Social media has changed many different aspects in our lives. It changed how we connect to others, it has changed how we made our purchase decisions, and it has changed how business now market their brands.
With social media being the norm in this day and age, it’s easy for us to forget the time before it existed. Yet, that doesn’t mean the change is not there.
So, how actually social media has changed businesses and especially, marketing?
How Social Media Has Changed Marketing
Marketing, in essence, is about putting your product or service in front of as many eyes as possible. The more people know—or, aware— of what you sell, the more chance some of them will actually buy it.
The advancements in technology has allowed us to basically reach more people at any given time, and this is the biggest factor driving the marketing evolution.
In the seemingly a distant past, we used to have the storefront as our main way to display our product or service. With the arrival of print media —newspaper and magazines—, radio, and then the television, we can increasingly reach more and more customers with advertisement.
The internet has allowed us to further elevate this by the very broad reach of websites and online advertising. Yet, the arrival— and maturity— of social media, has once again changed the playing field.
The ability for people—and brands— to connect in real-time to each other through the social media platforms have dramatically changed the way we reach our customers in so many different ways. Some of the prominent ones are:
1. Peer recommendations and reviews
In the past, we can only ask a limited number of people of what they thought and felt about a product or service. We also have to rely on the media for their “professional” reviews. Which, let’s face it, we always have the assumptions that they are paid to say good things about this or that product.
Nowadays, everyone can share their thoughts freely and instantaneously. It’s easier to learn about whether a said product or service is worth buying— or not—. Meaning, brands must be genuine in giving the best possible service, and they must have a voice to defend themselves in the social media realm.
2. The rise of influencers
Nowadays, those with a lot of followers in social media—the influencers—, have the power over the brands and businesses. Chances are, if a major influencer liked a product, more people will follow.
Meaning, working with, and utilizing influencers is now a very important marketing tactic. They can literally make or break your business, and we might as well have them on our side.
3. Customer service
Now customers can engage with brands in real-time. Companies can now answer questions when the customers have trouble, or can proactively try to find more information about their customers.
Customers, on the other hand, can now engage with brands even before they purchase the product or service. This can play a major part in forming the perception whether the brand is trustworthy. In the end, people will only purchase from brands they can trust.
Billions of people gather on social media, and we can easily track various metrics from followers growth, number of likes, number of shares, and so on. This provides brands a chance to better understand our customer base. We can now better analyze what exactly drove the purchase of a said customer, how long a typical customer will take before making the purchase, and other important questions.
So, how should businesses approach marketing in this social media age? Here are a few important takes:
- Honesty and transparency are now absolute. We can no longer get away with offering false promises, because people can now easily find out
- Presence in social media is now a must. The goal is to establish our credibility and making ourselves available within the customers’ reach
- Speed is key. People expect us to engage in real-time, at least for the initial response.
- Influencers are now important marketing commodities. Working with the right one(s) will be the key in reaching more people.
How To Become a Social Media Marketing Expert?
As we can see, social media is now one of, if not the most important marketing channel for just about any business. This will obviously open up opportunities for specialists in social media marketing—the social media marketers—-.
However, as with other marketing channels, there are unique features— and thus, unique requirements— in social media marketing, and here are just a few key areas to master if you want to become a social media marketing expert:
1.Finding The Balanced Approach
Social media as a marketing ecosystem has two different aspects: organic and paid.
Organic social media marketing is, in a nutshell, any social media traffic you get without spending any money. When you got a new follower, and this follower viewed your latest post, you just got a new organic traffic.
Paid social media traffic, on the other hand, is any traffic we get by spending money, mainly through advertising within the social media platforms. Each platform offer unique advertising options, for example, Facebook Ads offer many different ad types.
The thing is, with the saturated environment of major social media platforms nowadays, organic reach has declined significantly for the past few years. Meaning, social media is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play field.
However, if we rely solely on paid traffic, it can be extremely costly, and this is why finding the right balance between paid and organic efforts is an essential skill for any social media marketers.
2. Understanding The Principles of Lead Generation, Nurturing, and Conversion
Marketing as an effort comprises of three important stages:
- Lead generation, where you get the contact information (mainly email address) from visitors, turning them into a prospect
- Lead nurturing, where we nurture the prospect until they are finally ready to buy
- Conversion, triggering the conversion from a prospect, can be a purchase, free-trial registration, or other actions
One of the uniqueness of social media as a marketing channel is that it can perform well in all the three stages. However, using other channels like a website, email marketing, and others will also help.
Understanding the three stages, where each prospect is currently in, and how to move them forward to the next stage is an important expertise for any social media marketer.
3. Knowing How To Promote Your Content
Organic social media marketing is essentially, content marketing: you post your content on social media with the aim of attracting and engaging as many people as possible.
Yet, a common misconception is that social media marketers should focus solely on developing the content, while promoting the content is just as, if not even more important.
You can use promotional tools inside the social media platform (advertising, boosting posts feature on Facebook, etc. ), promoting your content on other platforms, or even using other marketing channels (guest posting, SEO link building, etc,).
The better you can promote your content, the better you are as a social media marketer.
4. Working With Influencers
We have mentioned the importance of working with and utilizing influencers in the realm of social media.
If you are a small brand, you will need the influencers to boost your credibility in the eyes of your target audiences. Even if you are already an established brand, you will still need the influencers to maintain or even further leverage your position.
There are two important things when implementing influencer marketing: choosing the right influencer for your business, and develop relationships so these influencers want to work with your brand.
Knowing the right influencer, how to engage them, and how to design an effective campaign with the influencer are very important.
5. Knowing How To Monitor Results and How To Improve
An expert social media marketer must be able to measure progress. Social media marketing, as any marketing field, can include intangible and fairly “abstract” progression metrics, so it’s very important to understand how we measure success, how to analyze the important metrics, and how to use the data to improve your campaign.
The important metrics to track may vary depending on your niche and your approach. However, in general, here are the key ones:
- Growth rate: how the number of followers is growing (or decreasing), allowing you to evaluate your social media marketing efforts
- Engagement rate: number of likes, shares, and other engagements.
- Visitor frequency rate: understanding how you can keep existing visitors to keep returning, and whether r you actually get new visitors
- Conversion rate: fairly self-explanatory, tracking how many social media visitors are taking actions
- Potential reach: how many potential prospects will see each of your post
The ability to read and analyze data is a very important skill to have, and can make or break your success as a marketer.
Can You Make Money From Social Media Marketing?
Now that we have discussed the important skills required for a social media marketer, can we actually get clients and make money as a social media marketing expert?
To answer this, let us first understand that there are several viable ways to make money from social media:
1. Be an Influencer
If you can grow your followers to a sizable number, you can make money as an influencer through various means:
- Affiliate marketing: selling other people’s products online for commissions.
- Endorsement/paid promotions: getting paid to promote other people products (not tied to actual sales).
- Publishing advertisement: letting other people advertise on your blog, YouTube channel, or other platforms.
Why is this important to discuss? The most effective way to show your credibility as a social media marketer is to show that you are able to have a lot of followers—in short, becoming an influencer.
In this case, you might as well leverage your position as both an influencer and marketer and make money from both sides. Neil Patel, for example, is widely regarded as both an influencer and a marketing expert.
2. Teach Others
If you do have the expertise, you can develop an online tutoring module and sell it to others. Various platforms like Udemy give us the opportunity to sell our teaching service easily. You can also use various tools like Google’s course builder to develop your own course and sell in on your site.
Online tutoring is a growing business, and might be an interesting opportunity if you have the social media marketing expertise (and if you also like to help others). Various platforms and tools are now available to help you with this, so it’s definitely a good time to start, if you haven’t already.
3. Selling Your Service As a Marketer
This is probably why you are here, and yes, it is definitely possible to sell your social media marketing expertise to help other people or businesses (and get paid while doing so).
There are generally three different approaches you can take here:
Work in a marketing agency as a professional
Working in an established agency has its benefits like job security and career. Depending on your location and the availability of job opportunities, this can be a good choice.
Work as a freelancer
Similar to online tutoring opportunities, there are now many online platforms and tools that can help with freelancing.
Starting your own marketing agency
If you have a team (or planning to have one), you might as well build your own marketing agency. Some businesses (and people) might prefer working with a professional marketing agency over a freelancer, and in general, you also charge more.
The key here is how you can market yourself as a social media marketing expert, and it all starts with having your own established (and growing) social media presence. If you already have existing clients, you can build a portfolio to show success stories and case studies.
So, what about you? How are you approaching social media? Have you consider yourself an expert in social media marketing? How did you achieve that?
If so, it’s probably time to help other people and businesses with your expertise (and make money while doing so).