Last night I was at the top grocery store in my area and ran into someone that was at the conference I got to present at last week. We talked a little bit about some of the programs that were put on, and then we talked about his general opinion of the event.

by Tiffa Day via Flickr

He mentioned that there was so much going on that he knew he’d be skipping some things here and there, like my presentation, because he wanted to take in as much as possible about things he didn’t know much about. He said that he talked to a lot of people who seemed confused at the end of the day, which I knew would happen because if you don’t know a lot about something going in and get inundated with lots of information there’s no way you can retain it all.

What he also said was that as he listened to a lot of the presentations he came to this conclusion; social media marketing shouldn’t be all that much different than traditional marketing, as it’s only a new platform and not a new way of marketing. His point was that the idea of marketing is to attract someone’s interest, get them to at least look at everything you have to offer, and then hopefully buy something before leaving. This takes research to figure out just what you have to offer a potential buyer and then figuring out how to make your message stand out to encourage that buyer to become a customer.

I couldn’t disagree with his general premise, yet I felt he was possibly missing the bigger picture. The reality is that social media marketing gives one the opportunity to branch out beyond their local area and reach a much larger audience in a lot shorter time. With the proper connections, I can talk about my latest project (which, by the way, is my editing a book of early newsletters from my primary business at the moment) and if I get the right audience to notice it the message can be seen by thousands is less than a day. Other than buying a commercial to show during a prime time TV event how many other ways are there to reach that many people? And the costs… forget about it!

Social media marketing also doesn’t have to be that direct to work. In the past I’ve mentioned that any major business not following their name or industry on Twitter is doing themselves a disservice because it’s not giving them the opportunity to either thank people that say nice things about them or correct something that a customer has complained about. These days it’s incumbent to address issues sooner than later because, though one can recover from bad press, it can be harder to do so. Just the other day I had someone comment on an old post of mine complaining about a particular affiliate that didn’t pay me; even when someone might think an issue is gone, online it’s never gone, especially if the company didn’t fix the issue (weasels; still never paid me).

Overall he’s correct; social media marketing is just marketing. But it’s also so much more, and anyone that doesn’t believe this will eventually run into the wall. On that day I hope they call me or someone else to help them get out of it, and then hope it’s not too late.

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