What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses social networking websites as an advertising platform. The most popular social networking sites used for this purpose include Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, and Snapchat.
Why is it so useful?
Firstly, it is an invaluable tool for curating, creating and maintaining what is viewed as an authentic brand identity.
Secondly, it provides an opportunity for ‘personal’ interaction with customers. This can be in the form of replying to instant private messages, replying to customer comments, or just liking these comments. Any form of brand-customer interaction creates and enforces brand loyalty, as consumers formulate a personal association with the brand.
Additionally, the interactive nature of social media facilitates easy, and importantly, immediate management of customer complaints or questions.
Finally, and we cannot stress this point enough – it is free. It is unbelievable that a platform which can be accessed by literally anyone, and thus target any desired market demographics, in almost any media form is entirely free. In terms of cost-effectiveness alone, it would be a huge big mistake not to use social media for any brand.
Why is it essential?
It is essential for this reason: the first thing that any Millenial or Generation Z individual does when they want to find out about absolutely anything is search for it online. To do this, they use search engines like Google. However, second port-of-call, after googling is mainly social media sites.
Additionally, when someone looks up something online (e.g., a brand) its associated social media platforms will be displayed within the top 5 Google results. Therefore, it is extremely likely the individual will end up viewing these platforms, regardless of whether they used google or social media as a search engine.
Furthermore, three-and-a-half-billion people use social media. This is around 45% of the global population (Statista, 2019). Of this, 45%, 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active social media users. Technically, there is potential to market to 45% of the population for free – enough said.
How and why has it revolutionized consumerism
Like classical marketing (e.g. magazine campaigns etc) what is displayed on social media is viewed as a representation of what a brand embodies. In short, customers sub-consciously believe that if they purchase something, they will attain more than just the product, but what the product represents to them (e.g. looking better or being more successful). This is equated to bringing that consumer closer to their desired state of happiness.
Social media is incredibly effective as a marketing tool due to its interactive, user-friendly nature. Additionally, consumers are constantly exposed to it, so posting regularly is excellent for brands (the average social media user spends 3+ hours a day scrolling). Increased exposure to anything generally increases perceptions of its trustworthiness and authenticity. In psychological terms, this is known as the mere-exposure effect.
It should be noted that this is the problem with social media. Although it provides only a carefully selected highlight or snapshot, it is perceived as representing someone else’s far happier life. This is the nature of consumerism and the new way in which we participate in it. Although this does raise wider questions about how social media impacts society, any brand or company would be incredibly shortsighted not to use it.
What you need for effective social media marketing
- Knowledge of your target market demographics
Knowledge of exactly who your audience is and what it is they are looking for is essential. Content will differ depending on target audience demographics. Think carefully about your audience and the sort of content that will appeal to them.
2. A clear content plan
Create a content plan at least a month in advance of what you are going to be posting, on what day and which time. This means you won’t miss a post and provides structure.
3. A clear strategy
Curate a strategy for the next 3 months. This incorporates having a clear content plan. It extends to factors like how you might change that content on a monthly basis. It also includes having clearly defined goals – e.g. to gain 100 followers per month. It might involve having a set amount of time per day to reply to and interact with your audience. It might involve regularly reaching out to potential consumers over social media.
4. Quality over quantity
Ensure you are posting high-quality posts. Fewer, higher-quality posts are far better than many, low-quality posts that will only annoy users.
5. Hire a Digital Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing managers can be hired at exceedingly low costs. They are basically a low risk, low cost, high reward strategy. They are experts in their field and will be far more adept in terms of harnessing the full power of social media than you are.
Make sure you are posting consistently. This does not mean spamming your followers with high volume, meaningless content. It just means posting regularly enough to show you are an active and engaged user and keeps users thinking about your brand.
7. The right tools & applications
There are many tools that make analysing, scheduling and managing social media accounts easy. Follow this link for a comprehensive list of these applications.
Any brand or company would be extremely shortsighted not to use social media. Hiring a Social Media Manager is an affordable, low cost, high reward method to get expert help with this.