What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the process of using online social platforms to generate interest in your brand, product or service. It’s one of the fastest moving, most dynamic, and most effective, channels of digital marketing.

It’s a personalised way to talk with customers and potential customers, and enables them to interact directly with your brand.

The strength of social media marketing is the immediacy of it, but this can also make it a minefield if handled poorly. There are plenty of examples of brands that have done damage to their business through poorly thought out social media marketing.

That shouldn’t stop you from going social yourself, but you should certainly take the time to properly formulate your strategy before you start posting content on social platforms

Leveraging social media marketing

The first rule of social media is that it’s impossible to cover every network out there. New platforms are springing up every week, and for brands, it would become unwieldy to have a presence in all of them.

Instead, you should research where your target demographic is, and which social platforms they use. For example, young people are more likely to use Snapchat, while people who are interested in interior design turn to Pinterest. Professionals spend time on LinkedIn, while news fiends love Twitter. Look carefully at who you’re trying to sell to, and then participate in the social networks that host those communities.

You’ll also need to spend some time figuring out what your brand’s tone of voice is. This should reflect how you want people to perceive your brand. Do you want to be the funny, quirky service that people love to use? Or are you a more sincere and serious service that relies on trust and respect? Make sure these kinds of personality traits come out in your social media presence.

The next step is to become part of the community. It’s not enough just to drop links and disappear. As people start to interact with your brand on social media, interact back. Answer their questions and be personable – social media is less about being a dry, stuffy business, and more about being human (within the limits of your brand’s personality). The most effective brands understand – and participate – in this.

You may be able to engage with influential people from your industry on social media to further enhance your social media marketing. Influencers will often have a greater reach and a more trusting audience than brands themselves, so find ways to work together with them to promote your products or services.

Depending on the platform you’re using, you’ll likely need to use visual content to be really successful on social media. As social media is dynamic and vibrant, blocks of words will rarely get read, whereas information that can be presented in infographics or short videos will track a great deal better. There are plenty of free or inexpensive tools that can help you produce this imagery quickly.

Social media can be a natural ally to your content marketing strategy, so be sure to integrate the two – make sure there’s share icons on your blog posts, for example, and share your content yourself on relevant platforms.

Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to spend some advertising dollars to amplify the reach of your content. Facebook Ads, for example, can be easily leveraged to drive growth at every stage of the sales funnel. Take the time to understand how to create high converting ads on social media, so you can drive real value out of your ad spend.

Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones

Head of Strategy + Growth at Web Profits
Duncan has been building websites and online businesses since the days of the 56k modem and made his first $1 online from annoying popup ads. With over 10 years experience, he leads Strategy + Growth at Web Profits and still loves the thrill of launching digital marketing campaigns, getting the first conversion and then rapidly optimising and scaling them for clients across the company.

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