In 2019, social media is ubiquitous. For many of us, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have essentially replaced SMS and emails as mediums through which we keep in touch with people we know. It shouldn’t surprise, then, that social media’s importance has seeped into business, too.
On the face of it, social media is a cost-effective marketing tool for businesses to use. Any business can register a social media account for free, giving them something of a playground in which they can experiment with various marketing methods without recklessly draining their budget.
However, in practice, it can be tricky to mine worthwhile returns from social media marketing without spending significant time or, indeed, money on the task. Still, while not technically “free”, social media marketing can remain surprisingly effective if implemented in the right way.
What is social media marketing?
It’s easy to feel daunted by the term “social media marketing”, but pursuing this type of marketing can often involve you applying techniques you have learned elsewhere.
Social media marketing can be succinctly defined as any marketing occurring on social media platforms. It’s easy to use social media to augment existing digital marketing strategies; for example, fresh content added to your blog could also be promoted on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
Overall, “social media marketing” is a broad, catch-all term that includes both organic posts and paid ads. We will elaborate on the distinction between these two in a moment, but it bears emphasis that, in knowing how and when to use each, you can make the most of social media marketing.
Which social media platforms should you choose?
This will depend on various factors, including your company’s objectives and how it intends to use its social accounts. However, Facebook is an obvious place to start, given its monthly active user (MAU) count of 2.23 billion and how effectively it can display content in almost any format, including video.
Although, if your business is in the style or fashion industry it should also sign up for Instagram, given its primarily visual interface. The image-sharing site can be especially good for sharing “behind-the-scenes” footage, given the recent launch of the site’s IGTV platform for long-form videos.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn is a fitting platform for B2B marketing. With a strong user base of professionals, especially in the 30-49 age bracket, LinkedIn could be home to the next senior manager who notices your business and the potential of striking a lucrative partnership with it.
Organic posts or paid ads?
You don’t necessarily have to settle for just one or the other, as they differ in subtle ways and so can come with their own strengths and drawbacks. So, what are the fundamental differences between organic and paid content?
If you are posting organic content to a social network, you are using the free tools it provides. Interacting with the social community, such as through replying to customer comments, would also count as an organic strategy.
Even if you use a third-party tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to tweet on Twitter, this would still fall into the organic category, as posting the tweets would not require you to pay anything to Twitter itself.
Paid content, by contrast, would be adverts or sponsored messages for which you would indeed need to pay the social media site. This is because the site would let you target each advert or message, whether in the form of text, image, video or anything else, to specific demographics.
This can open up exciting possibilities for how you use social media marketing. For example, if users of particular demographics have shown interest in an organically-shared article but not followed its “call to action”, like buying a product from your firm, you could chase those users with targeted ads.
The demographic aspects on which you can target ads include location. This sheds light on the benefits of social media marketing for local businesses, which can strongly rely on the kind of word of mouth capable of spreading relatively quickly on social media.
Eager to refine your social media marketing campaigns?
If you’ve only just started taking your first tentative steps into social media marketing, there’s a whole world of exciting potential just waiting to be mined. Even if you are more experienced with this type of marketing, you could still appreciate tips for refining your existing strategies. Follow our upcoming Marketing Mondays articles for further advice on how to effectively use this marketing channel.
Whether you’ve only just started out on the path to social media marketing success or want to break a deadlock in this space, the help you need could be just a call away. At Success Local, our experts are waiting on the other end of the line on 01455 367 100.