There are three primary components to any business – product, accounting and marketing. Every business should have something to sell, a way to track whether selling said something is turning a profit and, most importantly, a method of attracting consumers. The most recent marketing technique to emerge is social media marketing.
And over the past decade, it has rapidly jumped up the rankings. Many marketing experts would argue that advertising via social media is, in fact, the most effective way to promote businesses and build brand names.
The most important advantage social media marketing offers is relevancy. In 2015, 65 percent of American adults used social media, which is an astronomical leap from the 7 percent of social networking adults in 2005.
The bottom line: Social media usage has risen significantly. And it’s not slowing down.
Social media is consumed at least a couple of hours per day by the average user. This means massive amounts of exposure to literally millions of messages, some of them advertisements.
Even though the brain can’t process any more than about 10 of these messages per day, they are still filtering through. In 2016, 78 percent of Americans had a social media profile. Somewhere in that massive consumer pool, there are potential customers waiting for you.
To gain a better perspective of what social media marketing can do for you, it’s best to compare its advantages to those of other popular advertising media.
Social Media vs. TV
There’s a reason Super Bowl ads cost more than $4 million each. TV dominates the attention of consumers across the nation from 5 to 9 p.m.
Sports, reality shows, sitcoms, action thrillers, dramas, you name it – TV has something for everyone. Advertisers know that. Viewing audiences are very segmented. And businesses are able to pinpoint exactly when their desired customers will be tuned in on a nightly basis.
There are groups of people connected on social media because of their shared interests. Find the pages and accounts dedicated to a product similar to yours, and you’ve got yourself a nice pool to fish from.
Instead of advertising on TV, try producing your own videos and posting them on your social media sites.
If you’re an outdoor shop selling new hammocks, produce a short video that shows young people relaxing in them. Be sure to measure the six most important metrics ‑ fan reach, organic reach, engagement, “people talking about this,” click-through rate and negative feedback – when you’re tracking the results of your social media ad campaigns, especially on Facebook.
Social Media vs. Radio
Radio’s big advantage is its ubiquitous nature. It’s everywhere – at work, in the car, at home – you name it. When you walk into a store and hear music playing, it’s likely a radio station. No one wants to waste their data or battery life streaming Pandora for a whole shift.
What TV can’t accomplish is hitting potential customers with ads while they are outside their homes and in a prime decision-making position. Radio is everywhere – all day, every day. Being an auditory medium, radio uses the theater of the mind to paint mental images for listeners. Unfortunately, this can be a bit intangible to some people.
Enter social media advertising, which has visual processing on its side. Remember that 65 percent of adults use social media. When they’re consuming that content, they are usually fairly engaged. Outside of the car, radio’s sound is mostly background noise.
When you’re listening at work or at home, you’re not gathered around the radio itself, listening intently. You’re balancing your checkbook, playing a board game, or scrolling through Instagram.
Radio’s biggest strength is its ability to be ever-present. However, social media has already begun to take that gun right out of radio’s hand, as its “engagement during usage” level is considerably higher.
In place of radio advertising, start releasing your own podcasts discussing anything from trends in your industry to funny stories from the workplace. Radio is not a passive medium – it engages audiences. Make sure you are engaging your audience at the same level, and you will see a return.
Social Media vs. Billboards
Billboards have many of the same components as TV. And as you know, they rely on human attention. A billboard’s entire message is absorbed visually, and – if it’s located on a busy road – very quickly by drivers.
The messages delivered are going to be viewed for roughly five seconds or less. As such, billboards can’t be overstuffed with information. They must contain very simple, recognizable symbols and images.
And what billboards have in common with social media is the ability to build brand-name recognition, which is one of the central benefits of social media in particular. Visual repetition is vital in building a brand, and billboards present simple yet intriguing messages while consumers are on the go.
However, social media is the happy medium between billboards and TV. Paid advertising on sites such as Facebook and Twitter allows businesses to visually market to specific audiences while they are on the go, while also getting longer views from said audiences than a billboard typically would.
Although they shouldn’t be doing so, quite a few people also visit social media sites while driving. Looks like billboards don’t have an advantage over habitually unsafe individuals.
The problem with billboards is that they very quickly become part of the background. Since it costs money to change the image each time, keeping your billboard message fresh but not too generic can prove quite challenging. Rather than spend money with a billboard that will fade away, try sharing your own billboard-style images on Facebook or Instagram to promote specific sales or events.
As you can see, social media has the ability to one-up traditional marketing methods. By using social media to the fullest advantage, you can make that marketing meaningful.