“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” – American Marketing Association.
Now before going in to the importance of Social media marketing in Digital marketing, let’s check out a bit of history of marketing & trade. As long as a product exists in the market, there will always be a need to market it to the target audience. Marketing is as old as civilization itself, primarily because as human beings we tend to have needs for things especially if another person possesses it. Barter system saw the direct exchange of goods & services for other goods & services. This originated with human communication even before concept of money got introduced. Human communication which is the base of start of civilization goes the same for marketing.
The methods of promotion done for products changed accordingly with time. With the introduction of the concept of money things took a quick turn & businesses started getting defined. New products got introduced in the market which resulted in merchants travelling far & wide for business. Human communication which was the base for trade started changing with the advancement of technology. Marketing developed with introduction of printing, where merchants started using the power of printed material for advertising products. The mediums of radio & television also got involved as it gained popularity among the masses.
Rise of the Internet
Now in the 21st century marketing is thriving in the medium of internet. Technology has advanced so much that Digital marketing has turned out to be the way of marketing in the present business world. Digital marketing is nothing but building awareness & promoting brands or products online using all available digital channels. Since Digital Media is an ever-growing source of entertainment, shopping, news & social interaction, consumers are exposed to not just what the companies say about their products but what the media, friends, peers, etc., are saying as well. In today’s world ignoring digital marketing will be like opening a business & not telling anyone about it.
Social media = Love child of World Wide Web
“The number of worldwide users is expected to reach some 2.95 billion by 2020, around a third of Earth’s entire population”- (Statista)
Digital marketing itself is segmented into further different branches & Social media marketing is one among them. Social media is a catch-all term for all online communication channels dedicated to community based input, interaction, content sharing & collaboration. Even though the first super computers were created in the 1940s, the first recognizable social media site Six Degrees was created in the year 1997 which enabled users to upload a profile & make friends with others. The first blogging sites became popular in 1999, ignited the social media sensation that’s still popular today.
It can be said that the social media boom started in the early 2000s with the Sites like MySpace & LinkedIn gaining popularity. YouTube which came out in 2005, created a platform for users to communicate using videos & share with each other across great distances. By 2006, Facebook & Twitter, both which came available online changed the face of online communication & still remain the most popular social networks on the internet.
Social media & its marketing for business
Today there is a tremendous variety of social networking sites of which some is more popular than others but even the smaller ones get used because each one caters to a very different person. This is why companies should integrate social media marketing in their digital marketing strategy as it’s one of the best ways available to directly connect with customers or potential customers. Social media now has the power to influence purchase decisions whether it’s a B2B or B2C business.
Social media marketing is done by creating content & sharing it on various social media platforms in order to achieve the company’s specific marketing & branding goals. Social media marketing includes posting image & text updates, videos & other content forms that drives audience engagement, as well as paid social media marketing. But these are all not as easy as it sounds. The marketers of organizations should first focus on creating social media marketing strategies in properly implementing the methods for gaining success. This will include the type of content that is supposed to be created, identifying the social media platforms that the potential customer uses, regularly conducting social media audits etc.
Let’s see in which all ways Social media marketing helps companies in developing their businesses
- Showcasing the brand & increasing its recognition among the public
Social media channels can be considered as the news channels that can be used for the brand’s voice & content. Every opportunity that you use to syndicate content with the different platforms increases your visibility. This is important because it simultaneously makes your work easier & more accessible for new customers and makes you more familiar with existing ones. Your reach can also be increased by the customers using the concept of word of mouth, which in social media marketing terms means sharing & commenting positive reviews.
- Developing brand loyalty
Brands who engage on a regular basis on their social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from customers. If the social media marketing plan includes effective strategies for providing value to audience – either by curated content, direct assistance, other news, the online community will grow to trust the brand more. Trust, authority & loyalty are important elements of any purchase decision.
- Improved customer experience & customer service
At its core Social media is a communication channel like emails or phone calls. But when your customer calls it’s a one on one conversation. The whole scenario changes if the person is reaching out to you through social media channels primarily because your audience gets to see how you respond & react to their needs. For example, if a customer raises a complaint your product you can immediately apologize & take action to make it right. Or if a customer compliments you, you can thank them & if possible you can recommend additional products. Great customer service can be echoed through the entire digital world ….. as well customer service disasters also. Depends on how you use your channel.
- Chance of interacting in informal ways with different content materials
Through direct email approach or even through websites, the kind of interaction that companies have with their customers will be limited to the formal kind. Social media channels provide the chance for marketers to interact with customers in an informal way that too using the content forms including images, podcasts, videos etc. The humor element can be added to the content & the audience will be able to see the fun side of yours rather than the serious business talks.
- Increased digital traffic
Without social media marketing, only the people who are familiar with your business will exist & your inbound traffic will be limited to the individuals who search for you with the keywords. Social media profiles that you add in different platforms are paths that can lead the potential customer to your website & every piece of content that gets syndicated in these profiles is opportunity for new visitors. This means that the more quality content that you put in your social media channels, the more inbound traffic that will be generated which will eventually lead to more conversions.
- Revitalizing Email marketing with Social Media
Email marketing is still one of the most successful ways of online marketing for converting clients. With the benefits that it offers it will be a sin if Email marketing is ignored. Social media channels can be integrated to effectively revitalize the email marketing strategies using methods like
- INVITE FOR EMAIL LIST SIGN UP
- CONTESTS & GIVEAWAYS
- OFFER LEAD MAGNETS
- INCORPORATE SOCIAL SHARE BUTTONS
- Better SEO Rankings
Being active on social media channels can act as brand signals to search engines that the brand is credible, trustworthy & legitimate. For better SEO it’s no longer enough to regularly update blogs, ensuring optimized title tags & meta descriptions as Google & other search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor, just because of the fact that strong brands almost always use social media marketing.
- Reduced marketing costs
There are many awesome stories of companies going from broke to success after using social media marketing. At the same time there are several companies that are terrible at social media & are simply wasting time. Social media marketing is one strategy where you can start seeing results if the marketer can lend just one hour a day to developing your particular content & strategy needed for the business. Even paid advertisements that are done through Facebook & Twitter is relatively cheap compared to the traditional advertisement channels and the added advantage of viewing the analytics of the results is also there.
These are the main benefits of a sustained long term social media campaign but if you still feel skeptical regarding getting started with social media marketing for your inbound marketing campaign remember that your competitors will be already involved on social media which means they are poaching all your potential social media traffic & conversions. And if somehow, if your competition is not involved on social media, that means it’s open field for you, even more reason to get started. Other than that you don’t have anything to lose by getting involved with social media. Compared to other marketing channels, the amount of time & money it takes to start off in social media is minimal and the sooner you start, the sooner you reap benefits.
Social media marketing is one technique which when done right, can lead to more customers, more traffic and in turn more conversions. New changes are happening day by day in the marketing of social media which companies should incorporate in their strategies. One thing that is sure is that Social media marketing is here to stay. Mainly because it’s more about people than about the technology. So keep your knowledge updated & be always ready to forecast what will matter to your business.
Also check out our blog on 10 EASY HACKS TO BOOST SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT.