With the impact of COVID and more people staying at home, the fastest-growing channel for communicating and selling to customers is using social media for business growth. Very few marketing programs can be considered complete without a meaningful online presence and this includes social media. Consumers were already interacting with brands through social media and even more so now post-COVID as they are more reluctant to go into the stores / offices anymore. Additionally, more & more, consumers are using social media to help with making their purchasing decisions.
If you are not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms, you are missing out! In this article, we cover the basics of social media and how it can be used to build a strong brand presence online and create a loyal customer base.
Consumers are using social media to reach brands & make purchase decisions. Very few marketing programs can be considered complete without some type of presence on social media.
What is “Social Media Marketing”?
Social Media has been defined as a fusion of sociology and technology where people create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social Media Marketing is therefore a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks to attract consumers and achieve business goals.
The main reasons social media will remain attractive to consumers is because of the personal nature where shared content is user generated, making it relatable and easily accessible. It provides an opportunity to foster new relationships while connecting people across the world. Furthermore, it is considered a source of convenience for customers looking for a specific product/service or needing to communicate with brands.
What are the different types of Social Media platforms?
- Social Networking (Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Micro blogging (Twitter, Tumblr)
- Photo-sharing (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest)
- Video-Sharing (YouTube, TikTok, Periscope, Vimeo)
Social Media is one of the cheapest forms of marketing and easiest ways to get your brand in front of consumers.
What are the Most Popular Social Media Platforms to market on?
According to eMarketer’s research, Facebook & FB Messenger is the leading social media platform with an average of 2.6 billion users using it every month. Following closely behind as the second biggest social media site is YouTube, in which users watch up to a billion hours of videos every day (according to buffer.com). Other popular platforms include:
- Instagram with 1 billion monthly users
- TikTok with 500 million monthly users
- Twitter with 330 million monthly users
- Pinterest with 322 million monthly users
- LinkedIn with 250 million monthly users
Here is a full list of social media users according to Revive.Digital:
The amount of social media users has significantly increased since 2019, with Facebook continuing to dominate the social media world
Thus, there are PLENTY of social media channels to reach consumers through, it is just a matter of determining which platform they are on and what method of communication works best on each one. The best platforms to advertise on or collaborate with influencers to promote your products (also known as influencer marketing) include:
- Facebook – This is one platform where virtually all content formats will work. However, you should note the algorithm prioritizes content that sparks conversations & meaningful interactions between people.
- Instagram – This platform is great for new businesses with little to no marketing budget. Why? Because you can grow and reach consumers organically. However, it is important to note that you will not have control over who sees your content.
- Twitter – Although Twitter is less of a visual platform, it is great for direct engagement with consumers using hashtags and retweets.
- Pinterest – This platform is great for those in creative/service-based industries, such as food, makeup, hair, and even real estate!
- LinkedIn – You can target consumers based on their job titles using LinkedIn as well as better reach other businesses if you follow a B2B model.
- Snapchat – With over 350 million monthly active users, this is a good platform for you if your target audience falls under 34 years old (half of users are aged between 18-24).
- TikTok – The platform has recently launched ads for business, so now is a great time to become an early adopter & take advantage of marketing on this channel since it is not as saturated as the other platforms. This is also a great platform for your company if your target audience is younger (think Gen Z).
Again, the platform(s) you choose will depend heavily on your industry, business model (for example, B2B do better on LinkedIn while B2C works better for Facebook/Instagram) and your target customers demographics / lifestyle behaviors.
How to get Started with Social Media Marketing?
- Develop a Social Media Strategy – The key to being successful in developing a presence and generating customers for your brand on social media is to begin with a social media strategy. This will require some research up front to determine the best social media channels and methods of distribution to use. Some questions to answer at this stage:
- Where are your target customers the most accessible (what channels do they spend the most time on)?
- Who are your target customers and what channels of distribution do they use (demographics, groups, online behaviors, etc.)?
- What platforms do your target customers most actively engage with ads on (this may require some ad testing in the beginning)?
As you develop your strategy, you will also want to determine your channel of distribution and if you would like to use influencer marketing, traditional ads, or a combination of both to reach your target audience. In your strategy, you will also want to benchmark your competitors to determine what works and where there are opportunities for your brand on social media.
Reviewing which social networks are the most popular for your niche, you can better predict what social sites you should be using to grow your brand’s awareness, garner customer loyalty, and drive revenue
- Learn the Platform(s) – Once you have determined the channels you will be using to advertise your brand on & nurture relationships with customers, now it is time to understand how your chosen platform(s) work. This means creating a hashtag/keyword strategy as well as learning which content is best for which platform. For example, beautiful clear photos & short videos are great for Instagram, colorful & compelling images are great for Pinterest, and Facebook is great for capturing leads with lead magnets & landing pages.
- Setup Ad Campaign / Marketing – The next step is to determine if you are going to run advertisements and which platform to run them on. You should understand the pricing structure to advertise on each platform as this can greatly impact your budget, especially for small business owners. The cost per click varies between platforms and will be determined on the number of users you are targeting to reach. Additionally, you will need to learn how to set up and manage campaigns for your ads. While Instagram is more intuitive, Facebook has greater geo-targeting & A/B testing capabilities.
- Create Your Content – Ensure the design of your advertisements aligns with the chosen platform’s advertising policies and will capture the attention of your target customer. Your design should be so impactful that your target customer cannot do anything else but take action on your ad…. whether that is booking an appointment, subscribing to your mailing list, or completing a product purchase. Some design tips to keep in mind while creating your ad; Use bright colors that match your brand, bold typography and catchy captions to draw in users. This is key since there is so much traffic on user feeds and typically, they are scrolling fast through their timeline.
Use bright colors that match your brand, bold typography and catchy captions to draw in users. It is important to make your posts / ads memorable so they stand out on user timelines where they typically are quickly scrolling through.
- Analyze Your Performance – Analyze your social media ad campaign results to determine your return on investment. Whether you decided to run a campaign through the platform or launched an influencer campaign, it is important to know the efficiency of your investment. This can be measured through the following:
- Return on ad spend (i.e. how many users took action on the ad)
- Engagement (i.e. how many users liked, left a comment or shared the ad)
- Reach (i.e. how many users saw the ad)
- Conversion Rate (i.e. how many users that clicked the ad converted to paying customers)
When used correctly, advertising and marketing on social media will help you to connect directly with your customers, increase brand awareness, while boosting your leads and sales. With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, it is surely no passing trend and those progressive brands are taking full advantage of what each platform has to offer. So, choose your platform. Build your brand. Engage customers & get those results!