WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?
Social media marketing (SMM) is a branch of digital marketing that can also be called e-marketing or online marketing. It can be referred to as the use of social media—(the platforms on which users build social networks and share information) to build a company’s brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic to achieve organizational goals. In addition to providing companies with a way to engage with existing customers and reach new ones, social media marketing (SMM) has purpose-built data analytics that allows marketers to track the success of their efforts and identify even more ways to engage.
WHY IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING SO POWERFUL?
The power of social media marketing (SMM) is driven by the unparalleled capacity of social media in three core marketing areas: connection, interaction, and customer data.
Connection: Not only does social media enable businesses to connect with customers in previously impossible ways, but there is also an extraordinary range of avenues to connect with target audiences—from content platforms (like YouTube) and social sites (like Facebook) to microblogging services (like Twitter).
Interaction: The dynamic nature of the interaction on social media—whether direct communication or passive “liking”—enables businesses to leverage free advertising opportunities from eWOM (electronic word-of-mouth) recommendations between existing and potential customers. Not only is the positive contagion effect from eWOM a valuable driver of consumer decisions, but the fact that these interactions happen on the social network makes them measurable. For example, businesses can measure their “social equity”—a term for the return on investment (ROI) from their social media marketing (SMM) campaigns.
Customer Data: A well-designed social media marketing (SMM) plan delivers another invaluable resource to boost marketing outcomes: customer data. Rather than being overwhelmed by the 3Vs of big data (volume, variety, and velocity), SMM tools have the capacity not only to extract customer data but also to turn this gold into actionable market analysis—or even to use the data to crowdsource new strategies.
How Social Media Marketing Works
As platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram took off, social media transformed not only the way we connect but also the way businesses can influence consumer behavior—from promoting content that drives engagement to extract geographic, demographic, and personal information that makes messaging resonate with users.
SMM Action Plan: The more targeted your social media marketing (SMM) strategy is, the more effective it will be. Hootsuite, a leading software provider in the social media management space, recommends the following action plan to build an SMM campaign that has an execution framework as well as performance metrics:
- Align Social Media Marketing goals to clear business objectives
- Learn your target customer (age, location, income, job title, industry, interests)
- Conduct a competitive analysis of your competition (successes and failures)
- Audit your current Social Media Marketing (successes and failures)
- Create a calendar for Social Media Marketing content delivery
- Create best-in-class content
- Track performance and adjust SMM strategy as needed
ADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Compared to traditional marketing, social media marketing has several distinct advantages, including the fact that SMM has two kinds of interaction that enables targeted customer relationship management (CRM) tools: both customer-to-customer and firm-to-customer. In other words, while traditional marketing tracks customer value primarily by capturing purchase activity, SMM can track customer value both directly (through purchases) and indirectly (through product referrals).
Shareable Content: Businesses can also convert the amplified interconnectedness of SMM into the creation of “sticky” content, the marketing term for attractive content that engages customers at first glance, gets them to purchase products, and then makes them want to share the content. This kind of word-of-mouth advertising not only reaches an otherwise inaccessible audience, but also carries the implicit endorsement of someone the recipient knows and trusts—which makes the creation of shareable content one of the most important ways that social media marketing drives growth.
Improved Earned Media: Social media marketing (SMM) is also the most efficient way for a business to reap the benefits of another kind of earned media (a term for brand exposure from any method other than paid advertising): customer-created product reviews and recommendations.
Viral Marketing: Another SMM strategy that relies on the audience to generate the message is viral marketing, a sales technique that attempts to trigger the rapid spread of word-of-mouth product information. Once a marketing message is being shared with the general public far beyond the original target audience, it is considered viral—a very simple and inexpensive way to promote sales.
Customer Segmentation: Because customer segmentation is much more refined on social media marketing (SMM) than on traditional marketing channels, companies can ensure they focus their marketing resources on their exact target audiences.
HOW TO EVALUATE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING EFFECTS ON BUSINESSES
According to a digital marketing agency, the most important social media marketing (SMM) metrics to track are focused on the customer: engagement (likes, comments, shares, clicks); impressions (how many times a post shows up); reach/virality (how many unique views an SMM post has); share of voice (how far a brand reaches in the online sphere); referrals (how a user lands on a site); and conversions (when a user purchases a site). However, another very important metric is focused on the business: response rate/time (how often and how fast the business responds to customer messages).
When a business is trying to determine which metrics to track in the sea of data that social media generates, the rule is always to align each business goal to a relevant metric. If your business goal is to grow conversions from an SMM campaign by 15% within three months, then use a social media analytics tool that measures the effectiveness of your campaign against that specific target. It is also important to know that social media marketing has grown to include several techniques and strategies to engage users and market products and services. These include audience-targeted advertising, the use of interactive chatbots, creating personalized experiences for customers online, the use of social media influencers, building an online audience,