Origins of social media
The advent of social media came with an intention to bring people together and establish connection without being hindered by distance or time. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in Havard in 2004 so that students can socialize. It grew so much that it has more than 2 billion monthly users today.
When Twitter started in 2006 it was just about Odeo employees messaging each other but no one would have thought that it could have been a behemoth with more than 200 million users. Instagram now has 1 billion users worldwide, bigger than the population of the USA and Brazil combined.
Affordable advertising for small businesses
With all those users businesses decided to target their audiences more directly and more affordably because heavy TV advertising and big promotion companies locked out small businesses but with social media marketing, small businesses got a new lease of life to compete.
In fact there was a recent boycott of Facebook by big companies such as Unilever, Coca Cola, Netflix, Target, HP, Clorox, Nike, Hershey, Microsoft and others but at the end of that quarter Facebook reported a 22% growth in revenue to $21.5 billion.
Why? The Facebook Vice President of Finance Susan Li said that the revenue was fueled by small and medium-sized businesses increasing their spending as they look to grow their online sales. That means that social media has leveled the ground for small and medium enterprises to market their products and services to their audiences.
With the right strategies and techniques, social media marketing and advertising can increase sales by huge numbers.
The role of social media marketing
Social media marketing is using social media platforms to connect with your audience with the following aims:
- Build your brand
- Increase sales
- Drive website traffic
- Build a relationship with your audience
- Drive customer engagement
- Receive feedback for your products and services
This involves publishing great content on a business’ various social media profiles, analyzing your results, listen to and engage your customers, and run social media advertisements, according to buffer.com.
Social media marketing for business
Social media marketing began when businesses started sharing content on their social media channels to generate traffic to their websites, increase conversions, and sales. However, with time the social media has evolved to become a platform for more than marketing and advertising.
Companies now use social media platforms to drive conversations such as campaigns to keep safe against Covid-19, listening to what people are saying about their brand, observing their brand mentions. Businesses are also gauging how they are performing on social media by analyzing reach, engagement, and sales by using social media analytics tools such as Hootsuite, Hubspot, Sprout Social, Google Analytics, Buzzsumo, Curalate, Keyhole, and many others. This exercise can also be called social media management.
Pillars of social media marketing
Social media marketing stands on five pillars:
2. Planning and Publishing
3. Listening and engagement
4. Analytics and reporting
Social media strategy
Successful social media marketing is not just about posting and publishing content aimlessly. You must establish and follow a plan so that you can have much better results than the expected outcomes.
You must have a goal in mind first. There are various goals that social media can help you achieve that we have highlighted in the article such as brand awareness, customer engagement, sales, community management, customer support and experience.
With those goals, you will be able to pick the appropriate platforms that will facilitate achieving your goals in a more successful way. There are different social media platforms and they all have different audiences. According to Hubspot Academy, being on every social media platform doesn’t translate into success. Instead they advise that you pick two to three platforms in which you will employ the best strategies.
You also need to map out your target audience by creating buyer/market personas. The personas will guide you on the kind of content you will post so that you can attract and keep followers. This needs to be reviewed regularly. The content could be videos, articles, images, links, or all the above.
Planning and publishing
Kenyan brand and social media marketing expert Janet Machuka says that you need to be consistent as a brand so that you can see your social media following grow.
Publishing on social media means posting an image with captions, video or a blog post. Instead of posting spontaneously, you need to plan your posts by having a social media calendar. Planning gives you consistency and frequency which maximizes your social media reach. Your content also needs to be authoritative, engaging and informative so that you can rank well on search engines.
There are good tools that can help you schedule posts such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, CoSchedule, Feedly, Airtable, Planable, Sked Social, Postplanner and others. They help you publish content automatically at your preferred time and they save you time to reach your audience when they are most likely active and can engage with your content.
Listening and engagement
Social media listening is about listening in on what people are saying about your brand on various platforms. This includes mentions, tags, comments or direct messages. Sometimes they may talk about you without notifying you and that is why you need to engage social media monitoring.
There are some tools that can help you with social media listening- Socialbakers, Brandwatch, Digimind, Sprout Social. There are also free social media listening tools such as Google Alerts, Social Mention, Tweet Deck, and others.
Social media analytics
Social media analytics is basically about evaluating the performance of your social media marketing. The following metrics can be used: Reach, Positive mentions, How did your hashtags perform. You can get an overview of the information from the various platforms but social media analytics tools will give you a more in depth analysis. Buffer Analyze, Sprout Social, Hootsuite are tools you can employ.
Conclusion: Invest in social media marketing to grow
It’s clear to see that the benefits of social media to small businesses are huge. Once you’re clear about your business goals, come up with a strategy. It can feed into your entire content marketing strategy easily thus making your marketing efforts more comprehensive. Whether you want to increase brand awareness, increase sales, or build relationships with your audience, it can be done. You just have to be patient and invest time in it. Alternatively, you could reach out to us and we can figure it out together. Our experience working with small businesses internationally has taught us a couple of things about social media marketing. We’re so excited to hold your hand and help you grow your business.