Social media marketing is not to be confused with “Social marketing” which refers more to the concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioral goals for the social good like no smoking areas or seat belts rules and even prompting to make people follow speed limits. Though I will be using the term “social marketing” as most do on the Internet, I’m referring to the actual context of “social media marketing”.

What is Social Marketing? One of the hottest new trends on the Internet today! It is the collection and growing volume of content that is published or created by its users. chiropracticinventura [Example; with YouTube, the millions of videos that are posted are mainly created by the “Users” and not the owner or employees of “YouTube”.] Through social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any collaborative group people are using the Internet to communicate with each other. This communication includes public relations, customer service, marketing as well as relationship building and sharing of ideas. Common facilities to use social media marketing are tools or services like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Wikipedia, Orkut and YouTube.

A Social Marketing Strategy via the Internet has three basic components and is a completely separate marketing approach than Content Marketing or Paid Marketing. Though many do integrate more than one approach to maximize the results the following is how I define social marketing.

1. It is used to “strike a match” or create a “buzz” that self-propels through the Internet and becomes viral in nature. This is through newsworthy events, videos, tweets, or blog entries that grab people’s attention provoking them to share with others. Buzz is the engine behind social media marketing and what makes it work. The user is the fuel to spread the message, rather than the traditional method of purchasing an ad space or running commercials. The original message is often not about the “product” or what you are ultimately attracting people towards, many successful viral campaigns driven by “buzz fuel” have been just an amusing or compelling message that had the company logo or tagline attached.

2. Establishing or providing tools to enable an interested person or “fan” of a particular product or brand to be able to promote a message themselves. This can and is done in multiple online social media venues. Fan pages in Twitter, MySpace on Facebook, “Lenses” on Squidoo all provide this model.

3. It is the place or “on-line water cooler” to have everyone gather around for this conversation or “buzz” to take place. Social media marketing is not controlled by the instigator or the organization. Instead they are usually only responsible to kick-start it and then optimally have tools to encourage user participation and dialogue. A poorly designed social media marketing campaign can potentially backfire on the company that created it. A successful campaign is rooted by remembering to respect the users.

So what does all this mean to the person that may want to start marketing a product or business, or even themselves on the Internet? Social Marketing is often utilized by the “newbie” as a great place to get started. Mainly because there is little to no cost required to practice these strategies. Don’t be mistaken, many professional marketers experiencing great results also use these strategies, maybe not exclusively, but to support and utilize the traffic they are creating through more advanced campaigns.

Want to start your own “buzz” now that you know what is social marketing? Great! You can get your feet wet by playing around with Twitter or Facebook, if you haven’t yet already. Then after you start establishing a group of friends or followers, the next step is to see how you can navigate these networks for your own gain. To do that you will need a system to help set up, teach, and manage the numerous parts of a successful Social Marketing Strategy