NOTE: This blog represents Part 1 of 2 in a series on how businesses can optimize their social media marketing. To read our second blog in this installment, click here.
In a world where people are just as connected to each other digitally as they are physically, social media provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to build relationships with customers and clients online rather than in the store or office. Considering 50% of the world’s population is on social media and further engagement is predicted to grow substantially over the coming years, marketing through the use of social media has become a crucial component to any business’ marketing strategy. In fact, 81% of consumers base their purchases on the online presence of a business, and nearly half of customers use social media for customer service. And with the recent and sustained impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses have been forced to rely on digital methods to reach and interact with their customers. Thus, it has not become a matter of if businesses should engage in social media marketing, but rather, how businesses should manage their social media presence.
In this blog, we’ll quickly review the four primary benefits of social media marketing before showing you how to use various social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube for marketing your brand and growing your audience.
The Four Core Benefits of Effective Social Media Marketing
Before we dive straight into the mechanics of social media marketing, it is important to first understand what the primary benefits are. Of course, overarching objectives like “earn more sales” are probably your main motivation, but let’s try to get more specific.
Typically, businesses turn to social media to achieve four core objectives:
Let’s quickly review each benefit in more detail.
1. Increasing Company Awareness
Brand awareness is a crucial component to any marketing plan, and social media provides the perfect way for businesses to showcase their brand to waves of relevant consumers and followers online. Posts that provide helpful insight about a company’s operations or clients, that demonstrate how certain products or services work, or that simply educate followers about relevant industry topics are all great ways to elevate your brand. Developing brand recognition in this manner ultimately allows for more potential customers to discover your services or products and witness your market expertise. A successful social media presence will also foster conversation around a company’s brand and help boost the traffic on a company’s website, which often leads to higher sales, better website SEO scores, larger subscriber lists, and many other advantageous outcomes.
2. Building Brand Authenticity
Each company and their affiliated brand have a story to tell. The challenge lies in finding the right story. Many companies choose to focus on the backgrounds of their founders to establish authenticity, the value that their product or service provides to customers, or the impact their company has on local communities and employees. As these stories are told, social media offers the ideal platform to broadcast them throughout the world. By sharing these stories online, it becomes easier for customers to engage and interact with the company and familiarize themselves with the brand, which goes a long way in building trust and appreciation over time and also helps the company manage their reputation and public image.
3. Establishing Personal Relationships with Customers
Not only are customers drawn to the established authenticity of a brand, but they are also far more likely to engage with businesses that actively manage their social channels. By responding to comments and messages and sharing timely and relevant posts through their accounts, companies can foster genuine interactions with customers that build loyalty and make customers more willing to purchase products or services. Data shows that businesses that are active on their accounts are able to grow their following much faster and have a more engaged community of followers, which can prove largely beneficial in building support and appreciation for a company over time.
4. Gaining Marketplace Insights
As a final point, social media also helps businesses study their target audience to better understand their preferences, interests, and passions. Businesses can obtain these insights by tracking all the various metrics associated with their audience. What types and topics of posts generate the most engagement? How does this engagement vary by channel (LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)? What day-of-the-week and time-of-day result in the most engagement? Who even is my audience (ages, locations, interests, etc.)?
By leveraging social media to gain the aforementioned marketplace insights, businesses are able to refine their social media activity and overarching content strategy to generate the most traction, keep themselves current, and prevent customers from losing interest.
On a related note, social media metrics can also help businesses evaluate their competitors and study how they engage with their own customers, portray themselves in the public eye, and attempt to elevate their brand over various platforms. This analysis can help a business determine what will and won’t work for their own social media following, and it enables them to adjust their own marketing strategy based on the past results of industry peers.
Determining When & How to Use Each Social Media Channel
Understanding the primary benefits of social media marketing naturally creates an obvious follow-up question: How can I leverage social media to realize these advantages? And furthermore, which platforms should I use to achieve my company’s goals?
Because there are a variety of popular social media platforms, businesses can leverage unique platforms to cater to specific audiences or fulfill unique purposes. However, before a business can determine which platform works best, they must first:
1. Define their goals for using social media (What outcome or outcomes would you like to achieve?)
2. Identify their target audience (Which groups of people are you most interested in marketing to?)
3. Study and experiment with their desired audience (How can you best connect with your selected audience?)
For more info on how to answer questions 2-3 above, read our next blog in this series.
Although the answers to these three questions may change over time, businesses should always start with these questions in order to decide which platform(s) most align with their initiatives and goals. In the long run, taking time to think through these three questions is the best way to ensure your company uses the most relevant social platforms for engaging with your chosen audience and accomplishing your main business objectives.
So then, moving forward, the five most popular business-related social media accounts are as follows:
Here are the primary factors you should consider as you decide which channel to use.
With a population of 2.8 billion monthly users, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform in the world across all age groups. The majority of these users exist on the platform with the intent of building relationships or keeping in contact with old friends. This expands to include businesses as well, helping them to initiate relationships with customers and, subsequently, form brand loyalty. A constant presence is necessary for the continued growth and assurance of these relationships.
Facebook provides an easy way to target specific audiences through the creation of groups, which further connects businesses with customers as well as customers with one another.
From a cost standpoint, advertisements on Facebook are fairly affordably compared to other platforms. On average, Facebook advertisements cost $0.97 per click and $7.19 per 1000 impressions. Factors that influence the cost of ads include: audience, ad budget, season (time of year), and industry. As a helpful point, Facebook often advertises interchangeably between Instagram and Facebook, allowing a broader audience range.
Essentially, Facebook for businesses is best used as a means of establishing brand loyalty and relationships with customers, as well as offering a profitable platform for advertisements.
With each passing day, Instagram continues to grow rapidly, and currently encompasses roughly one billion monthly users. While presently composed mainly of a younger audience, more and more businesses are joining the platform, which offers a wider reach and greater audience.
Through the use of storytelling, images, and hashtags, Instagram provides the ability to grow by building brand awareness and authenticity. People remember 80% of what they see versus only remembering 20% of what they read, meaning the visual-oriented style of Instagram is the perfect place to add engaging graphics, photography, and videos.
Many customers first visit a business’ Instagram in order to acquire a perception of them. Depending on the industry, users may be counting on your Instagram account to showcase your creativity, scope of services, or general company image and brand persona. And while it takes massive dedication and attention to detail in order to achieve the desired visual aesthetic on one’s profile, the customer response to these efforts is typically worth the investment.
Much like Instagram, Twitter is composed mainly of a younger audience, but the platform continues to grow and include a broader age range. Comprised of 330 million users, businesses continue to join the platform in order to initiate conversations between customers and themselves as well as amongst potential and actual customers. While advertisements are more expensive, a higher engagement rate exists as a result of initiated conversation and the potential for tweets and posts to “go viral” via hashtags and shares.
Because of these communal aspects of Twitter, a greater brand awareness is established through the continuous sharing through retweeting, comments, and tagging of a business. Further, the majority of customers go to a business’ profile to receive quick customer service, whether through direct messaging, tagging in a tweet, or commenting on a previous tweet posted.
One of the biggest reasons people go on Twitter is to keep up with the current news through the trending of hashtags, certain words or key-phrases, etc. This allows businesses to stay current on trending topics as well, helping them to stay relevant by sharing or posting timely tweets, which further increases their visibility and brand awareness.
Despite the benefits that Twitter offers, it is often a wild card for businesses because user trends are often unpredictable. Either a business’ tweet can go viral and trend, or it can completely be swept under the rug and remain unacknowledged. There are also so many tweets occurring at any one time (350,000 per minute in 2020), that having your brand’s content lost in the sea of other voices is a significant concern.
That said, businesses that can get creative and stay active on their Twitter accounts stand to benefit from the engagement they’ll receive over time, especially as their timely or relevant tweets get extra engagement. These components are elaborated upon further in the below graphic.
LinkedIn has become the number one platform for professionals with 260 million users. LinkedIn serves a dual purpose of connecting businesses with high-profile clients (such as executives, financial managers, bankers, sale associates, etc.) as well as helping a business network with relevant professionals and experts in their industry. As opposed to an individual’s LinkedIn page, a business page offers a platform to portray a brand’s image with a higher level of credibility, tell the company’s story, engage with followers, share career opportunities, increase traffic to their website or other online media, and generate quality sales leads.
Compared with other social channels like Facebook or Instagram, a narrower audience focus exists within the LinkedIn platform. Because most users are business professionals, LinkedIn provides more precise methods of ad targeting, such as education, job experience, job title, geography, or industry, to help a business grow their audience. Analytical data is also available to offer insight of how engaging posts are, identify trends, understand follower demographics, and see page traffic and activity.
Because of the professional audience that is active on the platform, LinkedIn posts revolve around educational or informative resources (videos, blogs, podcasts, etc.) that help viewers learn more about the company’s products, services, clientele, and topics of interest. This helps businesses to make connections with both potential customers and other companies, and it helps establish brand familiarity with like-minded professionals on the network.
Over two billion logged-in users worldwide watch YouTube monthly, making it the second most visited site and the second largest search engine in the world. 62% of businesses use YouTube as a tool for marketing by creating videos to showcase their brand and core values, educate their viewers on how to use their product, share past or current clients’ testimonials, demonstrate the different products, etc. Video content influences customers more than any other form of marketing, especially in terms of engagement, as 90% claim product videos helped their purchasing decision, and 64% are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
In addition to posting videos on their own accounts, businesses can partake in one of the four video advertisement options offered by YouTube advertising. These paid ads assist in monetizing a business’ video content by offering an easier way for the audience to buy the products and services. Much like Facebook, YouTube tailors advertisements to match the videos being watched by a business’ target audience. As a result, over 70% of viewers testify to becoming aware of new brands from YouTube ads. The platform further provides YouTube Analytics, which allows a business to see the reach, engagement, audience, views, watch time, etc. of their uploaded videos and advertisements.
Unlike the other social medias, since YouTube is the second largest search engine, videos posted do not get lost on an account through the passing of time. Individual videos stay more relevant despite the amount of time that may have passed since uploaded as someone can search for the tag or keywords associated with the video at any time.
Although social media provides clear advantages for businesses when it comes to marketing, a “scatter-shot” approach to managing your accounts will not be successful. Because each social media platform has a unique audience and use cases, businesses must be intentional with how they leverage each platform and post content if engagement with their relative communities is to be successful.
In order to determine what social media platform in which is most beneficial to engage in, a business must first identify their target audience, define their goals and purpose for using social media, and then determine how to best engage with their selected audience. For example, a business with the target audience of older professionals would be more drawn to LinkedIn than the younger generation of Twitter.
For more information about how to select which accounts would be most beneficial to your company and advice on managing your social media accounts, we encourage you to contact our experts for more help and advice. You can also read our second blog in this series that explores the best ways to manage and expand your business’s social media following.