Love it or loathe it, social media is one of the biggest and fastest growing social pillars and a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy.

Social media is fast becoming the first port of call for sourcing news and information and it has completely changed the way businesses and their customers can interact with each other. Not only do social platforms offer the opportunity to communicate beyond social and geographical boundaries, they also allow businesses to communicate directly with their customers and build relationships.

In an online world with 4.2 billion social media users, not making use of this cost-effective marketing opportunity would be a huge mis-step for businesses seeking to engage with their audiences. However, it’s only effective if understood and executed properly. Done badly, social media can be hugely damaging for a company’s reputation and there have been many examples of this in recent years

We’ve cut through the jargon to give you an overview of the social media tools available and the main benefits of using social media.

Organic and paid social media marketing

There are two main focuses within social media marketing; organic and paid for activity.

Organic refers to all non-paid for activity and utilises the free tools provided by social networks to build and manage communities.This includes your brand profile and description across your social platforms, sharing posts and responding to customer comments.

Paid or promoted posts refer to content that you have voluntarily boosted the reach of by using one-time or ongoing payments. These posts can be targeted toward specific demographics and reach a much larger audience than organic content, particularly for brands without an established social media community.

An effective social media strategy uses a tailored blend of both organic and paid activity as part of a wider marketing strategy, tailoring social content across appropriate social platforms..

What are the benefits of social media marketing to your business?

Increased brand awareness

Implementing a social media strategy will increase brand recognition by engaging with a broad audience of consumers. Social media allows you to market your business to thousands of people around the world at any moment, regardless of location or demographic. With every post shared, your reach grows larger and this can be a powerful tool when you combine engaging content with an established social media community.

Advanced targeting

Social media allows you to target your audience more specifically than ever. This could be by specific profile data fields including location, occupation, age and interests and also by what users are talking about and engaging with on their social media feeds. This allows businesses to find their ideal customers and solve any needs or problems they may have.

Furthermore, using social media as a research tool can help you to gain marketplace insights that can aid you in understanding your industry and your customers’ needs.

Build trust and improve the customer experience

Social media offers brands the opportunity to build relationships with their customers online, allowing them to connect with their customers on a more personal level than ever before, humanising the brand and providing a platform for two way communication.

Every customer interaction on your business’s social media account is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your compassion for your customers. Whether an individual has a question or a complaint, social media allows you to address the matter using interpersonal dialogue. A brand devoted to customer satisfaction that takes the time to compose personal messages will inherently appear more credible, even if responding to a customer complaint.

Increase inbound traffic, leads and sales

Every social media profile you add to your marketing mix is a gateway to your website, and every piece of content you post is another opportunity to acquire a new customer. People tend to buy from brands they know and trust, so with increased visibility, your business gains more opportunities for conversion. The better impression you make on a visitor, the more likely they are to think of your business when the need for your product or services arises. Studies have also shown that social media has a 100% higher conversion rate than outbound marketing.

Low cost

Social media marketing is possibly the most cost-effective part of any marketing strategy. Creating a profile is free for almost all social networking platforms, and any paid promotions you decide to invest in are a relatively low cost compared to other marketing channels. Social adverts reach more people than billboard advertising, and are more tightly focused to connect with the right customers and on a more personal level.

Why hire an expert instead of doing it myself?

So we’ve established that having a social media presence is a no brainer for brands, but it can only be effective if used in the right way. Many companies have failed miserably at social media marketing, suffering financially and damaging their reputation in the process.

By outsourcing your social media management to an agency, you are acquiring access to knowledge of best practice and how to maximise your budget, however big or small. They bring expertise of creative social content development as well as how to structure and target campaigns across all your social platforms. They will also know what has and hasn’t worked in the social media space, helping you to avoid the pitfalls that have cost other brands dearly.