In this day and age of digital dependence and online connectivity, consumer decision-making has become profoundly impacted by peers communicating with each other through social media.
Needless to say, if you want to grow your company and survive the competition, you need a strong digital presence—and no digital presence can be complete without effective social media marketing.
So, What Is Social Media Marketing?
A social media platform is any online site that allows collaboration, communication, and interaction among members of its community, and doing these to promote a brand, products, or services is called social media marketing. You can do social media marketing through posting photos, videos, links to articles, posting your own content, and direct communications to customers and followers on one (or more) of these platforms. This allows your current and potential customers to engage with you in a more “social” and interactive manner online.
Social media marketing also provides a space for your customers to interact with each other and with your brand when it comes to product feedback and customer service issues. With the number of people online today, social media marketing allows businesses to reach a much wider audience compared to traditional forms of marketing.
A great social media marketing plan is a critical success factor for any successful and complete digital marketing strategy. No matter what industry your business is in, social media marketing can help you increase your reach, improve customer communications and loyalty, and even reach new markets. Companies in different industries, from technology and retail to fashion and professional services, have already recognised the significant benefits of adopting it.
How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform
Choosing the right social media platform to market on is at the core of a successful social media marketing strategy. However, making the right choice can be challenging and confusing—did you know that there are over 60 different social media sites in existence?
Just as you need to target a specific customer demographic, you need to target a specific social media platform as well. For a successful social media marketing plan, you need to be using the right social media sites for your industry, business, and target market.
Study Your Options
Depending on your marketing needs, target market, and goals, among others, you may prefer one social media platform over the other. Before deciding though, it’s important to familiarise yourself with at least a few. Some of the more well-known and popular social media sites today include…
- Facebook – currently the biggest social media site with over 2 billion active users
- Twitter – based on the idea of micro-blogging, Twitter has around 328 million monthly users and appears to be the medium of choice for “live-tweeting” events
- LinkedIn – a social networking site aimed at businesses and professionals, with over 467 million members worldwide. The focus of this site is gaining business connections and industry contacts
- YouTube – the largest online video platform, with 1.5 billion users globally
- Instagram – has over 800 million active users worldwide and is centred on creative visual content
Define Your Target Market
When choosing which social media platform you’ll use, it’s important to first have a clear definition of your ideal customer or target market. You need to have a general idea of who they are, their online habits/preferences, what they’re looking for, what they like, and other details such as age and demographics, among others.
Knowing your target market gives you a better idea of which social media platforms you should focus on. For example, if you want to market to young food lovers who usually engage with posts containing stunning gastronomic visuals, you might want to consider both Facebook and Instagram over, say, LinkedIn. On the other hand, if you’re after business professionals, LinkedIn will be your priority. In other words, knowing your target market better lets you avoid wasting time, energy, and resources on social media platforms that don’t quite fit your target market.
Know Your Goals and What You Want to Offer
It’s not enough that you know your target market. You should know what you want to offer and define your marketing goals as well. Doing so allows you to pinpoint which social media sites will be really useful. For example, if you’re a clothing company that wants to market a new line of shirts and dresses to millennials, Facebook and Instagram are obvious choices. On the other hand, Twitter might not be that effective as it’s not really that focused on visual content compared to the other two.
If you’re a car care company that wants to establish itself as an expert in its field, YouTube should be part of your strategy. Through video tutorials on how to, say, care for your car’s paint, you’ll be able to attract more views and spread the word about your products or services as well as give the impression that you’re an authentic, trustworthy company composed of experts who really know what they’re doing.
Now, if you’re after B2B marketing, LinkedIn is a good choice to connect with other businesses that can become partners or potential customers. Through posting excellent content such as blogs and podcasts, Facebook and LinkedIn can also help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Don’t Forget to Evolve
Choosing the right social media platform is an important step towards a successful digital marketing strategy. However, it doesn’t end there. As you go along with your business, your target market, marketing goals, even your products or services may change. Likewise, with how technologies and online habits evolve, the different social media platforms may also change in terms of how they reach the market, the content they can effectively carry and promote, and their users.
As such, it’s important to not settle and constantly study, analyse, and assess not just your online marketing campaigns but also the whole social media scene. Doing so enables you to have a proactive approach in changing your strategies, possibly giving you an edge over the competition.