Marketing has always relied upon getting a brand’s message in front of the people most likely to purchase the product or service being offered. Social media, with its unprecedented ability to connect with viewers, has provided fresh new horizons for businesses looking to spread brand awareness.
However, social media marketing is a bit different than other forms of marketing, and businesses who don’t take the time to understand the rules may find that their results are lackluster at best.
Why is Social Media So Powerful?
If you’re doing business in the 21st Century, a social media presence is no longer optional. Your customers are already online; if your brand is not visible in the online spaces they inhabit, they will look elsewhere.
Over 62 percent of all Americans are on Facebook, and three quarters of those users check the site at least once a day. Many people check in frequently, relying on the site as a way to keep up with friends, share content that matters to them and catch up on current events and headlines.
Other social media sites boast massive audiences as well. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and even LinkedIn play a major role in the day-to-day lives of many people. Perhaps most importantly, people are increasingly turning away from traditional media in favor of online sources of information and entertainment.
Millennials are more likely to watch YouTube than television. Two thirds of Americans get their news from social media at least some of the time.
In other words, if you are not taking advantage of social media marketing, you are cutting yourself off from the audience you rely on to grow your business.
How Social Media Marketing Has Revolutionized the Advertising World
Compared to print media or television and radio ads, social media presents a unique collection of opportunities and challenges for brands looking to spread their message and influence.
Modern audiences are more resistant than ever to traditional advertising strategies. Millennials in particular simply do not respond to ads in the same way as previous generations; growing up surrounded by marketing messages, they are better than any previous generation at simply tuning them out. For this reason, effective social media marketing strategies must go above and beyond simple advertising.
One strategy employed by many successful businesses is to create “value-added” advertisements. Ads that are entertaining in their own right will continue to attract attention.
Similarly, content marketing continues to be a powerful way to build your brand’s authority and influence. Providing useful and share-able content on social media will help to boost your brand’s reputation and can help with valuable word-of-mouth referrals.
Another unique benefit to social media marketing is the more personalized approach a company can take to dealing with matters of customer service. By providing timely and engaging content, you can keep up with trends and relevant news as it comes up; if your audience has questions or comments, you can interact directly to provide a more personalized brand identity.
All of these factors combine to make social media marketing a very different type of challenge but one well worth undertaking if you wish to see your business succeed.
Different Strategies for Different Social Media Sites
A successful marketing campaign must be tailored to the target audience and the platform on which it will be released. Tactics that may work well on Facebook will not be nearly as effective on Instagram; people who frequent YouTube are not looking for the same things as people who visit LinkedIn.
For this reason, any successful online marketing campaign must begin with studying the market and building a strategy personalized to the target audience. You will need to know:
– Where does your target audience spend time online? It’s impossible to maintain an active presence on every social media platform. Each site has its own unique user demographic. When you know who your brand is targeting and where those people can be found online, you can choose which social channels will be most effective for spreading your message.
– What type of content works well on that platform? Once you know which site you’ll be focusing your attention on, your next goal should be to identify what types of content are most successful on the site. Do blog posts and articles get shared frequently? Do audiences prefer images over links or text? Pay attention to what influencers in your niche are doing, and seek to emulate the most successful strategies.
– What action do you want the audience to take? Some marketing efforts are focused purely on brand awareness and building positive influence within a niche. Others are designed toward leading a viewer to take a specific action, such as calling for a quote or signing up for a newsletter. Knowing exactly what you want your audience to do will help you to craft the right type of message to achieve that goal.
Let’s look now at some of the most common social media platforms and a few strategies that are effective on each:
Facebook Ads and Marketing Strategies
Facebook is one of the internet’s most powerful marketing tools. Not only is it a daily destination for a huge number of people each day, it also collects a vast amount of demographic information about its users. Information like a user’s gender, age, geographic location and interests can all be used to target ads that will be of interest to those individuals.
Facebook ads also come equipped with powerful built-in analytics tools that can help you to identify which campaigns were most effective. By running multiple campaigns targeted in slightly different ways, you can split-test your efforts and identify the most effective strategies.
Ads on Facebook generally run in a PPC or “pay per click” model, where you set the budget and choose an audience. Your ads can be customized based on factors like age, interests, location, events and more.
Facebook ads are most effective for driving users to your website. They can serve as the first step of a conversion funnel, leading visitors to sign up for your mailing list. They can also lead potentially interested buyers to your online storefront.
Aside from advertising, Facebook can be useful for maintaining a virtual presence and building your brand’s reputation. Creating and sharing content that your target audience may be interested in can help to boost your page’s reach and make ads more effective when it’s time to run a new campaign.
Instagram Ads and Marketing
Instagram is a site based around sharing photographs and art. The highly visual nature of the medium means that marketing content on the site must also utilize high-quality visuals. The best Instagram ads are those that blend in seamlessly with other non-marketing posts on the site; users see these “sponsored posts” as part of their native browsing experience.
Building an Instagram ad is very similar to posting an ad on Facebook. In fact, Instagram utilizes the same Facebook Business Manager account, although there are fewer options for targeting audiences on the Instagram site. Additionally, images shared on Facebook do not always do as well on Instagram: It’s important to look at what types of content your target audience engages with on the site and model your ads in a similar fashion.
In addition to ads, Instagram is a good platform for building your brand identity and encouraging engagement. Visitors like to see “behind the scenes” content of your day-to-day business operation. Promoted video ads also tend to be successful on this platform, but be sure that the video will work without sound as that is how it will be displayed to users.
Twitter is a popular micro-blogging platform that allows users to share brief messages, links, images or video. It is somewhat less intimate than Facebook in the sense that users have “followers” rather than friends, and it’s common to follow people a user does not know including celebrities, brands, businesses and politicians.
Users sometimes turn to Twitter for “breaking news” and brief updates and snippets of information. It’s a great platform for sharing timely content, such as exclusive and short-time offers. In some cases, Twitter can help to build your brand and encourage engagement and communication with your followers.
As with other types of social media, Twitter ads rely on “sponsored” content or tweets. These ads can be used for a number of things, including:
– Website clicks or conversions
– Gaining followers
– Tweet engagement (retweet/favorite)
– App install campaigns
– Promoted video views
– Awareness campaigns (cost per impression)
Twitter ads work on an auction and bidding model, and prices can vary significantly depending on the type of ad you run and the audience you wish to see it. For example, a CPM awareness campaign may be costlier than a click/conversion campaign that does not charge per impression. You will need to review Twitter’s options and make a choice based on what makes the most sense for your brand and your goals.
YouTube is swiftly becoming a replacement for television among many viewers, especially young people. Advertisements play before and sometimes during videos, and advertisers pay per impression. The cost of YouTube ads can vary depending on several factors, but it averages a few cents per impression.
Unlike television, ad time is not purchased for specific videos. Instead, your ad campaign can be targeted to an audience demographic based on age, gender, location, language, interest category and more. In other words, two people watching the same video may be served with completely different advertisements.
YouTubers receive a cut of advertising revenue, which drives the creation of fresh new content. Many full-time artists make their living with YouTube ads, and an advertisement on their videos can reach a huge audience. However, these cost-per-impression ads can become expensive very quickly as a result.
Although you do not need to create your own YouTube content in order to advertise on the site, some businesses have success with building their brand identity through YouTube. You may post interviews, behind-the-scenes videos or other types of “exclusive” content that can improve engagement. However, bear in mind before you begin posting these videos that YouTube SEO is just as essential as the SEO on your website; you must use the right keywords and video titles to attract the attention you’re looking for. YouTube SEO works a bit differently from regular search engine optimization, so you will want to familiarize yourself with the best practices for your niche before diving in to video content creation.
Unlike other social media platforms, which are more general purpose, LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Most people use it to post their work histories and portfolios as well as search for potential jobs or employers. Business-to-business (B2B) content does well on this platform as there are many companies already on the site that may be interested in your B2B services. This is where the value of LinkedIn ads truly shines.
Available types of LinkedIn ads include:
– Sponsored Content: Similar to sponsored posts on any other platform, these native ads allow you to reach a wider audience than just your current followers.
– Sponsored InMail: InMail is the LinkedIn messaging system. Sponsored InMail messages allow you to send personalized messages to prospects by sending messages directly to targeted users.
– Text Ads: These are designed to drive visitors to your website or landing page. You can choose whether their cost should be per-click or per-impression, and conversion tracking tools exist to help you monitor the campaign.
Many LinkedIn users also use the platform as a way to promote their blog posts, building brand awareness and authority within their niche.