Defining social media marketing for the modern brand
Social media marketing (SMM) is a key digital marketing strategy that delivers unique benefits for brands. SMM is the process of companies using social media to advertise and promote their products or services while allowing them to connect in a more organic way with existing and potential customers.
By leveraging the significant exposure social platforms offer, businesses can attract consumer attention and interest without spending much money. Sometimes referred to as social network marketing, SMM is used by companies of every size and offers many options for informing and engaging with audiences through post copy, images, videos, links to external websites and assets, and more.
While many organizations focus on marketing through social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, there are others to keep in mind such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat. On all these platforms, brands can engage with audiences, reach prospective customers, share news and values, and interact with the world through their content — and on their terms.
In this guide to social media marketing for the modern brand, you’ll learn:
How social media marketing works
SMM has become one of the most important ways companies advertise, largely because most people use social media every day. SMM helps brands meet their goals by making them far more visible than they otherwise might be while offering customers and prospects the opportunity to connect and engage directly.
How to do SMM
Doing effective social media marketing means creating an SMM strategy for your brand that’s tactical, clear, and easy to execute. As with any form of marketing, you’ll try several things before landing on what works best for you and your followers. But an effective strategy will include the critical steps of planning, publishing, engaging, and measuring results to determine how successful you’ve been.
To plan your social presence and content, you have to set goals, identify audience segments, solidify personas, and have a clearly defined brand voice. You need to know exactly what you’re posting and who you’re targeting. A good plan includes the language and messages you want to use, the days and times you expect to publish, and information about the rules and best practices for various social platforms — such as post length, character count limitations, hashtags, and mentions. Research your target demographics — when people are online, which platforms they like to use, how they engage — so you know how to reach them.
Publishing is a vital step in SMM. Through planning, you’ll decide when and where to publish content, but then you need to execute those posts in a timely manner to stay in alignment with your goals. Additionally, you may want to research how to write social posts because they likely won’t be worded the same way you would write other assets. With social publishing, you’re often restricted to specific character counts — so concise language is vital. Developing superior content for social media is no small task. Each platform has its own guidelines, character allotments, and unique tone, which you must become familiar with to publish effectively.
Social media is a two-way street — you engage with the audience, and they engage with you. As part of your SMM strategy, take time daily to check your feed, mentions, and direct messages. It’s a big deal to be “mentioned” (having your account tagged with the @ symbol). It means people are following and want to engage with your brand. As a good social media marketer, you should reply to show you appreciate the attention. In general, posts that are interactive and feature multimedia — including videos, images, GIFs, hashtags, polls, and more — generate greater audience engagement.
All of these steps are important, but measuring your social media performance shows where you’ve been effective or need improvement. To measure your results, review native analytics on each platform. These dashboards tell you how many likes, mentions, and reposts you’ve obtained over a given period, but they’ll also show deeper insights like impressions, conversions, and reach. After you’ve mastered native metrics on every network, check out other reporting tools including social insights within Adobe Analytics.
Paid social ads
If you’ve obtained decent results with organic posts on one platform, it’s likely you’d do even better with paid posts. Likewise, if you haven’t gotten off the ground on social media the way you wanted to, chances are that promoted posts will garner more attention for your brand. The most effective SMM plans include organic and paid social efforts, which help diversify how people find your posts on any network.
Promoted posts are relatively easy to set up. Typically, you’ll see the option to promote when you’re in the post draft — there you can decide who you want to see your content, how much you’d like to spend, and what time it will be published. You can select a wide audience or segment by gender, geography, age, or something else to ensure you target those most likely to engage.
Not all brands get the same results across platforms. Some do better on Facebook than on Twitter, while others do great on LinkedIn but hear crickets on Instagram. While research is important to determine where you should put your energy, only time will tell how well you’re performing. Once you have several months of posts under your belt, you can determine where you make the biggest impact — and where you may want to pull back or redouble efforts.
Pros and cons of SMM
From organic SMM to paid promotional posts, there are many ways to utilize social media and crank up the conversation about your company online. No matter the business, a social presence is expected from today’s brands.
As with any other strategy, there are good and bad points to social media marketing. While it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to get the word out about your brand and what you offer, your posts are not likely to get much engagement when you first begin posting (unless you’re already a household name). However, the brands that embrace social media marketing are those that create the best user experience for their followers — and presumably their customers too.
- Organic SMM is an affordable digital marketing channel that offers excellent online visibility for your brand.
- Direct engagement with target audiences offers continuous opportunities to connect with everyday people who use your product or service.
- Brands with active social media channels can deliver high-quality and distinctive user experiences people are likely to remember.
- SMM can be a valuable resource for learning about your audiences through direct interaction, communication, and response to messages.
- Doing social media marketing well is an investment:
- If you do SMM cheaply (mostly organically), it takes time to get results.
- If you do SMM efficiently (mostly paid posts), it can cost much more.
- Choosing not to do SMM (or not doing it well) can create a poor brand image and leave the door open for competitors to capitalize on your missed opportunity by reaching target audiences.
Integrating social media into your marketing strategy can help you acquire new customers, engage existing customers, and build brand advocates. But remember:
- Effective social media marketing requires planning, publishing, engaging, and measuring results.
- The most effective SMM strategies include organic and paid social efforts.
- It takes time and investment to achieve success and generate value with SMM.
- SMM is a significant undertaking, but it’s simple to get started — and good tools make it much easier for brands to master.
Adobe Marketo Engage helps you understand who your customers are as individuals better, empowering you to connect with them on a more authentic level. By engaging with customers using polls, sweepstakes, and referral programs, you can get valuable knowledge about what makes them tick. Then you can use those insights to build more personalized ads that speak directly to the individual, increasing conversion and building brand loyalty.