Social media marketing; the concept, the practice, the methodology, is the thing of the hour. Clearly the inevitable!
It’s amazing how social media has come a long way in last few years. It’s impossible to imagine life without social media now. From sharing personal posts to offering a product or service, it means different things to different people.
Imagine a world without social media. Think how you can survive without your favorite social media platform for a day.
Sounds difficult. Right?
Social media is not a platform we go to everyday to pass our time. It is a part of our life. An indispensable part without which life is incomplete.
When someone asks me “How to get into social media marketing?”
When someone asks me “who is social media marketer?”
My first reaction is “Aren’t we all already social media marketers?”
Have you ever thought “When I share a post of a brand, am I promoting it?” “When I write a review of a product/service, am I not promoting the service?”.
So, aren’t we all social media marketers already? Sharing our posts, our videos, changing our status daily. Selling our friends and acquaintances the best of us already?
In my personal opinion (which is subjected to debate) we are already “unintentional social media marketers” helping brands promote their products.
But before we begin with “are we or are we not”, and how to become a social media marketer? Let’s first understand what is social media marketing?
What is social media marketing definition:
As per Wikipedia, Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service.
Let’s dig it deeper;
It means the way we promote ourselves, putting our best foot forward, on social media platforms like facebook, Instagram, linkedin to promote our fanfare or to look for opportunities; we can also promote our businesses on the same platforms, leveraging the power of content, to elevate our customer base.
But What does a social media marketer do ? Is the pertinent question every new bee in social media marketing asks me?
How to be a Social media marketer? And for that matter a successful one.
Well, let’s first revisit the process of marketing to understand how this age-old process applies aptly to social media marketing.
Let’s put some marketing in social media to formulate steps which will help you be a good social media marketer.
My MBA studies taught me some fundamentals of Marketing (I have applied them invariably to all the new methods of marketing for years). Here they are:
- Market Analysis
- Identify Target Segment
- Marketing Strategy/ Marketing Mix
- Marketing Management
Identify, analyze, interpret all social media platforms, i.e, number of platforms, reach of these platforms, demographics of the users. Evaluate each platform individually to check it’s potential in terms of your product or service. And design your content creation strategy for them.
Example: Is Facebook the right platform for promoting clothing brand?
Would it be ok to publish job related content on Linkedin? Shall I put this video on Pinterest or Instagram or both?
It’s important to analyse all these social media platforms, instead of cluttering them with irrelevant content.
Identify Target Segment:
One can’t be selling everything to everybody, it’s impossible! So, time to identify the people you want to address your marketing efforts to. The important demographics being; age, ethnicity, gender, income group, state/ city, etc.
It’s important to listen to your target segment. What interests them? what’s important to them? what excites them?
Participate in discussions which interest them. Be a part of your target segment. Think like them to capture them.
Build a relationship with your target segment. Social media marketing is all about forming relations, being there for your prospective customer to give timely response.
Marketing Strategy/ Marketing Mix:
To develop an effective marketing strategy, specific to your target segment, it is important to take into aspect the 4 P’s of marketing mix.
Product, Price, place and promotion (All thanks to Mr. Mc Carthy J. whose concept of 4Ps of marketing still hold true)
Having all P’s in sync with your media platforms and your target audience is important.
How you place your product or service and on which platforms are you promoting, should all be in sync to achieve maximum growth instead of clutter.
This is the action phase of the development of marketing program in which a suitable marketing mix is set of a target segment.
It’s important to connect and build relationship with people who are the influencers in your market, with quality audiences, and those who are likely to be interested. If you provide useful information and they share your content on their walls, then you have found a huge new audience.
How to be successful in social media marketing?
A fool-proof process can take you a long way in building a sound social media strategy. Trust your instincts along the way, as you know your product the best. Share relevant and useful information. There is no shortcut to real, authentic content. You nail it, and you have got it.
Easier said than done, right?
Ever wondered about the evolution of social media marketing?
Technology has taken its own time to make social media so vast and so easily available. But how did it all begin? Where did we start? Did people really get the pioneer advantage? Wasn’t orkut the only popular platform when we started? So, what is the current scenario like?
Let’s have a look:
Number one rule in every book is Facebook:
We live in a world where Facebook alone has 1.65 billion active monthly users. There is something for everyone on Facebook. The chance to keep in touch with your peers, the user-friendly design for everybody, icing on the cake being it is free. But wait, wasn’t orkut all of this already? What went wrong?
Widespread belief is that Orkut lacked focus, wasn’t as user friendly as one needed an invite to join Orkut. Also, their inability to scale, with lack of privacy, was a turnoff for most people. And by the end of it all, Facebook was everywhere. Better and stronger!
There is no in without LinkedIn :
The most utilized B2B platform in the world. It’s the most widely accepted no-nonsense social media channel among businesses. The platform boasts of 200 million users worldwide.
It’s easy for the brands to communicate and promote awareness, for job seekers to build relations and seek opportunities. Easy and relevant to build network.
Content, content, content! :
Just like my 2 year old says ‘Hurray’ ’Every time she is pleased, we say ‘Hurray’ when we see enjoyable content. People i.e. your target segment seek content, relevant content, on online platforms.
Creating a story around your brand is important. One must talk, you can’t keep mum in this new digital age. Just selling is not enough anymore, you should talk, talk about your experiences, your product, your customers, your story, your processes. Create information which people are willing to spend time reading.
The good thing is, we have access to lot of information regarding customer preferences, their spending habits and their interests. It couldn’t make more sense to create the best of content to connect with your audience.
Stay updated and keep things live:
Twitter is doing a great job at keeping things up to date. Live videos are a thing with facebook and snapchat. Visuals have picked up pace in last 1-2 years.
So, even if you thought that some of us got the pioneers advantage, you need to rethink. In this constantly evolving, everchanging industry, it’s difficult to remain at advantage always. You have to keep yourself updated constantly to enjoy the ongoing advantage.
We can never be too futuristic. There are talks of Facebook launching facebook360 already. It’s about camera capturing things in real time. The virtual reality! It’s about creating a new experience visually.
Like we moved from 2D to 3D to 4D in movies, we will move from Facebook to Facebook 360 someday.
The key is to think ahead of times. Everybody is curious about new, about latest, that is how we stay in’!
It took a decade for social media industry to evolve from Orkut to Facebook, from SMS to Whatsapp messages, from images to videos.
All it takes is revolutionary thinking! Think ahead of times, post relevant content, keep your user base as engaged as possible.
No one has the pioneer advantage here for too long, as trends catch up pretty quickly and within no time everybody catches up.
So, to sustain, keep producing relevant user-friendly content.
That is the key to being a successful social media marketer.
And you don’t have to know social media marketing only to be a successful social media marketer. The growth of social media has led to some careers requiring social media marketing as a “must” skill set.
One of them is marketing. Marketing professional in today’s era should know social media marketing in some form or the other.
It might not be a full-fledged career for them but it is an add on skill which they cannot do without.
They must know “how to use social media in marketing” and “how to generate leads through social media” to help their offline efforts in generating leads.