With the Internet bringing businesses to a worldwide audience, the interactive nature of Internet marketing has made it an effective method to market products and services in a way that is different from traditional marketing channels.
Internet marketing allows companies to reach their target demographic and to zero in on the needs of customers. These methods incorporate Internet basics-e-mail and standard company websites-but also, more advanced marketing methods such as:
- targeted banner ads
- search engine optimization (SEO)
- affiliate advertising
- social media.
The unique ability for Internet marketing to allow businesses and customers almost immediate interaction has revolutionized the way that Internet marketing is now conducted. The use of social media channels allows companies to interact directly with their customers and to let the customers take the lead in disseminating the marketing message.
Social Media and Internet Marketing
With the advent of sophisticated search engines such a Google, and now Bing, the average consumer can confidently find the information that they are looking for with a few key strokes. Websites such as such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube allow customers to take that immediacy one step further with the ability to interact with businesses.
This is significantly different from traditional marketing where advertisers devise a static campaign that includes several elements-television and radio commercials, print ads, outdoor advertising-which do not allow for any kind of consumer interaction. Adding Internet marketing into the mix allows advertisers to infuse an element of interactivity with consumers that take them from passive observers to active and valuable elements in a campaign.
While Internet marketing can be as simple as purchasing ad space on a network of websites, social media marketing works by creating “buzz” around the product or service. The buzz attracts attention by creating word of mouth interest around a company or product that is then transmitted virally through different social media channels, such as:
- Facebook, where users can create a fan page or become a fan of a product or service, interact with other “fans” via public discussions and by posting images. The viral element happens when their friends see that they are a fan of a certain product or service and also become a fan.
- On Twitter, messages can be “tweeted” and “retweeted” amongst users with similar interests. While tweets are limited to 140 characters, they often contain links to companies and other social media websites.
- YouTube can be used by a business to promote a commercial or product by posting a commercial or other video, which can then be discussed amongst the YouTube community either by text or video responses. Links to YouTube videos are frequently posted on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
The Importance of Social Media to Internet Marketing
A study commissioned for MySpace predicted that companies would spend over $900 million in 2007 in the U.S. on social media advertising. That number is expected to rise as the value and importance of using these channels for Internet marketing increases. The ability for a business to incorporate social media into campaign plans will only continue to grow as new and ingenious methods of creating buzz are conceived.