As the number of social media users grows continuously, social media marketing keeps becoming more complex and more competitive. So we bring you a rundown of some key facts you should keep in mind before deciding to grow your business with the help of social media in 2024.
For a brief moment first, let’s go back in time. The year is 2010. Less than a billion people are social media users. Only 28% of businesses are leveraging the benefits of social media marketing. And a thing called poking is a thing.
Fast forward to 2023.
Obviously, we’ve come a long way from poking. The growth and the evolution of social media and social media marketing have been remarkably fast and show no signs of stopping.
But with all this in mind, what if you’re just starting to build your brand’s presence on social media? Or what if you do have a social media business page and have already run some ads but you’re not happy with the results? Maybe you’re wondering how can you turn your situation around and make social media work wonders for your business.
Let’s start answering that.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing encompasses promoting your products/services, raising awareness about your business, communicating with your existing audience, and reaching new ones via platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other similar sites.
But to achieve your desired goals on social media, you will need to go well beyond creating a business page and occasional posting. Social media marketing is a full-time job that requires putting some very creative assets to use and a serious effort on your part. Most importantly, it requires a good strategy with clear goals you can measure.
So let’s briefly describe each ingredient of successful social media marketing you are going to need:
Marketing strategy for social media: Your social media strategy should have a clear vision and, more specifically, describe a course of action and steps needed to take to achieve your goals. It includes both organic (unpaid) and paid (if you plan to advertise) growth activities as well as defining how you will measure success.
We highly recommend that you develop a separate marketing strategy for each social media platform/site because they all come with a different set of features, formats, rules, users’ expectations, demographics, trends, and history.
Social media content creation and management: This includes planning, creating, and posting relevant and original content on your social media business page/profile (i.e. photos, photo galleries, graphics, videos, lives, stories, etc.).
Community management: Reviewing and responding to comments on your posts, in your inbox and DMs, providing customer support, generating/encouraging more engagement, building a community, managing brand reputation, and social listening (monitoring brand mentioning) across a social media platform.
Social media advertising: Developing social media advertising strategy and plans, creating, managing, and optimizing ads and ad campaigns. Collaborating with relevant social media influencers, a.k.a. influencer marketing.
Results analysis and review: Monitoring the results of your organic and paid content, audting your content and ad campaigns, conducting competitive research and analysis, defining benchmarks, and finding opportunities to improve and optimize your social media marketing (and strategy) for even better results.
What platforms are the most popular choices for social media marketing?
Given so many choices, small businesses particularly feel the pressure and end up creating business pages on too many platforms to handle. This practice often leads to wasted resources and poor (if any) results. That is why, especially for small businesses, the key to successful social media marketing is to focus.
Find the right social media that is a good fit for your business and give it all you’ve got: your resources, your energy, and your best ideas. The rewards will ultimately follow. And only when they do on one platform, and if your resources allow you to, move on to the next. Remember – quality over quantity wins in the long run.
On this note, finding the right fit for your business will depend on several factors. First and foremost, you need to know your target audience and develop your brand’s personality. Consider your overall business and marketing goals and gauge your resources (for example, how many people will be involved, how much time will it take daily, your budget, tools, etc.).
It’s crucial that you also get yourself familiar with the way your social media works: the trends, the features, formats, user preferences, etc. For example, some social media platforms are a much better fit for B2B and others for B2C companies.
In the end, if all of this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is a lot of work. As we mentioned before in this article, maintaining a successful social media presence is a full-time job.
To introduce you to the rich landscape of social media options, in the following section, we will give a quick overview of some of the most popular platforms you can choose for your business to start with.
However, the organic reach on Facebook has been declining for some time now, so you will need to make a lot of effort to get the exposure. To overcome this, you can begin by posting highly relevant content in different formats (text, photo, video, etc.) and leverage the power of Facebook groups to gain momentum.
The story about Facebook is not complete without Facebook Messenger, which has grown to such an extent it is considered a separate platform today. Currently, this messaging app has over 1 billion active monthly users.
Like Facebook and Messenger, also owned by Meta is another messaging app WhatsApp, and a picture/video sharing app Instagram. WhatsApp has 2 billion monthly active users, the same as Instagram, which makes them the third and the fourth most popular social media platforms.
A popular video platform with close to 2.5 billion active monthly users, YouTube is the second most popular social media site. It is also the second largest search engine (Google being the first) and the second most searched-for website in the world (Google is the first one in this category too). In 2021, as a response to TikTok, YouTube introduced YouTube Shorts encouraging its creators to post short videos in a vertical format.
Like Facebook, Instagram is also owned by Meta and has currently 2 billion active monthly users, which makes Instagram the fourth most popular social media platform. More than 70% of its users are under the age of 34.
In addition to its advanced e-commerce and advertising tools and options, Instagram is perhaps best known as a platform for sharing content of high visual quality. Initially, it started as a photo-sharing app, but it’s increasingly becoming more focused on short videos (IG’s vertical format video called Reels), Stories (posts and videos that disappear from your profile after 24 hours), collaborative posts, and other benefits great for influencer marketing.
In July 2023 Instagram introduced Threads, a text-based conversation app, a lot like Twitter. These text-based posts let users follow what’s going on in the world and start conversations around different topics.
After email, LinkedIn is the second most important channel for sharing business-related content. Microsoft’s platform designed for business networking and B2B was founded in 2003. This makes LinkedIn one of the oldest social media platforms, along with Facebook.
By sharing content that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise (via articles, video or photo portfolios, educational infographics), LinkedIn opens up many opportunities to reach your target audience and grow organically. And if that doesn’t work, there are various advertising options to choose from, including sponsored posts and messages, dynamic personalized ads, lead generation forms, etc.
Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has had a meteoric rise. Today, with 1.2+billion active monthly users, it is best known as a platform that brilliantly combines relevant content, e-commerce, and building communities around various topics. It’s a favorite app among Gen Zs and millennials. Both generations are highly engaged on TikTok and spend hours on the app. The reason for this somewhat addictive behavior is TikTok’s algorithm that delivers highly personalized content tailored to match each user’s particular interests.
In its infancy, TikTok was primarily focused on short entertaining videos but has over time expanded its content range. Today you can find much longer videos, stories, photos, and photo galleries/carousels on the app. In addition to that, TikTok has worked on differentiating itself as both an edutainment platform and a search engine of its kind. As of mid-2022, TikTok has also introduced several advertising options for businesses but they are not yet available in all countries.
You can further read all about what it takes to make it on TikTok in our in-depth article “TikTok Marketing: The Essential Guide for Businesses”.
The TikTok ban
Since its launch, the platform has opened up a global political and social debate about social media. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, and certain countries have partially or completely banned, tried to ban, or are still trying to ban the app.
Launched in 2011 as a mobile app for sharing private messages and stories that disappear after a while, Snapchat has 750 million monthly active users today. It is a great choice for businesses targeting a young audience, as almost 60% of its users are under the age of 24. This young audience uses the platform to post photos or videos and to message their friends and loved ones.
An important fact for businesses to keep in mind when it comes to Snapchat is that its users also use the app to find inspiration when considering buying products or services and for researching brands. In addition to classic social media advertising options, on Snapchat businesses can also create ads using various interactive and creative AR effects and filters so they can let their hair down.
X (formerly Twitter)
Currently, X has 666 million active monthly users. Most of them are in the U.S. It is preferred by younger people (between the ages of 25 and 34), particularly among men, who account for 62.9% of its users. This makes X the platform with the greatest gender gap.
To subscribe or not to subscribe?
One by one, social media platforms are starting to introduce subscriptions for users who want to have access to exclusive features. This was first introduced by Twitter/X in 2021 under the name Twitter Blue, which was later renamed to X Premium. The subscription comes in two plans: Basic and Premium+. The Basic plan enables you to post longer texts and videos for example, and Premium+ subscription means you can use the app ad-free.
How can social media marketing help you grow your business?
When you invest in social media marketing, you invest in building your brand’s presence on platforms where your current and potential customers already spend most of their time and where they are, ideally, considering buying or hiring.
Social media marketing can help you with:
1. Increasing your brand/business visibility
Social media is the perfect way to reach and engage with a large number of people who can spread the word about your business, products, and services, either through sharing it online or through word of mouth. High visibility on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok can significantly help with raising awareness about your brand and building brand recognition.
2. Improving your sales
There are several ways to showcase your products and services on social media. Just a few that come to mind are ads with precise targeting options, Instagram and Facebook shops with links to your website, adding “buy now” or “schedule a meeting” buttons, etc.
3. Humanizing your brand
Social media are called “social” for a very good reason. Marketing on these platforms gives you a unique opportunity to show a more human side of your brand and business. This can be easily done by incorporating your brand’s personality throughout your content, via direct communication through your DM’s or even responding to comments.
It is a lot easier for people to connect with (and trust!) a brand that adopts a friendly and approachable communication style online rather than with those that put up the untouchable corporaty front on Facebook or Instagram.
4. Improving communication with your customers
Closely related to humanizing the brand, social media opens up space for better communication with your audience. You get feedback from your customers in real-time and can respond to it quickly. Many brands opt to use social media platforms mainly for customer support because they recognize that customers nowadays expect companies to be available on these platforms and to respond to their messages as quickly as possible.
Better communication and customer support means a better brand reputation and trust. And not only that. The amount of information provided to you by your audience daily can inspire you to create more relevant and useful content and ads that resonate with them better.
5. Improving your public relations
On social media, you control your narrative. These platforms offer you many opportunities to tell the story of your brand and the products and services you offer as well as to showcase your expertise. This type of direct communication with your audience can lead to positive media coverage of your business. Because of this, social media has the potential to become your valuable PR asset.
At the same time, social media can be crucial in crisis management because it allows you to monitor what is being said about your business in real-time. In effect, this gives you a chance to remediate certain situations immediately.
6. Building your customer loyalty
In the long run, with the ability to help you with humanizing your brand, building better communication with your audience, and new PR opportunities, social media can become your greatest business asset. They can also help you build your brand reputation and strengthen your customers’ loyalty.
Simply put, if you choose to use your social media to connect with your audience on a more personal and authentic level, you’re investing in developing long-lasting relationships.
What does it take to turn your social media marketing into the ultimate success story?
Social media marketing is a dynamic and powerful agent to build your brand, engage with your audience, and increase your sales. On the other hand, it can be a challenging endeavor filled with a series of demanding daily tasks that ultimately do not yield results.
It all depends on how strategically you approach it.
Once upon a time, it was possible to just sign up, set up a business profile (preferably as many as possible), and start posting your content without even running ads. Today, the endless sea of competitors all hungry for attention, and the relentless, ever-changing algorithms certainly won’t make your job easier. A serious effort is needed to see any results. And it can get discouraging. Especially in the beginning.
So, how do you increase your chances? Start by following these steps:
Assess your resources realistically.
Ask yourself: How much budget can you allocate to your social media marketing? How many people do you have in your team who can work on your social media marketing daily? This includes people who will come up with content ideas, create and post that content, people who can plan, set up, and manage your ad campaigns, do community management, follow recent trends, analyze and interpret the results, and all those nuances that happen along the way. How much time do you have to do this?
Be honest with yourself and realistic.
Do your research.
Get to know the people whom you are trying to reach and engage with. Your audience, customers, clients. Research their online interests and habits and their content preferences. Find out which social media platforms do they use and how much time they spend on them. What are their problems and needs? How can you help them?
After you’ve got the answers to those questions, start researching your competitors. Check what they do online, which social media platforms they use, how frequently they post, do they advertise and how. Make note of their advantages and their weaknesses.
In the end, analyze your own business. What are you already doing right in your digital marketing? Analyze what has worked, what didn’t, and what has room for improvement.
Get familiar with your social media platform of choice.
Each social media platform out there is a different story. They all have their own (oftentimes even unwritten) rules, features, algorithms, and users with certain pre-existing expectations on the platform. You won’t be able to achieve the same amount of success everywhere, nor can just show up and expect everyone to adapt to you. After all, it is up to you to put in the effort, understand, and adapt to the culture of the platform you want to be a part of.
Become an integral part of the users’ experience on the app. Before signing up and committing to anything, explore the options you have as a content creator, a business, or an advertiser on a particular social media site.
Set realistic goals. The more specific, the better.
Many businesses start with social media without even knowing the reasons why they have all their profiles. Don’t follow in their footsteps. Set clear and measurable goals right from the start. Know exactly what is it that you’re trying to achieve on a specific platform and how it will all fit into your overall vision and business goals. Define how you will measure the success of your social media marketing and set benchmarks.
Some of the more common goals of social media marketing activities are increasing brand awareness, building a community, increasing a website or webshop traffic, boosting the number of conversions and sales, setting up a new/more effective customer service channel, etc. Some of the most common metrics are reach, engagement rates (the number of clicks, shares, comments, etc. divided by reach), number of followers, video views, etc.
Develop a strategy.
Stemming from knowing your resources, goals, audience expectations, the culture of the platform, and the state of your competition, it’s time to define what topics you will cover and how (your tone of voice). These can be your content categories. Within these categories, clearly define the formats you will use and set a posting frequency. Find specific topics and subtopics and fine-tune your content plan (can be weekly or monthly).
You need a strategy and a content plan to be consistent, something which is extremely important on social media. Developing a social media marketing strategy will give you a much broader picture and provide you with a written document of what and how you are trying to achieve. The aim is to make you more focused but to also leave you with enough room to be able to experiment or to be more spontaneous and creative. All within the context of your strategy, of course.
The same goes for advertising and your sponsored content. Don’t just randomly boost posts or reach out to an influencer you think might be a good match for your brand. Develop an advertising strategy too. Because of this, you will make more informed decisions about collaborating with influencers and content creators. You will also be able to create ad campaigns that will seamlessly fit into the usual user experience on a certain platform.
Be consistent and patient.
It takes a lot of effort and time to establish and to maintain a strong social media presence and leave an impression. Especially when the ever-changing algorithms that often test your patience dictate the entire game. However, it is important to remain consistent and to show up regularly. Preferably always at your best.
So make sure you are ready to post high-quality (relevant) content (either organic or sponsored) regularly and communicate with your audience daily while also looking for ways to encourage (even more) engagement.
Analyze, analyze, analyze. Re-evaluate.
As we have emphasized many times, social media is a highly dynamic field. Period. Not only do algorithms change on a whim, but so do the users’ habits, expectations, and preferences. Frequent analysis and evaluations are integral parts of marketing in general, and this is especially necessary if you’re doing marketing on social media.
Fortunately, social media platforms are a vast source of data that can help you conduct almost any sort of research and analysis. So make sure to regularly analyze not only the results of your posts and ads but also the results of your competitors (direct and indirect). Keep an eye on the trends and find out what people are saying about topics relevant to your business on social media.
Take advantage of having all these detailed insights and data you can access at any time.
Social media marketing: A great opportunity and a big challenge
Today, social media users make up almost 60% of the world’s population and their numbers are growing each year. The exposure to content people see on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok hugely influences people’s decisions on what to buy or not to buy, visit, listen, watch… And all this makes marketing on social media a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.
At the same time, social media marketing can also be quite a challenging arena. This is due to the vast amount of content posted on these platforms each second, fierce competition, and, of course, the fast-changing nature of social media in general. To be successful often requires a strategic approach, a lot of know-how, persistence, and some out-of-the-box solutions. However, the payoff is well worth the effort.
In the end, one cannot stress enough how important it is to try to use this massive potential for the growth of your business. So – start as soon as you can.
We’ve quite a few years of experience with advertising on various social media platforms, as well as with content production for different types of businesses.