More and more clients are coming to us for Social Media Marketing Services, and I’ve found there’s a lot of misunderstanding on just what Social Media is, and how to categorize and define the components.

Simply stated, Social Media are online places where conversations take place among people with similar interests. And those conversations can in the form of words, images, video and audio. Social Media Marketing (Other names for it include Word of Mouth Marketing, 1 to 1 Marketing, Consumer or User Generated Content, etc.) is really just a subset of marketing…marketing that takes place in digital form over the Internet within social media.

We recognize five flavors of SMM and I’ve highlighted the key points that differentiate them:

1. Blogs: Blogs are essentially a diary with the point of view of one person and reflect their interest, bias and “voice”…Less of a conversation, more of a monolog. Examples include CocktailNerd and Fermentation.

2. Sites, Forums, Wikis: These are sort of like a sister to Blogs…they are conversations that are moderated and usually without a bias or point of view. On the spirits side, recipes drive the category, on the wine side it’s ratings, reviews and food and wine pairings. Examples include and Wine Library TV Forum.

3. Social Networks: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Wine 2.0 are examples. The conversation on social networks is not moderated and it takes place between and among like minded individuals who link to each other as “friends” and through “groups”.

4. Search: Finding information online based on other people’s searches. In our world search is conducted on general sites such as Google or vertical sites such as Search comes in two flavors as well…organic and paid (aka PPC, Google AdWords/AdSense).

5. E-Commerce: buying and selling stuff online. OK, it’s not really SMM, but it is a critical digital marketing strategy and commerce is conversation. It applies to consumer sites such as BevMax as well as trade sites like BevAccess

It’s that simple.