Social Media Marketing for Businesses

  • 12 Jul 2021
Human beings need connection; we crave it. Maslow’s hierarchy places our psychological needs of belongingness and love slap-bang in the middle of the pyramid. To deprive a human of these needs holds back their development and self-actualisation. Perhaps, this need for connection is why modern humans are so addicted to social media. There are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, and these users spend an average of 3 hours per day on their chosen sites.

What is Social Media?

Social media is a term used to describe websites and applications that facilitate the creation and sharing of content by users. The content that is shared on social media is made up of text, photos, videos, etc., and is distributed in real-time across either a private community of friends and family curated by the user or in a public capacity, open-to-all users. In terms of modern social networking sites, as we have come to know them today, Friendster was the first of its kind. The US site launched in 2002, allowing users to discover and connect with friends online; it had over one hundred million registered users. However, grumblings of social media had occurred as early as the (late) 1970s, when bulletin boards systems (BBS) allowed users to log on and connect via personal computers.

Social Media & Brands 

Initially, social media was a place for communication; update your family on life events, keep in touch or reunite with old friends or even meet new ones and join online communities. The personal nature of social media made its original form individualistic; users curated their profiles with information about their lives, locations, jobs, likes, and dislikes. As social media gained in popularity, its purpose began to warp and shift. Brands started to pay attention to social media and its potential to change the marketing landscape. Dipping their toes in social media, brands created profiles that consumers could “friend” with the hopes of fostering deeper relationships with their customers. MySpace even surveyed their users in 2008, discovering that 14% of respondents believed brands appeared more friendly and creative on social media. McDonald’s were early adopters of social media, and their “Big Mac Chant” campaign from 2008 shows why. The campaign celebrated the 40th anniversary of their popular product by asking customers to remix a well-known jingle used in Big Mac advertising. The competition generated 1 million page views in 3 weeks via MySpace banner ads on user homepages and the MySpace music page. Data continued to be poured into and stored on social platforms; then social media site creators, like Mark Zuckerberg, realised they had the potential to make a lot of money. In 2006, Facebook took its first leap into the digital advertising space with a partnership with JP Morgan, which included banner display ads served to platform users. Following on from the success of this partnership, in 2006, Microsoft purchased a 1.6% share in Facebook for $240 million under the condition that they become the sole provider of their banner ads and sponsored links. Then, in 2007, Facebook Ads was born, and with it, social media marketing as we know it today began to take shape.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is the practice of using social media to find and connect with your audience, build your brand, and drive revenue. To succeed at social media marketing, brands must create authentic content tailored to their audience’s needs and interests, track the engagement rates of that content using analytics, and use this data to improve continuously. In its formative days, brands used social media marketing to drive users towards a company’s website in the hopes of selling a product or service. Today, however, social media profiles are seen as an extension of a brand’s website; content should be designed for and published directly to a social media platform to increase the likelihood of user engagement and please social media algorithms. Branded content on social media can exist in two forms: 1. Organic content To make the most of organic content, brands need to use the free tools and resources available on their chosen platforms to create: a brand profile page including a profile picture, cover image, description, business hours and links to your website, etc.; company updates in the form of text, photos, videos or GiFs; a branded group or community page; live-video content; and more. The reach that organic content receives is down to social media algorithms which sort posts in users’ feeds based on relevancy and time of publishing. Algorithms decide how likely it is that a user wants to see your content; categories, previous interactions with your brand, and # tags used, all factor into what organic content makes it onto a user’s feed. 2. Paid content Paid social media can help to amplify your organic content or generate leads for your company via down-the-funnel advertising campaigns. Many social media marketers have experienced the impact of algorithms on their reach; despite tens of thousands of followers, organic posting can often appear to fall flat of expectation. Paid social advertising, or ‘sponsored’ content as it is identified in a users feed, can help to bolster your reach and deliver your content to a broader audience. Brands who successfully master social media marketing implement a strategy that incorporates both organic and paid content; ensuring that they undergo research, planning, and optimisation at every stage.