Social media platforms have evolved from basic networking tools to full-on digital marketing channels for any type of business. Whether your marketing to business professionals in the accounting industry or vegan millennials in San Francisco, you can likely carve out an audience via advanced user targeting. Entities such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have come a long way since their inception, with budding platforms such as Snapchat and Pinterest joining the fray in a significant manner. The ability to use social media platforms within a digital marketing strategy has given businesses greater flexibility with launching promotions, testing different marketing messages, and reaching newer audiences at a more effective cost.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the processes of engaging users on social media platforms to promote brands, products, and services. As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, it has evolved quickly over the past ten years to become a cost-effective marketing tactics for businesses of all types. All of these social media marketing platforms have built-in data and analytics tools that give companies the ability to accurately gauge the success of their campaigns, regardless of the objectives set. There are a number of components involved in social media marketing:

  • Community management and content creation.
  • Customer service management.
  • Social media advertising.
  • Contest management and promotion.
  • Sales promotion.

However, it’s important to understand which social media platforms are available to advertisers. A handy list has been prepared:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • Foursquare
  • LinkedIn
  • More…

Community Management and Content Creation

Long gone are the days of marketing communications being one way. In the digital era, people have become used to the idea of communicating with brands on a myriad of platforms. Whether it’s through live chat, forums, or social media applications, brands are more accessible than ever these days. The emergence of major sites such as Facebook and Twitter have given the power of communications to users, enabling anyone to send a message, Tweet, or video to people all over the world. On the flip side, this has given marketing professionals the ability to supercharge their traditional campaigns in a digital environment, broadcasting messages all over the world to various niche audiences. Having the ability to craft unique messages for different personas is the most alluring aspect of diving deep into social media marketing. Content creation can be customized for different audiences. For example, brands have utilized Facebook and Twitter to segment audiences by language and geographic area, tailoring messages to each respective audience. Doing so allows brands to customize messages to specific audiences on a more cost-effective basis than traditional marketing outlets such as television and print.

In terms of creating content, you cannot be reliant on posting a consistent stream of promotions and heavily-branded content. Of course, this doesn’t mean that brands should invest in creating only community/lifestyle content, otherwise you are cultivating an audience without any real objective. The golden rule seems to indicate that content should be split as such: 80% community content, 20% promotional. That way, you are able to earn the trust of followers and keep them hooked on your content, leading to the opportunity to push them through the conversion funnel at a later point in time. This is popularly referred to as the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” method, which was made famous by the social media rockstar, Gary Vaynerchuk. Additionally, with both video and live streaming on the rise, you should make sure to have a heavy dose of video content within your marketing arsenal.

Customer Service Management

Believe it or not, social media marketing has revolutionized the way large companies manage customer service programs. Before the emergence of popular social media platforms, it was common for users to wait on hold for hours to speak to a representative of a Fortune 500 company to resolve an issue. Nowadays, simply tweeting at a company or leaving a scathing review on a Facebook page can result in a resolution within minutes. Yours truly tested this a couple of years ago, simultaneously emailing a company and sending a tweet to discuss an issue with a defective dress shirt. The issue was resolved within 30 minutes on Twitter – from the acknowledgment of the complaint to the issuing of a refund and shipping label to return the product.