A Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing and Advertising
This article will provide accurate and contemporary information about social media marketing and advertising. Our goal is to add to your general understanding of the topic with a discussion of some relevant information, hoping that you will be able to apply and use that knowledge to add value to your online business activities from a better-informed perspective. The article will define the two strategies before looking at how to implement them in a step-by-step way to increase the success of your business, as well as examine where both tools are used with the greatest effect.
Social media marketing uses an appropriate social media platform to target a particular audience organically, to grow that audience over time, driving more traffic to your website, increasing sales, and promoting your brand. Other benefits include being able to distribute your content quickly and gain continuous, real-time insight into trends in your marketplace, including the ability to monitor the activities of your competitors.
Social media advertising, in contrast, is a kind of digital marketing that makes use of paid advertisements to target your audience in a much more precise and immediate way, with the benefit of speed to reach your target market directly. When social media marketing and advertising strategies are applied together in a step-by-step manner, they have the potential to generate greatly enhanced visibility and conversion for businesses.
Find Your Target Audience
The first step of a social media marketing and advertising campaign is to identify where your target client spends their time—meaning what social media platform they are most active on. Are they on LinkedIn? If you are selling business to business (B2B), then this could be the ideal location to connect with new clients.
However, If you’re targeting business-to-consumer (B2C), then Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram may be the best platforms to run with. Twitter can also be used for B2B effectively and Youtube is quite effective on both. At this point, Facebook might be a better option to target an older demographic, while Instagram is very popular with young people.
At least, in the beginning, make a decision and start with a single platform. It’s a mistake to dilute your energy and try to juggle numerous platforms as a beginner. Both time and effort are required to master just one platform for social marketing and advertising, and spreading yourself thinly is a poor strategy for a novice entrepreneur or social media marketer.
Identify a clear strategy for resonating with your target audience on the most suitable platform. Then, build connections and do the work to engage, find out where the audience asks their questions and answer them. If they leave a comment for you, then take the time to acknowledge it.
These grassroots connections will create followers who are genuinely invested in you and your content and will be much more valuable than trying to create your following using “like for like,” or similar artificial strategies. If you have a huge artificial following, and only a fraction of it engages with you, this may trigger a social media algorithm to marginalize you for a poor engagement rate.
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Understand the Algorithms
As difficult as they may be to pin down, it’s also worth taking the time to study the gatekeepers of the particular platform that you have chosen to do business on—the algorithms. Although algorithms change regularly, they have a huge effect on the content that users experience on the platform and need to be understood well.
The relevant algorithm will, from a generally random beginning, become increasingly specific and unique for each member of the platform as it analyzes their online habits and behavior. It will quickly learn the preferences and interests of each user and begin to send them content that is steadily more aligned with this to keep the user on the platform longer.
Some algorithms will focus on dwell time (or what makes a user spend more time on a specific post), while others want to see what triggers FOMO (fear of missing out). Video content algorithms have become significantly more sophisticated; moving from understanding, liking, commenting, and sharing to detecting when a viewer has enabled full-screen mode or turned up the volume.
The LinkedIn algorithm, as another example, is primarily concerned with connections (your immediate network), relevance (keywords and hashtags), and probability of engagement (decided by the algorithm in the first hour after posting). Keeping abreast of the latest trends in the relevant algorithm will provide an opportunity for you to understand what needs to be done to get in front of your target audience more.
Understanding your algorithm will also prevent you from making unwitting mistakes that accidentally trigger it into restricting your visibility on the platform. The abovementioned like for like strategy may be one, while others include carelessly using copyrighted content, republishing content that is visibly marked with the logo of another platform, and using bad or inappropriate language.
A final point related to algorithms is that you should always produce what the algorithm considers high-quality content. While SEO (search engine optimization) is still relevant, as algorithms continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, it’s now more difficult (thankfully) to get past them without having some genuine value to offer.
That value could be in the form of some excellent, informative, and detailed written content or something that the algorithm believes will genuinely engage people on the platform, serving their needs and encouraging them to interact on the platform longer. However, the consensus is that you must provide content that provides someone with something, and the better it is, the more your following will grow.
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Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Another key point is to ask yourself what your particular strengths as a content creator are—Are you a good writer who can create excellent content in the written word (LinkedIn), are you good with photography (Instagram), or, are you highly skilled at making engaging videos (YouTube)?
It’s important to take your personal experience and talents into consideration and not make unnecessary mistakes. Making a careless mistake in social media marketing and advertising can result in your marketing going viral for the wrong reasons—very publicly.
Leading world newspapers accidentally disrupting serious content with the accidental use of a Chrome extension intended for satire, tweets from government educational departments with basic typos, and a confusing advertisement from a famous beverage company that appears to contradict itself are examples of shooting yourself in the foot when trying to use clever social media marketing and advertising techniques.
Have mastery over whatever platform you use, understand how to use it inside out, and check and recheck everything before you publish content. One of the best ways to safeguard your online reputation is to use a professionally trained content writer.
Use the Right Tone to Engage the Right People
Once you have found the audience and platform, ensure that you are using the correct tone to relate to them. There is a time for skillful copywriting and a time for taking the time for detailed, educational content. When you use copywriting—the language of emotion— in social media marketing and advertising, you need to get the tone just right.
The tone used by a top US baseball coach to sell a course to teenage athletes will be different from a former politician in the UK endorsing cryptocurrency courses for the general public—and worlds apart from a cosmetics brand marketed for ladies in India.
That’s not to suggest that any of these three examples are in some way illegitimate, but the tone is another variable that could either sink the product or push it over the finish line to convert.
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Have a Product or Service that is Going to Sell
The next point is simple but critical—Do you have a product or service that is attractive to your audience? Will they buy it from you? Do you have the necessary faith in it to make the emotional commitment to its success? Consumer trends change constantly, and an entrepreneur must be skilled in assessing if there is a current demand that is large enough to justify the investment of time and money involved.
Accurately identify a key niche in the market where there is a need for what you are selling, and then decide on the right marketing strategy. Will your product be marketed as a lower-priced alternative to its competitors? Or, would it be better to increase the price and focus on quality that is superior to what is already available?
Learn to judge when you should be creating content to entertain, and when you should be creating high-quality content that informs the reader, such as a detailed LinkedIn blog post. The quality of your writing is one factor that can keep people reading your page until they decide to follow up and convert.
Going back to the above examples, while skillful copywriting language that highlights the novelty or fun of your product has its place, it must be combined with something of tangible value. Clever copywriting that understands how to use emotions effectively will engage the audience, but will only go so far.
If your audience recognizes that they are spending their time on nothing more than a clever sales pitch, they will bounce. Once you have landed your target audience with an appropriate social media marketing strategy, the same tool can be retasked to retain your new clients.
Most people are prepared to leave instant feedback on social media platforms in the form of reviews, complaints, comments, and likes; appearing to enjoy the simplicity and speed of it, rather than leaving feedback via lengthy emails or automated phone systems. Thanks to this simplicity and the instant interaction with client feedback on social media, keeping an eye on what your target audience is doing is straightforward.
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The sheer speed of effective social media marketing and advertising strategies is one of their main attractions. The coveted result of one of your advertisements “going viral” is associated only with social media, and particularly in the case of a well-targeted social media advertising campaign, the speed of your results can be phenomenal.
Although the terms marketing and advertising are often used on an interchangeable basis, it’s worth examining the differences. The clearest way to different social media marketing and advertising is that social media marketing involves social media activities to increase engagement without spending money, while social media advertising costs money.
The things that you do in the background like commenting or liking comments, interacting with people in various social media groups, and posting to build your relationship and visibility with your target audience are all forms of free marketing. When you decide to invest in a professional advertising campaign or run paid advertisements on whatever platform you have chosen, that must be paid for.
And—as the adage goes—you do usually get exactly what you pay for. Social media advertising offers the significant advantage of reaching your target audience immediately and with precision, while marketing is usually a long game. Both strategies have advantages and disadvantages.
Social media marketing is very good for building a sense of community around your brand, which is advantageous for long-term, organic growth. Individuals who join communities usually do so because they like the other people involved. If they like you, then they will naturally develop trust in you; if they trust you, then they can do business with you.
Social media communities that provide quality content that adds real value to the members grow in a virtuous cycle for the owners. After a while, the community begins to run with a degree of autopilot as the more experienced members engage with the newer ones, providing social proof for the brand and advice for the new joiners.
Brand awareness and trust are consistently reinforced within the group as individuals begin to see their membership as an enjoyable and valuable part of their lives. They increasingly identify with the community and draw in new members from their circles.
This process of understanding human psychology and building a relationship before asking people to buy something from you is important. It is the reason why some top online businesses offer free value (such as educational courses) for months before they pitch a suggestion to purchase a paid product or service.
Rather than trying to hook a customer with a strategy like a single free training on YouTube, they will take the time to build an extended relationship with a potential client, providing detailed professional knowledge and some kind of in-house certificate. In the end, if the potential client has stayed the course, they respect and trust the training provider and are more inclined to convert and recommend the brand.
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Social Media Advertising Methods
Looking at paid social media advertisement methods, one option is to use static-image advertisements, making use of our instinct to be drawn toward attractive visual images rather than text. Static-image ads are used extensively on numerous platforms and often contain a strategically placed, “click now” button to stimulate an impulse buy.
Stories ads are another short-term popular advertising technique, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. Instagram stories ads allow the option of choosing a target audience in great detail from an overall audience that ranges in the hundreds of millions of daily users. Previous customers who have already converted can be excluded from the campaign.
People who reside permanently in a particular geographic location can be targeted, while individuals who are passing through can be ignored, or vice versa. Selection can be made by age, gender, or even language; and the ad can be inserted into feeds, in-stream videos, searches, or messenger-sponsored messages.
The creative tools are extensive, with options including the addition of royalty-free music and visually engaging call-to-action (CTA) effects. Interestingly, some tools can be used to moderate the “sales” tone of an advertisement and give it the appearance of being a little more organic, such as Hyperlapse, which is useful for editing time-lapse videos.
Metrics for Social Media Marketing
These are other tools in your armory that can be used to gain valuable information, including reach, engagement, and conversion. Reach metrics give an idea of how many people, apart from your followers, are exposed to your content. Reach metrics include your audience growth rate and your post outreach, which gives information about the number of people that have read your post since publication.
Engagement metrics give a more sophisticated view of your audience engagement and complement more conventional statistics such as comments, likes, and shares. Engagement metrics include the amplification rate (the way that your followers are sharing your content through their networks), the average engagement rate, and, very importantly, the virality rate, or the exponential growth rate of your potentially viral content.
Finally, conversion metrics give you that essential glimpse of what your content is doing for your bottom line: How many members of your audience became clients after seeing your content, and the click-through rate, which provides information about the number of individuals that responded to your call to action (CTA).
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Any article on social media marketing and advertising would be incomplete with a brief discussion about how the topic relates to the device that social media has now grown up with—the smartphone. These once inaccessible devices are now available at an affordable price in most of the world, and smartphones and social media are both aspects of modern life that work together in a new subculture.
A brief look around some public transport during rush hour will demonstrate how this subculture operates! Therefore, when planning social media marketing and advertising content, the content must be optimized for mobile devices. Photos should be easily accessible from a mobile device, and layouts and landing pages should also be tested on a smartphone.
The growing phenomenon of “shorts” (short online videos), while often lamented as destroying the dopamine receptors of the younger generation, is now an unavoidable reality for them. Many people are losing their ability to concentrate for long or even medium periods, so including short, visually attractive content in your social media marketing and advertising strategy may be worth serious consideration.
Q1. What are the best social media marketing and advertising strategy?
It’s going to be bespoke! However, as we’ve discussed above, while both social media marketing and social media advertising do slightly different jobs, the best strategy is often to use them together.
Q2. Can I repost old content?
Basically—not if you want to maximize your chances of reaching new clients: Effective social media strategies thrive on new, fresh, and engaging content.
Q3. What’s the biggest mistake?
Probably inconsistency. Particularly with social media marketing, which requires a lot of work to build up an organic following.
At this point, it will already be clear that a successful strategy to generate traffic and acquire new clients is going to combine both marketing and advertising. The constant attention to organic social media marketing provides the foundation of your strategy, and pays dividends over a long period, while advertising allows you to get in front of exactly the client that you are looking for immediately, targeting them with speed and precision.
As a final point, when using social media marketing and advertising as a new content creator or entrepreneur, it’s worth remembering a point summed up by a recent online saying, “avoid building your house on rented land.” What this means is that while social media marketing and advertising allow you the potential for dramatic growth, you are always a guest on these platforms, and situations can evolve abruptly that is not advantageous to you: An algorithm can change or you can even lose access to your account. It is, therefore, advisable to use your social media presence to lead traffic to your blog, website, or email list, rather than depending on social media platforms alone.