It is hard to go past a day without logging into a social media handle, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any such similar site. On any given day, we tend to peak into them more often than the number of times we sip the water probably.
As per studies, 65% of the global population, on average, spends 2 to 3 hours daily on social media handles, that is considering many sites don’t allow below 13 years to have an account. Do people keep posting updates or stalking a friend through those 3 hours? Of course not. Then, what is it that keeps us all hooked to them? It’s “social media marketing”.
Remember when an Instagram notification pops up on your phone, related to your hobby, interest, or something that you recently searched on Google and gets you curious? Or when a friend’s Facebook post is followed by a Facebook advertisement, along with ten appealing links compelling you to check them out?
The idea of engaging in harmless scrolling through the subject of our liking often keeps us glued to these platforms. The convenience of finding what interests us without much struggle is the driving force behind the evolution of social media marketing [SMM].
Social Media Marketing
Advertisements are extremely powerful marketing tools, aiming to encash the basic human “emotions” and the need for “connection”. Even a 30-second ad or a still shot goes through a brainstorming session and strategic discussions so as to connect with the audience by prompting an array of emotions in them.
Be it color themes, visuals, backgrounds, sound effects, light effects, costumes, accessories, or placement. Every minute detail is worked upon to scintillate the viewer’s emotions in order to make a connection with the product or brand.
Similarly, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc are designed to engage human emotions. In 2002, when Mark Zukerberg chose to pursue a Major in Psychology, it appeared a strange choice of subject for someone who was interested in coding and programming and was taking computer science classes alongside.
However, to think of it now, Facebook is the longest surviving social media platform amongst its contemporaries because of its nature. The likes, comments, and pokes, instantly appeal to the feelings of its users, which have largely remained unchanged irrespective of the time span.
The subsequent social media sites like Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest followed the pursuit and continue to thrive and grow. Since the marketing and social media sites work on the same principle, their convergence was only natural and came to be known as social media marketing.
Evolution of Social Media Marketing
During the initial phase, social media was mostly about social networking, with its marketing potential largely unexplored. It was not until the .com boom between the period of 1995 and 2002 that the businesses started giving a thought to their online presence. It was during this time that businesses started tapping on the growth potential of the world wide web.
Soon, having a website became a synonym of professionalism and growth. Website made it possible for people to know more about the company of their interest. The freedom to read about a business organization and its products from the convenience of home and multiple options of contacting it helped build trust between the consumer and the business, which in turn elevated the brand’s value.
The benefits of having a website were for everyone to see, and over a very short span of time, the idea of online presence established itself as an important marketing tool. As the social networking sites gained popularity, businesses soon picked up on the benefits of having a business profile on popular social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn.
As the online presence of the businesses grew, marketing strategies began to get modified. Now, inbound marketing strategies or online marketing are being preferred over the conventional methods of outbound marketing.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Outbound marketing or interruptive marketing is the traditional way of finding customers through TV commercials, print ads, door-to-door sales, etc. Irrespective of the target audience, this way of marketing called out for mass attention, which often used to leave the larger set of audience annoyed than impressed.
However, with the evolution of social media marketing and search engines, the concept of inbound marketing strategies gained popularity, as its benefit began overweighting those of outbound marketing.
1. Online marketing/Inbound marketing is knitted around the concepts of Search Engine Optimization, lead generation, customer retention, demographics, e-commerce, and research and thus were more specific and relevant. Specific in terms of target audience and relevant in terms of trends.
For example, the age group of Instagram users ranges from teens to middle-aged. Whereas Facebook has a broader user age-group bracket. Now, a company dealing with products related to the elderly will have a fair idea of the demographics of each site and can choose its social media marketing strategy accordingly.
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2. Similarly, contrary to the outbound strategy, which has a one-way flow of information from business to customer, and works on the principle of finding customers, an inbound strategy encourages consumer participation and is aimed at retaining and generating customers.
83% of customers who have posted complaints on a brand’s website or Twitter profile have noted that their grievances or queries were attended to, and they felt satisfied. This helps businesses retain their customers, and generate new ones.
3. Unlike outbound marketing which requires a huge amount of investments in terms of money, time, and people, SMM strategies are relatively more economical and less exhaustive, giving start-ups an equal opportunity to promote themselves and grow, like the established ones.
Given the varied types of social media platforms available today, the onus of success or failure of online marketing falls directly on the shoulders of the business firm or organization. Choosing a correct social media platform can optimize the benefits of inbound marketing, and an incorrect choice will bear an adverse impact.
Thus, an understanding of these varied platforms, their working, demographics, limitations, and advantages are an integral part of planning the right SMM strategy. Let’s have a glimpse at the various platforms and understand how they engage their audience.
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Social Media Marketing Platforms
On the mention of social media, the few names that flash in our minds instantly are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But the fact is there is a plethora of them out there, doing incredibly well to support and connect people and brands.
They are all designed differently, they operate differently and attract different types of viewership. In order to align the business goals with a particular platform, understanding the advantages and limitations of each of these social media platforms is absolutely necessary.
● Social Networking:
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular platforms in this category. They provide a level field for marketers to post, connect and promote. At any given point in time, Facebook has a billion active users, promising a phenomenal audience and plenty of potential customers for marketers to encash on.
Twitter, on the other hand, boasts a user base that ranges from a common man to big business tycoons to celebrities. It has opened the doors of conversation between people from all walks of life. Twitter has made it possible to reach out to the top management of big establishments and hold a conversation with them directly, which was thought of as unachievable before the Twitter boom.
LinkedIn is largely presumed as a forum for professionals only. Nevertheless, it is, in reality, an effective platform to connect with people from the industry of your interest.
Since these websites are conversation-based, they provide you with an opportunity to emerge as a leader through lively and engaging conversation. Being a part of a lively conversation adds up to a business’s credibility and brand value, making it a goldmine for marketers to capitalize on. Twitter and LinkedIn are also considered ideal platforms for B2B lead generation.
Youtube and Vimeo are the two popular names in the video category. Youtube needs no introduction, its success speaks loud and clear. From a mere video-sharing platform, it has reimaged itself to an entrepreneur-friendly platform. The concept of youtube channels, subscribers, and notifications has been a game-changer for many.
As of July 30th, 2021, youtube recorded 30 million premium subscribers, while the number of TV subscribers stood at 3 million only. This stark difference in the subscription is a clear indication of the popularity of SMM in comparison to the traditional ways of marketing.
Vimeo has gained recognition for delivering ad-free, high-definition videos on a variety of devices. Vimeo’s policy of no ad no interruption is hailed as a welcome change.
For revenue generation, Vimeo provides subscription plans to content creators and businesses and offers software for a service [Saas]. Video sharing sites are ideal for grabbing quick attention, creating brand awareness, and educating the audience.
● Discussion Forum:
Reddit and Quora are the leading names in this forum. These platforms enable people to ask questions, seek answers, and form groups based on niche or topic of interest. Though any kind of direct promotional activity is frowned upon on these platforms, they do provide marketers a window to keep track of their product performance and brand value.
● Image and Messaging Forums:
Instagram and Pinterest are the most preferred website by businesses that wish to promote themselves through curated product images and create a brand value through inspirational messages.
● Review Networking:
People often seek refuge in reviews. Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp must have “saved a day” or “made the day” for countless travelers and buyers. These sites can be a great source of business generation and reality check at the same time. While a good review would promote sales, a bad review can help keep things under check.
Presenting engaging content every single time is a key requirement of a good inbound marketing strategy. Apart from picking up the right platform to suit your marketing goals, engaging with the desired set of marketing tools is equally important to achieve the marketing objectives.
Marketing tools are your helping hands. From helping marketers schedule and manage the workflow to helping them with the ideas and techniques to design effective and engaging marketing strategies, there is a tool for every marketing need. Check out 5 basic marketing tools that can make the process of inbound marketing more effective, less stressful, more organized, and comprehensible.
It is a scheduling tool. Twitter was the first site to use it. After being tested for its effectiveness all the major sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest included it in their marketing strategies.
It helps in scheduling your content. Instead of uploading a cluster of content, it helps you spread it out through the day in a way that is effective and engaging. It also helps the user by keeping track of the performance of the content.
Research is a basic requirement for curating good content. Since research is an elaborate and tedious process a little help is always welcome. It helps you keep abreast with the trending topics and keywords.
Knowing about what’s engaging your audience at any given point in time helps you curate engaging content. Buzzsumo is also known for keeping an eye on the competitors and providing analyses of their performance to help you stay an edge above the rest.
It is a promotional tool. One who understands the working of social media would know how vital promotion is to the process. However, to post your content on multiple channels at once is extremely time-consuming and exhaustive.
This is where one can put the services of Missinglettr to use. It takes care of the promotional and scheduling part of your content. It means you get to do one thing less and more time to focus on creating new content.
Using MeetEdgar is like having a content manager. Just like a content manager, this tool is capable of providing technical support, helping with designing, and assisting in creating interesting and engaging content.
It is a power-packed tool. From scheduling your content calendar to providing you with a detailed analysis of various social media handles and search engines, Hootsuite does it all. Having this tool in your kitty can help you engage with prospective customers, along with keeping track of the existing ones.
Inbound marketing being a dynamic industry requires constant learning and evolving. Thus, it is often surrounded by plenty of questions. Let’s have a look at some of the frequently asked questions in order to understand what aspects of inbound marketing puzzle people the most.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I promote my business using SMM?
Start with setting your business goals. Have clarity on what you are trying to accomplish by using social media marketing. Are you trying to improve customer service or aiming for a greater social media presence? Depending upon your business objective, you may select one or two social media platforms, to begin with.
It won’t be wise to run through all the available platforms at once as it may end up committing more than the required time and energy, which can be channelized in content curation. Once you see the growth trajectory scale to the next level.
- How do I decide which social media platform is beneficial?
While developing the SMM strategy for your business, you are required to answer a basic question. Who is your audience? The answer to this question forms the crux of the strategy.
If you deal with the products that would interest moms, budding artists, or homemakers, Pinterest would be an ideal choice. Similarly, if you are aiming to communicate with millennials, Instagram and Snapchat will be relevant choices. And if your product is of general interest, you may hope to encash on the broad user base of Facebook.
- What are the important SMM tools?
Marketing tools are like helping hands. They make the marketing process engaging, organized, and effective- from content curation to scheduling the posts.
From organizing the posts to keeping track of their performance and from observing market trends to competitors’ data analysis, marketing tools are capable of doing it all. Few marketing tools that every marketer should have in their kitty are Buzzsumo, Buffer, Missinglttr, Meetedgar, and Rafflepress.
- Which are the best training institutes to learn SMM?
SMM is a critical aspect of digital marketing. There are several institutes like IIM Skills, IIDE, Indiviso, Premium school of digital marketing, and Digital Describe that will help you ace the skills needed for effective inbound marketing.
There is no escaping the fact that SMM has become an innate part of businesses across the world. A wholesome understanding of the working of social media marketing and the ability to optimize the opportunities laid out by social media is the only way forward into the dynamic millennial marketing arena.