What is social media?
Social media is a group of internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Social media depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities can share, co-create, discuss and modify user-generated content.
Social media introduced substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses, organizations, communities and individuals. Social media differs from traditional media in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy and permanence.
Social media is relatively inexpensive, wildly inclusive and widely accessible.
Social media takes on many different forms including:
- Blogs – Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger are the most popular blog engines.
- Business networks – LinkedIn, Open Science Lab, XING are great examples of business networks.
- Enterprise social networks – these networks focus on a specific shared interest or activity
- Forums – internet forums are discussion boards where people can hold conversations around a specific topic in the form of posted messages.
- Microblogs – this broadcast medium features smaller content types than a traditional blog with short sentences and punchy messages.
- Photo sharing – these sites allow users to upload, host, manage and share their photos.
- Products or Services Review Sites – these platforms host reviews posted about people, businesses, products or services, for example com.
- Social Bookmarking – this service is a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit and share bookmarks of web documents and online content.
- Social Gaming – these online games allow or require social interaction between players.
- Social Networks – this refers to a social structure made up of a set of social actors, sets of dyadic ties and other social interactions between actors.
- Video Sharing – this service allows individuals to upload and share personal, business or royalty-free videos and to watch them legally, for example com.
- Virtual Worlds – a computer-based simulated environment populated by many users who can create a simulation of themselves and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world and interact with others, such as SecondLife or The Sims.
Social media development started off with simple platforms with few tools and options. Users lost interest quickly, causing developers to rapidly improve social media networks and platforms to continually engage users.
What does it mean to GO VIRAL?
Virality refers to the ability of one piece of content to be shared and spread across a social media network to engage as many consumers as possible. Some social media sites have greater virality than others and many sites provide specific functionality to help users reshare content.
Virality is defined as the greater likelihood that users will reshare content posted (by another user) to their social network.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing (SMM) is a type of digital marketing that utilizes social media platforms to achieve marketing and business goals. SMM primarily focuses on the creation of content for social media channels to drive engagement organically, and with the help of paid social advertising.
To get started with SMM, the best place to begin is to define your business goals. If you start your campaign without a clear set of objectives, it will be like travelling to a new destination without a map: you might get there eventually, but it will be much harder and it might take longer. A clear strategy and action plan are the first steps to a successful social media marketing campaign.
Create your SMM campaign plan by brainstorming your goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with this campaign? How much is a customer worth to you? Who is your target audience? What is the main message your brand is communicating?
Popular Social Media Marketing Channels
Facebook‘s fluid and fierce environment requires a robust, flexible strategy that is destined to work with the platform’s ever-changing algorithm. The first thing for a new business to do is to create a Facebook page and populate it with expertly designed artwork made especially for this space.
Facebook allows you to share photos, animations, videos, music and much more. Third-party applications allows businesses to host competitions ranging from photo submissions to polls and lotteries.
The ideal length for a Facebook post is 80 words. For more best practices for online copywriting, read my post about “The Writer’s Guide for Digital Content” here.
YouTube is the most popular platform for video content. It’s easy to use, free and it’s populated with massive amounts of entertaining content. Users can spend hours on YouTube listening to music, watching documentaries, catching up on vlogs (video blogs) or learning a new skill.
YouTube can be an extremely powerful marketing tool if it is used correctly. Instead of trying to create viral content, businesses should focus on creating valuable, unique content that users will save and share with their like-minded friends.
Similarly to traditional television, YouTube allow businesses to pay for advertisements to run before a video starts. Most users find these short advertisements irritating and opt to skip the entire advertisement. Conversion rates are low on these types of advertisements, but the advertiser only pays if the user watches the entire video. This functionality saves costs, reduces risk and boosts the final ROI for the campaign.
Twitter is a bitty and quirky social media platform that allows you to broadcast short pieces of information to your followers. Thanks to the use of hashtags (#), you can send your tweets to communities who follows those hashtags, thereby reaching many more potential customers.
Keep your content entertaining by mixing up your official tweets about specials, discounts and promotions with fun and informative tweets that keeps your community coming back for more. Twitter revolves around communication and interaction, so be active, stay engaged and try to respond to each and every message and tweet sent your way.
Mxit was created in South Africa to allow users to communicate via instant messaging on their mobile phones. The platform fills a niche in the South African communication market by facilitating low cost, instant communication on low tech devices.
Mxit works on more than 10 000 mobile devices and phones, including tablets, and users pay only 2c per message sent via the app. Mxit was the first of its kind and despite being partially replaced by instant messaging applications like Blackberry Messenger and Whatsapp, Mxit claims to retain a fairly large online market share in South Africa.
At its peak in 2010, Mxit claimed to have 50 million registered users around the world and 17 million active users in South Africa. In July 2014, Mxit released official numbers for the last time to date and the number of active users in South Africa had plummeted to 4.9 million. Today there are rumours that the platform has less than 1 million active users.
LinkedIn is the most popular and widely used professional network in South Africa. This social media platform allows users to create a professional profile, connect with colleagues and business partners, join professional groups, recommend employees, log work experience and much more.
LinkedIn requires a more serious, business-focused approach to engage customers. LinkedIn Groups are a great way of reaching potential customers by sharing interesting content and creating a community around a specific topic.
Another great way of utilizing this platform is to encourage customers to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations are the perfect way of showcasing your reliability and credibility to new customers.
Instagram is a popular photograph sharing application for smartphones. Instagram allows users to edit and beautify any photo taken by their smartphone, add a story and share the photo with a network of followers. New photos and profiles can be discovered with the use of hashtags, and marketers can use these hashtags to reach specific communities with their content.
Within 24 hours of its launch in October 2010, Instagram was the #1 most downloaded app in the App Store. In April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. Instagram has steadily gained popularity since and keep showing massive growth in users.
It’s imperative to keep content for Instagram fresh and authentic to engage users. As the platform grows and people join Instagram in droves, brands have a unique opportunity for engagement with their customers: Instagram posts generate 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 more times than Twitter, with an engagement rate of 4.21% per follower.
Pinterest is the newcomer on the social media scene and it is gaining traction amongst women in South Africa. The platform is dominated by pictures across a spectrum of topics ranging from Architecture to Weddings. Each picture can be linked to a website where the user can find more information.
Pinterest is great for small businesses who want to showcase their products and create a strong brand identity. Pinterest can also help to lend authority and credibility to a brand by linking up to various sources and great pieces of content.
This image-centred social media platform is ideal for retail and small businesses.
South African Social Media Users according to data released by Facebook in September 2015:
|Social Media Platform||Monthly Users|
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
According to Forbes, social media marketing has numerous benefits for small and large businesses.
- Improved brand loyalty
- Increased brand recognition
- Increasing inbound website traffic
- Building conversions (more opportunities to convert)
- Higher conversion rates
- Higher brand authority
- Decreased marketing costs
- Better search engine rankings
- Richer customer experiences
- Improved customer insights
Get started with social media marketing today! The longer you wait, the more you have to lose. Your competitors are already using social media marketing and so should you! Social media marketing can lead to more customers, more traffic and more conversions. And it’s not going anywhere.
Take a look at my blog posts about Social Media here: Social Media
Are you interested in getting started with social media marketing, but you don’t know where to begin? Send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on +27 (021) 981 1290.