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Here are five steps in the social marketing process: Fan acquisition, engagement, amplification, community, and brand strength (sales). Each of these steps in the process can be measured. The metrics of social marketing are quite different from those of traditional web marketing or television marketing. This is what makes social marketing so different’the objectives and the measures. This will become more apparent as we describe marketing on specific social sites.

Social marketing campaigns begin with fan acquisition, which involves using any of a variety of means, from display ads to News Feed and page pop-ups, to attract people to your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other platform like a web page. It’s getting your brand “out there” in the stream of social messages. Display ads on social sites have a social dimension (sometimes called “display ads with social features” or simply “social ads”). Social ads encourage visitors to interact and do something social, such as participate in a contest, obtain a coupon, or obtain free services for attracting friends.

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fan acquisition

attracting people to your marketing messages

The next step is to generate engagement, which involves using a variety of tools to encourage users to interact with your content and brand located on your Facebook or web pages. You can think of this as “starting the conversation” around your brand. You want your fans to talk about your content and products. You can generate engagement through attractive photos, interesting text content, and blogger reports, with plenty of opportunities for users to express opinions. You can also provide links to Pinterest photos of your products or fan comments on blog sites like Tumblr.


encouraging visitors to interact with your content and brand

Once you have engaged visitors, you can begin to use social site features to amplify your messages by encouraging users to tell their friends by clicking a Like or +1 button, or by sending a message to their followers on Twitter. Amplification involves using the inherent strength of social networks. On Facebook, the average user has 120 “friends.” This includes all people they have ever friended, including people whom they don’t really know (and who don’t really know them). Facebook users typically have only three to four close friends with whom they can discuss confidential matters, and a larger set of around 20 friends with whom they have two-way communications (mutual friends). Let’s use 20 as a reasonable number of mutual friends for marketing purposes. For marketers, this means that if they can attract one fan and encourage that fan to share his or her approval with his or her friends, the message can be amplified twenty times: 20 friends of the one fan can be influenced. Best of all: the friends of fans are free. Marketers pay to attract only the initial fan and they are not charged by social sites (currently) for the amplification that can result.


encouraging visitors to share their Likes and comments with their friends

Once you have gathered enough engaged fans, you will have created the foundation for a community’a more or less stable group of fans who are engaged and communicating with one another over a substantial period of time (say several months or more). Marketers have a number of tactics to nurture these communities, including inside information on new products, price breaks for loyalty, and free gifts for bringing in new members. The ultimate goal is to enlarge your firm’s “share of the online conversation.” The process ends with strengthening the brand and, hopefully, additional sales of products and services. Brand strength can be measured in a variety of ways both online and offline, a subject that is beyond the boundaries of this text (Ailawadi et al., 2003; Aaker, 1996; Simon and Sullivan, 1993; Keller, 1993).


a stable group of fans engaged and communicating with one another over a substantial period of time about your brand

Ultimately, the point of marketing is to drive sales revenue. Measuring the impact of a social marketing campaign on brand strength and sales is still being explored by marketers, social site managers, and researchers, but generally the results are positive: social marketing campaigns drive sales. In 2015, most of the top social network sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, added, or were in the processing of adding, social commerce features, such as Buy buttons and other shopping functionality that makes it even easier for the targets of those social marketing campaigns to act on them and make a purchase.


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