How Social Media Marketing Works
Organizations have opportunities to engage in social media for marketing purposes in several ways: paid, earned, and owned social media activity.
- Paid: Paid social media activity includes advertisements on social media (placed in various locations), sponsored posts or content, and retargeting advertisements that target ads based on a consumer’s previous actions. This type of social media activity is best suited for sales, lead generation, event participation, and incorporation into IMC campaigns.
- Earned: Earned social media activity involves news organizations, thought leaders, or other individuals who create content about an organization. It is particularly suited to supporting public relations efforts.
- Owned: Owned social media activity happens through social media accounts that an organization owns (e.g., Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram name, etc.). This activity is ideal for brand awareness, lead generation, and goals around engaging target audiences.
Effective use of social media to reach your target audience requires more effort by an organization than the traditional marketing methods. Not only must an organization create unique content and messaging, but it must be prepared to engage in two-way communication regarding the content that it produces and shares on social media. To be effective at using social media to reach target audiences, an organization must:
- Create unique content, often. Social media, unlike traditional methods, cannot rely on static content. An organization must regularly publish new, unique content to stay relevant on any social media platform.
- Ask questions. To foster engagement, an organization must solicit feedback from users, customers, and prospects. This is critical to creating conversation, insight, and discussion on social media platforms.
- Create short-form media. Most social media platforms have character limits per post. Users on social media expect to be able to scan their feed. Long posts (even within character limits) tend to underperform. The more succinct an organization can be, the better.
- Try different formats. Most social media platforms provide users with the option to add images and video to text. Social media is becoming an increasingly visual medium, where content that performs the best usually includes an image or video. Try to convert messages into images and video when possible for maximum reach.
- Use a clear, immediate call to action. Social media works best for achieving marketing goals with a clear call to action that a user can do immediately from their computer or mobile device. Examples include 1) Web traffic (click-through), 2) downloads of content (e.g., white papers, articles, etc.), 3) online purchases, and 4) engagement (comment, like, share, view, read).