Social media is still one of the most powerful marketing channels. Social platforms enable word-of-mouth, brand authenticity, brand trust, community and more. All of this comes with a degree of brand risk because it is very easy to stumble given the speed with which information travels on social media. More established platforms have also become more pay-to-play. Meanwhile, organic engagement is growing on newer platforms, especially through the use of influencers, allowing marketers to reach new generations of customers.
4.62 billion people worldwide use social media, and the social media advertising market’s worldwide revenue was $153 billion in 2021, according to data from Hootsuite.
While this may seem like a massive opportunity, it is becoming increasingly competitive. To succeed in social media marketing today, you need to be innovative in your approach. This can help you stand out from the plethora of brand competitors and competing influencers.
Many brands struggle to create engaging content that attracts their target audience. So, we’ve created this guide to give marketers a comprehensive overview of what social media marketing is and how it is evolving and shaping the future of marketing. We will cover:
- What is social media marketing?
- The components of social media marketing.
- The future of social media marketing.
- Ways to learn more about social media marketing.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Social media marketing refers to creating content to engage with audiences on social media platforms. The goal is to build your brand reputation, promote your products and services, connect and build community with new and existing customers, and drive traffic to your business.
Although social media marketing may seem simple on the surface, it involves multiple facets that impact the performance and outcome of your strategies. Additionally, there are often new social media platforms and features, and the social media marketing landscape is evolving constantly.
In order to excel at social media marketing, marketers must understand and integrate the following core components into their process.
A solid social media marketing strategy can make or break your business’s social media presence. Without a plan, you’re likely going to struggle to reach your audience and achieve your goals.
Marketers should ask themselves the following questions while formulating their social media marketing strategy.
What are your goals?
What business goals are you trying to achieve through your social media? For example, are you trying to reach new audiences, build brand awareness, boost conversion rates and sales, or just find a new way to communicate and share updates with your customers?
Which social media platform should you focus on?
Your strategy will differ based on which social networks your target audience spends most of their time on. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest are great for B2C marketing, whereas LinkedIn is good for B2B, and Twitter and YouTube are great for both.
These platforms appeal to a range of age groups and can serve different purposes. For example, TikTok’s primary audience includes Gen Z and millennials, and it is suited to short, creative video content and building brand awareness. Facebook has a strong appeal to millennials too, but less so to Gen Z. However, Facebook is the largest social medium platform in the world, with close to 1.93 billion daily active users as of December 2021.
What kind of content should you share?
What kind of content will engage and attract the most customers? Is it images, videos, GIFs, infographics, or website links? Does your audience prefer informational content, entertaining content, or a mix of both? It might be helpful to study your target audience and come up with a marketing persona to help you accurately answer these questions.
Answering these three questions will give you a clear idea of your goals and how to reach them. You should also set benchmarks to monitor progress and determine whether you need to modify or change your approach.
Planning and publishing
To build a strong social media presence, you must be consistent with sharing content. It’s good practice to plan content, whether it’s a blog post, image, or video, ahead of time rather than post spontaneously.
When you’re planning and publishing content, make sure to do the following:
- Know your audience: Marketers need to know their target demographic to connect with them successfully.
- Focus on quality: The quality of your content is as, if not more, important than the quantity. Marketers should aim to share the right content at the right time and with the right frequency to ensure maximum reach.
- Consider your brand: Your content should stay consistent with your brand image and values.
A regular publishing schedule and great content ensure that people keep coming back to your page for more. There are many scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite, Canva and Buffer, that can help you stay consistent with your posting.
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Listening and engagement
As your page gains traction, people will comment on your social media posts, tag you in their social media posts, or message you directly. So after planning and publishing your content, take the time to engage with your audience as well.
While the feedback might not always be positive, it’s important to regularly monitor social media conversations about your brand. You should address questions, thank people, share positive comments and acknowledge and offer support to negative ones.
Reading and responding to audience reviews is a big part of designing a successful marketing campaign and significantly enhances the overall customer experience. It also helps you learn about new trends, gain valuable industry insights, track new income streams, and find new influencers and brands to collaborate with. You should build connections and strong relationships with other brands, sponsors, celebrities, influencers, and customers.
Analytics and reporting
To ensure you’re on the right path, it’s vital to utilize social media analytics tools to track and collect data. This involves:
- Understanding user behavior.
- Finding which platform works best for your brand.
- Choosing the best time and frequency to post.
- Analyzing competitors.
- Refining your strategy.
Most social media platforms offer their own analytics tools for businesses and professionals. These allow you to track whether you’re reaching more users now than last month, how many tags you get in a month, how many users used your brand’s hashtags, etc. In addition, you can use external tools NetBase Quid, Sendible, and Feedly to track more detailed data.
Social media trends and user preferences are constantly changing. Monitoring your social media lets you know what works and what doesn’t and makes decision-making a lot easier. For example, if certain types of video content and audios receive double the engagement of other posts, leverage that.
Social media advertising makes it easier to reach a broader audience beyond your followers and subscribers. Advertising is paid (i.e. content that costs money to post and share with users).
Audiences can be specified based on their demographics, interests, and behaviors. You can also use social media advertising tools to make mass changes to your campaigns, automate processes like responding to users, and optimize data analytics. It’s important to find which method works best for your brand and audience.
The social media world changes faster than any other online space. Here are some social media marketing trends marketers should watch out for.
Virtual and augmented reality technologies
Many brands are engaging with customers through AR and VR. Marketers can use AR and VR technologies to offer a personalized and interactive experience. Customers can also use these technologies to try your products and services from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Here are some AR and VR examples used by companies to improve their social media interactions:
- Photo filters by Snapchat.
- Pinterest’s “Try on for Home Decor” AR feature.
- L’Oréal Paris’ virtual makeup feature on their website.
AR and VR can improve customer experience and satisfaction, leading to more conversions and better retention.
Personalized marketing content
Personalized content is more important than ever. The more relevant your content is to your target audience, the more valued your audience will feel and the more encouraged they will be to engage with your brand. You can gather data regarding audience preferences and behavior through your social media analytics tools.
According to a study by McKinsey, 72% of customers said they expect the businesses they buy from to recognize them as individuals and know their interests. When asked to define personalization, consumers associated it with positive experiences and being made to feel special.
Influencer marketing refers to the process of using external content creators to communicate your brand’s messages and build brand awareness. It has grown a lot in recent years and has successfully helped drive engagement. In fact, the influencer marketing market grew from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $13.8 billion in 2021, according to data from the 2022 State of Influencer Marketing report.
Influencer marketing is effective because consumers often trust recommendations from influencers and other users more than the brands themselves.
To effectively differentiate your brand from the crowd, you need to be innovative and leverage all the assets and tools available to improve your content and sharing process.
Here are some helpful social media marketing resources to help you choose the best solutions for your organization:
- Why you should respond to your customers on social media: Understand the importance and benefits of responding to customer comments and reviews on social media.
- 3 social media trends impacting marketing in 2022: The social media landscape has changed drastically. Here’s how marketers can prepare for the latest trends.
- Top social media monitoring capabilities for brands: Monitor the capabilities of your social media tools to better understand your consumer, competitive, and market intelligence.
- The best times to engage on social media: What content you publish on social media matters but when you publish it matters too.
- How Denny’s connects with customers through social media, sports marketing and updated digital experiences: MarTech discusses how Denny’s has successfully engaged younger audiences through its innovative social media and sports marketing.
About The Author
Akshat Biyani is a Contributing Editor to MarTech, a former analyst who has a strong interest in writing about technology and its effect on marketing.