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Why we care about social media marketing: A guide for brands

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Social media is still one of the most powerful marketing channels. Social platforms enable word-of-mouth, brand authenticity, brand trust, community and more. All of this comes with a degree of brand risk because it is very easy to stumble given the speed with which information travels on social media. More established platforms have also become more pay-to-play. Meanwhile, organic engagement is growing on newer platforms, especially through the use of influencers, allowing marketers to reach new generations of customers.

4.62 billion people worldwide use social media, and the social media advertising market’s worldwide revenue was $153 billion in 2021, according to data from Hootsuite.

While this may seem like a massive opportunity, it is becoming increasingly competitive. To succeed in social media marketing today, you need to be innovative in your approach. This can help you stand out from the plethora of brand competitors and competing influencers.

Many brands struggle to create engaging content that attracts their target audience. So, we’ve created this guide to give marketers a comprehensive overview of what social media marketing is and how it is evolving and shaping the future of marketing. We will cover:

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Social media marketing refers to creating content to engage with audiences on social media platforms. The goal is to build your brand reputation, promote your products and services, connect and build community with new and existing customers, and drive traffic to your business.

Although social media marketing may seem simple on the surface, it involves multiple facets that impact the performance and outcome of your strategies. Additionally, there are often new social media platforms and features, and the social media marketing landscape is evolving constantly.

In order to excel at social media marketing, marketers must understand and integrate the following core components into their process.

Strategy

A solid social media marketing strategy can make or break your business’s social media presence. Without a plan, you’re likely going to struggle to reach your audience and achieve your goals.

Marketers should ask themselves the following questions while formulating their social media marketing strategy.

What are your goals?

What business goals are you trying to achieve through your social media? For example, are you trying to reach new audiences, build brand awareness, boost conversion rates and sales, or just find a new way to communicate and share updates with your customers?

Which social media platform should you focus on?

Your strategy will differ based on which social networks your target audience spends most of their time on. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest are great for B2C marketing, whereas LinkedIn is good for B2B, and Twitter and YouTube are great for both.

These platforms appeal to a range of age groups and can serve different purposes. For example, TikTok’s primary audience includes Gen Z and millennials, and it is suited to short, creative video content and building brand awareness. Facebook has a strong appeal to millennials too, but less so to Gen Z. However, Facebook is the largest social medium platform in the world, with close to 1.93 billion daily active users as of December 2021.

What kind of content should you share?

What kind of content will engage and attract the most customers? Is it images, videos, GIFs, infographics, or website links? Does your audience prefer informational content, entertaining content, or a mix of both? It might be helpful to study your target audience and come up with a marketing persona to help you accurately answer these questions.

Answering these three questions will give you a clear idea of your goals and how to reach them. You should also set benchmarks to monitor progress and determine whether you need to modify or change your approach.

Planning and publishing

To build a strong social media presence, you must be consistent with sharing content. It’s good practice to plan content, whether it’s a blog post, image, or video, ahead of time rather than post spontaneously.

When you’re planning and publishing content, make sure to do the following:

  • Know your audience: Marketers need to know their target demographic to connect with them successfully.
  • Focus on quality: The quality of your content is as, if not more, important than the quantity. Marketers should aim to share the right content at the right time and with the right frequency to ensure maximum reach.
  • Consider your brand: Your content should stay consistent with your brand image and values.

A regular publishing schedule and great content ensure that people keep coming back to your page for more. There are many scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite, Canva and Buffer, that can help you stay consistent with your posting.


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Listening and engagement

As your page gains traction, people will comment on your social media posts, tag you in their social media posts, or message you directly. So after planning and publishing your content, take the time to engage with your audience as well.

While the feedback might not always be positive, it’s important to regularly monitor social media conversations about your brand. You should address questions, thank people, share positive comments and acknowledge and offer support to negative ones.

Reading and responding to audience reviews is a big part of designing a successful marketing campaign and significantly enhances the overall customer experience. It also helps you learn about new trends, gain valuable industry insights, track new income streams, and find new influencers and brands to collaborate with. You should build connections and strong relationships with other brands, sponsors, celebrities, influencers, and customers.

Analytics and reporting

To ensure you’re on the right path, it’s vital to utilize social media analytics tools to track and collect data. This involves:

  • Understanding user behavior.
  • Finding which platform works best for your brand.
  • Choosing the best time and frequency to post.
  • Analyzing competitors.
  • Refining your strategy.

Most social media platforms offer their own analytics tools for businesses and professionals. These allow you to track whether you’re reaching more users now than last month, how many tags you get in a month, how many users used your brand’s hashtags, etc. In addition, you can use external tools NetBase Quid, Sendible, and Feedly to track more detailed data.

Social media trends and user preferences are constantly changing. Monitoring your social media lets you know what works and what doesn’t and makes decision-making a lot easier. For example, if certain types of video content and audios receive double the engagement of other posts, leverage that.

Advertising

Social media advertising makes it easier to reach a broader audience beyond your followers and subscribers. Advertising is paid (i.e. content that costs money to post and share with users).

Audiences can be specified based on their demographics, interests, and behaviors. You can also use social media advertising tools to make mass changes to your campaigns, automate processes like responding to users, and optimize data analytics. It’s important to find which method works best for your brand and audience.

The social media world changes faster than any other online space. Here are some social media marketing trends marketers should watch out for.

Virtual and augmented reality technologies

Many brands are engaging with customers through AR and VR. Marketers can use AR and VR technologies to offer a personalized and interactive experience. Customers can also use these technologies to try your products and services from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Here are some AR and VR examples used by companies to improve their social media interactions:

  • Photo filters by Snapchat.
  • Pinterest’s “Try on for Home Decor” AR feature.
  • L’Oréal Paris’ virtual makeup feature on their website.

AR and VR can improve customer experience and satisfaction, leading to more conversions and better retention.

Personalized marketing content

Personalized content is more important than ever. The more relevant your content is to your target audience, the more valued your audience will feel and the more encouraged they will be to engage with your brand. You can gather data regarding audience preferences and behavior through your social media analytics tools.

According to a study by McKinsey, 72% of customers said they expect the businesses they buy from to recognize them as individuals and know their interests. When asked to define personalization, consumers associated it with positive experiences and being made to feel special.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing refers to the process of using external content creators to communicate your brand’s messages and build brand awareness. It has grown a lot in recent years and has successfully helped drive engagement. In fact, the influencer marketing market grew from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $13.8 billion in 2021, according to data from the 2022 State of Influencer Marketing report.

Influencer marketing is effective because consumers often trust recommendations from influencers and other users more than the brands themselves.

To effectively differentiate your brand from the crowd, you need to be innovative and leverage all the assets and tools available to improve your content and sharing process.

Here are some helpful social media marketing resources to help you choose the best solutions for your organization:


About The Author

Akshat Biyani is a Contributing Editor to MarTech, a former analyst who has a strong interest in writing about technology and its effect on marketing.

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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