common aphorism that “corporations are people” applies well to the social media landscape, where entrepreneurial individuals are branding themselves just as readily as a transnational company. Social media is at its heart a communal arrangement where online entities are judged more for their transparency than they are their content. This bodes well for companies who want to use the Internet to encounter the new frontier of marketing, which is social media optimization. Social media contains several unique qualities that make it a more robust marketing option than any preceding medium:
Branded content can be shared without violating any intellectual property law. In fact, it’s encouraged. Nothing is better for a company than for its online content to be shared across multiple sites and platforms. If you think about this, it’s far more bold quality than we may give it credit for. Previous mediums, such as television and newsprint, did not so easily facilitate the passing on of copyrighted material. Only the owner of the brand was expected to make such a move. With social media, companies can release their properties to the sky like pigeons.
Online reputations can be managed with greater precision. Reputation management is a major new online industry and social media is a huge component of it. Because social media is so interconnected with search engine optimization, companies can now defend and evolve their brands with near mathematical accuracy, controlling how their domains arise in search engine results and in what contexts they will be seen by the public.
Engagement is formed organically. Social media interaction is based on the principle of ‘opt-in.‘ That is, in order for Twitter or Pinterest users to see your tweets and pins they have to ‘follow you. In order for Facebook users to see your posts, they have to ‘like’ you. Some sites aggregate material, leaving open the possibility of seeing new material that you didn’t subscribe to (YouTube), but the general principle is that these sites create curated experiences, in which the users are willing participants. This is in stark contrast to television, in which viewers are the hapless recipients of ‘one-way’ transmissions.
These are a few of the unique qualities that social media possesses that makes it such a powerful marketing tool for both individuals and companies. Used correctly, nearly anyone can create a successful campaign that will generate brand loyalty for years to come.