What is social media marketing: An introduction to a rising star in marketing

what is social media marketing

 

If you have ever suppressed the urge to check your social media while working on an assignment, then you are well aware of how fascinating social media is. In addition to snippets from your friends’ lives, there are pages that make your feed a better place with interesting content and ads that are targeted towards your interests. These pages and ads are part of a digital marketing strategy called social media marketing. Perhaps you already guessed that, so let us dig deeper!

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is a way to connect with your target audience over different social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat. This involves not only posting engaging content but also monitoring how people talk about your brand.

What are the benefits of social media marketing? Does every business need it?

1. It is one of the most popular digital media

About 326 million people in India use social media, and the number is only growing by the day. Chances are that your customers are already on social media and interacting with other brands in the industry. Instead of waiting around for your customers to come and find you, take matters into your own hands and meet them where they are.

2. It helps in increasing brand awareness

Social media is a platform for brands to familiarise their target audience with their products and services. However, your social media handle should not merely advertise your products or service as people visit these sites with the intention of interacting and not buying.

You should post compelling content related to your niche that may or may not talk about your product. Show them that there’s more to your company than meets the eye. This could include behind the scenes, connecting with a topical issue, and customer stories amongst other things. For example, look at this Instagram post by Nike during COVID-19 outbreak –

Social media marketing

In time, the users come to associate certain type of content and products or services with a brand. This familiarity with a brand is called brand awareness.

While big brands can afford marketing channels like TV or print media to create more awareness, small brands can use social media to achieve it.

4. It helps you in knowing your customers better

You can use social media trends to discover what is trending in your industry and how your audience engages with it. This will help you in spotting their interests and creating user personas.

Social media also offers a convenient means for your customers to express their opinions about your company. They can do this by commenting on your posts or mentioning your brand in their own and others’ posts. The process of monitoring how people talk about your brand is called social listening. This can give you insights about how your brand is perceived and you can build on the feedback to improve.

You should also respond to the users’ feedback. This allows you to build a more transparent connection with your audience which makes your brand seem more authentic.

5. It can generate leads and sales

Efforts put into social media marketing can also pay off with an increase in sales. Although every business can benefit from this, small businesses which have limited marketing budgets can particularly profit from social media as a source of revenue.

One of the most common ways to do this is by using social media ads that are targeted towards a specific audience. This will show your ads only to people who would be genuinely interested in buying your service or products. You can also analyse the performance of these ads to see how effective they are.

Another way to leverage social media for sales is through content marketing. For example, Oreo regularly posts recipes on its Instagram handle –

what is social media marketing

6. It can boost your SEO rankings

You can use social media to draw more traffic to your website. If the audience finds your website helpful (high engagement, less bounce session, increase in backlinks), it can be an indicator for search engines that your website is a trustworthy source.

The numerous advantages can make most companies feel gung-ho about marketing a business using social media. However, every business should think critically before getting on the bandwagon of social media marketing. For example, if marketing in your industry is highly monitored and censored, then the risks may outweigh the advantages.

It is also worth considering if social media is relevant for your industry. While your customers may be there, they might not be interested in seeing content related to your niche.

How to do social media marketing?

1. Define your social media marketing goals

A good place to start social media marketing is to know your objective behind using it. Is it to create brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, create brand loyalty, increase sales, or create more engagement? Once you have figured out your goals, you will be in a better position to chart a strong social media strategy.

2. Choose your platform

Although you will be spoilt for choices when it comes to establishing a social media presence, take some time to choose the one that’s most relevant for your industry. Find out the social media channel that is most frequently used by your target audience. You can also choose a channel that has not been tapped into by other brands but has the potential to shine as a social media marketing platform for your industry.

When you are selecting a platform, bear in mind the kind of content you want to create and the audience that you want to reach out to. You can create content in the form of images, videos, blog posts, customer stories, and podcasts. After you have a fair idea of your audience and content, you can take your pick of social media channels. Here are the best social media platforms that have performed well over the past years –

i. Facebook

Although launched in 2006, Facebook remains one of the most popular social media sites in India.

what is social media marketing

It has been winning at the social media marketing game for a while now and is certainly here to stay. If you are uncertain whether your audience is using Facebook, you can use Facebook Ads to specify the demographics of your audience like location, gender, age, education, and interests, and Facebook will give you an answer down to the last detail including the size of your audience.

If you find that Facebook is where your audience is at, there are different ways in which you can market your product or service. You can go about it organically, using ads or both. Over the past few years, marketers have observed a decline in their organic reach which is perhaps because ads are a source of revenue for Facebook. Whichever way you decide to go, here are a few ways to start Facebook marketing –

I) Set up your company page on Facebook

The process is similar to creating a personal profile with some differences that defines your page as a business. One major difference is instead of sending you a friend request, people can like and follow you.

To set up your page, you need to fill in details like your industry, a keyword-optimised description of your company, your objective for the page, and add profile and cover photos.

II) Publish relevant and engaging content

Show the audience that you are worth their time by posting entertaining or educational content. You can publish your content in the form of text, images, stories, and videos. You can even do a Facebook Live which is becoming increasingly popular as a form of video marketing.

III) Promote your content

As the number of businesses who use Facebook have grown over the years, it has become harder to reach a large audience organically. If you are not meeting your marketing goals organically, you can either use the boost option or advertise on Facebook. The boost feature allows you to show your post to your chosen audience. Facebook Ads perform a similar task, but it offers more advanced features like choosing the objective of your ad, selecting from a number of ad placements, and advanced audience targeting.

Once your Facebook advertising takes off, make it a point to update the ad content every once in a while so that your it stays refreshing and gets more eyeballs.

Lastly, if you have found the audience of your dreams and you want to expand it, you can use Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature. It will help you in finding customers who are similar to your existing customers.

To learn more about using Facebook, you can check out this article on social media marketing.

ii. Instagram 

Instagram has grown from being a photo sharing app into a powerful marketing channel with 90% of users following at least one brand. If you want to appeal to an audience that is drawn to visual content, then Instagram can be your playfield. Here is how you can start marketing on Instagram

I) Create your business account

Instagram allows you to create a free business account. To set up your account, you will need a bio that can be a short description of what your brand does, a profile picture which can be your logo, and a link that you can use to drive traffic to landing page.

II) Use hashtags

Instagram users can now follow hashtags to discover new content related to topics that interest them. Make sure that you have hashtags for your brand. You can use these in all of your posts and encourage your followers and customers to use these hashtags when they are sharing content related to your brand. This will help you in building more visibility.

In addition to brand hashtags, you can also use hashtags related to your industry, holidays, and trending topics. You can use various hashtags across your posts which will help you in reaching different kinds of audience.

III) Post Instagram stories

Although this concept originated in Snapchat, it has fared very well on Instagram. You can use Instagram stories for showcasing how your audience uses your products, conducting polls and questionnaires, and sharing behind the scenes from your workplace. Like Facebook, you can also use Instagram Live.

IV) Run an influencer marketing campaign

Influencer marketing is the digital version of the good old word-of-mouth marketing. Your target audience is likely to trust an influencer that they follow and will find their recommendations genuine. To discover influencers, you can use hashtags related to the product or service that you are trying to market and look at the engagement on their posts.

iii. YouTube 

With technology getting more accessible, video marketing is becoming one of the most popular forms of connecting with your audience. No matter what your niche is, you can use YouTube to educate or entertain your audience. If this is something you have not engaged in before, you can start by repurposing your existing content. For example, a how-to blog post can be turned into a tutorial.

Another advantage of using Youtube is that you can mention your other social media handles which can help you in building more audience on other platforms.

iv. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is increasingly becoming a part of marketing strategies for businesses who are looking to expand their professional network. Besides finding new talent, LinkedIn is also used to share your expertise with other professionals and customers. This can increase brand awareness and drive more traffic to your website.

Other popular platforms include Twitter and Pinterest. You can start with one channel and then proceed to grow your social media presence across various channels over time.

3. Plan a posting schedule

Instead of posting content spontaneously, come up with a social media calendar. You can experiment with different times of the day and week to figure out the peak time for your posts and create a consistent posting schedule that will help you make the most out of your marketing efforts.

4. Engage with your audience

What sets social media marketing apart from other types of digital marketing is that it creates a conversation between a business, existing users, and potential audience. You can do this by creating quality content that your audience wants to engage with by liking, commenting, or sharing.

5. Measure your results

Every marketing effort is incomplete without an analysis of the results and the same is true for social media marketing. Measuring your social media efforts will indicate the good and the bad in your current strategy and help you see if you are meeting your goals.

What are the key social media marketing metrics?

what is social media marketing
Although you can geek out and experiment with different metrics, here a few essential ones –

1. Engagement

The first indicator that your content is doing well is the amount of engagement that it is receiving. This includes number of likes, comments, retweets, shares, and brand mentions. To get a better perspective, you can compare these numbers with the number of people who have seen your content.

2. Reach

Reach is the number of people who have seen your post. Again, this metric is better understood with a context, so you should analyse it with the engagement rate.

3. Website traffic and sales

You can track the number of visitors (traffic) and sales you are getting through your social media account by using UTM parameters. UTM parameters are used to show the source and medium of your traffic and can also be used for your other digital marketing campaigns.

You can use Google Analytics, a free tool, to analyse using these metrics.

Social media marketing tips

1. Don’t post multiple times in a day

While posting regularly is important, you don’t want to overburden your follower’s feed. This will cause them to lose interest.

2. Perform competition analysis

Even if you believe that you are doing a great job at social media marketing, you should stay abreast about your competition. This will not only help you in comparing your performance but also in seeing untapped opportunities. If your competition is not posting content on something that might be of interest to your user, you can use it to your advantage. You can also analyse their performance across various platforms and find out if you can engage the audience where they haven’t.

This was a beginner-friendly dose of social media marketing. If you want to put what you have learned into practise, then you can take Internshala’s Digital Marketing training, and slay your social media marketing game!

Image credits Рhttps://www.statista.com/statistics/284436/india-social-network-penetration/, giphy.com, Nike on Instagram. 

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