What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is leveraging the many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to promote your business. Over the last several years, social media marketing has become an a incredibly popular tactic companies use to promote their products and services, and also to engage with their customers on a more personal basis. It’s easy to understand why. Social media offers businesses many benefits, among them the ability to develop authentic connections with users. But as social media’s popularity with both users and advertisers has increased, so too has the level of quality and sophistication necessary to break through the clutter to truly build meaningful engagement. Therefore it is important that your social media marketing efforts be planned and purposeful, so that they help move your business forward in meaningful, measurable ways.
Growth of Social Media
Social media has been a part of most people’s lives for only about a decade, yet for many, it’s hard to imagine a time in their lives when they weren’t checking Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis (at least). Social media has been nothing short of a revolution in terms of how people consume news, information, and entertainment. It has also fundamentally restructured the way we interact with our friends and family members. Social media allows us to stay in touch with the people we care about, and to share with them what is happening in our own lives. This sense of community is a powerful reason for the continued popularity of social media platforms, and necessarily creates a desire for companies to tap into these communities to grow their business. So how can your company effectively insert itself into the conversation without disrupting and alienating the very people you are trying to reach?
Effective social media marketing begins by focusing on who your customers are. This is true of most marketing tactics of course, but it is especially crucial in the social media realm. As mentioned, social media platforms provide a sense of community where people go to unwind and catch up with friends and family, to escape from the daily grind, and to relax and have fun. So to properly leverage the power of social media marketing, you need to keep your customers’ wants and needs at the forefront.
The best way to accomplish the goal of connecting with your customers is to create incredible content. Whether words, photos, or videos, make sure that every piece of social media content is geared toward positively impacting your customers. Your content needs to be interesting, relevant, and appropriate to the specific social media platform on which you are posting.
Your focus on incredible content should be true for both your organic and your paid social media efforts. Organic posts are those pieces of content that are added directly to your company’s social media pages. Organic content will be seen only by those people who have elected to follow your social platforms. Paid social content, on the other hand, is content that has been created to proactively reach out to people who are not currently following your business on social media, but have been identified as possessing the right demographic, psychographic, and lifestyle characteristics of your best customers. These targeted advertising messages can be used to both encourage new fans and followers, and to bolster brand image and awareness.
Identify Measurable Goals
Your social media marketing campaigns should also have clear and measurable goals. Probably the most common measures that companies use to judge the success of their social media efforts are followers, likes, and comments. These are all certainly worthy goals, as they demonstrate the size and engagement levels of your audiences. But social media marketing offers much more opportunity. With a well-conceived strategic plan, your business can use social media to drive qualified traffic to your website, grow your email newsletter list, generate new sales leads and more. These higher-level goals help you better understand who your best customers are and what they care about, and also provide tangible evidence that your social media marketing campaigns are helping your business grow.
Utilize each social media platform’s built-in performance measurement tools, in conjunction with Google Analytics and other tools to make sure that your social media marketing is actually helping you achieve your goals. Social media offers widespread ability to measure and track performance to ensure effectiveness and profitability of your campaigns–but far too often businesses fail to take this important step. Be sure to analyze what is working and what is not, and then optimize your future content creation and targeting efforts accordingly.
Why is Social Media Marketing Important?
Build Meaningful Connections
As mentioned earlier, social media marketing provides an unparalleled environment in which to meaningfully engage with your customers and create authentic, personalized user experiences with your brand. Today’s consumers do not like to have advertising forced upon them; rather they prefer to mutually engage with brands they care about. Social media platforms are the ideal vehicle to develop this dialogue and relationship. By providing high-quality content that is relevant to your customers, in a format that is approachable and welcoming, you have a unique opportunity to integrate your brand into your customers’ daily lives. They won’t mind seeing your social media posts and ads appear in their feeds so long as the content you are creating is organic, authentic and contributes to the quality of their lives.
Beyond building a community of loyal customers, social media marketing is also a fantastic method of generating top of the sales funnel leads. These top-of-funnel leads are consumers who are not yet ready to make a buying decision, or perhaps not even actively seeking the solution that your firm provides. But, by providing quality content and serving as a resource to these consumers now, you have the opportunity to ensure that when these consumers are ready to make a decision, they come to you first. Often called lead nurturing, this is one of the great advantages of incorporating social media marketing into your marketing plan. To further enhance the lead-generation qualities of your social media, specific tactics such as retargeting and generating custom UTM codes can help bring visibility to your social campaigns’ success and help support your sales team’s efforts.
Influencer & User-Generated Content
Most forms of content marketing are fully created and managed by the advertiser. Social media marketing, however, allows for both social media influencer and user-generated content. Both types of content creation can be valuable to your business because your fans and followers value and trust this content’s authentic quality. Partnering with influencers can also expand the reach of your social media marketing efforts to audiences you might otherwise not be able to connect with. Allowing users to generate and post their own content related to your brand further builds the meaningful connections and brand trust that leads to long-term, satisfied customer relationships.
Finally, the ability to track behavior, analyze data, and measure performance are all important considerations. Social media marketing, when implemented correctly, can help your business achieve its larger business goals both directly through qualified lead generation, and indirectly through heightened brand awareness and perception, lead indicators, and engagement with your target audience.
Social media marketing will continue to evolve as new social platforms, and the marketing opportunities on each of them, are introduced. Social media offers powerful, unique opportunities for your company to tell its story and connect with your customers. Timmermann Group is here to help you navigate this ever-changing marketing landscape to help you invest your marketing dollars wisely and effectively.