Social media marketing, sometimes referred to as Web marketing, is the application of social media sites and platforms to advertise a product or service. Though the terms digital and e-commerce marketing are now dominant in academic circles, social media marketing continues to grow more popular for researchers and practitioners alike. Many companies rely heavily on social media to advertise themselves to the general public, much in the same way that major corporations have done for years. In many ways, the current state of digital marketing in the digital age mirrors the early days of the web: marketers must keep up with changing technology or risk being left behind.

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Tracking and analyzing social media marketing campaigns is essential to ensure that they are successful. The best way to do this is to enlist the help of an outside party such as an outside analytics company, or a social media monitoring agency. These organizations can provide valuable information on how the content on a site is performing relative to keywords, demographics, etc. They can also provide data on performance based on geographic and demographic criteria. Finally, the organization can provide reports on the traffic and demographics of the content. All of this information provides an important picture of how the content is performing relative to its chosen audiences.

In addition to tracking the effectiveness of social media marketing campaigns, managers should also consider what impact it is having on the brand overall. For instance, is the brand playing catch-up to its competitors? Do customers see the brand as relevant to their needs and expectations? Can the brand position itself more clearly across various social media platforms? The answers to these questions and others should help managers determine if the investment is worth it.

Any good social media marketing strategy should be measurable. This means that a social media manager should be able to measure key metrics, such as engagement, page views, hits, shares, and tweets over a specific period of time. Measuring progress should help a social media marketing manager understand that promotional methods are working and which need to be improved upon.

Many social media marketing managers offer analytics in addition to the measurement tools listed above. In addition, a strong social media marketing strategy should include measures of success such as return on investment (ROI). The ROI metric should include the cost per acquisition (CPA) and cost per sale (CPS). The more success a promotional campaign has, the more likely it will generate a return on investment.

Engaging a customer in a dialogue is the crux of any social media marketing (SMM) plan. Without engagement, no customer will likely ever share or Retweet a message. However, SMM is not all about engaging customers. To really understand a brand online, it is important to learn how to engage with consumers on the digital channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the rest.