Social media marketing involves using social media platforms to connect with potential and existing customers in order to promote awareness and purchase behaviour. This content and advertising material can take the form of both paid and non-paid material, both of which are core components of a business’ approach to social media. As social media platforms have developed they have become more astute at monetizing their ad platforms, the best example of which is Facebook which started as an advert free platform but quickly became one of the major advertising platforms turning over $26B from ad revenue.
Social media platforms are closed communities as they require a login, and therefore much of their data remains closed meaning that closed attribution models exist. This makes advertising through these platforms feel easy, but businesses should tread carefully. These attribution models are typically greedy taking all credit for user purchase so long as adverts have been seen. This does not typically tell the full story, as a user journey to purchase is often more complex and multi-channel. Therefore, attribution modelling should be something of a priority.
Social media platforms however do offer powerful pixels for conversion tracking and retargeting of users both from applications and websites meaning that social media advertising is a powerful tool when done well.
One of the major benefits of social media advertising is that you can target users across devices due to the single user sign on, i.e. social media platforms know when a user logs in from any device due to the requirement to sign into the platform.
Advertising on social media does potentially expose a business to a huge market, but each platform has its nuances ranging from native ad formats to targeting options. Getting advertising right on social media means aggressive testing of all the possible variables including; the social media platforms themselves, ad format, device type, bidding strategy, ad content and imagery, timing, targeting options and a whole lot more - and then all the permutations possible. This soon means that you can be faced with an insurmountable number of tests to run, so a robust approach to testing (often) starting as broadly as possible and scaling into working parameters is important.
One of the major benefits of advertising on social media is that a company can work to make it feel more personal than other more direct marketing channels. By interacting with users that comment or share their advert means that users can feel more connected to the business.
Businesses can also use social media without advertising, and aim to create and share content and ideas with relevant communities, their followers and influencers. This provides a different type of interaction with potential and existing customers on social media, one that can build longer term brand loyalty. Community advocacy, mixed with fun, social, highly shareable content means that content can go viral meaning huge exposure for a brand without ‘paying’ for it via advertising. This is obviously seen as the utopian way to market a brand, but is hard to do, simply because there is a lot of content on social media and getting above the noise can be hard. Therefore an approach that uses both paid and non paid is often the best, producing a hybrid approach to building communities, gaining exposure through content distribution and ultimately driving brand efficacy and purchase.Common areas of social media advertising include: