For brands, having a social media presence has quickly evolved from being the intern's job to becoming a high-tech arm of the marketing department. In addition to the old guard of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest are the new channels of digital influence, being used for everything from real-time engagement to customer service and even e-commerce.
If there's one lesson to learn from the way brands use social media today, it's that "paid" is no longer a four-letter word. As major platforms such as Facebook and Twitter go public and wean themselves off venture capital, there is more pressure on them to build revenues through advertising. The days of organic reach and gaining fans purely on the strength of engaging content are numbered, and marketers now need to put financial muscle behind creative thought.
But there are still plenty of rewards for marketers who use social media in creative and innovative ways. Brands that can build a following by being genuinely interesting and posting engaging, entertaining, and relevant content create far more opportunities for themselves to sell to consumers.
In 2013, social media advertising increased by 35% over 2012, fueled largely by the growth of mobile, and according to the CMO survey conducted by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, social media's share of marketing budgets is expected to go up from an average of 7.4% to 18.1% in the next five years. Despite the increased investment, marketers are still mystified as to how they can gauge the success of their social media efforts. Meg Bear, GM of Oracle's Social Cloud marketing platform says social media marketers need to align their goals with the KPIs of the C-suite, such as customer satisfaction, generating new business, and brand loyalty.
Bear says customers now expect brands to engage with them at every step of the purchase journey. "They're getting a lot more information to enable them to connect deeply," she says. "It's your job to do something purposeful with it and think how you interact with social to impact your customer. That's a thing the C-suite cares about - it's beyond vanity metrics."
The unique value of social media is that it is one of the rare channels that can be viewed as paid, earned, shared and owned media all at the same time for a brand. In order to get the most out of a channel, brands have to have a coordinated strategy for all PESO channels, with extensive knowledge of how to target audiences, run ads, and create optimized content for that specific channel.
The good news is that, with the increased focus on revenue, the platforms are getting better about telling marketers how to do exactly that. Each social media company now has its own in-house "consultancy" or advertising team that works with brands to educate them on platform specific marketing strategies that work.
This feature takes a look at those marketing tools, tips, and techniques that a brand can use to effectively market itself within the unique realms of each major social media network.
Click here to read more on The Hub, including tips on using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest.