I remember my father telling me where he was on the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And someday, I will be telling my child about the first time a hashtag was ever used (legend has it was August 2007). Maybe not as monumental as say, landing on the moon, but still, the hashtag has also brought a multitude of people together.
There was a time when social media marketing was seen as just a fad, something that was too irrelevant to invest in. Nowadays, it’s no longer a question. If you have no social media presence online, then you are at a serious disadvantage against your competition. Social media marketing has come a long way, but looking back it mostly seems like an inevitable part of our lives.
How Social Media all Began
In the beginning there was Myspace. Myspace capitalized on the growing popularity of sites like Friendster and Hi5 and was especially popular among a younger audience. In 2007 Myspace reached a peak value of $12 billion. From there Facebook grabbed the torch and ran with it. By 2009 tens of millions of dollars were pouring into the company from rich Silicon Valley investors. The launch of Facebook Platform made it possible for third-party developers to create apps specific to Facebook. Twitter also began to explode in popularity around the same time, and enjoyed the same boost once it created its own open API similar to Facebook.
Mobile-based platforms also approach social networking in an entirely different fashion than their Web-based counterparts. Rather than offering a comprehensive social networking experience like the now-defunct Myspace and the struggling Google+, they instead specialize in a specific kind of interaction service that involves the sharing of public images (Instagram), the private sharing of images sharing (Snapchat), nightlife (Foursquare), and location-based matchmaking (Tinder). People essentially use the various services in conjunction with other platforms to build a comprehensive, digital identity.
Best Marketing Practices
It makes sense then that marketing and advertising on social media has become more and more popular. The number one rule of marketing is to go where the people are, and right now the people are online and interacting with each other through these various channels. Once you understand what each social media site specializes in, then you are able to begin creating customer personas to target your efforts toward. The most important things you want to consider are:
- Demographic information (age, gender, location, income)
- Values and ideals
- Likes, wants, and goals
- Pain points, frustrations, and informational needs
- The time of day your customers are most active online (what does their day/week/month look like?)
From politics, to sports, from big business to small, just about every enterprise can benefit from a strong presence on social media. The opportunity to engage directly with your audience has many benefits. It shows the personality of your company in a way that your static website wouldn’t be able to. Social media is where the best brands talk with you daily – not at you. Social media works, because people trust family, friends and online communities. You have to develop this same sort of trust from your audience in order to gain their following.
Social media also provides a perfect opportunity to engage yourself in the local community, sending local-specific authority signals to major search engines. Google also tends to favor popular social media updates in the top sections of its SERPs. The more active you are with social media, the more traffic you will see eventually funneling into your site.
How to Know It’s Working
With any business project you need a way of judging the success and failures of your efforts. With social media marketing there are numerous tools online to help you perform an audit of your outreach. Here are a few that relate to the major channels of social media:
Facebook Audience Insights: You can use the analytics from this to analyze the demographics of your audience, and see what age group, location and gender types are paying attention to you online. By monitoring your views and likes you will see what posts worked better than others. Advertising to a target market on Facebook is nothing new – Facebook has allowed filtering for ads for a while. But targeting a specific product to a list you already have is a new way to use Audience Insights.
Twitter Analytics: Using this free service you are able to see for each tweet how much engagement occurred, including how many times a tweet was favorited, re-tweeted or mentioned. In addition to showing this information for individual tweets, Twitter gives a bar graph that reveals how many impressions an account received over a 28-day period to allow users to see when activity peaked.
ViralWoot: This Pinterest tool helps with much beyond analytics. You can schedule pins, promote pins, and gain new followers all through Viralwoot. The analytics on the free plan shows you your new followers, new repins, and new likes, and paid users have the option to receive pin alerts when content from your website gets pinned.
Iconosquare: A complete Instagram management tool, Iconosquare includes a user-friendly Instagram analytics section that shows big-picture views of posts, likes, comments, and followers, as well as breakdowns for the last seven days or last month, plus scores for love (the likes on your photos), talk (the comments on your photos), and reach (how many likes come from outside your followers).
It’s important to remember there is no one strategy that should apply to each media site as a whole. They should be all viewed as unique opportunities. Certain audiences convene in different places and in different ways. Social media has evolved rapidly within the last ten years. Who’s to say what it will look like in another ten, but as long as there are people using the internet for sharing and communicating, social media will continue to have a huge role in our day to day lives. Marketing through social media is now more important than ever.