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Social Media: The Marketing Phenomenon

January 2012 | by senior instructional designer Donnie Ingram, Jr., and marketing professor Craig Shoemaker, PhD

How big is Social Media? Real BIG.

Two billion people are now using the Internet worldwide, accessing 255 million websites. Sixty-five million people are accessing the Internet through their phones. Facebook has taken over Google as the largest visited site–175 million visits every day. Twitter had 25 billion tweets in 2010. LinkedIn has 20 million members worldwide, and one million join per month. There are an estimated 152 million blogs.

Once the Internet emerged in the early 1990s, businesses quickly realized the importance of advertising online with websites. Fast-forward 20 years later and social media has evolved into a global phenomenon. Advertising in traditional marketing mediums is down significantly–newspapers down 19 percent, TV down 10 percent, radio down 12 percent, and magazines down 15 percent. Today, a significant percentage of the population is now accessing content from the Internet, and the correlation between success and exposure on the social web is not very far-fetched.

Social media is not intended as a replacement of the traditional marketing framework but rather an extension of currently existing marketing strategies. Without traditional marketing, social media marketing wouldn't be as prevalent. Co-dependency between the two ideals is essential for the continued progression and sustainment of both social and traditional media outlets.

Businesses are also capitalizing on the availability of these platforms by maximizing visibility and leveraging social media to bridge the gap of connectivity between business and customers. Credibility, building relationships, visibility, familiarity, and trust are all enhancement mechanisms connected to social media marketing. Social media is not only an extension of traditional marketing methods; it has become a vital communication medium for businesses to promote brand awareness, customer engagement, and enhanced service. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensive option that has virtually leveled the marketing playing field for both big and small business ventures alike.

The sense of urgency for businesses to acknowledge social media as an accepted marketing process is more accentuated than ever. Businesses that have their finger on the pulse of what customers want will always have a competitive advantage. Those who fail to embrace social media–and its invaluable contribution to the world of marketing–run the proverbial risk of being left in the dust by competitors.

Committed to the mission of St. Ambrose University, the College of Business equips students to build success in a global context-–for themselves, their organizations and communities–through high-impact business, leadership and communication education, and the pursuit of scholarship.

As such, our marketing faculty designed a course specific to social media and marketing. MKTG 398 Social Media Marketing introduces the student to innovative techniques and strategies that will strengthen brand awareness, transparency, and profitability. Social Media Marketing also is designed to provide a comprehensive synopsis on the fundamental and exemplary application of social media in a marketing context.

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