Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience in order to establish and develop your brand, boost sales, and trigger website traffic. This involves publishing high-quality content on your social media profiles, listening to and engaging your followers, assessing and analyzing your results, and running social media advertisements that are aimed towards your target audience. —
Some examples of present prominent social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat.
There are also a range of social media management tools that help businesses maximize the output from social media platforms like the ones listed above. For example, Buffer is a platform of social media management tools, which can help you attain immense success with your social media marketing.
Social media started off with publishing. Businesses were sharing their content on social media to generate traffic on their websites, and, through it, hopefully, sales. However, in recent times, social media has developed far beyond being merely a place to publish and broadcast content.
Nowadays, businesses use social media in a variety of ways. For instance, a business which is concerned about people’s opinions, can monitor social media conversations and response to relevant mentions (XSMB listening and engagement). A business that wants to understand how it is performing on social media, would analyze its reach, engagement, and sales, on social media, with an analytics tool (XSMB analytics). A business that wants to reach a specific set of audience at scale, would run advanced, targeted social media ads (social media advertising). This is often referred to as ‘social media management’.
There are five core pillars of social media marketing, namely: Strategy, Planning and Publishing, Listening and Engagement, Analytics and Reporting, and Advertising:
The strategy aspect is concerned with setting your goals and determining how social media marketing can help you achieve those. Decide whether you want to use social media for brand awareness, to generate engagement, to serve as a customer support channel, or simply to create a community. Other than that, deciding what social media platforms to use (whether the more established ones or the up-and-coming ones, for example), and the type of content you wish to share (images, videos, links), also form part of the Strategy pillar.
Secondly, you need to plan your content before publishing it; it cannot be spontaneous. Furthermore, in order to maximize the reach, you need to ensure that you are posting the right type of content, as well as at the right times. This is all part of the Planning and Publishing pillar.
With increased following, comes increased conversations. People will talk about your brand on social media, and you would like to know their responses – if positive, you know what to continue doing; if negative, you can device ways of improving and providing help or support.
Manually checking all your notification across all your social media is an option, but one which is laborious and inefficient. Instead, you can use a social media listening and engagement tool, that aggregates all your social media mentions and messages.
Once you are past that stage, you would want to analyze your social media performance. Basic analysis can be obtained through the platforms, themselves. However, you can also use a wide range of social media analytics tools in order to get a more in-depth assessment.
Lastly, with growing funds, you can consider social media advertising, which will allow you to reach out to a far wider audience than the one which currently follows you. A business can even create ‘target’ audiences, based on demographics, interests, behavior, among other things.
Social media marketing is a key aspect of modern-day commerce, and one that is constantly evolving. It is imperative that business owners continue to stay on top of these developments, in order to optimize social media use.
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