“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”
The concept of social media gained popularity with Myspace and, then later, Facebook. The concept behind social media is to foster and maintain relationships. (In fact, Facebook was started as an in-house project at Harvard for students to connect with each other.)
As the years progressed, and social media platform owners began to realise the power of the information that they had gathered on their users, the platforms were opened to advertisers who were invited to sell their products and/or services on these platforms.
The competitive advantage of social media platforms, which they presented to advertisers, is that the latter would be able to minutely target the demographic that they wanted based on who they wanted to sell their products to. In addition, social media advertising solutions came in much cheaper that similar solutions on Google Ads.
The word-of-mouth factor
Another powerful reason why social media marketing ticks all the boxes for advertisers is the notion of ‘word of mouth’. This concept is the most powerful in marketing. It says that people are more likely to buy goods and/or services that are recommended to them by trusted colleagues and friends.
Social media simulates this effect as people connect to others on these platforms because they know them and/or are friends with them. So, if one person likes a brand and shares the content that the brand puts out, this person’s connections on the particular social media platform – where the information is shared – will see it. And, if they are interested in seeing what the company offers, they will explore the company’s social media presence.
A few years ago, Facebook altered their algorithm to put less emphasis on organic content that is shared by Facebook pages and focused more on the content that is sponsored – in other words, the content that is paid for in terms of advertising.
This means that if you want to advertise on Facebook, you can’t just put up a Facebook page and hope that people will follow you and engage with your content. You need to set aside a budget for advertising on Facebook so that your page and promotions get under the nose of the people that you want to see them.
A word of caution
Just because Facebook is not emphasising organic content from advertisers’ pages doesn’t mean that you need to give up the idea of social media marketing altogether. You just need to be smart and see what type of budget that you can afford to dedicate to social media advertising. Even if it’s a very low amount, paying for advertising will still make a difference.
And don’t neglect your organic content. Make sure that you keep your stream of interesting content flowing. But, whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of only pumping out content that promotes your business. If you do this, people will switch off from you because they will feel that you have nothing worthwhile to say. Remember that people gravitate to others who are well rounded and who have many interests and opinions about different things. This is what makes them interesting and encourages people to engage with them.
This is true in real life and the same is true for social media. By all means, promote your business and service offerings on social media but stick to the 80 – 20 rule: 80% sharing of content that you feel will be useful to your audience and 20% promotion.
Social media marketing should be a mainstay of your digital marketing strategy. If you follow the guidelines that we’ve set out above, you’re well on your way to becoming a success at social media marketing.