What is Social Media Marketing?
Updated: Jan 17, 2020
How To Understand Social Media Marketing Without Getting Overwhelmed, So You Can Make it Work For You.
By Magdalena Wolak - Managing Director
Whether you’ve heard of it before or are just getting used to the idea that your brand might have to show up on Instagram and Facebook (hot tip: it does), we thought it would be a good idea to explain some basics of what a social media platform is and why you need it.
If you already kind of have an idea and are looking for a more comprehensive guide to social marketing and how to find a company that fits your brand, go here. But we still think you should continue reading below first.
Social platforms all started with the immediate need for people to connect more, explore more and strengthen ties and relationships. Sure, the joke is that we’re all stuck with our noses in the screen, but the reality is that we’re faster and more connected than ever. It also means that the vast expectations consumers have of brands has changed drastically. Whether or not you attribute this to social channels can really make a difference in how you approach them and what you end up getting out of them for your company.
At some point, savvy consumer-centric brands figured out that this is a fantastic way to connect and engage the people they were selling to, and unexpectedly the reach they never thought could be possible with some of their customers increased.
That was years ago, and since then, the social networks have picked up on these trends and introduced tons of perks and resources for brands and influencers to leverage and use their platforms for an authentic customer experience. This is still continuously evolving, with social marketing software and tracking programs popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.
As people got used to companies showing off their current product and product to come, as well as being available to chat, engage and deal with issues, consumer expectations started rising. And so, consumers started expecting more from EVERYONE, not just those companies that were available on media channels, and that’s where shifts started to take place. If you noticed them but cannot pinpoint why behaviour and buying patterns have changed, social media is most likely the answer. The trick is that if you’re not in it, it’s hard to know, let alone be able to predict future patterns.
“Consumer behavior has also changed. If we rewind 5-7 years, an average consumer needed up to 16 touchpoints before making a buying decision. Those same studies are saying that a consumer now needs up to 33 touchpoints before making a buying decision.” – Social Media Examiner
This also saw the rise in companies using bots and early AI to try to engage and figure out who wants what and how to best provide those services. Yes, social and AI are closely linked, but that’s for another post.
To some degree, AI worked and continues to evolve, but right now cannot compare to live human interaction. It’s the same level of frustration when you call your phone company and manoeuvre a maze of clicks and irritating repetitive questions to get to a human representative. AI is coming, but it’s not quite there yet. It’s a useful tool however, and we’re here for it.
One interesting aspect of social media is that people who had a good understanding of live platforms and a natural knack for engaging people started to, with enhanced education, transform a hobby into a career. Yes, people do this full time and for quite a bit of money too. There are now dedicated fields of studies devoted to technology, psychology, planning and integration, AI and marketing.
A good rule of thumb to remember is: if you see a university start integrating programs designed around something, you best believe it's not going anywhere and deserves some serious attention. Here’s a link to a wonderful Harvard University article if you don’t believe us.
Social media marketing is classical advertising redone on a more intimate scale, with results a little more available than say, throwing up a billboard ad or buying out a half-page in a magazine.
Current Social Status.
You need it. You know it, and you might go into it kicking and screaming, but dip in you must. Check out this cool article by Hubspot to learn just how many of your customers are going to social platforms to find you!
The question is, are you there? Because if you aren’t, your competitor will be.
Spend is now expected to increase 11-19% on social media marketing budgeting. That’s huge.
This is because every post you create has meaning, it’s not just about showing people what you sell, it's about connecting with them and building a link to a future sale. Every post on your feed is like an ad that’s not pitching a buy (or shouldn’t all the time). Instead, it’s warming up your customers and turning them into willing (read satisfied and unlikely to cause trouble) company fans.
If you play the game smart, you’ll see your ROI increasing exponentially.
There are Nuanced Creative Aspects to Every Platform:
Do you concentrate mostly on still photography? Do you prefer video? Do you use graphics heavily or not at all? Is what you’re using the most optimal visual for your brand and your audience? Do you know what that is?
Social Specialists spend much of their time following and learning trends, developments and forecasts. Then they base all that against more hard numbers from your analytics, curating and planning a fit that’s best suited to your brand. They listen to your customers and pivot to make the most out of every social experience and this translates into sales for you.
All Platforms are Different.
Motivations between what a social platform is perceived as, and what the development team behind the scenes wants you to do are very different. It means that each platform will prioritize or boost certain advertising elements. If what you’re putting out in content is within what they like to see, you’ll reap the rewards; if it isn’t, you must rethink your strategy. Platforms will have tools that help you, but in a way that speaks to their message and motivations. You have to play by their rules.
Here’s an idea of what brands concentrate on and favour:
Facebook – communicating, discovering, bonding
Instagram – bonding, discovering, bridging
Pinterest – discovering, bridging, bonding
Snapchat – bonding, communicating, discovering
Twitter – discovering, bridging, bonding
YouTube – discovering, taking action, bridging
TikTok (yes) – bonding, communicating, discovering
Confusing? It is. But a good social media expert will be able to help you navigate.
“When consumers use a platform for Bridging and Discovering, they are more likely to respond to brand content than when they use a platform for Taking Action or Bonding. Communicating actually reduces response to brand content. This results in some social channels performing better than others at facilitating specific types of behaviors.” – Hubspot
Understand What Makes People Buy.
What are the motivations behind your customers engagement? Have you considered yourself as a customer? What makes you stick around a brand vs. jump ship or not care at all?
Have you ever considered that a word, comma, colour or angle can make a difference between a successful post or ad, and a bad one? Most people don’t use logic when they interact with you or buy from you, they use their gut feelings and instincts. Those are based on their perception of what your brand is and what it stands for.
Keep in mind, in 2018, people on average spent more than 144 minutes on their phone a day, that’s a 62.5% increase from 2012, that’s huge, and the numbers are only going up, with around 153 minutes spent in 2019 and a forecast of increase for 2020.
EMarketer reports that for the first time ever, US consumers will spend more time on their phones than in front of their TV. That tells you something about what and how they engage with devices and platforms.
Professionals that have experience and interest in the field of behavioural economics and advertising as well as copywriting and PR will be able to guide the art direction and writing of every piece you need to fit and resonate with your clients. Most importantly, you have to think of the lifetime value of each client acquired, and that can be a hard mindshift to get over.
You don’t have to understand or even care what makes people pull the trigger on your product, but you should have someone on your team who does, whether that be an in-house specialist or a reputable company who takes the time to get to know not just what you sell, but YOU.
After all, it's your vision that got your company to where it is now.
When a potential customer first comes across your company and product, they will step into Brand Investigation stage. That means they’ll be researching you, poking around media, looking at reviews and other people’s experiences with you. They’ll follow you and start liking and clicking on the links you set up for them to click.
Stage two is Brand Advocacy. These are your new-found or long-term cheerleaders, they’ll share your content, recommend you to their friends and acquaintances and tag themselves and you around content or products you have. These will be your subscriptions and reviews. You want to take that client from Investigator to Brand Champion, and that is what social media is best at.
With the right tools, you can tap into a fantastic source of sales and devoted clients.