Social media marketing allows businesses to leverage social media platforms to maximize brand awareness, build relationships and drive website traffic. It involves creating high-quality content for target audiences as well as engaging with followers, measuring results and running paid campaigns.
With a well-designed social media marketing strategy in place, your brand can connect with new audiences, form long-standing relationships and accelerate growth.
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Why Does Social Media Matter?
There are over 4.2 billion active social media users across the globe, which makes social media marketing paramount when it comes to growing your business. Today, people don’t just have social media accounts — they’re constantly checking their timelines and news feeds as well.
In addition, 70% of social media users log into their accounts daily, while 49% check their accounts multiple times throughout the day.
The importance of social media in digital marketing is hard to overstate. It’s where your audience is, and it’s an essential tool for communicating directly with customers and prospects, as well as keeping tabs on competitors and industry trends. Here are 5 key reasons why you should be leveraging your social media presence to grow your business:
1. Continue Engagement Despite a Global Health Crisis
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut the physical world down, it placed a greater emphasis on digital communications. Social media became a critical asset for marketers to continue engaging with their target audience and promote their offerings without direct contact to consumers. Because of these benefits, social media spending increased by 74% between February 2020 and June 2020 — approximately 4 months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Build Your Brand By Reaching New Customers
People follow brands they admire — like the 256 million Instagram users following Nike — but social media platforms are also a place where people find out about new businesses. Instagram reports that 83% of its users rely on the platform to discover new products. Therefore, a strong social media presence can help you build brand awareness and interact with new potential customers.
3. Humanize Your Brand
The days of brands being impersonal are gone. Your social media presence should be charming, relatable and authentic. By using various social media marketing tools — like live streams, stories and interactive polls — companies can connect with users in a casual format that feels less like advertising and more like genuine human interaction.
This can help you cut through the clutter and build a more meaningful relationship with your audience. Try highlighting the people working behind the scenes of your organization or telling the story of what sets you apart from competitors.
For example, Shutterstock created its “Shutterstock Presents” channel on YouTube — which currently has over 26,000 subscribers — to showcase the artists who create the photos, illustrations and music consumers can find on the platform.
4. Engage, Engage, Engage
It’s called social media for a reason. That said, brands shouldn’t use social platforms to just talk about themselves — they need to also be sparking interesting conversations. Brands can do this by:
- Creating polls on LinkedIn or Twitter.
- Inspiring user-generated content (UGC) through contests or branded hashtags.
- Leveraging the Stitch and Duet features on TikTok.
- Using Instagram Stories for real-time content creation.
A prime example of this concept in action is Starbucks. The brand is super active on social media, but its content isn’t just coffee. Starbucks goes a step further and uses pop culture trends to provide entertainment to its followers. For example, check out this Instagram post of Starbucks comparing the characters from Bridgerton to their caffeinated beverages:
5. Address Customer Pain Points
Social media is a two-way street: Consumers can use it to stay updated on their favorite brands, while businesses can leverage social networks for social listening to keep an eye on their reputation.
By monitoring online conversations, brands can address negative feedback in real time. Social media platforms allow brands to interact directly with consumers, resolve issues and build a loyal community.
As more brands use social media to bolster relationships, more consumers expect to use social media for customer service concerns. In fact, nearly half of all consumers who engage with brands on social media do so because they have customer care concerns or questions. And if your customers are expecting this, then your brand needs to make sure it delivers. Not attending to customer concerns via social media can lead to poor user experiences and deter people from doing business with your brand in the future.
How Can Social Media Support Your Marketing Goals?
Social media is one of the most powerful tools in any marketer’s arsenal. It generates new sources of traffic and provides valuable metrics, as well as insights into your customers’ interests and preferences. This gives marketers an opportunity to meet individual goals and achieve more successful marketing campaigns — effectively moving customers from the consideration stage of the marketing funnel into the conversion or purchasing stages.
There are 4 core ways that social media drives consumers down the marketing funnel:
Social media spreads your brand’s message, values and mission to more potential customers and positions it as a valuable resource for target audiences.
Through immersive, exciting and consistent content, social media allows brands to foster relationships with prospective customers and nurture long-term relationships with existing ones.
Social media posts and paid ads can encourage followers to visit specific landing or product pages — resulting in more qualified website traffic.
Through paid social media campaigns, brands can target specific groups of consumers to drive more conversions.
Data from the Harris Poll on behalf of Sprout Social reported the impact social media has on helping organizations achieve each of these 4 marketing goals:
Over half — 55% — of all consumers discover new brands via social media. Specifically, 78% of Gen Z and 61% of Millennials utilize social media for brand discovery.
A whopping 68% of consumers agree that social media provides an opportunity to interact and connect with businesses more than traditional advertising methods like billboards and TV commercials.
Per the report, 43% of consumers have increased their social media use to discover new products and services.
As many as 78% of consumers claim they’ll be more willing to purchase from a company after having a positive experience with the brand on social media.
With these statistics in mind, an increasing number of business leaders are prioritizing social media marketing strategies.
of business executives think it’s very important or essential to invest additional resources in social media marketing.
of executives will increase their social media marketing budgets in the next 3 years.
of companies use social media data to execute more informed business decisions.
How Social Media Influences the Buyer Journey
The buyer’s journey describes a prospect’s path from awareness to purchase — and it can be broken down into 3 stages:
The potential customer has an interest in a product or service. This interest can stem from a need — such as solving a problem — or from external influences such as advertising, influencers or friends.
The buyer performs research to learn more about their options.
The buyer determines which product or service best suits their needs.
So, what’s the connection between social media and the buyer’s journey? Social media marketing allows brands to reach consumers at all 3 stages of their journey.
During the awareness stage, businesses use social media platforms to reach a large number of people, thus increasing the likelihood of capturing the attention of potential customers through exposure. They can then continue to connect and engage with active users throughout the consideration stage by providing consistent, strategic and helpful messaging. As users enter the decision stage, brands can use paid social media ads — such as retargeting — to further influence their decision-making process and encourage more conversions.
The bottom line: Social media provides opportunities — or touch points — that help brands nurture a sale. Marketing strategist and TEDx speaker Yasmine Khater notes that various research suggests customers need anywhere from 3 to 12 touch points before committing to a sale, while the Rule of Seven states that it takes at least 7 touch points for a brand to enter a buyer’s consciousness.
Determining the right number of touch points can depend on various factors, including:
- Brand credibility.
- Market competition.
- Complexity of the offering.
- How qualified the lead is.
- Whether the customer is buying based on a want versus a need.
No matter how many touch points consumers need throughout the buying process, a social media marketing plan facilitates easy creation and sharing of content across each stage.
Top Social Media Platforms
In today’s digital-first world, it comes as no surprise that 7-in-10 Americans use at least one social media account. But the question marketers need to focus on is which one — or ones — their target audience is using.
Here’s an overview of the most prominent social media platforms and the demographics who actively use them:
There’s strength in numbers, so Facebook’s — which is now a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta — massive user base makes it one of the most noteworthy digital social media marketing platforms. Moreover, Hootsuite’s report reveals there are 2.91 billion monthly active users on the platform — a 6.2% increase from 2021 — making Facebook the 7th most valuable brand in the world.
With such a robust user base, Facebook can reach a range of demographics, specifically college-educated internet users, women, people between 25 and 34, and people earning over $75,000 per year, according to Sprout Social.
As far as what people are doing on the social platform, Facebook has some interesting data:
- 65% of Facebook users rely on the platform to view photos.
- 57% of users leverage the platform to share content.
- 46% use Facebook to find and watch videos.
- 36% get their news from Facebook.
- 66% of users visit a local Facebook business page at least once a week.
As you can tell, there are many reasons why people use Facebook, and the platform is a valuable tool to reach these users. The more you know about your target audience, the better able you are to tailor your marketing campaign for them.
Instagram is more than a hotspot for influencers — it’s a thriving social media platform with more than 1 billion monthly active users and over 500 million daily active users, according to Hootsuite.
Breaking these users down based on age, the largest group is between 25 and 34 (31%), followed closely by 18-24-year-olds (30.1%) and 34-44-year-olds (16.1%).
These figures mean that the majority of Instagram users are Millennials and Gen Z, making the platform a powerful marketing tool for brands that target these demographics.
Breaking users out even further, Sprout Social’s Instagram demographics report shows that 48.4% of users are female, 51.8% are male, and the average person spends 29 minutes per day on the app. Additionally, Forrester found that engagement rates on Instagram are 10 times higher than on Facebook, 54 times higher than on Pinterest and 84 times higher than on Twitter.
While Facebook and Instagram are many brands’ go-to platforms for social media marketing, it’s important not to overlook Twitter. According to Hootsuite, Twitter is the 9th most visited website in the world, and Pew Research Center found that 7 out of 10 Twitter users utilize the platform to receive news.
In addition to gaining insights into current events, users also leverage Twitter to communicate with brands. According to BrandWatch, 80% of Twitter users have mentioned a brand in a tweet and the number of customer service conversations occurring via Twitter has more than doubled in the last 2 years.
LinkedIn is home to the world’s largest professional network, with Sprout Social reporting the platform maintains 810 million monthly active users.
Traditionally, the social media channel has been used by older audiences. But Millennials are now the most active age demographic on LinkedIn. According to Hootsuite, 57% of LinkedIn users are men, and 43% are women. LinkedIn also reports that 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions, with 10.7 million users being opinion leaders and decision-makers within their industry.
From a marketing perspective, having a prominent social media presence on LinkedIn can help brands build relationships with influential leaders within their target market.
Pinterest is a critical social media platform for brands catering to women, as Hootsuite reports that as of January 2022, 76.7% of Pinterest users were female. The largest age bracket represented on the platform is women between 25 and 34, and 41% of all users have household incomes over $75,000.
Another important metric for marketers to consider when it comes to Pinterest: SocialMediaToday reports these users have the highest purchase intent of any social media network. Approximately 85% of women use Pinterest to plan life moments like weddings, graduations and baby showers. So by being active on Pinterest and using the platform to showcase products, brands can connect with female shoppers and drive more purchases.
Since launching in 2017, TikTok has seen a rapid increase in users — so much that Insider Intelligence named it the world’s third-largest social network. According to Hootsuite’s statistics, TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2021, has over 1 billion monthly active users and is more popular than Instagram among the Gen Z demographic. A key reason for TikTok’s success is due to its advanced algorithm matching, which recommends videos for each user and has been noted to be superior to other social media algorithms.
As TikTok rises in popularity, more brands are considering getting involved on the platform. However, it’s critical to note that not all brands may belong on TikTok. To thrive on the platform, brands need to dedicate time and effort to create original, engaging content that resonates with those audiences using the app — namely Generation Z and Millennials.
Emerging Social Media Platforms Marketers Should Know
Social media is ever-evolving, so marketers need to keep an eye on up-and-coming platforms and decide if they should be building a presence on them. A few noteworthy emerging social media platforms include:
Discord launched as a gaming platform in 2015 and has since evolved into an expansive chat app, with Earth Web reporting over 150 million monthly active users. With the average user spending 280.6 minutes on the platform a month, certain brands can benefit from having a presence on Discord. However, all efforts must be 100% organic as Discord currently does not offer paid advertising options.
According to Earth Web, Twitch — a live streaming platform that launched in 2011 — currently has 15 million daily active users, many of whom are video game enthusiasts. Currently, Twitch reports that it maintains a younger audience, with 70% of its viewers being between the ages of 16 and 34.
However, other niches have been gaining traction on the platform — such as beauty, chess and cooking content — causing the app to diversify its audience and giving marketers new opportunities to reach audiences. With that in mind, HubSpot reports that 75% of B2B social media marketers plan to increase their investment in Twitch.
Since 2011, Snapchat has been providing a unique, personalized way for brands to share exclusive, behind-the-scenes content and connect with audiences. his has proven to be successful, and although other platforms are on the rise, 363 million active users use the platform daily. Likewise, this app hosts a younger audience, with 90% of the 13 to 24 year-old population as users.
As Mark Zuckerberg launches Meta — formerly Facebook — the company will aim to create a collective project that connects people throughout the world and leverages virtual and augmented reality technologies to create immersive 3-D spaces.
For marketers, the new social media platform has the potential to unlock exciting opportunities for building brand loyalty. Some major corporations are already showing their commitment to the Metaverse — such as Nike, Adidas and Ralph Lauren — by creating digital fashion collections specifically for platform users.
Increasing Engagement and Growing Your Social Media Followers
More than 70% of businesses use social media for customer engagement. So if you want to cut through the noise and connect with audiences on social platforms, you need to evoke emotion through compelling content. To achieve this, you’ll want to implement the following tactics into your social media strategy:
Utilize Impactful Imagery and Videos
Whether branded or user-generated, eye-catching imagery is a must when it comes to social media marketing. According to research from Buzzsumo, adding images to Facebook posts can lead to 2.3 times more engagement, increase Twitter retweets by 150% and double LinkedIn engagement.
Social media posts containing videos see similar increases in engagement. Research from SocialMediaToday shows that:
- 78% of people watch videos online every week.
- 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video.
- Tweets with videos receive 10 times more engagement than those without.
- People on LinkedIn are 20 times more likely to share videos compared to other posts.
- Video content generates more engagement than any other posts on Instagram.
- After viewing a brand video, Pinterest users are 2.6 times more likely to make a purchase.
While video presents a great deal of opportunity for marketers, a standalone video isn’t enough to drive responses. To achieve the desired outcome, marketers need to implement best video practices — such as making sure the video is optimized for sharing and engagement, creating a captivating story that conveys your brand’s personality, providing a call to action, making sure the videos can adapt to mobile, keeping them at an appropriate length and more.
Be Socially Active
Make sure your team is actively engaging with audiences on the platforms. You can do this by responding to mentions, direct messages and comments in a timely, personable manner — that means no canned responses. Monitoring social media accounts and responding to engagement is a full-time job, which is why many brands designate social media managers or hire third-party agencies to oversee engagement.
Create Fresh Content With Relevant Hashtags
When building out a social media plan, prioritize quality over quantity. With so much content out there, it’s essential to consistently create fresh, interesting and impactful posts that resonate with target audiences and align with your business goals.
Producing a steady stream of high-quality, timely content ensures your brand is seen as a thought leader, industry expert and trusted advisor. And when you create fresh content, make sure to add relevant hashtags to to boost your chances of increasing your follower count and influence.
Push for More Followers
Organically gaining followers can be a long process, but implementing a follower push can quickly increase your social media reach. This process differs based on the social media platform you’re using:
Invite users who have reacted to your post to follow your page or boost posts to enhance engagement. Additionally, create Facebook groups and events that you can invite users to attend. This will give you opportunities to interact with potential followers and increase your chances of getting them to follow your page.
Search competitor followers, industry-related hashtags or specific locations to find your ideal user base. Follow those accounts with the intention that some will follow you back. You can also comment on posts within your niche to initiate conversations and create the appearance of authority.
Try inviting 1st-degree connections or industry leaders to follow your page. Take advantage of hashtags and interact with people in your niche via comments and reposts.
Seek out industry thought leaders and competitors, browse their follower lists and follow key accounts — which should result in many of them following you back. Continue following and engaging with people within your niche, and you’ll soon see a steady stream of new followers.
Try Paid Social Advertising
While consistent, high-quality social media posts can render plenty of engagement, paid advertising can help your brand reach new audiences and expand its following. By investing in paid social media advertising, you can:
- Run follower campaigns on LinkedIn or Facebook to boost page following rates quickly.
- Execute a paid brand awareness video campaign to promote brand recognition and share key messages.
- Boost Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn posts to reach a wider audience, drive traffic to your site or social media page and increase post engagement.
Social Media Marketing Trends
There are important trends social media marketers should be aware of as they develop, execute and refine their social strategies:
The Increasing Importance of Video
As TikTok’s success continues to grow, the importance of video content will only increase, and it’s quickly becoming a crucial part of successful social media marketing strategies.
And as more brands join the TikTok community, new trends, hashtags and subcultures — like #HRTok, #CleanTok and #FinanceTok — will continue to emerge to make it easier for users to find specific types of content across different niches.
Here’s a prime example from a #MarketingTok, a TikTok subculture for sharing marketing knowledge:
To keep up with user demands, other platforms are following suit and enhancing their own video offerings. One of these cases is Instagram Reels, which was a direct response to TikTok’s popularity. Reels offer similar video creation functionality as TikTok — from sharing new product releases to presenting how-to guides — and will continue to compete with TikTok to become the platform of choice among users.
The Emergence of Social Media Audio Features
In addition to an increasing emphasis on social media video content, audio apps are also growing in popularity. Examples include:
As of May 3rd, 2021, anyone with a Twitter account with more than 600 followers can host a live space.
This social audio app launched in March 2020 — right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — to provide rooms for users to listen and join in exciting conversations. Fast-forward to today, and Clubhouse has over 10 million users.
Facebook Live Audio Rooms
In June 2021, Facebook announced that U.S.-based public figures and prominent groups can launch live audio rooms through its app.
According to Nosto, consumers find user-generated content (UGC) 9.8 times more impactful than influencer content. Further, PR Newswire reports that an estimated 90% of consumers find UGC has a more significant influence over their buying decisions than tactics like promotional emails.
The takeaway: UGC is powerful, and businesses that don’t have a UGC strategy in place will be left behind as consumers continue to turn to each other for advice and recommendations.
Building Brand Trust
Social media sites now play an important role in our daily lives, with 91% of people believing that social media is a great way to stay connected and 64% of consumers like when brands interact with them.
With the growing number of businesses competing for attention on social media, brands must focus more strongly on establishing meaningful relationships with consumers by acting as connectors instead of merely trying to sell products.
Providing Customer Care
As we navigate a post-pandemic world, providing customer care via social media is becoming more critical for reputation management and customer satisfaction. Brands have the power to leverage social media listening tactics so they can join conversations, diffuse concerns and provide prompt responses to customer concerns.
Social Media Marketing Challenges:
In addition to trends, there are also obstacles marketers may face when implementing a social media strategy:
Prioritizing Corporate Social Responsibility
Yes, brands should be using social media to promote themselves. But they also should be using the platforms to highlight their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), such as discussing environmental or social justice issues.
Customers care about a brand’s stance on social matters, and 84% of global consumers consider sustainability important when choosing a brand. Therefore, incorporating CSR into social media strategies can enable brands to build better relationships with audiences and turn them into committed brand ambassadors.
Creating Authentic Communities
Social media is shifting from mega-influencers to tight-knit, authentic communities where consumers can feel heard. Thus, brands must partner not necessarily with influencers with the largest following, but with creators who can help them connect with niche audiences, earn their trust and gain more cultural capital.
Boosting Creativity in Paid Ads
Social advertising is nothing new, and users know the difference between paid advertisements and organic posts. In order to remain relevant, brands must think outside the box and take a more creative approach to paid advertising that will not only resonate with consumers but also enrich the experience that the specific social media platform they’re advertising on offers.
How to Make the Most of Your Social Media Strategy
A successful social media campaign requires that you analyze the various factors at play and come up with a plan of action to account for them. However, there are some essentials that should form part of any strong strategy:
Identify a Target Audience
Are you speaking to other businesses (B2B), or is your social media content directed at consumers (B2C)? Determining your audience can help you select the type of social media platform your brand should be on. It can also help you define the tone, imagery and frequency of which you post social media content.
To help you focus your social media efforts, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your focus B2B or B2C?
- What is the target age range?
- Where is your target located?
- Is there a certain income level that needs to be considered?
- What is your audience interested in? How do they spend their time?
Define Clear Goals
While businesses may share similar overarching social media goals — such as growing brand awareness or increasing follower counts — it’s important to determine clear goals that are specific to your business and the social media platform you’re utilizing.
Boost Posts to Extend Your Reach
Allocate a portion of your social media marketing budget to boosting posts on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Your budget can range from $25 to $100 per post, and we recommend boosting at least once a week to see results. However, the more posts you’re able to promote, the faster you can grow your social media presence.
Integrate Social Campaigns Under a Cohesive Strategy
Do your best to avoid one-off campaigns and instead focus on nurturing your audience and growing your following over time. Rather than taking a siloed approach, a winning social media strategy keeps the target audience and user intent at the core of every campaign.
Cater Content to Specific Platforms
Every social media platform you utilize is unique and should be treated as such. Therefore, when building out a social advertising strategy, consider the type of content — such as text vs. video vs. images — that’ll perform the best for each specific social site as well as the demographics using that particular platform.
Research Before Trying Something New
Social media marketers need to stay in the know regarding new tools on existing social platforms. But before testing out the latest filter or feature, ensure you fully understand its impact. Also, be wary of getting swept into a new trend just because it’s available. Make sure whatever new feature you’re trying out aligns with what your target audience wants to see and will help you achieve your marketing goals.
Tap Into the Power of Influencers and Creators
Word-of-mouth advertising still reigns as one of the most effective forms of marketing, and Semrush reports that 88% of people maintain a higher level of trust in a brand when a friend or family member recommends it. If you can get people talking about or recommending your brand on social media, you’ll not only build brand awareness but also enhance credibility — setting your brand up for more sales and better growth.
How do you do this? Many brands partner with influencers. These are industry leaders, public figures or social media accounts with large followings that can help foster trust in your products or services. According to Civic Science, 15% of those social media users between 18 and 24 purchased something because an influencer recommended it in the last 6 months.
Alternatively, if you have a smaller budget, a great option is to partner with micro-influencers and smaller creators, who have smaller followings but often a more engaged audience. This is especially true on TikTok, where content is characterized as more authentic and relatable than what you might see on other platforms.
As the social media landscape continues to evolve, you should stay abreast of these changes and adjust your strategy accordingly. Brands that are agile enough to re-evaluate their approach in a rapidly fluctuating landscape can leverage new opportunities, connect with consumers, maintain robust followings and outperform competitors.
Be willing to experiment and try new things, but don’t be afraid to take a step back if something isn’t working. And no matter what you do, keep in mind that it’s all about authenticity — if your brand feels genuine and honest, people will notice.
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Launch a New Social Media Strategy Today
With a strategic social media strategy, your brand can reach new audiences, increase loyalty among existing customers and accelerate its growth. Whether you’re building an entirely new social media presence or looking to overhaul existing social media marketing campaigns, you’ll want to have a team of knowledgeable social media experts in your corner. Brafton’s well-versed social media marketers, content writers and graphic designers are ready to help you develop, design and execute a results-driven social media strategy that achieves your key marketing objectives.