Social media is a powerful marketing tool. Two decades after Facebook and Twitter became all the rage, social platforms remain a major hub of online activity and a top marketing trend, to boot. Consumers still love to use them, and marketers can’t forget that fact.
The thing is, many business leaders and marketers are aware of social media’s marketing potential. The issue is that they don’t know how to work it into their larger marketing strategies. Younger marketers tend to focus on social channels too much, and older ones don’t focus on them enough.
If you can’t find a balance with your company’s social media activities, it may be time to review and adjust your strategy. Let’s go over how social media marketing can benefit your brand along with a few tips to help you effectively work it into your overall marketing strategy.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Let’s begin by making sure we’re all on the same page. “Social media marketing” is a vague term. What does it mean to market on social media? Here’s a basic definition.
As with most digital marketing, social media marketing uses different aspects of social media platforms to promote brands and their goods and services to consumers through organic and paid activities.
Keep in mind, this definition can look very different in application. One company might use Twitter to create a trendy community of like-minded loyal consumers. Another could use Facebook’s paid ad service to create brand awareness through sponsored posts. Yet another might work with a TikTok influencer to promote a new product through targeted videos.
All of these examples fall under the umbrella of “social media marketing.”
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing
For a little perspective on the effectiveness of social media marketing, in 2021, 72% of Americans used at least one social media platform. In 2022, there were 4.59 billion social media users worldwide. Oh yeah, and that already staggering number should reach 5.85 billion by 2027.
The most obvious benefit here is that social media gives any and every business access to a massive, growing, and personalized marketplace. Users voluntarily provide personal details and congregate in groups based on shared interests and demographic factors. This makes it easy to identify and market to a company’s target audience.
The benefits go beyond size and scope, too. Here are a few other advantages that anyone considering social media marketing should keep in mind.
Social Media Marketing Builds Brand Awareness and Reputation
Social media gives you an effective and affordable way to gain repeat brand exposure with your target audience. You can build familiarity with existing customers and make first contact with new ones.
Social media marketing also helps with awareness outside of social channels. Whether it’s via organic SERP placement from Google’s search algorithm or links on third-party sites, good social media content will help your brand show up elsewhere on the internet.
You can also build your brand’s reputation. By posting and sharing content on social media, you can establish your company and executives as thought leaders in your industry.
Social Media Marketing Improves Engagement
Digital marketing is effective, but it can also be cold and calculating. Automation and algorithms rule in the search engine space. Content marketing is passive in nature. Affiliate marketing uses others to market for you.
With social media marketing, you have an opportunity to humanize your brand. You can engage in human-to-human marketing tactics that generate real interactions with customers.
You can also build branded communities on social platforms. These turn consumers into loyal followers who regularly engage with your brand.
Social Media Marketing Supports End-to-End Marketing
Social media marketing isn’t meant for one part of the sales funnel. It helps at every stage. The basic marketing funnel (there are many different takes on this) consists of four phases:
- Awareness: Social media marketing exposes new and old customers alike to your brand.
- Evaluation: Social media content and interactions establish your brand as a reputable source for consumer solutions.
- Conversion: Social media elements like customer reviews, positive feedback, and other UGC (user-generated content) establish instant credibility and encourage potential customers to make a purchase.
- Delight: Social media provides support for existing customers, answers their questions, and keeps them engaged.
To put it another way, social media marketing isn’t a one-trick pony. It can have a major impact on every aspect of the customer lifecycle.
Social Media Marketing Is Cost Effective
What’s not to love about a comprehensive marketing tool that is as affordable as it is effective? Social media platforms are usually free to set up, making them currently one of the most affordable advertising platforms available to reach your target audience.
There are also paid ways to use social media (PPC advertising, influencer marketing, etc.). When done right, these can boost your ROI, more than paying for themselves in the process. It’s also possible to track data on most social sites, making it easy to gauge social media marketing impact, make adjustments when necessary, and retarget potential customers.
Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work in a Vacuum
Okay, we’ve established the fact that social media marketing is effective. In fact, it’s so effective that there are many who think it can work as a company’s primary (and at times, only) marketing strategy.
As you can imagine, our official “fractional CMO” stance at digifora is to think twice before throwing all of your eggs in that one basket.
When you use social media marketing on its own, you might get better results than, say, if you put a billboard up by a single highway. Make no mistake, though. As is the case with any digital marketing channel, when social media flies solo, you’re leaving marketing revenue on the table.
To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to match it up with other digital marketing elements. You need to unlock its full potential by letting it work alongside Google ads, email marketing, content marketing, and other promotional activity.
Social media marketing has synergistic results when it’s used as part of a larger cross-channel marketing campaign plan.
How Social Media Marketing Can Factor Into Your Marketing Strategy
Social media marketing is a highly effective marketing channel. (You can also call it a marketing tool. It kind of functions as both). To be effective, though, you really should plug social media in as part of a larger marketing strategy.
The question is, how do you do that?
What does a healthy, balanced social media marketing strategy look like? The simple answer is that it varies depending on your needs, resources, industry, and circumstances, in general.
To be more specific, if you want to discover where social media marketing fits into your overall marketing strategy, you need to work backward.
Assessing Your Current Marketing Strategy
To understand where you can best use social media marketing, start by assessing your other marketing efforts. Take all relevant marketing platforms, channels, tools, and opportunities into consideration.
For instance, what other marketing channels are you using? Are you investing in SEM (search engine marketing) or SEO (search engine optimization)? Do you send promotional emails? Are you working on digital PR?
Also, consider your marketing OKRS (objectives and key results). What is the goal of your marketing activity? Are you trying to scale a young company? Are you promoting a certain sale or a new product? Are you building brand awareness in a new market?
The channels you use and the goals you work toward will create a framework within which you can target your social media marketing efforts.
Fitting Social Media Into the Mix
Once you’ve reviewed your larger marketing goals, it’s time to look for ways to use your social media marketing to enhance them. You can use social media for more than independent brand awareness or content creation. It can cross over into other marketing activities, too. For instance, you can use social media to:
- Conduct competitive research and learn more about how others in your industry are engaging with your target audience.
- Glean insights into current and potential target audiences and learn how to personalize your marketing in ways that will attract their attention.
- Gather feedback on existing marketing efforts from current customers.
- Build organic SEO with keywords, shared content, and UGC, which will drive more traffic to your e-commerce or business site.
- Improve digital PR via longer LinkedIn posts accredited to you or your executive leadership.
- Get the most out of content marketing by repurposing other content into social media posts (which can then link back to the original content, boosting SEO).
- Boost SEM by giving you multiple additional pay-per-click (PPC) marketing channels.
- Use influencer marketing to enhance brand awareness and authority across targeted demographics.
- Encourage email marketing synergy through sign-up forms and by providing more places to send customers when they’re reading your emails.
Social media marketing has plenty of potency on its own. However, it’s when you creatively weave it into the rest of your marketing strategy that you unleash its full potential and allow it to have its greatest effect.
Outsourcing Social Media Marketing
The last thing to point out here is that many leaders and marketers underutilize social media marketing because they lack the time to invest in it properly. They don’t have the bandwidth to study the nuances of marketing on social platforms or to discover the intricate ways it can support the rest of their brand’s marketing activity.
You can hire freelancers to help you take care of the grunt work, but that won’t eliminate the strategic demands of effective social media marketing. Building an effective marketing plan that includes social media marketing requires an experienced executive perspective.
Any good fractional CMO will be up-to-date on the latest social media marketing strategies. They’ll bring proven techniques to the table that can inspire, direct, and supercharge each campaign. They’ll also know what metrics to trace to ensure that your social media marketing investments pay off over time.
Finding Social Media Marketing Synergy
The social media world is massive and growing. It’s a neatly organized space where you can access an infinite combination of target audiences depending on the sale, service, or brand that you’re promoting.
However, social media marketing shouldn’t operate in a vacuum. Make sure you’re also using it to accentuate other marketing activities.
If you can create a solid social media presence for your business and use that to improve your overall marketing strategy, the results will speak for themselves. We promise. Our digifora team has seen it happen over and over again.
If you’re struggling to get the most out of your company’s social channels, reach out. We’d love to talk. As fractional CMOs, we can help you develop a social media strategy for your team. We’ll start with a social media audit and identify areas for improvement. We can even help you implement those changes if you need the support.
Whatever you decide is best for your brand, remember not to leave that social media marketing potential on the table. Invest in the best integration strategy possible so that you can get the most out of this powerful digital marketing tool.
Here’s to a bright future for your brand!