What Is Social Media Marketing?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 9, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated March 9, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marketing is important for businesses to increase their brand visibility and customer base. Social media marketing can bring your product and message directly to consumers. It is necessary to understand how to properly use social media marketing to get the best return on investment. In this article, we will explain what social media marketing is, how to choose the appropriate social media platform for your business and tips for successful social media marketing.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the practice of making promotional content for a business or product, and sharing that content on social media platforms. The content businesses create is usually unique to their brand. A social media marketing strategy guides every action taken online to meet a specific goal.

There are many benefits to social media marketing. Most people have at least one social media account, meaning you have a large potential audience and customer base. Social media marketing allows businesses to craft a specific brand, and with the high social media usage volume, customers are more likely to be aware of your brand than with traditional marketing.

Social media marketing is different than personal social media use. Many people use social media personally to connect with friends or family, find news and information or learn about products. Conversely, the goal of social media marketing is to provide information to generate leads and gain referrals.

Related: 7 Ways To Market a Small Business

Parts of social media marketing strategy

There are many elements of a successful social media strategy, including:

Alignment with business objectives

A successful social media marketing strategy will have a clear alignment with business objectives. Businesses should determine the goals of using social media before ever making a post. Goals should be specific and measurable so it's easier to track success.

Metrics

Track valuable interactions on your social media sites. These include things like comments, responses to calls to action or traffic driven to your e-commerce page. Metrics such as likes or shares are good for measuring how many people are viewing your content.

Audience personas

Know both who your customers are and which social media sites they are on. Create content that your customer base will find compelling. Additionally, content needs to be where your customers will see it. Make sure you research demographics for each social media site.

Competitive analysis

Research your competition to see what sort of content they are creating and posting. Note the interactions they have with their customer base. Run a competitive analysis to see what their strengths and weaknesses are, then form a strategy to capitalize on their weaknesses.

Social media audit

Assess your business's own social media presence. Determine what you're already doing well and where you can improve. See who currently engages with your content. Use this information to improve your profile, content and interactions online.

Content calendar

A content calendar helps you keep track of the content you create and distribute. Make sure you share interesting and actionable content consistently to keep your audience engaged. Balance the types of content (pictures, videos, products and information) you post throughout the day, week and month.

Consistent content

Create content that is consistent in voice and style. Make sure the information you share is tied to the overall brand of the business. Your content should be professional and well-curated to create a specific experience for your audience.

Analytics

Most social media sites provide data about page views, clicks, comments and other interactions. Use these analytics to assess your performance and adjust your overall strategy.

Related: What Is a Content Management System?

Social media marketing vs. SEO

Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to share information about your business or products, while search engine optimization, or SEO, is what drives online traffic to your website using keywords in a search engine. Social media marketing and SEO have the same goal—get customers to purchase your product. However, how the approach to reach the goal differs.

Social media marketing relies on relationships and connections to gain customers. Often, customers will discover a company or product through a friend or targeted advertisement on a social media site they frequent. Usually, the customer is not searching directly for this company or product.

SEO relies on company or product discovery through active searching on the part of the customer. Content and copy are optimized to appear at the top of a search query when customers are looking for information about a type of product or business.

How to choose a platform

There are many different social media sites. Optimize your company's resources by selecting the best social media sites for your specific brand through the following steps:

1. Identify your audience

Begin by determining who you want to sell your product or service to. Be as specific as you can. Consider the following factors:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Income level

  • Relationship status

  • Education level

  • Interests and hobbies

Create a persona that you can use to post all of your social media posts.

2. Set your goals

Social media marketing allows for multiple goals and strategies. One goal might be driving traffic to your e-commerce website to increase sales. Another goal might be to build rapport with consumers through a social media account dedicated to answering questions. When developing a strategy, establish measurable goals that will help your business succeed in various aspects.

3. Find your audience

Research social media site demographics to find the best fit for your specific customer. There may be several that fit your needs. Then, evaluate how well the structure of that social media site supports your goals. For instance, if your business is interested in running a campaign where customers comment with pictures of your product, make sure the social media site you select can comment on original posts with images.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

Tips for forming a social media marketing strategy

Social media marketing can be a great way to grow awareness of your brand and gain new customers. The following tips will help you create the best social media marketing strategy:

  • Be specific: Make sure your content has a clear and precise goal. The audience should know what they are expected to do with the information you provide, whether it is to share the post, create their own post with your hashtag or go to your e-commerce website.

  • Write concisely: Many social media sites' layouts are conducive to scrolling on a smartphone. Use the limited time and space available to you to your advantage with brief, compelling content.

  • Keep your audience in mind: All of your content should be created with your audience in mind. Make posts that will attract current and future customers.

  • "Listen" to your competitors: Follow your competitors on social media. See how they interact with their customer base and what sort of social media strategies they employ. Use this information to inform your own social media marketing decisions.

  • Create SMART goals: SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Use the SMART strategy to create the best goals for your business.

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