Social media is a broad term that has come to be commonly understood as anything on the Internet that can be posted to Facebook or Twitter. But for the sake of deeper understanding of how it works, it’s important to look at social media in terms of the activities that social tools enable. This will provide context as the following elements of social media are explained in greater detail.
The Five Key Elements of Social Media
Social media can most easily be defined as a collection of technologies that enable people to share content online with one another.
As a result, five inter-related elements of social media have become available.
- Content strategy & marketing
- Engagement & community management
- Promotion & advertising
- Metrics, measurement & analytics
If we think of social media through this lens, we can more clearly assess each site.
A proper social media marketing mix will involve all five of these elements.
The Five Key Elements: A Brief Explanation
Listening refers to the process of searching and monitoring public conversations and shared content for mentions of brands, products, services, questions, or other keywords with the intention of identifying and understanding trends.
Some software has automatic sentiment tracking, which is the ability to compare two organizations against one another to determine the relative “share of voice”. They also may provide trend analysis to show emerging and popular conversations. Listening can also be done manually by examining the news feeds of various sites or individuals to uncover valuable intelligence based on what they share.
Content marketing is the use of media, such as written text, pictures, videos, slideshows and more, to earn attention and traffic with the intent to position a company or individual as knowledgeable and trusted, and to generate new prospects and customers. Content marketing is most successful when focused on providing valuable information to the target audience. Content can either be created or curated (collected and organized from around the web).
Engagement is the process of directly connecting with another individual, and using a mixture of listening, content marketing and conversation skills to build trust and loyalty by solving problems and providing value.
Promotion & Advertising
Promotion and Advertising are two interrelated activities that cover the use of any paid method used to generate awareness about a product, service, website or marketplace. Promotion can involve offline activities such as business cards or posters, or online activities such as display advertisements, social media promoted posts or PPC.
Measurement & Analytics
Measurement and analytics covers all activities related to the capture and analysis of data. This can include user demographic or interest data, website traffic and behavior, interactions and impressions for advertisements, and any other activity that generates data.
Measurement and analytics should be applied to all of the other four components of social media in order to understand and improve the effectiveness of each activity.