What is Social Media Marketing?


You could be one of the 2.45 billion people who use Facebook, or maybe one of the 330 million users on Twitter or there’s a slight possibility you’re amongst the one billion Instagram users; whichever you use or whatever you’ve heard of about the aforementioned, you’ll know what social media is.

Each of the above services are essentially streams or flows of content filled with one of the following:

  • Advertisements
  • Media posts like videos or images
  • National news headlines
  • International news headlines

The content on these platforms doesn’t generally last longer than 24 hours before it loses popularity and gets lost in ‘cyberspace’ to maybe one day resurface or float around until it gets permanently deleted. So what does this have to do with social media marketing? Well, you are competing for recognition in an online forum filled with billions of other businesses and influencers across the globe.

In this article we’ll run you through the basics of social media marketing, 5 pillars to creating a successful online presence and how it all ties together to ultimately benefit your business.

The basics

Social media marketing is how an influencer (an individual with a large online presence and or following - Hada Kattan, James Charles, Kylie Jenner), business (be it an organisation, small, medium or large enterprise) or advertising agency interacts with people around the world. It utilises the publishing of content, listening and engaging with audience members on a meaningful level and finally the analysing and tracking of user engagement. User in this case is the polite term for visitor, not the other, substance-associated kind. Currently the most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Snapchat

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
—Herman Melville

Five pillars to successful marketing

As mentioned in other articles on our learning hub, when you want to start something, devise a plan and stick to it. If you’re the business owner, you make sure your attention and focus is at the forefront, behind the growth and expansion of your company, possibly even the refining of processes you have in place or increasing customer satisfaction. The old adage of working on your business rings true when doing social media marketing as well..

Let’s delve into the five core pillars that ultimately lead to successful social media marketing for your business:

  • Strategy and planning
  • Publishing consistently
  • Engagement with customers
  • Analytics and reports
  • End game advertising

Strategy and planning

Thankfully living in the 21st century, people are enabled by so many innovative apps, programs and technology as a whole. In this step take some time to set up your business goals and strategies for your social media marketing; an example of this can be increased brand awareness and customer engagement. Next, decide which social media platforms you should use. To do this, you would need to find out what platforms your target demographic predominantly uses. Once you’ve established the business goals for your social media marketing, and have a clearer understanding of who you want to target, on which platforms, move onto the second pillar: publishing consistency.

Publishing consistency

Once you know who you want to target and where they are primarily based (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) you can start generating content which will be published onto those various social media platforms. It’s that simple.

You can also utilise built-in features such as Facebook and Instagram advertising which will boost your online presence for a price. Doing a bit of market research can help with a few things, one of which is when your target audience is online and using their chosen social media platform; knowing this can help with when you publish your content as it can ultimately lead to more business!

Check out some tools like Buffer or Later which can help schedule when your content gets posted, hassle free and on time, everytime.

Engagement with customers

As your business grows and more business comes rushing through your doors, you’ll need to become more cognisant and aware of what people are saying about your business. Are your customers’ issues and problems being resolved? Are they bad mouthing your service delivery or are they praising how incredible your team’s work ethic and responsiveness is? This can be managed through monitoring tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Agorapulse. These tools and other online apps like them help with your business’ social listening ability. They make it easier to see what people like and dislike about you and what you and your competitors have in common, what separates you and in some cases why your business is a cut above the rest.

Following this information can ultimately help with how your published content reaches your audience members and how they engage with it - do they just give it a like, or do they share it with friends and family who share it multiple times, slowly extending your online reach?

Listening to what your customers have to say is possibly the most important thing about social media marketing.

Analytics and reports

This pillar will determine how successful your social media marketing is. Have you had increased volumes of customers? How much time and money are you putting in to generate the ‘cyber foot traffic’, meaning how are you directing people to your online store or website, is it organic?. Do you have more successful content posts over other ones? That way you can see what type of content people engage with and what resonates with them. All of the nitty gritty not so fun stuff happens here, in this pillar, but the insights gained will end up creating a foundation for your next batch of content which may catapult your business to new heights.

You want to be as thorough as possible when looking at the metrics and data in this phase of your social media marketing campaign. As mentioned above, online tools such as Later, Buffer and Hootsuite offer all of this data to you. Google analytics is also incredibly detailed for website and web-based consumer tracking and analytic report generation.

End game advertising

This is the cherry on top of the social media ice cream sundae. The previous four pillars will ultimately guide you to a successful social media marketing goal. What you learn about your customers in your data collection from the analytics and reports will help you learn what kind of content people are looking for. You’ll also know how to connect with potential and current customers based on your levels of engagement with people in previous social media marketing endeavours.

Advertising takes what you provide to your immediate circle of influence, so your 10,000 followers on Instagram, and expands on that tenfold. Now your content will reach 100,000 people, not just in your locale, but across the world. So people can see Tech Warrior offers web based security products to small business owners in Moscow, Russia while being based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As mentioned earlier, you can target specific audience members using data you’ve collated from the onset of your social media marketing campaigns. This way, if you offer a range of products, you can set up various adverts targeting specific individuals on different platforms and different times throughout the days, weeks and even months.

Social media marketing is a powerful tool which successful businesses use regularly and specifically to stay current and connected to their customers. It’s like being the tip of the spear or the edge of a knife so as to solidify their presence in the online arena.

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