You have probably heard of Social Media Marketing (SMM) a million times by now, but if you are a new business owner or someone who is keen to understand the basics of business promotion across social platforms, you need to read this article. Given the zillions of TikTok videos, selfies and DIYs up there on social media, it may seem to be the global hub of fun-filled informal activities. But in recent years, it has started playing a crucial role in brand marketing.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
In its simplest definition, it is the use of social media platforms to get the brand’s name out into the public domain in a fast and wide-spread manner. SMM includes activities such as posting witty ads, creative videos and even using memes in certain cases. All these activities come together to achieve a single goal – directly connecting with customers and engaging them.
Social media has grown from being just a causal domain for entertainment to a tool that can capture the attention of the masses. It penetrates every aspect of our lives these days - use that to your advantage.
Is It Professional Enough?
Many still hesitate to use social media for businesses as they think it is not professional enough. It might have been true when social media was just starting out in the early-to-mid 2000s, but it has come a long way. In fact, it is the fastest-growing network of global communities since the Internet. With the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and LinkedIn sharing content 24×7, businesses can broadcast their stories and day-to-day operations, core culture and values to gain exposure and traffic.
This works just as well, if not better, than traditional, generic advertising or data-driven digital marketing. If a brand gains a significant following on social media, the chances are that it is doing something right. So, to answer the question – yes, social media is professional enough. Nowadays you cannot function as a business without a social media presence.
Why You Need Social Media Marketing
Social media gives your brand access to a global audience. It can reach them instantly and engagingly. The more attention you get, the more brand recognition you achieve.
Ease of access
One thing that is often overlooked is how easy it is to use. There is no need for any special equipment to use social media. You just need a phone and a decent internet connection, and you are good to go.
Compared to old-school advertising like billboard and newspaper ads, social media is a steal. Most of the social features for official business accounts are free, and even if you had to pay for something, the cost is nominal.
Social media – with all its analytical tools which rake in tonnes of customer data – offers a unique opportunity to keep track of the latest trends that customers are engaging with. This allows you to jump on the bandwagon and make the most of the crowd’s attention at any given time by pushing/promoting your own product or service while you have everyone’s attention. What’s more, these trends will help you push search engine marketing as you will be aware of the most searched topics in real time.
Say goodbye to surveys and questionnaires. Social platform tools like ‘Instagram insights’ and ‘Facebook analytics’, can help control who sees what and when. Analytics gives you all the data you need to come up with strategies that you know the audience will like. It even lets you target a specific group of people for a streamlined approach.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Don’t be generic in your approach
Posting something and hoping it reaches your target customer won’t work. With billions of people across the globe using social media, your brand can easily get lost in the vast ocean of businesses on social platforms. Identifying a target audience and knowing what they like goes a long way.
Never ignore user feedback
Social media is not one-way communication. It offers the business a chance to communicate with the customer and truly understand what they like. Use the feedback, especially the negative feedback, because that is what will tell you where your brand needs to make the most improvements.
Don’t be a one-trick pony
A common mistake that businesses make on social media is failing to diversify the content they put out. Yes, consistency is good, but not repetition. Social media has a huge number of tools, content sharing options and formats – use them all!
Don’t lack passion, purpose
Breathe some personality into your brand. Show customers the human side of the company. The nature of social media allows one to take a less formal approach and opens the door to forming a community. Telling people your story of how you came to be, the challenges you faced and the value you are trying to bring to everyone’s lives, will work wonders in forming customer loyalty.
Rather than being a faceless corporate entity, show people that you are just a person with a business. Giving people something to relate to, creates a connection that eventually translates into brand loyalty. For example, if you look at influencer marketing, that is how they gain an audience. They grow their brand on social media channels, like YouTube or Instagram, using them to try to give audiences content that entertains them based on feedback.
Many businesses nowadays turn to influencers to help promote their brand because of the influencers’ massive following. People connect better with you if you actively engage with them. Whether you look at it analytically or are simply trying to get ahead of the competition, you need to keep in mind that your customers are people. It is called ‘social’ media for a reason.
It always helps to have a game plan with SMM. It may seem random but there are intricate algorithms and metrics that will determine how far your reach extends.
The Game Plan
Analyse your brand
Look at the different aspects of what makes the brand unique. Once you narrow down the niche of the brand into something a little more streamlined. You need to ask yourself: What do I want my brand to say?
Choose your platform
Social media platforms all serve a similar purpose, but each one has its style, format, audience and reach. You need to choose the one that best suits your business. A lot of businesses make the mistake of trying to diversify across as many different platforms as they can and end up spreading themselves too thin. It would be better to choose one or two platforms and use them consistently.
While social media may not be hard to grasp, it is time intensive. If you hope to see some actual results, get ready to invest serious time into it. It does not matter if you are a famous brand or just starting, without a consistent social presence, the audience will lose interest.
Know your audience
Show people you can provide that ideal solution for them, but to do that you need to understand what they are looking for. Gather data on where they live, what they like, the age demographic that you attract, social media usage habits, how often they are online and so on. All these data points help you narrow down what they as an audience want and you can easily get this from sources like Facebook analytics and Instagram insights.
Decide on your goal
There are two main things that you can expect to achieve through SMM. One is brand awareness and the other is conversion rates (a higher revenue). If brand awareness is the goal, then your content will be more oriented towards building familiarity and trust with the customers. If you are looking at conversion rates, then the content will be a bit more advertisement oriented with lots of paid promotions.
What A Good Strategy Works On Social Media
Sony’s PlayStation witnessed an unprecedented growth during the COVID-19 lockdown, thanks to its unique social media strategy. As everyone was stuck at home, the company took to Twitter and pushed the #PlayAtHome campaign and gave users free games to download. More than revenue, it aimed at audience reception and the strategy worked! According to an interview done by CNET, more than 10 million people downloaded those free games, showing that the strategy was a clear success.
Sometimes that is all it takes – a clear cut goal and a simple plan to help you get there. Social media, at the end of the day, is just a channel through which you can reach the masses and work on your Public Relations strategies.