The Role of Social Media in Online Marketing

I recently attended a webinar put on by Jane Friedman, contributing editor to Writer’s Digest and the Assistant Professor of e-media at University of Cincinnati.

Friedman did an excellent job of explaining the world of online marketing–which can be overwhelming at times. Her main focus was one of the most confusing components of an online platform: social media.

Social media has many roles. It can be a research tool in the discovery of what is important to your clients, allowing you to address their concerns more directly. It can be used to build influence and visibility in your area of expertise. And it can be used to tell the world (and no one in particular) what you had for dinner. The key is understanding what you are trying to accomplish with social media.

For companies, social media is especially useful for developing relationships online that can translate into the real world.

Friedman highlighted five channels of social media necessary to build and transfer professional relationship from online to in-person. They are:

  • Email
  • Blogs
  • Community sites
  • Message boards
  • Multimedia (podcasts, video, and apps)


Each one is useful for different reasons, but the main goal of any online interaction should be to drive traffic back to a website.

Your website is your business card now and needs to include the right information. Components of a website may vary depending on your industry, but the key pages are all the same. Include an “about” or “bio” page, an area to sign up for your newsletter and some type of “social proof.” This social proof can be as simple as a Twitter feed that shows you interacting with followers, or as in-depth as actual reviews and praise from your customers and clients.

Have a blog only if you update it regularly and turn it into a place for people to go who want to have meaningful interactions with you or your business.

Once online contacts begin attending events or frequenting your business, use social media to stay connected and keep that relationship alive.

No matter which social media venue you choose, you must be patient. Developing an online platform does not happen overnight, and it requires consistent interaction and a certain degree of online savvy.

Also remember, one of the keys to being successful with your online marketing is keeping up-to-date with what’s new in the field. Attend webinars like the one I went to and download free ebooks whenever possible. It’s a changing industry and you have to be able to change with it.