DEFINITION of 'Social Media Marketing (SMM)'

The use of social media websites and social networks to market a company’s products and services. Social media marketing provides companies with a way to reach new customers and engage with existing customers.

BREAKING DOWN 'Social Media Marketing (SMM)'

Social media websites allow marketers to employ a broad range of tactics and strategies to promote content. Many social networks allow users to provide detailed geographical, demographic, and personal information, which allows marketers to tailor their message to what is most likely to resonate with the user. Because Internet audiences can be better segmented than more traditional marketing channels, companies can ensure that they are focusing their resources on the audience that they want to target.

A major strategy used in social media marketing is to develop messages and content that individual users will share with their family, friends, and coworkers. This strategy relies on word of mouth, and provides several benefits. First, it increases the message’s reach to networks and users that a social media manager may not have been able to access otherwise. Second, shared content carries an implicit endorsement when sent by someone that the recipient knows and trusts.

Social media strategy involves the creation of content that is “sticky”, meaning that it will get a user’s attention and increase the possibility that he or she will conduct a desired action, such as purchase a product or share the content with others. Marketers create viral content designed to spread between users quickly.

While social media marketing can provide benefits, it also can create obstacles that companies may have otherwise not have had to deal with. For example, a viral video claiming that a company’s product causes consumers to become ill has to be addressed by the company, regardless of whether the claim is true or false. Even if a company is able to set the message straight, consumers may be less likely to purchase from the company in the future.

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