Some popular social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Yelp, and Foursquare. Social bookmarking sites are also popular social media marketing platforms. These include Digg, Reddit, and Delicious. It’s important to remember though that “social media” is a catchall term for sites that offer widely different sorts of experiences. What they all have in common is a community of users that interact socially.

Interaction and Loyalty

What is social media marketing? In most social media strategy, the goal is to inspire sharing (to disseminate social content widely in the hopes that it will go viral), build traffic, and grow positive customer sentiment.

On social networks, businesses can interact with customers and potential customers outside of the traditional advertising framework. This means they can gain valuable insights about what their customers care about. It also means they can respond directly to customer feedback in an informal way. This can help them build closer relationships with customers, which may translate to greater customer loyalty. It also helps businesses reach new customers through their friends. It’s word-of-mouth 2.0.

Cultivating a Following

Since social media is about sharing and interacting new media content, it’s important to have connections that engage. 50,000 fans that ignore your social media content are probably less valuable than 1,000 fans that regularly read, watch, listen, and share. So, cultivating a participatory following is an important part of any social media marketing effort.

Building a Presence

Building a solid social media presence takes time because relationships take time. Early on in the days of social media marketing, many companies hoped to be able to create populated, popular profiles overnight. The only way to grow that quickly is to send out thousands of friend requests to complete strangers. These sorts of “friends” aren’t targeted or cultivated and they aren’t likely to appreciate the spam. There is a good and a bad side to the way social media works. It tends to discourage this type of quick-fix marketing, which keeps the sites reasonably organic and fun to use but also makes marketer’s jobs harder. Once a profile is built though, it has some heft and staying power.

Being Responsive

Social media marketing requires the attention of real people. You can automate some things, like social media campaign posts and the occasional update, but it’s important to have a person checking the profiles every day. This person can respond to customer comments and questions promptly.

Value and Reciprocity

One of the cardinal rules of social media marketing is to always offer something of value. Advertising too blatantly is a good way to get ignored. Instead, create content that people want to look at and share, and promote the content of others in turn. You can’t expect others to share what you post if you don’t share what they post sometimes too. And always remember your brand when you’re posting and sharing content. Curate content that reflects your brand’s character.

Infographic: 21 Rules For Effective Social Media Marketing Strategies

21 Rules For Effective Social Media Marketing Strategies