Social media has conquered the internet world and has become a permanent fixture on the list of the most-opened tabs in the browser and the most-downloaded mobile applications. The popularity of individual platforms has changed over the years, but one thing always remains – we like social media and what they offer us. Therefore, although social networking sites were created to facilitate contact with friends, they quickly evolved into a real Eldorado for marketers. They have become a place where you can show your brand, establish contact with customers and gradually build their loyalty. Today, 45.3% of internet users first use social media to get information about the brand (according to Paraphrase-Online.com Digital 2021). Social media marketing can therefore be a great way to increase the company’s profits – both for the service and the store. What channels should you choose, however, and how to use their potential?
The most popular social media
First, let’s review the social media that Internet users most often use. It may be surprising that the most popular medium is not Facebook, but YouTube – it is used by as many as 92.8% of Internet users aged 16-64 (source: Paraphrase-Online.com Digital 2021). Facebook ranks second, followed by Facebook Messenger in the ranking. Then, in order, we have such platforms as:
These social media have much smaller reach than the top three giants, but they are still used by a huge group of network users – from 60 to about 25% of internet users. These numbers go to the imagination, which is why social media marketing is gaining popularity all the time. However, it is important to approach it methodically and with a developed action strategy.
Social media marketing – channel selection
First of all, it is worth realizing that effective marketing does not mean that our brand must be in all available social media channels. Of course, if we have the time and resources, we can invest in activities on various platforms, but it is worth considering how profitable it will be. First, the analysis should cover the habits of our target group. You should consider what types of users are in it and see where they spend the most time. This will help select the social media channels that will work best for a given type of business. Sometimes the choice is quite obvious – it is known that business partners are unlikely to be found on TikTok, and hydraulic services are not an ‘Instagram-like’ industry. However, when conducting an analysis, it is worth following not only your own feelings and experience, but also available statistics from various sources – there is a good chance that this way we will find recipients that we did not have access to before.
After the first screening, it is time to assess whether the budget will allow you to appear in all channels that we found useful. It is also worth considering whether the time will allow us to actively deal with each of them or whether we can afford to entrust the care of social media to an external agency. Obviously, omnichannel and sales support works best wherever our customers are. With the skilful use of various social media and a coherent message, we can count on synergy that will ensure a significant increase in profits. However, if we have a relatively small amount of resources, it is better to focus on fewer platforms. This will keep the quality of your ads and posts high, making your promotion more effective than chaotic activities across channels.
What does effective social media marketing look like?
The essence of effective social media marketing is to get to know the specifics of each of the channels in which we operate. Promotion on the Internet is very different from what can already be called classic – that is, on TV, radio, in the press or on billboards. Its essence is that the recipients do not remain passive, but are in touch with the brand, they can comment on its posts, ask questions, insert reactions or pass the material on to show it to their friends. In addition, we only have a fraction of a second for the interest of the recipient – whether it is an advertisement or a non-promoted post. Users are bombarded with various information on the Internet and only a small percentage of them focus their attention on longer. That is why publications in social media should be primarily:
– eye-catching – it does not mean that we should use a whole rainbow of colors and dozens of emotes. The point is to somehow grab your audience’s attention. You can do it with an interesting composition in a photo, an intriguing slogan or in any other way – the more creative the better. – engaging – in social media it is not enough to show your products or services and wait for applause. It is important to post content that prompts users to act. We can ask our recipients for their opinion, preferences (e.g. the brand’s favorite product), encourage them to respond to posts or organize contests with prizes. Sometimes, in order to interest the recipient, it is enough to show the brand from the backstage: describe how it works or introduce its employees. Such posts generate great commitment and increase brand credibility.
– adaptation to the medium – each social medium has its own specificity. On Instagram, we work almost exclusively with the image, and we build the reach with appropriately selected hashtags. On Facebook, we often link an image or video to the text of a post. LinkedIn is a medium for industry publications, in which the substantive value of the entry is valued. TikTok uses short videos that have nothing to do with polished TV commercials – they are spontaneous, natural, amateurish, but in a positive, relaxed way. If we do not follow the unwritten rules, our communication will be artificial and, as a result, ineffective.
– current – not every entry has to refer to the current situation, but in the posts it is worth referring to the events that society lives, but of course only if they can be associated with the brand’s offer or its business profile. We are talking about permanent elements such as holidays, holidays, the beginning of the school year, Black Friday, sports competitions (Olympics, Euro, etc.), but also about less obvious events. When looking for ideas, you can refer to the calendar of unusual holidays or even information portals. Often a funny politician’s mishap, unusual event or comic photo becomes a breeding ground for internet users and a base for virals. However, when using Real Time Marketing, you need to act really quickly and creatively. Only an immediate and brilliant reaction to the event will be applauded by the Internet community. Late “reheated chops” will only bring you weariness and irritation.
– valuable for the recipient – a common mistake of companies conducting social media marketing is to write about themselves instead of about the user. Often the only solution is to change the narrative. Example? If a cosmetic company boasts that it has created a new hair conditioner, the value of this message for the user will be nonexistent. It is different, however, if it communicates that it has a unique solution for people struggling with hair that is difficult to comb. Then our target group will feel that the given entry applies to them and it is worth taking an interest in it.
Advantages of social media marketing
Marketing in social media has many advantages that a good specialist can skillfully use. They mainly include:
– variety of formats – using social media, we can publish texts, videos, photos, collages, slide shows, create groups, events, add locations, moods and many other elements that enrich the message.
– direct contact with recipients – in social media, like nowhere else, we can build customer relationships with the brand and research their needs. Thanks to them, the recipient has faster, more direct contact with the company than in the case of e-mails or forms.
– the ability to direct traffic to the website – we can post links to the blog, offers or individual products from the assortment, which means that social media can be valuable sources of traffic.
– long range – as we have already written, social media is used by a huge number of people from various age groups. A brand from virtually every industry can find the most appropriate audience for its marketing purposes.
– speed of dissemination of information – if we care about time, social media is an ideal way of communicating messages. There, we can post information about promotions, sales, changes in the offer, as well as unplanned situations, e.g. temporary closure of a restaurant due to a breakdown or a last-minute deadline for a cosmetic procedure that may be taken over by another willing person.
– the possibility of conducting both organic and paid activities – you do not have to pay to run company profiles on social media. So we can build our group of recipients without incurring any costs. However, one should bear in mind the tendency to cut organic reach in social media – as a result, an ordinary post may reach only a small percentage of people who have shown interest in the brand’s profile. However, free activities can be supported with paid advertising campaigns that will reach a very well-chosen target group. After all, who knows more about us than the social media we actively use?
– the possibility of building brand awareness – social media marketing is often used to increase brand recognition, build a narrative around it and inform about the company’s values. Thanks to this, potential customers have a chance to become attached to the brand, which in turn helps ensure their loyalty.
Social media marketing – what should you watch out for?
Social media is a tool that must be used with caution, as the slightest mistake made there can be widely echoed. A badly understood post or advertisement will be widely commented and passed on, which makes the case public and the brand image suffers. The flagship example is a post by a company from a few years ago, which is still a warning to most marketers. The brand published an entry on its fanpage with the question: “What surprised you the most with our company in recent years?” Users began to write massively comments about unpleasant surprises they encountered in the offer and when dealing with consultants. The seemingly innocent post turned into a storm that left scratches on the brand’s image for a long time. Therefore, when handling social media, you need to anticipate potential crises, and in the event of unexpected situations, react quickly and minimize damage.
It should also be noted that social media marketing is a time-consuming activity. It requires not only preparing materials for publication, but also monitoring private comments and messages as well as animating the community, for which high availability is needed. Another downside is that the content posted on social media is more fleeting than anywhere else. Therefore, a large group of people may miss the information posted there, because it will be overlapped with other posts and advertisements. For this reason, it is worth placing important messages not only in social media, but also in other places – for example on your website.