Social media marketing can make or break your business today; the right campaign can catapult your company forward and the wrong approach can leave you with disappointing results or worse, a tainted brand. One can undoubtedly say that social media is the most viable medium ever in the history of business and marketing.
In the first ten years of its public availability, the internet managed to gather over one billion users, but this feat was surpassed by social media, which gained close to two billion users in the same time period about 10 years later.
The growth of the platform could be attributed to its global networking potential, affordability and ease of use. Any small business can create a social media profile for free and compete for space and visibility with large businesses, at an affordable price.
If you have created social media profiles, you should work on making the most of them, and if you haven’t created them yet, you can use the information on this post to understand more about the benefits of social media marketing and the platforms that you can choose from.
What is social media marketing?
As per the definition on Wikipedia, “Social media marketing (SMM) is a marketing approach to gain more website traffic and consumer attention through the social media platforms.”
Pretty straightforward and simple to hear, right? However, it is not as simple and direct as it seems. Let’s redefine social media marketing with reference to commonly used strategies.
“Social media marketing is the process of using customized content to reach your target audience via social media platforms to enhance customer engagement, content sharing and website traffic. To achieve this, you need to make your content relevant and engaging so people, or more specifically your target audience, will want to share it. If people don’t interact with your content, your social media marketing strategy will fall apart. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, maybe the most popular social media platforms, but there are plenty of others that you can use. Wikipedia lists more than 200 major social media platforms focused on various niches.
Visibly, social media changes at an incredibly faster pace, with new platforms being built every year and existing platforms evolving on a consistent basis. It’s important to keep up with updates to ensure that you’re on track to achieve what you set out to for your business.
Benefits of social media marketing
Before diving into social media platforms and the marketing strategy for each of them, let’s first look at an overview of the benefits that businesses can experience via social media marketing, as observed by in-house experts at RemoteDBA.
Brand recognition – Social media platforms are great channels for small businesses and large to share their brand’s voice with target customers. When your posts consistently pop-up on your customers’ feeds, they are likely to recognize your brand over time.
Build loyalty – It costs 5X more to convert a new customer than to retain an old one. Consistent communication with social media fans demonstrating that you care is a great way to build customer loyalty.
Increase inbound traffic – Even if you maintain an excellent website and optimized landing pages, you will lose out on a large segment of inbound traffic if you don’t focus on your social media presence. Each social media profile you build represents opportunity to increase inbound traffic.
Creating more opportunities for conversions – More inbound traffic means greater opportunity for conversions. Social media publishing provides means to acquire new customers while staying in touch with recent and old customers.
Brand authority – Social media makes everyday interaction possible and easy, and by communicating with your customers everyday, you make your brand appear accessible and reliable. But to build brand authority, you need authoritative content: news, trends and the latest information in your niche.
On DrumUp’s content curation app, you can set up keyword based content suggestion streams and RSS feeds to keep up with the latest in your niche, and share them with your social media fans with a few clicks of a mouse.
Decreased marketing budgets – Hubspot research shows that more than 66% marketers put in as little as 6 hours of effort per week to enjoy a substantial increase in leads organically generated via social media. Even paid social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn ads) can work out cheaper than ads placed on traditional channels like TV or newspapers, if used correctly.
Better SEO results – As you know, SEO is a great way to increase website traffic. However, SEO algorithms are forever changing, and as per the latest updates on Google, it is not just enough to optimize your web and blog pages for SEO, because social media cues are also taken into account for search engine rankings.
Better consumer experiences – Essentially, social media is an open, any-time two-way communication channel between businesses and customers, and each personal interaction on social media is a relevant opportunity to deliver memorable customer care and build lasting brand-customer relationships.
Market research – Social media marketing is the best channel to get customer insights. Using analytics or social media listening, and comments written by customers, you can get a sense of what your market wants and doesn’t.
All these benefits come your way only if you have a sustainable long-term social media strategy.
Elements critical to social media marketing success
Here are some areas to pay attention to when creating and executing your social media strategy.
Content: This is what you publish in the form of a Facebook post or cover photo, Pinterest pin, YouTube video or even blog cover photo. Anything representative of your brand on social media falls under “content”, and all of it must be created with care, bearing in mind the likes and dislikes of your target audience.
Context: You may have heard of the saying ‘content is king’ in the social media marketing world, but you also need to know that ‘context is the crown’. A great joke somewhere in between a 2000 word blog post may go unseen, but the same as a tweet on Twitter may go viral. Every message that you send out needs to be crafted for the social media platform on which it is meant to be shared.
Hashtags, @mentions and keywords: Hashtags and @mentions are common concepts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. They allow users to describe the genre of a post while also categorizing or tagging it to be found on the social media platform.
Engagement: Engagement includes likes, comments, shares, retweets and clicks and anything else that indicates fans’ interactions with your content on social media.
The most popular social media platforms
Now, it is time to look at the most popular social media platforms which you can use to reach your target market.
Facebook: The ‘King of all social media platforms’, Facebook was Founded in 2004, and since then has exploded to even compete with Google for advertisements, communication and even information retrieval. Social media has become a huge go-to for everything from news to customer support. As a result of the social media platform’s massive user database, social media marketers can target super-specific groups of people, for instance management executives of age between 40-50 at Bay area who used to play golf and love coffee.
Google+: This platform was launched in 2011 to compete with Facebook. It has about 250 million at present. However, unlike Facebook, which has a large base of MAU or monthly active users, Google Plus has only about 300 millionmonthly active users. This platform makes it easy to connect with people using features like the one that allows you to add people right from your notification email. It’s especially easy to connect with and follow your Gmail contacts.
Instagram: Instagram has about 800 million MAU and has given Facebook a serious run for their money. With visually dependent content sharing, the platform is perfect for the information overload era where people prefer to communicate less through text and more through visuals.
YouTube – Video is easily one of today’s most consumed forms of content. Over 300 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute. If you want to make a lasting impact on a large audience, you need a video marketing strategy.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn was launched in 2002, two years earlier than Facebook, but has grown at a much slower pace. However, the appeal for LinkedIn still exists because it is still the only social media platform where every user is focused on business outcomes. LinkedIn is also the world’s largest professional network, which makes it a great place for recruiting.
Reddit – Reddit may have only 250 million monthly active users, but it has a lot of potential to drive conversion-oriented traffic. The unique features that made Reddit so famous are the AMA (Ask Me Anything) and voting.
If you are targeting a young user base, Snapchat is worth looking into. If stay-at-home moms and creative souls are your target audience, Pinterest could be great channel for your business to build a presence.
Apart from the social media platforms that we have discussed in detail, you can find many others that you could select for marketing and promotions based on the nature of your campaigns. Some other favorite channels of marketers include but is not limited to Tumblr, Medium, Quora, and Periscope.
Sujain Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author who writes regularly for remoteDba.com about social media, business, and various other topics.