Social Media from The Ideal Marketing CompanySocial Media strategy and implementation using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest & Instagram
What is social media?
Social media is a means of interacting and engaging with others publicly, using the internet. While platforms such as email and instant messaging allow private conversations to take place, social media is a place for public conversations; whether it’s a consumer asking a supermarket a question or a beauty blogger sharing their latest tips to an audience of teenagers.
Capturing the attention of a social media user as a brand or person is relatively easy once you know how to target people in a relevant and interesting way. As with all effective digital marketing, social media works best when you have an audience and an objective in mind.
How social media works
In basic terms, social media works using personal and business profiles. From a business to consumer perspective, brands can create profiles and post promotions, tips, guides, insights, photos, statistics – pretty much anything that their target audience is going to find useful or interesting. The idea is for the brand’s target audience to then engage with its posts, either by tagging their friends and starting their own conversations, becoming part of a wider conversation with other users (which is really useful for research) or to follow a link to purchase something there and then.
If you think about how the internet started off, it was like a vast encyclopaedia of information which evolved to include ecommerce platforms where people could actually buy things online. Social media has very much followed the same path. Brands were using social media to post information and provide customer service before the option to buy anything directly through social media became possible.
Social media platforms are great for marketing
Firstly, it’s really important to recognise that not all social media platforms will fit all business types. For example, Pinterest is all about sharing images and photographic inspiration. This is ideal for an interior design company or for a wedding dress designer, but not so great for a firm of accountants or a dental surgery. When choosing where to spend your time and money in relation to social media, it’s important to gather advice and research the best platform for your specific industry as well as base your activities on what your business wants to achieve by using social media.
Here is an overview of some of the most commonly used social media platforms and what they are used for:
Twitter for marketing
Many people rely on Twitter to deliver their personalised news. They may follow the BBC, newspapers or magazines or just the television programmes and celebrities they like. Due to the gigantic network created on Twitter, where you can literally directly tweet your favourite musician, politician or presenter, its users will often see news from all over the world far more quickly than the newspapers can deliver updates. Take the news of a famous celebrity dying for example – their co-stars and colleagues will often hear of this before the general public and tweet tributes or condolences far more quickly than a newspaper can go to print.
Twitter is also a great platform for creating online business networks. Take your local town or city as an example. If there are networking events taking place nearby, it’s almost guaranteed that the organisers will be tweeting photographs and tagging those who came to say thank you. Those tagged will often then engage with the post by responding or retweeting, which then gives the event more exposure to each person’s followers. The networking event grows offline, whilst online by posting and tagging, the online networks of those who attend will also grow.
Facebook for marketing
Facebook is also a source of news for many people. Its algorithms regularly change and recently the platform has altered to show users more of their friends’ posts in comparison to posts from brands or publications, which have to pay to show up in users’ Facebook feeds.
Facebook is a very useful place for brands to be. Users will follow you because they’re already an advocate of your brand; they’ll tag their friends and family in posts with offers, sales, promotions or just funny memes, working to raise your brand’s profile as well as to generate sales. Even if you now have to spend a little money to appear in these users’ Facebook feeds, the advertising offered by Facebook is tremendously targeted. You can target by age group, gender, location and lots of other demographic indicators as well as importantly, a user’s interests. This means that if you’re launching a new brand of hair straighteners, you can advertise these to the most lucrative age group and narrow down targeting to those who follow other luxury hair care brands such as GHD.
According to a Statista survey men aged between 25 and 34 are the demographic most likely to use Facebook.
Instagram for marketing
Instagram is owned by Facebook so there are similarities. However, Instagram is based around posting images with captions, where hashtags are prevalent. Another main difference is thatit’s possible to follow a hashtag that you use or are interested in, to see posts that are relevantg to you, without following individual users or brands. For example, if you’re planning a holiday to New York and want to see where people recommend visiting, you can follow #NewYork and see the most popular and latest posts in your Instagram feed.
This works for brands, celebrities and activities as well as places and it’s possible to post an image advertisement with a link to the product being advertised, directly over the image. The next step is usually to add the product to your basket and to check out – simple and effective.
Another social media phenomenon closely associated with Instagram (as well as other platforms such as Twitter and YouTube) are influencers. These are people with large followings who use their followings to promote a product, service or way of life. Some influencers are paid by brandsa to do this.
Instagram has approximately 400 million active users per month and is currently the fastest growing social media platform.
LinkedIn for marketing
LinkedIn is a platform used to connect professionals. Posts on this platform often share a company’s PR, photos from corporate events or promote a product or service that is relevant to the audience of business people. This platform also uses targeted advertising both to publicise specific posts and to encourage people to sign up to attend an event or visit a website/landing page.
The other main use for LinkedIn is for job hunting. Jobs are posted on this platform and recruiters will often link with relevant candidates and potential clients, before messaging them directly. A more private platform than the other most popular ones, this is the perfect tool for cultivating the type of online relationship that can make you consider changing jobs.
A brief overview of popular social media platforms
The above all highlight some of the fantastic capabilities of social media platforms. However, each has much, much more to offer, which we will happily go into more detail with you. They are also just a few of the most popular platforms at the moment. Other social media platforms include (but are not limited to):
- YouTube – for sharing videos guides, advertisements and tutorials
- Pinterest – for sharing images, quotes and graphics
- Google+ – for promoting brands through business pages
- Tumblr – for blogging
- Snapchat – for sharing images and videos as short messages or stories
What do businesses use social media for?
In short, businesses tend to use social media for the following purposes:
- To raise the profile of their brand
- To develop a brand voice and presence
- To research target markets and their views/preferences
- To advertise to target markets
- To promote a company as being a good place to work
- To personalise a company, giving insight into the place and people
- To start conversations that could either go viral or provide insight into what people are thinking about a certain issue
- To build online relationships with other brands and businesses
- To promote events, products and services
- To reply to consumers and deliver good customer service
The best way to put together a social media strategy
As with any marketing strategy, start with what you want to achieve by using social media. Is your main objective to sell a certain amount of a specific product? To create a brand presence that people like and engage with? Or is it to fire-fight with excellent customer service advisors, who keep your brand looking its best? There are lots of other reasons too – these are just a few to get you thinking.
Now, work out your plan for achieving these objectives, alongside the other marketing that you’re carrying out. If you can use social media as part of a wider campaign, it’s almost always going to work more successfully. This way, it’s also really easy to measure its effectiveness, for example by analysing a customer’s journey from your social media post to a purchase on your website. Being able to see which specific post caused that to happen, and how, e.g. through being tagged by a friend or through being directly targeted with advertising, is an incredibly useful insight.
Speak to a social media marketing specialist
If you’re not sure exactly what you want to achieve with social media but you think that you should be using it, get in touch. Or, if you’re already using social media but not reaping the rewards of it, we can show you the best ways to improve.
To speak to one of our social media marketing specialists today call us on 01858 445543 or email Jessica with any questions at Jess@idealmarketingcompany.com