There is now a word to describe the fear of not being able to access your mobile phone, “nomophobia”, which gives you some idea of how dependent we have become on our devices and the Social Media they bring to us.
People use Social Media to keep up with the news, access entertainment, get advice, and generally connect with the world around them.
For businesses, this represents an amazing opportunity. Social media can enable your business to reach an incredibly wide audience, helping you to build brand awareness, establish strong relationships with your customer base, generate sales leads, and drive growth and success for your business.
In this guide, we will look at how you can use Social Media marketing to support your goals, as well as examining different types of Social Media, and examples of brands which use them well to achieve great results for their business.
When using Social Media content marketing, it is essential to know your audience. Different platforms are suited to and frequented by different types of users. Therefore they should be treated accordingly. In this guide, we will pay special attention to which audiences are best targeted on which platforms and types of Social Media.
Why Social Media Marketing Is Vital For Any Business
According to the Benchmarks and Trends Report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, in 2016 83% of businesses were using Social Media to market their business, making it the most common form of content marketing. However, a 2014 Social Media Examiner report showed that 85% of marketers weren’t confident using Social Media tools for marketing.
In Social Media marketing you can use any one of a variety of platforms (see below) to distribute content to your audience, in order to engage with potential and existing customers. One thing which sets Social Media apart from other types of content marketing is the “sharing” element: you have the opportunity to harness the power of these social networks by getting users to like, comment and share, thus exposing your content to an even wider audience.
Using Social Media content can be very effective to market your business, build your brand and ultimately see substantial results when it comes to customer numbers, sales and revenue.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect from a well-executed Social Media marketing strategy:
- Increase brand awareness.
- Boost inbound traffic to your site and online presence.
- Decrease your marketing budget: Social Media requires less human and financial resources compared to traditional marketing techniques.
- Build relationships with your customer base and foster loyalty, as well as learning more about your customers through their engagement with you.
- Establish credibility and authority for your business.
- Convert these relationships to sales leads and actual sales.
Different Types Of Social Media
Social Networks (eg. Facebook)
Social networks are platforms which users use to connect, discuss, share and receive information from other users, organisations and businesses. Key examples are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Social Media giant Facebook.
Social networks are great places to build your brand, engage with your audience, get sales leads and learn more about your customers. Furthermore, the sheer number of users on these networks, particularly Facebook, offers incredible potential for businesses when it comes to marketing. Reportedly, Facebook reached 2 billion active users in 2017, meaning over a quarter of the world’s population has a Facebook account. 62% of North Americans are on Facebook, with figures comparable in other developed countries.
Facebook also offers additional opportunities for great social media marketing, including targeted ads which allows your advertising to be directed at (very) specific target groups. Take a look at the Facebook Business Manager for more advice on advertising through Facebook.
Twitter, on the other hand, although boasting lower numbers of users, can be a very effective marketing tool. It has been shown that users are highly likely to look for businesses and services on Twitter, and a large proportion will make buying decisions based on content they see on the platform.
Know your audience
You can use social networks to target pretty much every audience. Facebook, in particular, has an extremely wide audience, covering each gender, almost every age group and a fairly even geographical spread across the globe.
2017 Figures show that:
- Although both genders are well represented, women are more likely to use Facebook than men, with 83% of online women in the US having an active Facebook account, compared to 75% of men.
- Facebook users span most age demographics, from 13-17 year olds to the over 65’s. The highest user concentrations are the 18-29 age bracket, closely followed by 30-49 year olds.
- Facebook users are generally highly educated with a medium to high income.
Image source: Statista
LinkedIn, on the other hand, has a majority of users who are between 18 and 64 years old. However, like Facebook, the biggest age group on LinkedIn are 18-29 year olds, closely followed by the 30-49 age bracket. More men use LinkedIn compared to women, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, users are highly educated and a significant proportion are earning a high level of income.
Twitter has a younger demographic, with 18-29 year olds by far the most represented. It also has a large proportion of well educated, higher-income users, but a more global audience compared to Facebook or LinkedIn, with 79% of Twitter users being based outside the US.
Social Media Example: Red Letter Days
One effective technique to boost user engagement with your business on social networks is to encourage users to share or post in return for a reward. If not done well, however, this can come across as forced or even jarring.
One example of a brand which has used this approach very well is Red Letter Days as part of their ‘Mum’s day off’ campaign. As part of the campaign, users posted about why their mum deserved a day off using the #MumsDayOff hashtag, to go in the running to win experience days for their mum. This is also an example of successful cross-channel marketing, with the campaign running across both Facebook and Twitter, as well as being featured on the brand’s blog.
Media Sharing Platforms (eg. Instagram)
Media Sharing Platforms are places people come together to share (and view) all forms of media – whether photos, video, live video, or other types of media. Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are all popular examples of media sharing platforms. Although social networks also provide the opportunity to share media, the key difference is that media sharing platforms are specifically set up for this purpose.
Media sharing platforms represent a fantastic opportunity for your business to distribute content to your target audience. Not only do they help you to engage with your audience, they also build brand awareness and can even generate sales leads and sales.
When executing a social media content strategy through media sharing, it most effective when posts are carefully planned and tied together with a central theme.
Know your audience:
Instagram is, not surprisingly, most popular with younger users. A 2016 Pew Institute Report showed that the majority of users are aged 18-29. As one of the major content marketing trends of 2018, Instagram’s popularity has continued to grow in 2018, with the 18-29 year old age bracket continuing to dominate, along with a surge in the 13-17 age bracket. Women are much more likely to use Instagram then men, and users are found across the world.
Likewise, Snapchat users are very likely to come from younger age groups with figures showing that 71% of users are under 34 years old, and only 2% are over 55. By virtue of age, Snapchat users tend to be less educated, with 23% having not graduated high school.
Social Media Example: ASOS
ASOS is a great example of a company which not only uses Social Media well but takes advantage of user-generated content to promote their brand. They have applied this technique very effectively through their #AsSeenOnMe campaign which asks followers to post photos of themselves wearing the brand’s clothing and tag themselves using this hashtag. In this way, ASOS not only builds brand awareness and advertises its products, but it creates a loyal community of customers. They have even taken this one step further by creating an #AsSeenOnMe page on their website promoting sales of these particular products.
Content Curation Networks (eg. Pinterest)
Content curation networks are places where users can share, save and comment on content and media. By far the most popular example is Pinterest, though there are other examples like Flipboard.
Users love these networks because they cannot only browse and discover new products, items and experiences but save them in a central location to refer back to them later. For businesses, they are a great opportunity to reach new audiences and promote their products and services. Pinterest can be a place to not only promote and drive sales for physical products but also raise brand awareness more generally: it is a great platform for promoting and linking back to other content such as blog posts.
Know your audience:
Pinterest is a great way to reach target audiences of women across many age groups. Pinterest is highly popular with female users, with 45% of US women who are active online using the platform, according to the Pew Institute. This compares to just 17% of male internet users in the US.
Social media example:
Lonely Planet is an example of a company which uses Pinterest well to market their business. This is a particularly smart platform choice for the brand, with travel being one of the most popular topics on Pinterest. Lonely Planet, which has a huge following on the platform at more than 700K followers, uses a highly popular Travel Quotes board on Pinterest to gain followers, as well as engaging with users through popular phrases like “solo travel” and “wellness travel”.
Other Forms Of Social Media
There are many, many more forms of Social Media. So far in this article, we have discussed those which have the most potential when it comes to content marketing for businesses. However, other forms also represent marketing opportunities, to a greater or lesser extent.
Other forms of Social Media include discussion forums, such as Reddit, Quora and Digg. Such forums are one of the oldest types of Social Media, predating social networks like Facebook. Discussion forums can be a great place to conduct market research, and you can also use them to advertise your business in some circumstances. However, be sure to check forum rules and guidelines first before doing so, as many have strict guidelines on advertising.
There are also a number of publishing networks which can give you opportunities to market your business. Examples for this type of Social Media include Medium, WordPress and Tumblr and exist for users to publish, share and comment on blogs and other content. They range from long-format content platforms like WordPress and Medium to “microblogging” platforms such as Tumblr.
These are a great opportunity for businesses to set up a blog in cases where they cannot host one on their website, or have a particular reason not to. In some cases, posting on a social publishing forum such as Medium can gain your brand more exposure compared to simply publishing on your site. Blogs are one of the most effective ways to build your brand and grow your business. If you would like to get into this area but don’t have the knowledge, time or resources to do so, Connect London can help.
How To Develop a Social Media Marketing Strategy
As with developing a content strategy, it is important to have a formal Social Media marketing strategy to ensure your Social Media is effectively executed in the best way to meet your business goals.
Here is a step-by-step overview of developing a Social Media marketing strategy:
- Identify your Social Media marketing goals and objectives
- Identify and research your target audience
- Set detailed key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Choose the types and platforms you will use and research these thoroughly
- Make a Social Media Content plan
- Create quality content and distribute it!
Conclusion: Social Media Content Marketing
Social Media is one of the most powerful tools available to marketers today. When used well, it is can be instrumental in building your brand, creating a large, loyal customer base and driving sales and business growth.
“Social Media”, however, is a term which encompasses a huge variety of categories, types and platforms, all offering different opportunities to engage with different target audiences. In order to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by Social Media, it is important to be familiar with these different types and platforms, how to use them well, and the audiences specific to each one.
Social Media at its best is comprehensively integrated with other forms of content marketing. Specifically, blogs and articles can work really well with many Social Media, and many successful campaigns and marketing approaches come from a cross-channel approach which effectively uses both blogs and one or more Social Media channels.
Connect London helps businesses in designing effective content marketing strategies and by delivering high-quality content – learn more about our services here.