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Social media or more simply platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are applications that enable the interactive exchange of ideas, career-related topics, information, and other expressions over virtual communities and networks.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing, on the other hand, is the promotion of products and services utilizing computers, laptops, and other digital devices via the internet. The digital platform has drastically reduced the footfalls or physical visits to the shops. Digital marketing campaigns involve and combine Search Engine Optimization(SEO), social media marketing, e-commerce marketing, e-books, display advertising, etc. Television, mobile phones(SMS and MMS) that provide non-internet-based digital media also form a part of digital marketing. No wonder digital marketing courses are becoming a hot favorite as it opens the doors for an alternate career.
A more refined and direct definition of digital marketing is the advertisement delivered through mobile apps, search engines, web pages and social media.
With the onslaught of social media; the MSM (mainstream media) like the television has steadily declined in importance, as a means of information. The easy two-way communication offered on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook has resulted in people flocking to such mediums. The digital marketers are therefore focusing their campaigns more and more on social media because love it or hate it, social media is here to stay.
With the onslaught of social media; the MSM (mainstream media) like the television, as a means of information has steadily declined. The easy two-way communication offered on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook has resulted in people flocking to such mediums. The digital marketers are therefore focusing their campaigns more and more on social media because love it or hate it, social media is here to stay.
A study has revealed that in the U.S.A. an individual devotes 11+ hours on electronic devices
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The social media marketing involves uploading images, texts, videos and content on social media which engages the people using such platforms. No social media digital campaign can start without a plan. Even the choice of the social media platform depends on the company and the kind of industry it belongs to .The plan should clearly lay down the following points:
a) What is the purpose of the social media campaign or more simply what is desired to be achieved?
b) Target Audience
c) Channel where the target audience is most likely to be found and
d) The message to be delivered to the target audience through the campaign
The goals to be achieved through this social media marketing plan can be put down as:
i) Increasing brand awareness
ii) Creation of brand identity and awareness
iii) Driving conversions
iv) engaging with the audiences and improving communication
v) Channelizing traffic to the website
Here are some essential features of a social media marketing campaign:
A) Planning the content – Researching on keywords as well as what the competitors are doing are important to design the content. If the content is not well thought out and planned the campaign is bound to meet with failure.
B) Posting exciting and eye-catching content – Posting valuable and exciting information on a consistent basis helps in catching user attention as well as driving more traffic.
C) Maintaining a brand image – If the content has to be posted on various platforms the consistency aspect of the brand whether be it trustworthiness, fun – loving, durability etc. must be maintained so that the brand image does not take a beating.
D)Using blogs and contents to get new followers – Social media marketing and content marketing can both complement each other in bringing traffic. A great blog or a superb content is sure to attract followers who are easy conversion targets for the linked brand.
E)Sharing links – To improve reliability and engage with followers, sharing links can be a sure shot winning formula. It impresses the followers and may result in others too sharing their links.
F) Keeping a tab on the competitors – The competitors have to be tracked to keep updating the media strategy. If a plan seems to be working for the competitors it makes sense to incorporate the same with the necessary modifications.
G) Measuring success or failure – Without a proper measurement of the campaign it is futile to gauge the success or failure. Using Google Analytics is one such method in which the campaign’s effectiveness can be judged. Attaching tracking tags on every campaign on different platforms will give us an idea of which campaigns to discard and which to retain. Using analytics for every social media platform is bound to keep the business abreast with the success or failure of a campaign.
Each social media platform has its own unique environment and user base. A unique strategy has to be worked out based on the uniqueness of the platforms. Let’s look into the major social media platforms and their features and the marketing strategy suited for each:
This is one of the most popular sites where users go to relax and chat with friends. The subjects range from friendly banters to politics, current affairs. An active social media strategy here would involve starting with making a Business Fan Page. The layout has to be catchy and the tone friendly. The visual appeal is of utmost importance on this site. The ad strategy should be cost effective simply because the organic reach is extremely limited..
Following like minded people on twitter almost surely ensures that they follow back. The messages are seamlessly broadcast across the web on twitter and is certainly one of the most popular social media sites, simply because of its simplicity. However the restriction on the number of characters is a dampener.
The retweeting of tweets praising the products is bound to spread the message and replying to queries keeps the communication flowing. Twitter is all about communication.
It is the most popular professional site. LinkedIn offers a platform for like minded professionals from the same industry or field to share their experiences. It is also a very popular site for scouting talent. It also offers a great platform for networking among employees. The recommendations given by employees and customers build the credibility of the brand and they should be encouraged to do so. Another way to establish oneself as a thought leader is by browsing the Questions section and providing answers.
It is without doubt one of the most popular social media site for sharing videos. It is one of the most popular social media marketing tools too. No social media manager can think of ignoring You Tube because of its reach . The How to videos are a sure shot method of ranking higher on the search results and therefore such videos should be posted . The video aspect of social media marketing can never be overlooked.
This site has great potential for social media marketers because it has up to 2 billion page views on an average. The content on this platform however has to be high quality and specific. The tech savvy community on Reddit can be extremely fussy and therefore the content has to be unique and interesting. Going on Reddit without a proper plan can lead to disastrous results. It is therefore advised to be extremely cautious when using this platform. The users are generally young, up -market adults and teenagers with excellent knowledge of technology..
This is growing very fast as a social media site. Pinterest primarily caters to females. Those businesses with this particular demography should definitely include this site in their media plans. The image centered site offers great potential for businesses to showcase their products. It also builds brand personality, which are eye catching and unique
Let’s look into the roles and benefits of social media in digital marketing:
1) Social media is the place where customers are – This is a question of survival now. By 2021 3.1 billion people would be using social media. So it’s now no more a choice of the marketers, it’s more of a compulsion. Social media is where the people are, and if a product or service has to be promoted; it is where the target audience is. According to a survey done in the U.S. roughly three out of the four people have at least one social media account. So ignore it at your own peril.
2) Inbound traffic increases – The profiles on social media and the posts made improve the chances of the visits and hence the conversions. The posts made can be an effective strategy to complement the Search Engine Optimization. Having a presence on social media thus helps in bringing traffic and improves the chances of converting these leads. The social media posts are important weapons to invite customers to the website.
3) Social media messages are received better – The social media users are primarily there to network with family and friends as well as to participate and read about topics they love. However, a lot of them are also there to follow their particular brand, about the deals they can make, to know about new product launches, and to engage and be informed. Social media thus offers a creative medium to offer products and services. A message well packaged will always be very well received as the networking on such sites spreads the message quickly and effectively and more specifically to the target audience
4) Instant brand recognition – The reach of social media means that any business profile with quality content is immediately recognized. The networking aspect of social media helps any brand offering innovativeness and value to be well known and recognized. The building up of a business profile and posting quality content also brings new visitors and increases brand recognition. Having profiles on multiple platforms also helps in brand recognition. People are wowed by the presence of a brand at multiple platforms and consider them trustworthy.
5) Cost-Effective – A study done in the U.S. revealed that social media marketing is three times less expensive than other traditional mediums. The best and the most interesting feature of social media is the continuous and uninterrupted conversation that can take place between the business and the customer at no cost at all. The designing of the site and the way the contents are presented do take up a lot of time but are well worth the time invested. Also at a very nominal cost target audiences can be reached. The advertising on social media is considerably more effective than traditional media because it engages people more and simply because specific audiences can be targeted and reached.
6) To target a specific audience – For a successful social media campaign, a demographic profile has to be built up. The age, gender, income group, location, hobbies etc. have to be systematically drawn up before a decision is taken of the social media channel to be targeted. Even the selection of the social media platform is done in the light of user preferences and the likelihood of the presence of the target group. The time, energy, and money can be spent on targeting the specific market.
7) To rank higher on search engines – One of the factors considered by search engines is the presence on the social media channels. So, to rank higher in searches , presence on social media is highly beneficial. The credibility and reputation of the brand are considerably enhanced by the presence as it is considered a plus factor by search engines. Therefore to rank higher in search engines, social media presence should be a plus.
8) Social media is where the competitors are – Digital marketing for businesses nowadays mandatorily involves social media , because if you are not there you are missing out. There is a high chance that the competitors are already doing their digital marketing and maybe already engaging with customers. It, therefore, makes sense to be where the crowd is. The digital marketplace is now a crowded place and digital marketing for businesses is one of the hottest courses being offered. Social media is one platform where the brand can express itself in a variety of ways It can use texts, audio, video, charts, images to register its presence. Social media thus cannot be ignored when considering a digital campaign, no matter what the industry is.
9) Higher conversion rate – Social media helps in engaging with customers as well as getting authentic and faster feedback. This means that any digital campaign on social media has a much higher chance of a conversion . The brands can draw
customers’ attention with a variety of tools and colors. The contents can get immediate feedback and any negative aspects can be immediately ironed out.
Thus social media leads to a higher conversion rate.
10) Benefit of online review –‘One of the benefits of social media is the reviews shared by users and the brands recommended. A product advertised on the social media platform has this great potential to be used and instant feedback with recommendation acts as a trigger like the word of mouth advertisements. It is not only free but the message travels quickly and covers a cross-spectrum of users.
Therefore this recommendation aspect of social media users is a cheap form of digital marketing and effective too.
11) Develops Brand Loyalty – The continuous updating of the brand’s development and new features added to keep the customers interested in the brand. The marketing done on social media platforms is effective because of the frequency and repetition of the use of media channels by users. The bigger companies spend a lot on loyalty programs but the smaller ones can exploit the social media platforms to engage with customers and create brand loyalty. Social media is a place where people love interacting and therefore is just the right platform for building a bond.
12) Gaining new customer insights – As already discussed the social media is an interactive platform and therefore the customer point of view can be readily gauged.
The requirements of the customers can be easily deduced by engaging with them, This also helps in new product development. What a product lacks and what the competitors are offering can easily be found out through social listening. This involves keeping an eye on the trending topics on the social media platform. It is a very convenient method of finding out what’s trending. This then can be used to model digital media campaigns.
13) Brand authority is enhanced – The positioning of the brand as a leader in its category can be effectively managed on social media sites. The value of the content and the popularity in terms of engagements propels the brand. The more the word of mouth advertisement takes place, the greater the reach of the brand. People begin identifying with the brand and bring in new leads and customers.
The brand, if it offers value, gets etched in the minds of the customers because of the repetitive visits that are so much a feature of social media.
14) Wealth of customer data – Continuous engagements and social listening enables a business to collect data. This data is useful in a variety of ways. It can be analyzed to study consumer behavior and also ultimately plays a role in product development. For the betterment of the brand, this data is like a goldmine. The social listening aspect thus assumes great significance both in product development and content development. .The repeat visits of the users on social media ensure a steady stream if proper and value contents are posted.
15) Opportunity to provide excellent customer service – The continuous engagement on social media platforms enables a brand to immediately correct any flaw in the product or service. The presence of the brand on the social media platform is therefore not a choice. To provide excellent and exceptional customer service the brand’s presence on the channels is a must. With more than 3.1 billion people expected to be on at least one social media platform by 2021; it provides an ideal channel to listen to grievances and correct the flaws. Facebook analytics can be used to check which products are performing better within the target market. The conversion of posts can also be checked across various platforms to find out which campaigns are doing well and which all re lacking.
16) Using social media to retarget – The cookies can be posted on the website anonymously on the browsers as a social media marketing tool. On a visit by a user, the retargeting service shows the ads. The retargeting works fabulously in social media marketing . On the first visit, people do not tend to purchase. This is where the role of cookies come in handy.
17) Call to action can be added – Social media marketing also involves posts like call to action to generate buying interest. The call to action can involve early bird discounts, discounts on bulk purchases, free products along with a purchase etc. The digital marketing campaigns on social media can easily highlight such call to action ,which can drastically increase conversions.
18) Communicating with customers about topics of common interest – Following the customers who write reviews about related brands and have good following is a good digital marketing strategy. The chances are that the customers if they find the conversation engaging will follow back. This makes the task of converting him/her much easier. Brand loyalties can easily be built in this manner. The value of the content will definitely play a big role in such an initiative. Social media is all about creating value content .
19) Use of tools like hashtags – Only the social media has tools like the hashtags which can help an ad to go viral. The digital marketing for businesses are widely using the hashtags to promote their brands .Having an account on social media thus
helps a lot in the digital marketing campaign. The brand can become a trendsetter if the content is good and offers value, and the campaign can go viral very quickly if it strikes the right chord. Digital marketers have to get actively involved in social listening to have a pulse on the customer requirements.
20) Generating conversation around the brand – The content created on the social media platform or any post if it catches the eye of the readers will generate interest in the brand. This can be done in any manner that the marketer thinks will get people talking. It can be a short film, a logo, a catchy slogan, any animation. The value or the entertainment aspect of the activity if it creates an impression can help the brand go viral. The customers should get a feel that the brand is a person and is communicating.
So, these were the benefits and role of Social Media in the field of Digital Marketing.