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Social Media Marketing: What is it and How Does it Work?

Times have changed. Social media today, is not just about posting on Facebook and Instagram a few times a day, it has become a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

Social media is a network of over 4.48 billion users that just love to share, seek, and create information. So ask yourself, as a marketer, how are you going to utilize this network in a way that produces great results for your business?

Social media allows you to build your brand, engage your prospects, and increase sales, but it takes time and effort.

You need to stand out from your competitors, social media noise, and even compete with influencers, celebrities, and other big names.

Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you’re not talking directly to your audience through social platforms, you‘re missing out.

Done right, social media marketing can bring remarkable success to your business, create dedicated brand advocates, and even drive leads and sales.

So, let’s get right in the thick of it and understand how you can leverage social media marketing to grow your brand.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is the process of creating tailored content for each social media platform to drive engagement and promote your business.

Social media marketing activities include posting text and image updates, videos, and other content that drives public engagement, as well as paid social media advertising.

It is extremely important because it enables brands to strengthen the relationships they have with their customers, on the customer’s preferred channels.

It also has purpose-built data analytics tools that allow marketers to track their progress.

How Social Media Marketing Works?

Social media marketing first took off with publishing. Businesses were sharing their content on social media to generate traffic to their websites in the hope of getting more sales.

But, over time, social media has matured far beyond being just a place to broadcast content.

Businesses slowly began to use these sites to further their interests through social media marketing. That’s because these sites are able to change consumer behaviour.

Today, social media websites allow marketers to employ a broad range of tactics and strategies to promote content and have people engage with it.

Many social networks allow users to provide detailed geographical, demographic, and personal information, which enables marketers to tailor their messages to what is most likely to resonate with users.

But like everything else in life, your social media marketing success largely depends on your ability to find and make your target audience happy so that they like your brand and share your stories with others.

Now that we’ve covered what social media marketing is and how it works, let’s take a look at the core pillars of social media.

The Core Pillars of Social Media Marketing

Your business needs to be on social media. Period. You should also concentrate at least some of your marketing efforts and budget on your social media strategy.

With 4.48 billion people owning social media accounts, there’s a whole world of potential customers that any business can access, simply by creating brilliant content.

Some brands have excelled at social media, and there’s one reason why: they integrate the core pillars of social media marketing.

There are five main pillars. Let’s look at them one by one.

Strategy

Before you start creating social media marketing campaigns, consider the objectives of your business and come up with a sound strategy.

Without a strategy, you’re wasting time, unlikely to achieve your goals, and will most likely struggle to reach your target audience.

Here are some questions that need to be asked when planning your social media strategy:

  • What do you hope to achieve through social media marketing?
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • Where would your target audience hang out, and how would social media be used?
  • What message would you like to send to your social media marketing audience?

Planning and Publish

After you have laid down your strategy, the next step should be to plan how frequently you want to publish your content.

Having a consistent presence on social media allows your brand or service to be seen and discovered by potential customers.

Publishing amazing content is as simple as sharing pictures or videos on your personal social media profile. But if your goal is to promote a business or a product then you should do focus on planning a strategy for your post.

You should be aware of things like:

  • When your potential customers are active on social media?
  • Analyzing the reach of your post?
  • Check whether your post is engaging or not
  • Craft your social media post carefully

When it comes to publishing, there is one golden rule: consistency. A regular publishing schedule keeps people coming back for more.

Listening and Engagement

As your business continues to grow on social media platforms, conversations about your brand will also increase. People will comment on your posts, tag you in their posts, or might send you a message directly.

You will receive tons of feedback and they might not always be positive; but, if you don’t make changes, neither will the audience with their responses.

Listening and engagement are all part of a successful digital transformation, especially if you’re going to enhance the overall customer experience.

Also, social listening and engagement aren’t just about customer experience. They can allow you to:

  • Pick up on new trends
  • Identify new streams of income
  • Gain industry insights
  • Find influencers in your niche

Analytics

Whether you’re publishing content or engaging in social media, you‘re going to want to know how your business is performing.

Every business looks for reports that can help them with:

  • Understanding user behaviour
  • Refining strategy
  • Finding which platform works best
  • Discovering the best times to post
  • Analyzing competitors

Once you understand these elements, you’ll know with certainty what works and what doesn’t. That way you can spend more time on what does.

You can use the wide range of social media analytics tools available to obtain more in-depth analytics information or to compare easily across social media platforms.

Advertising

When you have more money to grow your social media marketing, social media advertising is an area you can consider. Social media ads allow you to reach a wider audience than those who follow you.

The three main types of social media advertising are:

  • Organic: Content that picks up views naturally and you don’t pay for.
  • Paid: Content that an organization sponsors and therefore costs money to post.
  • Earned: Content that has been given freely in the form of shares, likes, and comments.

With these three types of advertising, you can specify exactly who to display your ads. You can create target audiences based on their demographics, interests, behaviour, and more.

Social Media Marketing Common Terms

Here are some common terms you need to know when developing your social media marketing strategy.

Content

Content is whatever you post on social media. It can be a Facebook status update or a video on Instagram Content comes in many different forms, and you need to tailor it to each platform.

Hashtags

Hashtags are a tool that people use to add meta information on almost all social media channels. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all use hashtags to let you describe the topic of your content or mark it as part of current trends.

They make your content easy for users to discover and therefore more likely that they’ll share it.

Shares

Shares are probably the most important bit of the social media world. When people engage and interact with your content, that’s good. But when they share it, it’s a win.

The more shares, the more people love your content. Shares are the best form of engagement that people can have.

Engagement

This is a general term referring to how people interact with the content that you produce. It can be a like, a reaction, a comment, or a share. All of these are good, but the shares are where it’s at.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing

Let’s now take a look at what you can gain from social media marketing and what some of its negatives are.

We’ll start with the advantages.

Advantages:

  • Social media marketing helps in reaching a large audience.
  • It helps in creating a direct connection with your audience
  • You can create & post your organic content for free
  • Helps in building brand authenticity through the social business page
  • Your content can become viral on social media
  • You can provide in-depth knowledge of your product

Disadvantages:

  • If your product is not performing well then you may receive a lot of negative feedback
  • Your content can create embarrassment
  • It requires time to build an engaging audience
  • You should spend a lot of time monitoring your campaign.
  • Business gets into legal trouble by sharing other content.

The top social media sites have seen plenty of movement in the last few years.

This means for brands wanting to reach an audience, the choice of social media platforms is growing and shifting. You have to pay attention to where your demographic might be moving to.

The best move is to consider which channels are right for your audience. Test a presence on the relevant social media sites, and from results, strategically choose which ones to double down on.

With that in mind, it’s time to look at the most popular platforms. We’ll start with the biggest beast of all: Facebook.

Facebook

Despite a shifting demographic, no matter your industry, there’s a space for you on Facebook.

Facebook is the biggest social media platform. It offers marketers some of the robust most data and the most precisely targeted ads.

While the News Feed increasingly suppresses business posts, there are still ways to bolster engagement without investing in ads.

Consider joining or creating groups, using a Facebook Messenger chatbot, or using live video to up your engagement.

Instagram

Instagram is a social network where product-based businesses, influencers, and coaches can thrive.

It is about pictures, and its video function is pretty popular too. Out of all of the big networks, Instagram has the highest engagement rate.

You can also release short or long-form videos and share stories. Both formats do well for brands.

If your target demographic is under 35, Instagram can be a gold mine: 75% of 18-24-year-olds use it, with 67% Generation Z and 57% Millennials using the app daily.

YouTube

YouTube is the original video social media platform that boasts a dominance in the market, holding second place for monthly active users at 2 billion.

It has changed the way we consume video since it has made it easy and free, and it gives us a way to express our opinions instantly. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.

YouTube has a strong user base across all age groups. Including the difficult-to-reach 65+ demographic and with 38% of US adults using the platform, it’s second only to Facebook.

This is the platform for most brands to invest in, with video being the growing medium for content marketing.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s growth never exploded as much as Facebook’s, but they’ve been around for a long time and have grown to over 774+ million members.

LinkedIn is all about professionalism. People use LinkedIn for one thing and one thing only: business.

If you’re looking for decision-makers who have the power to hire your company, stock your product, or partner with you, LinkedIn is the place to be.

LinkedIn is a very focused social media platform, and because of that, it has unlimited potential for connecting with an elite group of professionals who can make a difference for your business.

Twitter

If your business is related to entertainment, sports, politics, tech, or marketing, you stand to earn tremendous engagement on Twitter.

On Twitter, brands have an opportunity to craft and hone their voice – there’s room to be clever and personable in addition to informative and helpful.

Jump into threads, provide value, share your own content as well as others, and join the nonstop conversation.

Reddit

Reddit’s slogan claims that they are the “front page of the Internet,” and they aren’t very far off. According to Alexa rankings, Reddit is one of the top 20 most-visited sites.

Reddit has a unique blend of content and community, with more than 150,000 communities dedicated to every topic imaginable.

With so many niches, there’s a place for every brand and business – it’s a matter of finding the niches where your potential customers are active and diving in.

If Redditors like what they see, they can easily drive enough traffic to your site to crash it. You shouldn’t take a Reddit traffic storm lightly.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the number one social media platform for marketers who want to target women. 60 percent of their monthly active users are female.

If you have a predominantly female audience, that’s a compelling reason to invest time in social media marketing on Pinterest.

Due to the nature of the pinboards, Pinterest is also one of the only platforms where images look best when you display them vertically. Keep in mind that your pics need special formatting to look good on Pinterest.

Snapchat

Snapchat has 306 million daily active users and if your target demographic is young, you definitely want to get in on Snapchat.

The most active users on Snapchat are 13-year-olds, and they’re spending upwards of 30 minutes a day on the app.

Snapchat is a haven for user-generated content, behind-the-scenes videos, exclusive offers, and influencer takeovers.

Snapchat marketing is all about sharing precious moments that we all have so few of in life, so make sure that you use it for just that.

Conclusion

Businesses that post relevant content that is consistent with their values, while allowing their character and personality to show through, are finding that social media platforms are an extremely effective marketing channel.

Different social media platforms appeal to customers for specific reasons, and brands must select the most appropriate social platforms to use for their specific customer segments and goals.

There’s no better growth strategy for your business than social media marketing that is incorporated with a killer influencer marketing strategy.

With this, you can understand that social media is a powerful tool. Start promoting your business on social media platforms, be consistent and publish high-quality content that can educate and entertain your audience.

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