Social media marketing is the next frontier for companies across a wide variety of industries, from small niche B2B companies to multinational corporations. Social media has only been around for about a decade, but during that time, it’s become a marketing powerhouse. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter give companies an unprecedented ability to engage with their audience in real time, providing valuable content and increasing brand awareness. Social media is an integral part of maintaining a strong online presence for your brand, but it’s only valuable when done correctly. It’s fairly common for companies to mismanage their social media marketing efforts, and see little ROI from it as a result.
One of the most common mistakes with social media is a lack of relevant audience targeting. There’s no point in trying to engage with people who probably have little or no interest in your products or services. You want to connect with the right people, or your marketing efforts will be useless. There’s no point in trying to sell financial services to teenagers, or urban style clothing to middle-aged stay-at-home moms. One of the factors that gives social media its power is the ability to target specific groups of people. A good social media strategy is based in a solid understanding of who your audience consists of, and what kind of content appeals to them. Different platforms are more popular with very different groups of people, and a platform that’s ideal for one company might be ill-suited to another. It’s important to understand what sites are out there, who’s using them, and how you can successfully use them to build your brand.
Where Does Your Audience Hang Out? Finding the Right Platforms
There are many different social media platforms to choose from. There’s Facebook and Twitter, of course, but there are also sites like Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and more that can also be leveraged as powerful marketing tools. Companies will commonly spread themselves thin by trying to maintain a presence on too many platforms, but ten mediocre profiles are nowhere near as valuable as one or two active, engaging pages on carefully chosen social media sites. Part of social media marketing strategy involves pinpointing what platforms, and what types of content, are the most relevant to a brand’s image, goals, and target audience. Social media sites can differ markedly in their demographic profiles, as well as the types of content that will be successful when posted there.
Different platforms have slightly different demographics. Facebook is very general and widely used by people of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels. It’s a solid marketing platform for almost any brand, although recent changes in organic post reach have made it a bit more difficult to reach your audience than it used to be. According to 2014 statistics from the Pew Research Center, 71% of American adults use Facebook. Facebook is one of the most commonly used platforms for older adults, including people over 65. If your target audience consists of middle-aged adults or senior citizens, Facebook is one of the best platforms to reach those people online. However, it’s also used widely by younger people, with 84% of 18-29 year olds maintaining a profile. Because of its broad demographics and widespread use, almost any company can benefit from maintaining a presence on Facebook.
Twitter is another widely used platform, especially by young people and by urban demographics. It’s not as widely used as Facebook, with only 24% of American adults using the site. However, many brands have had tremendous success using Twitter for marketing. As a microblogging platform, Twitter is ideal for short, pithy posts with a sense of humor. It also allows for an amazing degree of real-time communication. Many companies have started providing customer service through Twitter, with tremendous success. Most consumers appreciate it when their comment or question about a company is quickly met with a response from the official Twitter account. This can also help to humanize your brand by engaging your audience in a two-way conversation in real time.
Reaching Out with Visual Content
Along with Facebook and Twitter, there are other social media platforms that provide great opportunities for sharing original branded content with your audience. These platforms have enormous potential for many companies, especially those whose products take well to visual media. Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr are three great platforms for sharing image content like product pictures, infographics, and more.
Pinterest is rather unique among social media platforms due to its distinctive demographic. This image-sharing website is used primarily by women, most of them over thirty and with relatively high incomes. If this describes your target audience, your brand could benefit immensely from sharing content on Pinterest. Food, clothing, home decor, accessories, and many other decidedly photogenic products can gain significant traction here.
Instagram is another image-centric platform, although its key demographic is a bit younger than Pinterest. It’s popular with teenagers and young adults, and has a decidedly different aesthetic than Pinterest. Images that are clean, professional, and decidedly glamorous do well on Pinterest. Instagram has more of a “hipster” vibe, with various filters designed to make photographs look aged or vintage. With some creativity, brands can create images that are highly appealing to Instagram’s users, making it a great platform to reach out to a younger, trendier crowd.
Tumblr is frequented by teenagers and college students, most of them female. It’s a great platform for sharing photos, infographics, and other primarily visual content. It’s a dense, fast-moving medium that requires frequent updates with fresh content, but the “reblog” feature allows your followers to share your content on their own blogs, a highly effective means of disseminating branded content.
Bringing In Experts to Manage Your Campaign
With so many different platforms to choose from, and with the complexity and unpredictability of social media marketing, it can easily be overwhelming. This is especially true for smaller companies without a web-savvy internal marketing department to manage their social media for them. One of the best choices for many businesses is to outsource their social media marketing to an expert with years of experience and an in-depth understanding of social media success. Using Facebook and Twitter might seem straightforward, but successfully marketing on these websites requires a good deal of research and strategy. Social media is both an art and a science, combining quantitative data and analytics with a humanistic understanding of how to reach out and communicate with different types of audiences. This is a lot for a novice to handle, especially when you have a business to run. A good social media manager can help your marketing efforts go further than ever before. They’ll work with you to identify who you’re targeting, and create unique, interesting content that will genuinely appeal to your audience. With expert consultants at the helm of your social media campaign, you’ll see real results reflected in your bottom line. When used correctly, social media marketing can help you increase brand awareness, build a rapport with potential clients and customers, and ultimately increase your sales and profits. It’s worth it to bring professionals onto your team who can make the most of social media.