Definition: Social media marketing is the process of leveraging social media networks to interact with prospects and ultimately increase traffic and sales to a website. Online businesses rely on social media to build a connection with users who are increasingly relying on social networks and mobile devices to consume web content.
Social media marketing, like all marketing, centers on getting the attention of your target audience and forging a connection. While social media can be used to directly promote products and deals, it is not an effective means to connect with new users on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media is a place to genuinely interact with users and tell them what makes your brand unique — not barrage them with direct marketing.
Instead, success on social media is built on the creation and sharing of relevant, interesting content. This can range from something as simple as posting a photo on Facebook to creating and tweeting a link to your latest blog post. Grabbing a user's attention on social media begins with something they're interested in, not something you want them to do. By demonstrating your topical expertise and introducing people to the voice of your brand, interested users then have a reason to visit your website and see what you have to offer.
In addition to driving traffic to your site directly, the communal nature of social networks provides an extra benefit: organic customer acquisition. If you provide content that users find relevant to their interests, they will share it with their friends and contacts. Essentially, your potential customers will actually be marketing for you. Even better, since the content is being referred from a friend or family member — rather than directly from a business — it is seen less like an advertisement and more as trusted information from a verified source. Many customers become acquainted with a brand via informational content, then come to find out about their products or services.
Facebook: The world's largest social network, Facebook's massive audience is highly coveted by online businesses. A regular presence of informational content, industry news, and product promotions can generate brand loyalty and increased sales.
Instagram: Ecommerce performance is highly impacted by product images, making this visually-dominated social platform a key driver of brand awareness for online businesses. Regularly sharing product images and lifestyle posts relevant to a brand can go a long way to expanding your audience.
Twitter: Popularity and engagement on Twitter can be just as effective as Facebook, when done properly. Staying active and engaging with other users — combined with content marketing strategies employed on Facebook — can reinforce your presence on other social media platforms and generate awareness among new prospects.
LinkedIn: The most-used professional networking platform enables companies and individuals with similar interests to connect. LinkedIn is best suited for thought leadership content, particularly for high-end and high-AOV brands. Many executives and CEOs share business wisdom and culture pieces to indirectly promote their company.
Selling on social networks is right around the corner, changing the way online businesses approach and interact with social audiences. Learn how Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can be used as direct sales channels.