Social Media has become so influential and important for the modern day marketer that the term is often thrown around without much further explanation. So you can be forgiven if you’re a little unsure of exactly what the buzzword “Social Media Marketing” really entails. This article will answer the simple question: what is social media marketing exactly?! We will break down the foundations of this new-age marketing tool to its simplest form in order to demystify this powerful marketing avenue and get you utilising social media effectively in your marketing strategy.
“So, what is Social Media?”
It is easy to misinterpret what Social Media is made up of. Often simplified down to the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the scope of what is covered by the term Social Media is frequently underestimated.
In order to develop a comprehensive Social Media Marketing Strategy for your company it is important for you to firstly understand that the term “Social Media” encompasses all websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. So if you’re currently only active on the “big three” networks you are merely scratching the surface of your Social Media marketing potential!
“So why is Social Media so important for my Marketing Strategy?”
Social media has become an easily accessible platform for anyone with Internet access. The rise of this form of marketing has increased the ability for organisations to communicate with users and prospects to foster brand awareness as well as improve customer service.
Buyers are becoming more and more self-sufficient when it comes to educating themselves on products during the pre-buying, search process.
58% of Australians report having collected information about a recently purchased product online prior to making their purchasing decision [Statista, 2014].
88% of customers state that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations [Search Engine Land, 2014]
With data like this it is easy to see how your company’s Social Media and overall online presence can be the be-all-end-all when it comes to the success of your marketing efforts.
“But no one wanted to use Social Media ten years ago. What’s changed?”
For many years, as social media was gaining initial traction, many marketers were hesitant to invest in this uncertain marketing tactic for fear of not being able to track their Return On Investment (ROI).
When Social Media was still new and uncharted territory marketers were hesitant to dive in head-first without proof that their efforts would pay off. However, with the increased prevalence of advertising in Social Networks as a main source of revenue for the platforms, brands now have the ability to place call to action advertisements on targeted social channels to achieve maximum focused exposure. With “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up” and “Install Now” call-to-action buttons built into advertisements the stigma of uncertain ROI that was once associated with Social Media Marketing efforts is changing and marketers are able to see results in revenue from their efforts.
“So, why aren’t Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn enough?!”
The “big three” networks allow brands and individuals to form connections with other brands and individuals who have shared interests and/or backgrounds. These platforms generally consist of a profile and various means of interaction. (Facebook and LinkedIn)
Twitter could be better categorised as a form of Social Networking known as microblogging, given its focus on short, succinct updates that are pushed out to anyone subscribed to receive those updates.
These three platforms collectively hold a great deal of power in the Social Media landscape, however, there are a number of platforms gaining traction which cannot be overlooked if you are seeking to achieve a holistic Social Media Marketing Strategy. One aspect of Social Media that is quickly growing in popularity and impact for businesses, is Media Sharing.
The amount of videos in Facebook News Feeds increased 3.6x each year and Tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourite and 150% more retweets [HubSpot, 2015]
The growth of visuals in social networking has lead to the emergence of media sharing-specific platforms which center around visual sharing alone. Some of the most noteworthy of this platform type include Instagram, YouTube and Pintrest. With profile and commenting features built-in to these platforms, visual-focused networks are rapidly becoming favoured avenues for brands to reach their end-consumers on a personal level.
The advertising power available through these visual platforms is immense and is the primary avenue that markets utilising paid search can employ in order to see returns on their investments.
Instagram is forecasted to pass Twitter and Google in mobile ad revenue by 2017 [Marketing Land, 2015].
The influence and power that the Facebook-owned platform, Instagram has for marketers can be highlighted in the above projection; suggesting that if your company currently values their presence on Facebook and is not yet active on Instagram you could be missing out big time!
Another visual-focused platform with huge traction for all marketers is YouTube. An early adapter of built-in advertisement features, companies stand to gain huge reach when employing this network.
Sixty-five percent of online business-to-consumer marketers and 61 percent of business-to-business marketers use YouTube. [CMO by Adobe, 2013].
More than a million advertisers are using Google ad platforms, the majority of which are small businesses [YouTube 2015].
In addition to the above platform types, marketers commonly forget that any forum that allows members to hold conversations by posting messages, is a form of Social Media. Therefore marketers often overlook the opportunities of utilising forums and blog comment sections to promote their brand, product or service. Responding to user comments and setting up forums is an effective Social Media Marketing tactic for building communication and trust between your company and your buyers.
“What does this all mean?”
When setting up your Social Media Marketing Strategy it is important to look at Social Media holistically so that you aren’t overlooking any social category in which you could stand to gain exposure and influence with your target buyer.
Always remember that the main objective of your social media marketing should centre on creating content that attracts attention from readers and encourages them to interact and share your work in all its forms. Success occurs in social media marketing when your corporate message spreads from user to user, resonating as a trustworthy source and generating interest in your brand and offering, so go out there and get people interacting today!