How Social is Your Business: Understanding Social Media Marketing

For most modern businesses, a social media presence is a necessity. With roughly 3.6 billion people across the globe using social media (a number that is expected to reach nearly 4.41 billion by 2025), companies are missing out if they aren’t using social media in some capacity. After all, if you are not promoting yourself on social media, someone offering similar services probably is. However, with so many different platforms to consider and a wide range of strategies at their disposal, many businesses struggle to understand the concept of “social media marketing.”

What is Social Media Marketing?

The term social media marketing (SMM) refers to the use of social media and social networks to market a company’s products and services. More specifically though, it is centered around making content that is tailored to each specific social media platform in order to drive engagement and promote your business. Social media marketing provides companies with a way to engage with existing customers, while also positioning them to reach new ones, all while establishing their brand’s unique vision, culture, and tone.

The reason that social media marketing is so complex is that there is no singular strategy that works for all businesses across all social media channels. Obviously, all businesses have their own unique target audience, but they must also contend with the fact that no two social media platforms are exactly alike. A strategy that would work well on YouTube might be completely ineffective on Twitter, for instance. This means that part of the challenge that comes with effective social media marketing is to determine which social platforms are most relevant to one’s target audience, then develop content and strategies that are best suited to those platforms.

How Does Social Media Marketing Work?

According to Buffer, there are five core pillars to social media. They are:

  1. Strategy: Your goals and how social media can help you achieve them. Which social media platforms you want to focus on and what type of content you want to share.
  2. Planning and Publishing: How you plan to share content on social media, maximizing your reach by using social media scheduling tools.
  3. Listening and Engagement: Following conversations around your brand, responding to customers’ queries, using social media listening and engagement tools to manage your mentions and messages.
  4. Analytics: Keeping track of your brands’ online performance and reach, along with how many positive mentions that you get from others. How many people are using your brands’ hashtags in their own social media posts?
  5. Advertising: Investing in social media ads promoted by the platform itself. Optimizing your content to reach a wider audience than those who are currently following you.

This might be oversimplifying a bit, but these are still the most important aspects of the social media marketing process. That said, for smaller businesses, it often isn’t necessary to buy ad space on a platform itself. There are circumstances where it can be useful for reaching a wider audience, but there are many options for boosting your social media content that doesn’t cost anything, so don’t think that you have to invest money here to get noticed.

Why is Social Media Marketing Important?

As previously stated, around 3.6 billion people around the world are social media users, meaning that around half of the global population is using some form of social media. It is especially popular with younger generations, with eMarketer claiming that 90.4% of Millennials and 77.5% of Gen-Xers were active social media users. Even traditionally less internet-savvy generations are using the internet more and more, with 48.2% of Baby Boomers being social media users. So no matter what age demographics you are targeting, you cannot afford to ignore the potential reach of social media.

Additionally, social media market has proven to be especially effective at connecting with customers on a personal level, establishing the kind of close connections that create life-long customers. Plus, in their 2020 report on social media trends, GlobalWebIndex claims that a growing number of consumers use social networks as a method for researching new products before making a purchase, making social media marketing valuable for researching consumers outside of your typical audience.

The Reach of Social Media Marketing

If you want to connect with customers, you must meet them where they are. With so many people living their lives on social media, brands will need to be there if they want to keep consumers onboard or to reach a wider audience. You don’t need to be on EVERY social media platform, but the bottom line is this: whether you are a small business owner or leading a multi-million-dollar enterprise, you cannot overlook the impact of “social” when it comes to building meaningful connections with consumers and promoting your brand.

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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