What is Social Media Marketing and Why Does Your Company Need It?
Because social media has become an ever-present factor in consumer behavior, businesses are working hard to fold social media platforms into their marketing channels. Whether you are trying to reach more people with your latest campaign’s message, discover the preferences of your target demographic or build a brand and reputation that will resonate in the public consciousness, social media marketing can be a valuable tool to get the job done.
Interactions with customers on these platforms can have a larger impact than you might think — more than 70% of people who have a positive experience with a business on social media will recommend that business to their networks. To provide those positive experiences, you need a strategy and a roadmap. Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) has designed and run successful campaigns in this marketing specialty for companies of all sizes over the years, and in this article, we’ll explain at length how to market your business on social media.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is using social media content and paid social media advertising to generate excitement, raise awareness, build brand followings, provide direct shopping opportunities, retarget audiences and more. With more than 70% of the U.S. population active on social media and almost 5 billion people logging on worldwide, it’s easy to see why harnessing the power of these platforms is such a pressing priority for business leaders. What’s more, those people are not simply passing through these digital spaces, but lingering to the tune of several hours a day. Thus, for moving into new markets or putting advocates for your brand to work, few channels offer companies the broad reach, community building and chance for contagious visibility that social media marketing does.
One of the first choices you’ll have to make as you go about designing a social media marketing strategy is which platforms to prioritize. Let’s go over these in a little more detail.
Social Media Platforms
The most popular platform in the world, with more than 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook is a gold mine for business prospects. Around 60% of Facebook users visit a local business page at least once a month, whether it be for information about a product, to leave a review or to find store hours. The sheer volume of traffic you are able to tap into on this platform makes it a good choice for paid advertising campaigns, and engaging content with compelling imagery (or better yet, video) can be effective here as well for promoting organic visits to your site and associated resources.
A classic for a reason. People are drawn to video content instinctively, and so it makes sense that as other social media platforms have risen and fallen, YouTube, a video repository that grows by almost three quarters of a million hours of footage daily, has not lost its appeal over the 17 years of its existence. The only social media platform with more active monthly users is Facebook, and you could argue that because of the relatively high engagement rate of video over text or audio content, YouTube represents the single greatest marketing opportunity for businesses of all the social channels. Everything from influencer testimonials to making-of videos to ads to informative content can all perform well on this platform.
A picture says a thousand words. Instagram draws power from a graphic-centric format that lets users convey a lot of information in little space, giving the modern consumer exactly the kind of rapid-fire, impressionistic content they find most appealing. For content providers, the format is equally satisfying: it’s a lot easier to take a picture on your phone than to film and edit an eight-minute video for YouTube. Probably for the same reason, brand influencers flock to Instagram, making it a solid first choice for marketing campaigns that revolve around influencer marketing. Brands whose products lend themselves to visual representation, such as travel brands, tend to see particularly high rates of organic engagement on this platform.
Because it is designed for communication stripped of all unnecessary effort, Twitter is great for direct customer-to-business interaction. Engaging with customers on this platform — whether that be to resolve customer service issues, share a laugh (just err on the side of caution, if you’re going this route) or provide product information can improve your company’s reputation in the eyes of everyone watching the exchange.
Visual content and news-related content get retweets at higher rates than others, so you may want to fold those types of posts into your strategy if you’re working on this platform for your business. Also, humorous tweets may perform well as screenshots on Instagram, giving you a way to extend your content lifecycle and maximize utility.
The chosen social media platform of professionals the world over, LinkedIn is a community of industry insiders that lends itself to B2B marketing, recruitment and thought leadership promotion. If you’re hoping to speak to the technical distinctions of your product, find a talented new senior executive to galvanize your team, or demonstrate expertise to your peers that may lead to backlinks and other signals of authority in your industry, this is the place you’ll want to put your energy.
Because video is more and more important in marketing strategies for capturing consumers’ attention, TikTok has become a focal point of many companies’ latest marketing campaigns. This platform combines everything that is most compelling about the others: video content, bite-sized and played in an endless, unbroken series, and a tightly focused algorithm to cater to users’ preferences.
In terms of marketing strategy, if you’re going to include TikTok in a campaign, you should probably allow the platform to play to its strengths, which are creative and humorous videos. 60% of users watch TikTok videos to be entertained, which means principles of content marketing may inform your decisions in this space. Influencer content can also be valuable here.
Snapchat presents a number of marketing opportunities to businesses. First, it can put you on your audience’s radar, almost literally, with highly-targeted location-based services like Snap Map, which functions a bit like a local business directory for users. Second, the platform is a winning match for all the video content you’re trying to squeeze utility out of. Finally, Snapchat users tend to use apps more than people on other platforms, so if your business has an app it’s trying to promote, this may be a particularly receptive prospect pool for you to target.
Most users on the platform are young, between 13 and 35 years old, so if your company’s principal audience overlaps significantly with this demographic, you’ll want to incorporate Snapchat into your marketing rotation.
Understanding Social Media Marketing Statistics and Trends
As marketing trends emerge, wax, wane and disappear, marketing strategies should change to reflect the behavior patterns and expectations of consumers and businesses. One way to ensure that a company’s approach is in line with current trends is by keeping an eye on marketing statistics. Checking your intuitions against cold hard data can give you confidence that your social media marketing strategy will stand up under real-world conditions. Here are five social media statistics that you may be interested in right now.
98.3% of Facebook Members Use the App on a Mobile Device. (Statista)
Companies need to remember their obligation to meet their audiences wherever those audiences congregate. Many people continue to use mobile devices as a replacement for desktop and laptop computers, and therefore mobile social media is going strong. It’s important to take this into account when building out campaigns, for example to optimize paid social media ads for mobile viewing.
Four out of Five LinkedIn Members Are Decision Makers. (LinkedIn)
As you figure out how to do B2B marketing, you will discover the importance of including a LinkedIn prong in your strategy. This platform gives you access to a pool of business decision makers who might otherwise only come in contact with your marketing through intermediaries. The platform gives you a chance to speak directly to the people who at the end of the day will decide whether or not to greenlight a partnership.
59% of Users Check Snapchat Daily. (Pew Research Center)
Snapchat, for a majority of users, is part of a daily routine. That means multiple opportunities for retargeting across the six advertising formats that the platform currently supports. Also, this opens up creative pathways to solidify your brand’s voice, and build trust and familiarity with your audience over time, almost as if they were following a podcast, TV series or other form of content that plays out in installments.
Multi-Destination Carousel Ads on Twitter Boost Clickthrough Rate by Around 20%. (Twitter)
This statistic just goes to show that, in social media marketing, seemingly small changes can sometimes produce big results. For example, making use of Twitter’s new multi-destination carousel functionality — which allows businesses to route viewers to different landing pages or resources within the same ad — can bring about significant increases in engagement and purchase intent. If you feel like a marketing strategy is on the verge of succeeding, a few creative tweaks might be all that is needed to push it over the hump.
Gen Z Consumers Prefer Instagram to All Other Platforms. (Hootsuite)
Bet you thought we were going to say TikTok, but nope. Those in the 16-24 age bracket still favor Instagram above any other platform. And with 58% of users reporting they’re more interested in a brand after seeing a Story from the company, the marketing leverage you can achieve on instagram should make you excited to start engaging with users here.
What Are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing to Your Brand?
Social media marketing carries a number of benefits to businesses. With a balanced, adaptive, insightful social media presence established, you stand to see gains across many metrics and in many markets. Here are some of the best reasons to pursue a social media marketing strategy.
Drive Leads and Increase Brand and Product Awareness
So many people are using social media, so often, that not promoting your business on these platforms is passing up unrivaled access to vast consumer groups. Finding ways to engage users even for a moment with an appealing piece of content, an interesting post, an attractive ad or all of these at once can set you up for deeper relationships with customers and better business outcomes in terms of leads and awareness.
Generate Demand with Prospective Customers
Social media gives you the chance to tell your brand’s story, and to show potential customers how your product or service aligns with their needs, motivations, values and pain points. The more encounters they have with your marketing assets, the more demand for your offerings they will tend to show.
Promote Discussion and Inspire Brand Affinity
The content marketing plans CSG draws up for clients will often include boosting a company’s social media presence, precisely because social media is not only valuable as an advertising platform or a showcase for owned content elsewhere on the web, but as a content vehicle in itself. People like interesting, funny, useful, and entertaining content just as much from your official account as from anywhere else, and the discussions inspired with this content can get a lot of traffic and go a long way toward making consumers feel a personal relationship with companies.
Extend the Lifecycle of Content Marketing and Public Relations Efforts
Maximizing the utility of the content you work hard to create is key for a cost-effective marketing strategy. Social media gives you a way to share, re-share, repurpose and revive content you have in your stockpile already, as current events or trends change and your marketing objectives evolve in a way that makes old pieces relevant again or useful from a different angle.
Act as a Hub for Community Building
When people frequent your social media accounts, they’re not just engaging with you, they’re engaging with each other. In some ways this can be as powerful as the actual material you’re putting in front of them. People are drawn instinctively to social groups, and finding like-minded individuals and conversations important to them on your pages can move them to revisit the community hub you’ve created, apart from any value you create with your own messaging.
Choosing a Social Media Marketing Agency
With all this in mind, you may feel overwhelmed, and unsure how to get started launching a social media marketing endeavor for your business. Lucky for you, help is available. A marketing agency with expertise in social media campaigns can give you valuable guidance in discovering your audience, choosing platforms to prioritize, nailing down the voice, tone and range of content you want to focus on and in measuring the success of campaigns and tracking results. To find a marketing partner that fits your vision for your company, follow these steps.
Set Your Objectives
What objectives do you want to achieve with your social media marketing? Do you want more leads? Greater awareness? Conversions? Website traffic? All of the above? Figuring out what you’re trying to accomplish will help you find a partner that has experience in the exact areas you’re targeting.
Create a Budget
Your budget depends on your objectives. Do you have money to spend on extensive ads, content generation, posts and analytics at the same time? Or will you need to take a more modest approach? Again, knowing this at the outset will give you a sense of which marketing partner will suit your needs and limitations best.
Research the Best Social Media Marketing Agencies
Look for things that lend credibility to the recent success and experience of social media marketing agencies. Search an agency’s website, and their own social media, to find elements like these:
Take a look at LinkedIn. How long have employees been with the company? How long has the company been in existence? Is there any word of mouth from former clients you can tap into?
Write a List of Questions to Ask the Agency
Going into meetings with a list of questions for prospective social media marketing agencies can give you confidence about your choice and help you better understand what they will be doing on your behalf. You can ask questions like the following:
- What’s your typical process for social media marketing?
- What can you do for my company?
- How much is this going to cost me?
- What big-picture marketing strategies will you come up with?
- What is the timeline for implementation?
- Who do I talk to if I have other questions, comments, or concerns?
Meet with the stakeholders of your company to help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish by hiring a marketing agency. Communication is a must when selecting a new vendor or supplier, including a marketing partner. Having internal alignment on the matter will help ensure that you choose an agency suited to your values, goals, and projected circumstances.
Once you decide to hire a social media marketing agency, make sure everyone involved at your company understands the expectations that will come along with the new marketing campaigns. This is the time to set parameters for communication, such as designating a company liaison who talks to the marketing agency. It’s also time to map out which tasks go to which entity, so that there are no surprises later about what your marketing partner is handling and what you’re leaving to your own personnel.
Onboard Your Marketing Agency
After that, it’s time to onboard your social media marketing agency and begin promoting your company through the channels and messaging you agree on together.
FAQs About Social Media Marketing
Is Social Media Part of Digital Marketing?
Yes. Digital marketing is any marketing done through online channels, which include social media platforms.
Which Is the Most-Used Social Media Today?
Facebook has the greatest number of global users of any social media platform as of 2022.
What Social Media Platform Is the Best for My Company?
That depends on the audience you’re targeting, the forms of marketing you will prioritize and your unique company goals and limitations.
How Is Social Media Marketing Changing the Way People Do Business?
Social media marketing, and all other forms of digital marketing, have given even small companies greater reach than ever before. In the days before digital marketing, no company could appeal directly to millions or even billions of people without spending huge amounts of money to secure advertising rights in institutional broadcast media. The playing field is now more level, and companies large and small are scrapping to transmit their messages through the enormous consumer pools that social media collects.
Should Your Social Media Marketing Be Automated?
Mostly no. While certain parts of your social media strategy may be automatible, there is a necessary element of adaptability, creativity and emotional insight in social media marketing that (for the moment, anyway) requires regular input from human minds for social media marketing campaigns.
Is Social Media Marketing Better Than Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
This is a both/and scenario rather than an either/or. Each of these forms of marketing has advantages and disadvantages that you can make sense of with regard to your company with the advice of a marketing agency or consultant.
How Can You Shift Social Media Marketing from Branding to Sales?
You can make this shift in a number of ways, for example by using paid social media advertising and including links to landing pages in your posts and content.
Develop Your Social Media Marketing Strategy With Us
As a social media marketing agency, CSG has authored numerous successful campaigns for clients of all sizes, in many industries, with many objectives and angles of approach. Whatever your company needs to succeed on social media, we’re up to the task. Get in touch today to learn more.