Social media marketing is a broad and ever-evolving practice through which a brand engages with its target audience and achieves marketing goals using social media platforms. The importance of social media marketing has grown exponentially over the last decade, as platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have exploded in popularity, especially among younger audiences that brands often covet. If you’re not leveraging social media in your marketing initiatives, you’re missing out on a vital part of the cultural conversation and crucial opportunities to distribute your message, gather feedback from your target audience and drive traffic to your other marketing channels.
Social media marketing is often described as a conversation because, at its best, it’s a two-way street. It provides brands an opportunity to speak to their target audience, listen to the feedback, and tailor future messaging based on that feedback. Too often, brands treat their social media platforms as a way to blast messaging and content to their followers without taking advantage of the opportunity to listen. Truly effective social media marketing includes a close examination of what consumers are saying, both in their reaction to the brand’s message and what they’re saying in conversations with each other. Taking the time to listen to and participate in the broader social media conversation adds a personal touch to your marketing efforts, and provides an opportunity for instant feedback that is unmatched by other online marketing channels.
Listening also helps brands stay on top of the latest social media trends. The ways consumers engage with social media platforms evolves constantly, and social media marketers need to adapt their strategies to stay current. This doesn’t just mean chasing the latest meme or viral trend, it means keeping up with what your audience is talking about and finding ways to participate in a way that feels authentic and adds value to the conversation. It also means watching for emerging social media platforms. Marketers were still mastering Facebook and Twitter when Instagram burst onto the scene and still mastering Instagram when Snapchat rose to prominence. Following the conversation means more than listening to what your audience is saying, it also means listening where they’re saying it.
When done right, social media marketing allows you to add a human face to your brand. The ability to participate in real-time conversations creates deeper engagement with your target audience and provides real-time feedback to help your brand shape and refine it’s marketing strategies. In addition, developing carefully considered, relevant content can help you expand your audience organically. Combining this organic audience of followers with paid promotion of your content makes social media marketing an incredibly cost-effective strategy.