Marketers using various social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – to market their products or services to the members on those platforms is called Social Media Marketing. Since the demand for social media marketing has grown rapidly in recent years, as social media has gone from a fad to an integral part of modern life, most platforms offer marketers built-in tools for creating ads, targeting a specific audience, analyzing how well their ad campaigns performed so they can adjust them accordingly.
The initial appeal of social media websites is that they allow individuals to interact online, building online social networks that mimic real-life relationships and communities. Marketing through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, lets marketers connect with potential customers in ways that feel more personal and authentic, and allows consumers to have direct interactions with companies.
Social media marketing also helps businesses maximize the power of word-of-mouth advertising. User comments and functions, such as “shares” and “retweets” (on Facebook and Twitter, respectively), generate free advertising for brands when loyal customers pass an advertising campaign to their friends and followers. A post that “goes viral” because of the number of shares is the most successful example of social media marketing.
As with any other marketing strategy, successful social media marketing requires a marketing plan. This strategic plan should address which of the many available platforms the marketing campaign will target, how much capital will be invested in the campaign – accounting for costs ranging from paying a social media manager to purchasing paid posts and pay-per-click ads – and what products and services the brand will market, the target markets for the campaign, and how the company will evaluate the campaign’s success.