Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service. Although the terms e-marketing and digital marketing are still dominant in academia, social media marketing is becoming more popular for both practitioners and researchers. Most social media platforms have built-in data analytics tools, which enable companies to track the progress, success, and engagement of ad campaigns. Companies address a range of stakeholders through social media marketing, including current and potential customers, current and potential employees, journalists, bloggers, and the general public. On a strategic level, social media marketing includes the management of a marketing campaign, governance, setting the scope (e.g. more active or passive use) and the establishment of a firm’s desired social media “culture” and “tone.”
When using social media marketing, firms can allow customers and Internet users to post user-generated content (e.g., online comments, product reviews, etc.), also known as “earned media,” rather than use marketer-prepared advertising copy.
Social networking websites
Social networking websites allow individuals, businesses and other organizations to interact with one another and build relationships and communities online. When companies join these social channels, consumers can interact with them directly. That interaction can be more personal to users than traditional methods of outbound marketing and advertising. Because the information about the product is being put out there and is getting repeated, more traffic is brought to the product/company.
Social networking websites are based on building virtual communities that allow consumers to express their needs, wants and values, online. Social media marketing then connects these consumers and audiences to businesses that share the same needs, wants, and values. Through social networking sites, companies can keep in touch with individual followers. This personal interaction can instill a feeling of loyalty into followers and potential customers. Also, by choosing whom to follow on these sites, products can reach a very narrow target audience. Social networking sites also include much information about what products and services prospective clients might be interested in.
In 2014, over 80% of business executives identified social media as an integral part of their business. Business retailers have seen 133% increases in their revenues from social media marketing.
More than three billion people in the world are active on the Internet. Roughly 81% of the current population has some type of social media profile that they engage with frequently. Mobile phones have altered the path-to-purchase process by allowing consumers to easily obtain pricing and product information in real time. Mobile devices have become increasingly popular, where 5.7 billion people are using them worldwide. In 2017, figures suggest that more than 90% of Internet users will access online content through their phones.
There are two basic strategies for engaging the social media as marketing tools:
Social media can be a useful source of market information and a way to hear customer perspectives. Blogs, content communities, and forums are platforms where individuals share their reviews and recommendations of brands, products, and services.
Social media can be used not only as public relations and direct marketing tools but also as communication channels targeting very specific audiences with social media influencers and social media personalities and as effective customer engagement tools.
Facebook and LinkedIn are leading social media platforms where users can hyper-target their ads. Hypertargeting not only uses public profile information but also information users submit but hide from others. Using customer influencers can be a very efficient and cost-effective method to launch new products or services. Among the political leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the highest number of followers at 40 million, and President Donald Trump ranks second with 25 million followers. Modi employed social media platforms to circumvent traditional media channels to reach out to the young and urban population of India which is estimated to be 200 million.
Engagement with the social web means that customers and stakeholders are active participants rather than passive viewers. New online marketing concepts of engagement and loyalty have emerged which aim to build customer participation and brand reputation.
Engagement in social media for the purpose of a social media strategy is divided into two parts. The first is proactive, regular posting of new online content. This can be seen through digital photos, digital videos, text, and conversations. It is also represented through sharing of content and information from others via web-links. The second part is reactive conversations with social media users responding to those who reach out to your social media profiles through commenting or messaging.