What is social media marketing and what does it mean to brands? The question was raised at the Echelon 2010 panel last week but was never answered.

Let’s go back to basics by looking at Wikipedia for the definition.

Wikipedia says “social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. They support the democratization of knowledge and information and transform people from content consumers to content producers”.

This definition extends to the end-users of social media.  For brands, it is the last sentence that have full meaning to brands but requires a little tweaking.

What if we replaced people with brands and what do brands to best? They buy content.

As such, I see social media “transforming brands from media buyers to content producers on a free medium that transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues”.

Traditional media still has its value but it is social media that is currently to proven to be more cost effective in terms of getting the interaction any marketer would dream of from their consumers.

As such, for a brand to be successful in social media marketing, the brand has to look at a content strategy to create content which can look at engaging their audience.

This is even more true to an Asian market. From the 10 months of working with clients on their social media marketing activities, Asian audience are still made up of mostly content consumers, rather than content producers, but will interact with the content if it worth interacting.

With my Marriage Central client, I grew the fan based from 15 to 2000+ today by pushing content onto the page. The daily “Tips for Love to work” can be found at the website, but by just pasting the tips on the page has become one of the well interacted item on the fan page.

I extended the content approach by taking “live” photos and status updates at their talks and seminar. “Live”  streaming would be great, but most of the time, the bandwidth at the venue does not support for proper streaming.

“Live” photos and status update cater to generation “now” who are so used to instant updates and instant messaging.

I have taken the approach to the other clients and this has been well received by both the clients and the targeted audience.

Brands that create social media sites, like fan pages, and expect fans to update the site will immediately fail.

Regular content updates also take advantage of the principle of advertising. A brand advertises so that the consumer will remember that the brand still exist. When you update on a regular basis, especially on a social network, your audience will be aware of that update and thus the brand. This is more true for social networks like Facebook when a status update is seen not by the fan, but friends of the fan.

If you had no content or no updates, your social media awareness is almost zero.

Hence, if you are looking to start a social media campaign, remember that it is not just having your brand in Facebook or Twitter, but to have content which your audience can interact with.

Learning how to interact with audience is another story altogether and I leave it for another post.

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