What is Social Media Marketing

There are roughly 3 billion users on social media — that’s close to 50% of the world’s population. Imagine how effective your marketing efforts could be, if you targeted half of the world.

That’s the power of social media marketing.

In this article we cover:

  • What social media marketing is – the definition and importance.
  • The social media platforms to market on – the 8 “main” social media platforms.
  • The benefits of social media marketing – why you should do it and what you will gain.
  • Specific, real-world strategies used – exact social media marketing methods used today.

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing in simple terms, is using the power of social media platforms, to market your business. 

Social media platforms are virtual communities where people, families, friends and groups can come together. This is all done through the internet. In many ways, social media is an evolution of the internet — what message boards, chatrooms and email started.

When it comes to marketing, social platforms have an unmatched level of reach and engagement. They’re not some niche, youth thing either — this isn’t the Myspace era. Everyone from your kids, to your friends and parents are on there now. Maybe even your grandparents. 

Simply put, social media is the ULTIMATE marketing tool in the 21st century.

The 8 Main Social Media Platforms

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, and subsequently one of the best to market on. Around 1 billion people use it, and the most dominant generation demographic are millennials.

FYI — millennials are ages 24 to 39.

With regards to marketing, Instagram is best suited to B2C companies that want to sell something.

Some other marketing uses include:

  • Behind-the-scenes content
  • User-generated content
  • Natural media-based content

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform, and also one of the originals. As of 2020, there are over 2.2 billion people on Facebook. Its massive audience is a mix of generation x and millennials.

Generation x, by the way, is ages 40 to 55.

As a platform, Facebook is best used by B2C businesses that are trying to advertise a product or service.

Aside from advertising, it is also good for brand awareness building — viral videos are a good example.

NOTE: Facebook used to be THE social platform to market on. It was the gold standard. This was until they “nuked” organic reach. They did this because they want to make money, by prioritizing paid ads.

YouTube

YouTube is the #1 video-based social media platform, particularly for medium to longer-length content. It also happens to be one of the most popular websites on the internet.

Second only to Facebook in popularity, YouTube has just under 2 billion users on its platform. Demographics wise, millennials and generation z dominate this platform.

Generation z is from ages 0 to 23.

YouTube is most ideal for B2C, and is particularly awesome for video tutorials, entertainment and general brand awareness.

Twitter

With over 335 million users, Twitter is one of the more unique social media platforms. As Twitter was created in the late 2000’s, naturally it’s most popular with millennials.  

Twitter is great for both B2B and B2C industries, and is particularly useful for PR and customer service-related issues. It’s most definitely the premier “news” social platform — live updates are huge on Twitter.  

Twitter also created hashtags, which have been appropriated by many other platforms.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the “business” social media platform, designed for enterprise, employment and business relations. With a massive 645 million users of the platform, it’s used by boomers, gen x and millennials equally. 

NOTE: Baby boomers are from ages 56 to 74.

Compared to all the other social platforms, LinkedIn is most definitely the one best suited to B2B enterprise. It is particularly great for employment marketing/relations, and business relationships and development.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a popular, image-oriented social media platform with 250+ million users. When it comes to demographics, the platform is particularly popular with females in the  millenial and generation x age bracket. 

The platform is awesome for visual advertising, suited for B2C businesses.

Snapchat

When it comes to the younger generations, (generation z/millennials) Snapchat is the social platform of choice. It has a userbase of 300+ million, and it is app-based.

Snapchat pioneered the short video trend among social media platforms — stories for example, came from it.

Due to the nature of the platform, it is quite limited when it comes to marketing. It however, is awesome for B2C businesses building brand awareness with “viral” content. Advertising can also be achieved, if done correctly.

TikTok

TikTok is another video-based social platform similar to Snapchat — it’s what all the young kids of generation z use. 

The platform has over 500 million active users, and like Snapchat, is best used for B2C businesses. It is specifically good for brand awareness and advertising, geared toward the youth.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Brand Awareness

By far the biggest benefit of using social media for marketing, is getting your business out there. If you didn’t know, brand awareness is essentially how well/many people know about your business.

FYI — Most social media marketers consider brand awareness their primary goal. (source)

increase brand awarenss
source: sproutsocial

Audience Size

Imagine being able to market your business to an audience size in the billions. This is by by far the greatest benefit to using social media for marketing purposes.

There are about 3 billion users of social media right now, with that number expected to grow in the future.

source: statista

That is A LOT of people you can potentially market your business to.

Economical Cost

Before the internet became a big thing, marketing was something that was more guarded, exclusive. Your options were print, radio and television — these were all costly and competitive.

In many ways, the internet and social media made marketing cheaper, and more accessible to all. You could now get crazy amounts of exposure for your business, without paying an arm and a leg.

IMPORTANT: Not every social media marketing strategy is cost efficient.

Social platforms want to make money from you. They would rather you buy ad space, than get organic, free exposure. This was definitely true in regards to Facebook — they destroyed organic reach to push users towards paid ads.

Each strategy is unique, and has its own cost efficiency. Make sure you do your homework.

Increased Leads & Conversions

If you’re trying to sell a product or service, social media can be an awesome way to do this. Compared to more traditional methods like print, television or even email, social media is much more personal, targeted. You’ll have high levels of engagement, which translates to awesome conversion rates.

Increased Web Traffic

Social media is extremely effective at bringing lots of hits to your website. Websites are isolated and need to be found — social media is where people hang out. The right social strategy can bring them to your domain.

If your website is an important part of your business, your social channels can help you get people there.

Stronger Community Engagement 

Social media, when used for marketing, is particularly effective when it comes to community engagement. If you’re not sure what “community engagement” means, it’s basically how active, or engaged your audience/customers/base are.

Your business can stand to gain a lot by having a stronger, more engaged community.

Specific Examples of Social Media Marketing

User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content (UGC) is basically when a business shares content from its social media followers. This content that is shared, is related to the business. Here’s an example from Instagram — the practice is referred to as “re-posting.”

Sharing user-generated content is a fantastic way to build up community engagement and increase brand awareness.

Most social media platforms allow you to purchase ad spaces — you’ll find them on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. The cost can vary, depending on the social platform used, the type of ad you buy, and when you buy it.

The effectiveness of paid ads will vary greatly, depending on various factors. Because they are “paid” ads, there will be an economical aspect to consider.

Here’s a YouTube paid advertisement example.

Infuencers on Instagram

In recent times, Instagram influencers have become an extremely popular, and effective strategy.

An “influencer” is someone that has a large social media following. Influencer marketing works by paying these people to promote your business.

Although influencer marketing is done on many platforms, Instagram is by far the most popular.

Video Content

In recent times, social media has been trending more and more towards video-based content. Whether that’s entirely new platforms like Snapchat and TikTok, or new features on established ones.

Video content is extremely diverse — you can have short-form “stories,” or even hours long how-to guides. There are so many different things you can do, and the benefits can be substantial.

Doesn’t matter what your marketing goals are — brand awareness, community engagement lead generation, more sales… Video content can help you.

Live Stream Videos

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have all introduced live stream videos in recent years. It’s a unique way of producing video content — live streams are extremely good for community engagement.

Final Thoughts

Social media can supercharge your marketing efforts — not taking advantage of it gives your competitors an edge. Quite frankly, you can’t compete in today’s marketplace without a social media marketing strategy.

This post was just an intro — continue reading to learn everything you need to know about social media marketing.

To learn more about SEO, continue reading the guides in our learning hub, and join our mastermind community group here: SERP University.
Lars Erik Larson

Lars Erik Larson

Lars Erik Larson is a digital marketer specializing in writing long-form B2B Marketing and SaaS content that builds brand and ranks highly on Google. Lars runs Wordsmith Method, a content marketing business targeting small businesses and startups. Lars also acts as one of the expert mentors at SERP University.

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