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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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MARKETING

the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders

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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover

This 4-part series presents a framework that helps rationalize the roles and responsibilities modern marketing operations leaders are taking on. This installment summarizes the framework briefly, and dives into how MOps leaders are now “orchestrators.” 

In case you missed it, part 1 is here.

Inspiration for this framework

Two years ago, marketing technology pioneer and chiefmartec.com editor Scott Brinker outlined the four key responsibilities of marketing technologists, summarized here.  

That work espoused the view that you could be both a marketer AND a technology leader. They are not mutually exclusive! It was my inspiration for this framework, explaining how today’s MOps leaders are instrumental for marketing and business success.

X-Axis:  A range of skills from a focus on technology to creativity and arts

Y-Axis: A range of decision-making skills, ranging from emotional to rational approaches

The resulting grid captures four MOps archetypes or “personas.” MOps leaders exhibit characteristics across all parts of this framework and will operate in multiple quadrants, similar to Brinker’s frameworks.

Modernizers – Are most likely to be the “original” technologists, constantly modernizing their martech stack.

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Orchestrators – Are the closest to Brinker’s Maestros and the focus of this article. He described this archetype in 2020 as the “Operations Orchestrator — MAESTROS who design and manage the workflows, rules, reports, and tech stacks that run the marketing department.

Psychologists – Are now increasingly responsible for “reading customers’ minds,” i.e. interpreting customers’ interest through intent data and digital engagement.

Scientists – Are constantly testing and evaluating. Experimentation is their specialty.

Orchestrators: Leaders of the band

Now that you’re familiar with the framework, let’s dig deeper into the Orchestrators!

I’ll start with a personal story. My exposure to orchestration started with 8-straight years of practice in violin and trumpet during my formative years. Each week was literally a blur of private lessons, group lessons, orchestra and/or band practice. I probably spent as much time with music directors as I did with my family.  

It was painfully obvious to those conductors when we hadn’t prepared or practiced. Moreso, we would get – literally – an “earful” from the conductor when we were not listening to the other instrument sections. If we were not coordinating our efforts and timing, the outcome was awful for anyone listening.

Source: Unsplash

This orchestration metaphor is powerful because there are multiple levels for MOps leaders:

  • As a project management team within marketing, and often as a conductor across external agency partners.
  • As a cross-function business partner and primary contact for IT, compliance, and legal, in addition to the traditional MOps role of achieving marketing/sales alignment

Notably, all marketers have to be project managers for their own tasks/deadlines. They must be aligned with overall campaign and program timelines. 

However, as organizations scale they are more likely to have dedicated project management teams to handle coordination across the specialist teams within marketing. The orchestration responsibility may include timeline, scope, and capacity trade-offs even after campaign briefs have received approval. 


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The orchestration responsibility multiplies when agency execution teams are delivering on individual tactics and media buys. Last year, Optimizely described these evolving orchestration duties as a “transformative shift and approach towards how marketing synchronizes their teams, content, channels, workflows, and data!”

I believe the shift is even more impactful, with orchestration benefits being felt beyond marketing. The highest value “program orchestration” responsibilities occur when MOps leaders are representing marketing’s interests in enterprise-wide programs with other functions within the organization, including product, compliance, and IT. Examples of orchestration duties with these other key functions can include:

  • Product teams – Coordinating campaigns with major product feature/functionality launches, and managing brand standards.
  • Legal/Compliance – Overseeing compliance with Can-Spam, GDPR, and CCPA, and customer preference and data privacy initiatives that may be initiated by a marketing touch-point. 
  • IT/Procurement – Technology stack management, vendor evaluations and negotiations, platform integrations and data management.

All of this departmental and cross-departmental coordination requires skill sets that can be analogized as the difference between a chamber orchestra (marketing) and a full symphony. It’s the highest level of conducting across the enterprise. 

MOps leaders are holding individuals and teams to target timelines while managing the scope of a particular campaign and business initiative. They do this while also overseeing targeting of customer and prospect segments.

In order to accomplish this complex segmentation and coordination, MOps leaders are now responsible for cross-functional data – embodied by the modern martech stack imperative: integration. Integration across systems has been the #1 issue for marketers since the modern marketing tech stack started exploding in the early 2010’s, but software and solutions providers finally listened. A tipping point was reached in 2020. Marketers reported that we were finally working within an integrated, multi-system environment, according to a CDP Institute member survey analyzed here.  

Continuing with the orchestration analogy, the conductor is the integration “synchronizer,” deciding if/when the data flows across the stack. The sheet music is the data model standard showing how to map common attributes. 

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However, just because we now have this more integrated environment does not mean our work is done. The instruments do not play themselves (yet!) and they require configuration and deliberate training to play effectively — both individually and in groups. 

Training was one of the top responsibilities for marketing ops leadership, ranking it in the top 5 of MOPS tasks by percentage of work, according to the 2022 MarTech Salary and Career Survey, published jointly by MarTech and chiefmartec.com (free, ungated download here). conducted by chiefmartec.

In the 2020 version of that same study, training was highlighted as one of the top two responsibilities for many of the primary marketing technologists personas, and 91% of operations orchestrators reported that training and supporting technologies were among their top priorities.

MOps leaders are never done

Finally, under the category of “MOps leaders are never done”, the last several years have also forced a whole new category of orchestration duties – a combination of conducting, training, and martech growth: marketing work management.

The largest growth (67%) over the last several years was in the category of “work management”, according to the 2022 edition of the Martech Landscape. Established entrants such as Adobe expanded with the acquisition of Workfront, while newer players like Trello and Monday gained traction.  

Although this was already a prevailing trend BEFORE the pandemic, the hybrid/remote work environment brought on by the last 2+ years forced these project management and agile-planning tools to the forefront.  The marketing work management category grew to over 1000+ tools, according to the State of Martech 2022

Source: State of MarTech 2022 – chiefmartec.com and Martech Tribe

MOps leaders are Maestros

In summary, modern MOps leaders are indeed Maestros. They are skilled orchestrators, conducting a symphony across multiple levels. They lead:

  • Omni-channel campaigns within marketing and across business functions
  • Integration across an ever-growing, integrated martech stack
  • Training and deployment as one of their primary responsibilities 

Editor’s note: In Part 3 of this 4-part series, Milt will expand on MOps leaders’ growing role as Psychologists. For background on this framework, see Part 1 of this series here


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


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About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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