As of 2021, 75% of Gen Zers and 48% of millennials are making purchasing decisions influenced by social media ads, and in 2020, social media ad spend in the US was valued at $40.3 billion.
Whether you’re a big or small business owner, social media advertising is a must, especially if you want to stand out from the crowd, gain content views and drive more sales. Social media marketing can be defined as the practice of promoting your solutions through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Like digital marketing itself, there are many different ways to promote your solutions on social media. But, in most cases, companies will have to develop and publish valuable content, monitor how your audience responds, and make the right adjustments to improve campaign performance.
There are many different platforms that can help you connect with your audience, all of which require tailored content, appropriately-sized images, and a custom posting schedule.
Social media marketing refers to the process of creating tailored content for social media platforms for the purpose of driving engagement and promoting a brand.
Social media marketing is beneficial because it enables brands to strengthen the relationships they have with their customers, on the customer’s preferred channels. Most companies don’t realize social media is part of the new-age buyer’s journey. If your potential customers are on social media, we’ll help you create integrated social media marketing strategies to connect you with your social audience.
Why Is Social Media Important to Brands?
Although many people have moved to other social media platforms, Facebook still has 2.85 billion active monthly users according to Statista. If one counts all of the Facebook family of social media platforms, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, that number grows to 3.51 billion monthly users. By 2022, the number of worldwide social media users is expected to reach 3.96 billion. As of 2022, 82% of the United States population has a social networking profile.
These statistics show why it is vital for brands to invest in social media marketing, as social media is a channel where consumers feel free to openly discuss how they feel about a brand’s products and services, and it’s a great place to reach customers on their own turf, a place where they are comfortable spending time. A Global Web Index report revealed that from January to March of 2020, consumers were on social networks (and associated messaging apps) an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes each day. More importantly, the report also indicated that up to 50% of social media users use social networks to research products and services.
These social media platforms enable brands to connect with their audience to:
- build a brand;
- increase sales;
- drive traffic to a website; and
- build a community of followers to share and engage with content.
Producing relevant content that users will share with their own networks helps brands increase their exposure. It also extends their reach toward fans, potential customers and even potential employees when used as a recruitment tool.
How Does Social Media Marketing Work?
There are many popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, WeChat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitch and VK. Other sites that are not true social networks such as Reddit and YouTube are also still important for social media marketers. The important thing for brands to understand is that each social media platform is different, and the content a brand creates for one platform is probably not well-suited for another.
Social networks utilize user information to serve highly relevant advertisements based on interactions within a specific platform. In many instances, when the target market aligns with the user demographics of a social platform, social advertising can provide huge increases in conversions and sales with lower cost of acquisition.
Each platform has elements that makes it attractive to use. And when a company uses several in combination to deliver a multichannel message, consumers can see those messages on their preferred channels.
Listening and Engagement in Social Media Marketing
Social media listening and engagement is the practice of monitoring conversations and determining how people feel about your company.
In addition to monitoring, you should also respond to relevant mentions, especially if they are from people who’ve had a negative experience.
Businesses that create activity on social platforms can see growth in interaction and conversations about the brand and products. Users will comment on and share posts, tag the company in their own posts, and even begin communicating through the instant messaging functionalities. These types of interactions are ideal because there are notifications in place to alert social media managers. This enables them to practice good customer service, which in turns boosts the customer experience.
People on social media may also discuss a brand, product or service without tagging or speaking directly to a company. There are several social media listening tools available to stay plugged into the conversation, such as Brandwatch, NetBase Quid and Sprinklr. Free tools such as Google Alerts can also notify marketers when their company is being mentioned.
When people engage with your content on social media, they are prone to share and talk about it. This type of activity creates “buzz” and provides you with an effective form of exposure to your products or services and brand-building.
Listening to your target audience and keeping these users engaged is a way to create a good reputation for your brand, plus you’ll also get valuable insights to help you deliver better solutions to your customers.
This is the most basic form of SMM, but it’s necessary because it’s impossible to create a scalable leads machine without knowing what people are saying about your company.
Social Media Advertising
We’ve gone over the definition of SMM, but what is social media advertising?
In simple terms, social media advertising is the practice of promoting your company through paid social network ads.
Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to place ads in user feeds and other areas in order to boost the results you get from your content. Users proactively provide extensive information to social media platforms, including demographic and preference data, which companies can use to tailored campaigns for each target audience.
If you don’t have a significant social following for your business yet, paid advertising such as Facebook Ads helps you reach a large audience very quickly while also potentially boosting your business page likes and followers. Not only does this give you a more diverse level of inbound traffic, but having already interacted with your social content, these visitors have a higher potential to become qualified leads.
Plus, many people that use social media are actively searching for interesting content, so it’s much easier to create engaging content for potential customers. If you’re operating on a tight budget and simply don’t have the means to hire an advertising agency, running your campaigns manually is your best bet — but unless you’re already a seasoned advertiser, you need to be willing to put in the time and effort to learn.
What Should You Post on Social Media?
As with other mediums, the content that brands post on social platforms must be consistent with the brand’s voice and its values. Social media is a medium that allows brands to show more personality and character. Humor and lighthearted, fun content enables customers to see the human side of a brand. Customers recognize that brands are businesses with goals that include being profitable, but they do not want to be regularly bombarded with sales pitches or advertising gimmicks. Rather than enhancing brand loyalty, the overuse of social media for advertising will drive customers away.
A social media marketing campaign should include social listening in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. Social listening is the act of monitoring social media platforms for mentions of a brand, its competitors, products, services, or keywords. This enables a brand to know what its customers are saying about the brand, how they feel about it, as well as providing the brand with a way to discover pain points in the customer journey.
The first step before developing social media marketing strategies is to determine the goals you want to achieve.
General goals are fine to start with, but you need to be more specific than ‘lead generation’ so make sure you develop a set of measurable objectives.
You should ask yourself questions like:
- What audience do I want to attract?
- Which goals do I want to achieve in the short and long-term?
- What marketing message do I want to send across to my audience?
Additionally, remember to keep your industry and specific niche in mind to help you make the best possible decisions.