Social media marketing is by no means new, but a lot of businesses and even entire industries are still playing catch-up and/or don’t know enough about SMM and what it can do for their bottom-line to use it to their full advantage.
In simplest terms, social media marketing is a form of online advertising that utilizes social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more to reach and appeal to potential clients or consumers.
The ultimate goal for companies creating content for their social media platforms, is to generate the kind of content that individuals will want to share with their social network.
SMM today is all about building brand recognition and establishing a rapport with potential consumers as opposed to solely spamming potential clients with blatant advertising.
Today’s consumers want to feel seen and heard and they want to deal with other people, not faceless corporations.
That’s why effective social media marketing campaigns can go a long way toward making your business more personable and therefore more favourable to a new generation of spenders who value direct and transparent digital interpersonal communication.
The Current State of Social Media Marketing
Over the past handful of years, social media marketing has become both more complex and difficult to navigate successfully, and more rewarding when you do.
Not only have analytics vastly improved since the early days of SMM, but certain social media channels have stood the test of time and proven their staying power, particularly among certain demographics, making the choice of where to invest your SMM money that much easier.
Let’s break it down.
By asking yourself who you are trying to reach and how you are hoping to influence viewers, you should be able to use the following analysis of 2019’s hottest social media platforms to narrow your SMM strategy’s focus.
The 8 Main Social Media Platforms You Should Look At:
Founded in 2004, Facebook currently has over 2.1 billion active users!
This makes Facebook great for increasing your business’s reach due to the platform’s sheer volume of users alone.
Facebook will allow you to share content via brand pages managed by one or more administrators who can post, comment, send messages and interact as/on behalf of the business.
This means that customer service is easily provided via Facebook’s native FB Messenger platform (downloadable as a seperate app on mobile), and potential consumers are engaged by your business’s openness to communication.
Pro Tip: Always respond to your Facebook Messenger messages in a timely fashion – that way you can earn a special notification on your brand page from Facebook which informs visitors to your brand page that your business is incredibly responsive to messages and communicates freely with consumers.
Not only can your business page create and post unique content, but you can also share relevant content to your own audience from other sources, and realistically mine insights from billions of consumer conversations and behaviours.
You can also use Facebook’s Ad Manager platform to boost your organic reach by adding paid promotions of certain content from your page to your marketing strategy.
With paid content promotion options that provide a sophisticated and fully customisable targeting system, you can decide exactly who your ideal consumer is and market your content and your page exclusively to them.
So what’s the downside?
Well, because Facebook has been around for as long as it has, and because the newest generation of consumers are highly suspicious of corporations and faceless companies, blatant attempts at advertising on Facebook tend to be ignored outright by platform users.
This means that, in order to effectively utilise Facebook for your SMM strategy, you need to be posting and/or sharing highly relevant and engaging content that will attract attention and encourage viewers to share it with their own networks.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may also be necessarily weary of the time and bandwidth you’ll need to dedicate to comment moderation.
While you as a page admin can delete comments on your own content, anybody can hide behind the anonymity of a dummy Facebook profile and post inappropriate comments on your content that could wreak havoc on your page before you have the opportunity to remove them.
Founded in 2010, Instagram has racked up almost as big a following of active users as Facebook in give or take half the time!
With around one billion monthly active users, Instagram appears to be the social media platform of choice for an increasingly visually-orientated generation of consumers.
Instagram allows businesses to link their Facebook business pages with their business Instagram accounts, and allows businesses to share and post image and video content via these branded accounts.
You can boost your organic reach on Instagram with paid content promotion, just like on Facebook, and brands who cultivate extensive followings are even privy to a number of special features reserved for those with large followings.
These can be access to posting longer-form IGTV videos and including direct swipe up/shopping features in your IG stories.
Instagram will even allow the use of image recognition technologies to surface your brand in user-generated content.
The risks of advertising on Instagram are, however, also abundant and whether or not SMM on Instagram is for your business will largely depend on your company’s ability to curate aesthetically pleasing ad materials that will appeal to your target market.
This is because native ads will appear inline with organic content; your ads or promoted materials then need to be both eye-catching and in-line with your (carefully curated) brand aesthetic in order to receive any measurable consumer attention and garner interaction.
Instagram is also, unfortunately, rife with bots and fake accounts that water-down the real-world reach of your campaigns and promoted content.
These empty accounts may even be padding your follower count, making not even that number a reliable indication of your account’s real-world reach.
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The king of concise content, Twitter has been around since 2006 and boasts three hundred and thirty-six million monthly active users.
Twitter remains a popular platform for SMM in certain sectors, and has become known as somewhat of a political hub and a forum for debate.
Twitter allows businesses to share tweets and boost campaigns via branded Twitter accounts, and allows business to listen and analyze conversations for market insights.
Thanks to Twitter’s reputation for providing up to the minute news in bite-size chunks, it’s also a great platform to utilise for real-time marketing campaigns!
Twitter, like Facebook Messenger, allows businesses to be in contact with their consumers directly, and to offer ad hoc customer service in this way.
Twitter also allows businesses to engage directly with and receive feedback from both their fan bases and industry influencers.
As on Instagram, however, bots and fake followers can negatively impact the actual real-world reach or impact of your paid posts.
Maintaining an active Twitter presence is also time-consuming as real-time conversation requires all-hours management and adherence to a clearly established and consistent brand voice by all individuals communicating via the business account on the company’s behalf.
An oldy but a goody, LinkedIn has been around since the early 2000s (2002 to be exact), and has remained a hub for business professionals to share their insights into their respective industries and connect with one another on a social platform.
LinkedIn is, in essence, business networking in the digital age.
LinkedIn allows users to set up branded business pages and to share content via those pages.
Individuals can use the business profile to participate in industry conversation on behalf of the business, and can link their individual LinkedIn profiles to the company for which they work, automatically generating a sort of digital CV.
You can even use LinkedIn to connect with prospective clients via the “Groups” function.
Just like on the aforementioned social media sites, LinkedIn allows businesses to promote their content to increase organic reach, as well as mine insights from responders and other users’ behaviour.
LinkedIn currently has over two hundred and sixty million active monthly users, and can be a great fit for your SMM strategy, provided your strategy and company bottom line are not reliant on B2C marketing.
If your business relies on B2C marketing, you may want to reconsider which social media platform you want to invest your time and marketing budget in, as LinkedIn has a very narrow scope and is focused on professional networks and networking.
If your ideal consumer is an individual purchasing a product for personal use, LinkedIn is unlikely to be your SMM platform of choice.
Long before we had vine and SnapChat, we had YouTube.
Founded in 2005, YouTube currently has over one and a half billion users worldwide, and remains a surefire way for businesses to both promote themselves, and, should their channel perform well, and should they choose to do so, monetize their channel to earn additional revenue.
YouTube allows users to share videos via branded channels, and allows users of the site to interact with content creators (i.e. businesses) in the comments section below each video.
Used effectively, YouTube can be a great platform for customer retention and improving customer satisfaction if you use the platform to, for example, address troubleshooting, FAQs, provide product support and so on.
YouTube, like Instagram, also allows for the use of image recognition software that will surface your products in user-generated content.
As on most social platforms, you can also pay to boost your content to increase your organic reach.
Pro Tip: If paying to boost your content isn’t your style, why not collaborate with a YouTube influencer who has an established following and generate some promotional content?
By collaborating with known entities you can access their follower base, and, if you’ve chosen your influencer correctly, reach an audience already primed to convert to a new customer for your business.
For example, if you are a make-up manufacturer who has just started a YouTube channel you could invite YouTube MUAs/influencers to review your products in one of their videos by sending them free samples – they get products (and monetary payment depending on their skill/reach), and you get primo ad time that reaches people already interested in your industry and product.
The primary risk of relying on YouTube for SMM is that quality content production, especially in the video format, can be exceedingly time consuming to generate.
If you are low on money and have time on your hands, this can be a great way for you and your business to break into the realm of SMM.
On the other hand, if you have no time, but you have got money, you may be better off investing your SMM budget elsewhere.
Founded in 2010, just like Instagram, Pinterest functions on essentially the same principle: sharing image-based content with one’s social network.
Where the platforms differ is that Pinterest allows businesses to curate their aesthetics by creating branded boards using and “pinning” the images uploaded and shared by both themselves and others – similar to the “share” function on Facebook.
Businesses with Pinterest pages/boards can then use their boards to drive sales by using “Rich Pins” when posting and pinning their own products.
“Rich Pins”, which function in the same way as Instagram’s “buy” posts, allow users to click on an image and be automatically redirected to your company website or another online retailer where they can purchase the product featured in the pin/image on which they clicked.
As with other platforms, you can extend your business’s reach with paid promotion of your content.
The biggest potential drawback with regards to Pinterest is that, as opposed to other image-driven social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest users, who number in the two hundred millions on a monthly basis, are 70% female.
If that sounds like your ideal consumer, Pinterest may be the right fit.
If not, for example if your product/company caters exclusively to men, it may be best to invest your SMM budget elsewhere.
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If your business uses SnapChat we’re willing to bet you’re hip with the kids, as over three quarters of SnapChat’s almost two million active daily users are aged twenty-four or younger.
SnapChat can, then, be a great SMM platform for your business to explore if your target audience is primarily composed of young adults.
SnapChat allows users to share video clips which “expire” after they have been played, and thus, are not supposed to be, and cannot traditionally be, saved/replayed/reviewed.
As such, content that is clear and concise is key, as businesses only have one shot to get their message across to the user playing their video.
The upside is, of course, that businesses can communicate directly with SnapChat users multiple times on a daily basis, as research has shown that daily users of SnapChat log in an average of more than 18 times per day, making SnapChat users a highly engaged audience!
As on YouTube, collaborating with established SnapChat channels with established followings can help you boost your reach.
However, businesses also face the same challenges on SnapChat as they do on YouTube, one of which is that the constant creation of quality content requires significant staff resources which a business may not have available or be able to allocate long-term.
An SMM strategy reliant on SnapChat, then, needs to be a long-term strategy in order to give the business an opportunity to garner a following that makes the investment worth the sheer number of hours it will take to establish a brand presence on the platform.
Furthermore, any SMM strategy reliant on SnapChat needs to take into account and adequately budget for the time involved in undertaking effective SMM via SnapChat.
The golden oldy of SMM, blogs have been around since about 1994.
That being said, they haven’t gone out of style even for a second, and to this day, about 70% of marketers blog on at least a weekly basis.
Blogs allow businesses to share long-form content with embedded images and videos that could showcase and promote their products and/or services.
Blogs also have the benefit of not being dismissed out of hand by those who automatically skip or ignore paid search results and continue directly to the organic search results instead.
In other words, quality blogging increases your business’s organic reach naturally and improves your site’s search engine optimisation.
Blogging can then be a very useful weapon in both your SMM and SEO strategies’ arsenals.
Blogs are a great way to establish your brand’s voice, engage prospects, and build inbound link networks by using keywords (SEO).
Of course, these days, company blogs are seeing reduced organic traffic, meaning that your blog either needs to stand out by establishing your business as an industry leader or expert, or you will need to drive clicks by publicizing or sharing your blogs on additional social media channels.
This in turn require your business to maintain a presence on additional social media platforms in order to generate a following to draw from one platform to the other.
Social Media Marketing doesn’t need to be difficult, and it all starts with listening to your audience.
For more information on how social listening can help you optimise your SMM strategies, be sure to check back again soon for the latest addition to this post.