What is Social Media Marketing?
Who is Running Social Media Marketing for your Business? Do you have a Professional Managing it? Are you happy with the results you are getting?
- What is Social Media Marketing?
- History of Social Media
- SMM definition
- Benefits of Social Media Marketing
- How does it work?
- How to get started?
Social media marketing (SMM) is a practice of using diverse social media channels to connect with potential clients. It leads prospective customers to your products or services on Social Media networks. Therefore, it can be a great part of your Marketing toolbox, when done right. But don’t worry if you don’t fully understand it, keep on reading, this article is exact answer to your question. We will help you break down it on smaller logical bites and will guide you thought the entire SMM process.
At the first glance, social media marketing seems simple, but it includes multiple levels underneath and requires solid understanding of its concepts if you are looking to run effective SMM campaigns. Different companies and businesses would use different platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), delivery methods (posts, articles, campaigns, stories, ads) in order to get different results (likes, shares, sales, brand awareness). Hence, jumping into SMM without a full understanding of the process, can reduce your chances of getting right results fast.
History of Social Media
First true social media network, known as SixDegrees launched in 1997. Based around the concept of “six degrees of separation,” the platform allowed users to invite their friends and family to connect and share messages on the network. Next up came Friendster and MySpace; they launched in 2002 and 2003 respectively. These two networks perfected the idea of sharing content & messages among connections even further. In addition, they created largely customizable personal profile. This feature allowed users to truly put their identity online for the first time.
Same year, 2003, LinkedIn was created to be a business networking platform. It allowed business people to meet and network with their colleagues, clients and potential employers online, which never happened before. LinkedIn is the only Social Media platform from that era, that survived and is thriving today.
Starting 2004, Social Media Platforms took it to a completely new level; that was a year when Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and reached a million users in just 10 months. In 2006 new platform called Twitter came to life, inspired by texting and blogging it became a favorite Social Network for quick news, updates and hot topic discussions. Twitter introduced the hashtag in 2007. Pinterest or social scrapbooking site was first founded in 2009 and Instagram was launched in 2010.
Those six years were inarguably the most significant in the history of social media. Important to admit, not just number of networks launched, but also how conceptually different they were created. Each platform with its own goal, purpose and target audience; it is just mind-blowing what they each managed to accomplish in such a short period of time. Not all of social networks survived as we know, but they changed the internet landscape and marketing forever.
Social Media Marketing Defined
So, what exactly is SMM? Before building a social media marketing plan, you need to start with the fundamentals; a definition of the concept will provide a foundation on which to develop your understanding. “Social Media Marketing is the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience to build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic. This involves publishing great content on your social media profiles, listening to and engaging your followers, analyzing your results, and running social media advertisements” according to Buffer.com
Gary Vee, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the social media realm, defines social media marketing as the process of “creating content that you have tailored to the context of each social media platform to drive user engagement and sharing.” He also explains the importance of providing value to your consumers. Do not try to sell & capitalize on each post or story you publish. Take care of your clients, provide useful content, ideas, guides, support and they will “help” you in return. With their subscriptions, loyalty, purchases, reviews, shares, etc. It has to be 80% of providing value and 20% of sales, try it and you will be surprised how great it actually works. Check out Best 2021 SMM strategies in our latest Social Media article.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Before we go into SM Marketing Plan lets go over Social Media benefits and what it can do for your business. No one wants to invest time, energy, or money in social media without clearly understanding the advantages of SMM presence. Here are the main benefits of Social Media Marketing:
- Increases your Brand’s awareness
- Brings Traffic to your website
- Delivers quality Leads & Sales
- Ads to your credibility (likes & reviews)
- Incredible customer engagement
- Opportunity to hear your customers
How Does Social Media Marketing Work?
Like any other Marketing plan, SMM starts with an effective strategy. First of all, you need to answer following questions:
- What are your business goals?
- Who are your target audience?
- What are their demographics?
- Which social networks are they using?
- What are their interests?
Based on the answers, you would be able to understand what social networks you need to target; or where your target audience spends most of their free time. Then, you would need to create your strategy for each platform, plan content and schedule posts. Next, actively engage with those who will be interested in your products or services. Yes, posting consistently and be active in providing and sharing stories is very important; but it is equally important to be listening and engaging with your crowd.
Real benefits of social media become apparent when people begin to comment, tag, share, and send you messages. It’s crucial that you respond to each and every comment, thank them, provide details and continue the conversation. If they ask you for a more information on how to use your product, make them happy. Create a video tutorial and post it on your page, so everyone can benefit from it. Provide value, more value, and value with cherry on top.
Last but not the least is monitoring results, analyzing analytics like page views, likes, shares, click to go to your website, actual sales, etc. At the end of the day, you need to measure success of your SMM, and that can be done in dollars (sales), brand awareness (likes, followers, comments, reviews) page subscriptions, etc.
How to Get Started?
Social media is undoubtedly an exciting and ever-changing industry. It takes both creativity and psychology to be successful in this field. You need to understand customer’s needs and behaviors, sometimes before they know what they want themselves. As for creativity, you have to think out of the box, be different, innovate, try things that no one did before and monitor what worked and what did not, adjust according to results and try again. We recommend you do those two things when first starting out in Social Media Marketing:
Follow Industry Leaders (watch & learn)
When considering a career in social media marketing, first thing you need to do is to get your feet wet in the social media world. Start building your presence on major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Also, follow other thought leaders in the industry. See what type of plans they’re working on and get a better understanding of the benefits of social media marketing from their standpoint.
Next, start learning and seek education. While online experience is essential, you also need the theory and background that social media marketing courses can provide. Udemy and LinkedIn learning have large amounts of great resources available. You can find pretty much anything on YouTube, might not be well organized, and you would need to watch 25 videos instead of one organized course on one of the platforms mentioned above, but YouTube learning is free. So, if you have time and not much money, you can definitely start there. With social media certification training, you’ll learn fast and obtain the credentials to share with prospective clients and employers. If you are looking to learn how to run effective Facebook ads, read our FB Ads Blog tutorial here.
As an increasing number of businesses discover the benefits of social media marketing. It creates a need in qualified SMM professionals, who can help companies grow their brands on various social platforms. Fortunately, for those who are interested in this field, the necessary skills are easily attainable as it just takes a willingness to learn, practice, innovate and succeed.
Social media marketing as a career field was virtually unheard of a decade ago. I remember my professor was telling us that Social Media was waste of time and it was a silly and evil; that was not that long ago, in 2010. Yes, he did say that; wonder if he changed his mind by now… Today Social Media Marketing is a well established & growing field with even more positive outlook for the future.
Please don’t feel like you need to be an expert to start your career in social media marketing. If you know how to connect with your audience, how to tell compelling stories; monitoring and analyzing trends, you should be a perfect fit for this industry. But remember, everything on internet is continually changing, nothing is constant, especially social media. Be ready to evolve along, learn new things and tricks. Find out new trends and ways to interest and engage with your followers. Then you will become a PRO social media expert everyone would love to hire on their team.