By Brian Fairbanks
Social media marketing (SMM) is a crucial way to reach customers, clients and fans of a brand or business in the modern, internet-connected world. With most businesses using social media to reach a target audience through digital platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, digital marketing has become a massive, vital new field for marketers.
But just because it’s important doesn’t mean it’s easy. Even for those with a strong social media following (say, in the several thousands and up), some or all of these platforms may be foreign or confusing when you are tasked with marketing a brand. Especially when you consider some of the many moving pieces that are involved in doing it effectively, such as:
And there are other considerations, too, like running cost-per-click campaigns and figuring out the right hashtags to use.
Here, we’ll explore what social media marketing is, how professionals can use it to help improve a brand’s awareness and all of this is important for most companies. As well as what you might learn in a social media marketing course.
Today, much of the world is online and connected through at least one social media platform, and that number is expected to grow. As Entrepreneur.com points out, "as of 2021, there are roughly 3.78 billion social media users all over the world, a 5% increase from 2020."
Social media marketing is the practice of using social media platforms to connect with your audience to build your brand, increase sales and drive website traffic. In other words, social media marketing is important for gaining attention and increasing overall interest in products or companies through the platforms people use the most.
Successful social media marketing will increase one or all of the following metrics:
|METRIC||WHAT IT MEANS||WHY YOU NEED IT|
|Engagement||Interactions (sharing of posts; comments; clicking "Like" on a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post; etc.).||Important for judging how your content resonates with people not part of your company.|
|Views||The number of times a page, image, text post, etc. is viewed on a social media app or website.||Helps compare whether people are returning to a post to see it again, whether a lot of people saw it and didn’t engage with it (not a positive sign), etc.|
|Unique visitors||The total number of people who have viewed a piece of content marketing or a brand website.||Determining the number of people who have visited a website or a piece of content during a fixed period of time (30 days is commonly used) can indicate how well content marketing is helping to increase traffic.|
Content marketing is a key component of social media marketing. It involves either drafting short pieces of content (such as tweets, videos, memes and other graphics) or longer content (like blogs or newsy articles that have links to related topics). While content can take different forms, the goals tend to be similar: improving read time, boosting the number of clicks to the website and/or links and enhancing brand awareness.
Small and large companies alike use social media to promote their business and connect with customers. In fact, 97% of all Fortune 500 enterprises use at least one social media platform to promote their initiatives and foster positive communication with stakeholders, according to Entrepreneur Magazine.
"For businesses, social media offers the opportunity to connect authentically with a business’ consumers," says Rebecca Montchal of the University of Phoenix. "It’s also a place where brands can display their brand voice, promise, mission, etc."
"If you want to connect and engage with your future customers, you have to be where they are. And that’s largely on social media," adds PostBeyond. In fact, roughly 7 out of every 10 Americans has a social media account, according to Statista.
Once you’re "where they are" on social media, you can potentially grow a business by driving business goals and outcomes through new sales outlets/opportunities, reach customers through a new medium, collect data, and much more. Social media allows you to:
(By the way, professional social media is not all about advertising. Oftentimes, it’s about fostering conversation, making people laugh and building trust and community so that when a brand needs to advertise or market a product, fans and followers will be more receptive.)
When it comes to choosing the perfect platform, it’s all about personalization. It depends on the type of business. While virtually all marketers agree that social media marketing is important, not all platforms are equal when it comes to marketing.
For example, a social media marketing strategy isn’t as important as a LinkedIn marketing strategy for most B2B companies. In fact, 8 in 10 social media leads come through that app, specifically, according to the PostBeyond.com blog.
"For businesses that largely do business with other businesses [B2Bs], LinkedIn is the premier network for making connections and being a part of relevant communities," Montchal explains. "However, businesses that do business directly with consumers may benefit from using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or even TikTok."
Montchal notes that, in most cases, a brand will need to "go where its customers already are — meaning if your customer base largely participates in Facebook, meet them there instead of expecting them to join a new channel to meet you. Ultimately, it comes down to business needs, [your] audience, and what is performing best."
Here are some examples of social media for marketing and which types of businesses work best for which platforms:
A social media marketer can be either an in-house digital marketing staffer an outside freelancer or agency employee who runs all or some of the following accounts for a business: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Typical tasks and responsibilities include:
Social media marketing may be a relatively new field, but it’s also a constantly evolving one. To master best practices and get familiar with the general direction of social media marketing, training is crucial.
An effective social media marketing course covers all the major skills of SMM. In a course such as UOPX’s Social Media Marketing Essentials, students get the lowdown on the most in-demand skills and toolsets hiring managers are looking for in potential social media marketing employees or freelancers, including:
Students also develop in-demand, specialized skills like:
University of Phoenix offers a professional development course on social media marketing essentials for people who want to become social media marketers or companies that want to learn to promote their brand on social media.
Designed for both professionals and those who are simply curious to learn more (and maybe improve their company’s social media presence and performance), this self-led course involves approximately 30 hours of instruction. Students can access the materials and learnings in the course for up to 12 months.
"Taking a professional development course at University of Phoenix can help a student learn more about the top social networks, how to set up accounts and use promotional tactics to engage with an audience on each platform, and how to successfully measure the efforts a business is making on social media," says Montchal.Perhaps most importantly, UOPX’s Social Media Marketing Essentials course
If you are ready to leverage the power of social media to develop an optimal social media marketing campaign, enroll in our Social Media Marketing Essentials course here.
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