Tamar Weinberg is a phenomenon.
Anyone in SEO has heard about her, at the very least. Often sideways as she's not directly involved with SEO.
Tamar's forte is social media, the genuine participation in which she takes to the next level: one hour after giving birth to her son David she was on Twitter to tell us about it:
Her knowledge of what was then hip to call "Web 2.0", her work at Lifehacker, Mashable and 10e20, to name but 3 sites where she has blogged, position her as a social media expert extraordinaire.
Throughout this she remains what we like to call "normal"; she's one of us, approachable by everyone at virtually any time.
Her most recent work is her book The New Community Rules, referred to respectfully by one reviewer as "a Social Media for Dummies format but polished and not condescending for the not-so-dummy".
What should we understand social media marketing to be? What is it?
First and foremost, let's take a look at the terminology of "social media marketing." The idea behind social media marketing is to leverage the "social" through its "media" (communication and tools) to "market" to your constituents.
The big picture here is communication. In traditional marketing, it was one person speaking to many. Now the collective has a voice. In social media marketing, you acknowledge this and communicate among these individuals and with them. It's important to share with your constituents and to take feedback from them back to your team.
With social media, you are given tools to do so. But the primary goal should ideally be communication. Of course, there will be other perks as well, including increased branding, thought leadership, and of course, links, which are naturally important to many SEM folks.
Are the concepts of "social media" and "marketing" compatible?
Yes, but only if you do so in a genuine fashion. If you're going to jump into the world of social media without considering the "social" and you plan to simply push content into someone's face with "marketing" in mind, the compatibility is naturally lacking.
It is important to put the community first at all times. At the end of the day, it's about you providing to the community and you finding what works for them and responding to their feedback.
You cannot really treat social media marketing without the social. It's very important to acknowledge this fact. All online communities are different. You'll need to understand the communities you "pitch" to. Not every approach can and sholuld be the same, and every social being is different.
Will social media marketing, or social media relations, become as de facto to online business as SEO is?
I honestly think we're already there.
I think "social media consultants" and "social media experts" are running rampant on the web.
I'm not entirely sure if they're necessarily able to embark on a successful social media marketing campaign, but the self-proclaimed social media marketers seem to outnumber SEOs in this day and age.
In your time online social media has changed from BBS and Usenet to forums and now communities like Twitter. It's more of the same thing, different time and tools, or has something really changed?
Jill Whalen once wrote a really poignant post on this observation of yours entitled Scared of Social Media? You May Already be Pro!. Her point was quite similar: you may be afraid of social media as it is today, but if you were active on forums, bulletin boards, and the like 10 years ago, you already do have understanding of social media communities and how individuals online communicate and relate to each other.
With that said, today, we're seeing the same thing, for the most part. The only thing that differentiates this from ten years ago is evolution.
In the past, BBSes were costly to maintain and search engines weren't necessarily giving you timely results. You couldn't easily find the appropriate communities for your wants and needs and niche communities were fewer and farther between.
Today, everyone can set up a community for his or her favorite thing.
With blogs, people can now articulate their dissatisfaction about companies they dislike, thereby killing the idea of the traditional marketing mindset where one speaks to many.
With cheaper, ubiquitious technology, the conversation becomes many-to-many. Communities flourish everywhere. More and more people can get involved and they can do so quite easily.
So, when my company considers social media/networks — what do I measure how to come to a fact-based conclusion whether this works or not for my company?
You can measure a lot of things, but sometimes it won't be quantifiable.
Look at quality and higher sentiment toward your brand, for example. There are tools such as Socialradar that help you measure this.
You can also look at how far a message is spreading. You can also look at whether you have increased transactions or pageviews.
There are many things you can do, but these depend on your goals.
Seen from a business point of view, social networks are most suited for a) PR, b) marketing, c) branding, d) customer support, e) lead generation, f) none of these; just be there and see what happens.
Social networks can do all of that and more.
Depending on what your goals are, you may choose any of the above or none of the above.
The important thing to know about social media is that it's just a new marketing channel, and you could have accomplished all of these goals using those other marketing channels as well. Why not use social media marketing on top of that?