The world of business comprises a wide variety of establishments seeking to earn a profit by providing some form of product, service, or value to people willing to pay for them. Every business’s primary focus is to turn a profit via the sale of a product or a service. For every business, the foremost question is usually the same—How do we reach out to as many people as possible within our target range and get them to know more about us and what we do to pay for what we are offering?
“Social media success formula: Content + Engagement + Conversion. Rinse. Repeat.”— Mari Smith, Facebook marketing expert, social media influencer, speaker, and author
Usually, most well-established businesses look to traditional marketing and advertising to answer this question. However, traditional marketing can often be quite expensive, impersonal, and difficult to assess. The audience does not usually have the opportunity to connect directly with the business and provide direct feedback. Some traditional advertising and marketing methods involve advertising via newspapers, magazines, telephone books, radio, and TV.
These advertising methods have fast become moribund. The advent of the Internet Age is fast drowning these advertisement and marketing methods as most people turn to the Internet for their news and information. This migration from traditional media to the new media that the Internet avails has dealt a cataclysmic blow to Traditional Media. Even the Titans of Traditional Media are migrating to the Internet. Sadly, the smaller Mom-and-Pop Traditional Media who could not stand the test of time have been forced to close shop.
The macrocosm of Internet Marketing is now the fad—that is where everybody is currently from a global standpoint. As the world has fast become a global village—thanks to the Internet—the shift makes businesses think outside the box in fashioning ways and reaching out to the throng of people cruising and surfing the World Wide Web. The concept of advertising is no longer as exorbitant as when Traditional Media was King. Now, advertisements can be tailored to the business owner’s needs as their budget permits. One of the methods that the advent of the Internet has created is Social Media Marketing.
Nowadays, there seems to be a new and exciting trend of companies reaching out and getting valuable engagement with their audiences through social media in a remarkably less expensive and more natural way. However, does this work? Have businesses recorded successes through social media engagement on a scale that would make this assertion a known fact? Or are we more excited about the idea of it and not looking at the cold hard facts?
Frankly, it is hard for our generation to imagine life without social media. Since the wide-ranging explosion of social media in the modern digital age, it has become an effective means to stimulate conversations within the social sphere. Social media has become a platform for networking, sharing, expressing, and enjoying ourselves. There is no doubt that social media has revolutionized how we interact with ourselves. It has given us access to celebrities, religious leaders, politicians, business leaders, and many other people who would otherwise be out of our grasp.
However, has social media translated into business success?
A 2020 study by the Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey among 1,798 marketers from around the world. In their findings, we can glean some of the following about the power of social media in business:
- The majority (75%) of B2C marketers find promoted social media posts and ads beneficial.1
- Advertising executives rate Facebook as their top Social Media platform with the highest return on investment, both for organic (non-paid) and paid content marketing distribution.1
- Organic posts on social media are favorite among marketers, with a 96% response rate among those participating in the survey. Closely following behind are those that pay for content marketing distribution on social media, coming in at a close 95% among those that took the survey.1
There have also been some great case studies of businesses that have used social media to turn their stagnant products into successes. For example, Peel, a phone case company, saw their revenue increase sixteen-fold and recorded a triple return on investment following a Facebook ad campaign. To get this result, Peel achieved this result in a partnership with the Social Advertisement organization, Biddyco. Proving that well-targeted advertisements on social media can engender a significant return.
Also, ASOS, a well-known e-commerce site and an internationally recognized online fashion store used a user-generated content campaign called #AsSeenOnMe. Shoppers were encouraged to take photos with the hashtag, copying ASOS. These photos were then posted on the ASOS website, thereby generating attention for the shoppers and driving visits to the site, further directing them to a page where they can buy more of the clothes on the photos. The campaign was a complete success.
Thirdly, Blenders, an eyewear brand, was built on their social media pull strength. They created ads featuring customer reviews of their glasses. This helped them build tremendous credibility among their audience. These results indicate that social media can be extremely beneficial to businesses, provided the right level of creativity is put into the campaign.
Brands continue to increase social media content and headcount investments as it is no longer enough to maintain your social media presence merely. The new marketing battleground is customer experience. Top brands do this by listening to what people say and do on social media channels. Data and analytics have become large sectors that have been used to determine economic and business trends, thereby giving companies an edge over others. This is the most significant role that social media will play in the future.
Giants such as Facebook have been known to tap into the vast amount of personal and professional information available to them and sell it to other businesses. This has raised some ethical concerns that may become more controversial as time goes by—we all remember the crazy mess they got into with Cambridge Analytica trifling with the 2016 United States Presidential Election. However, it is undeniable that with proper regulation and protection of the interests of unsuspecting users of social media sites.
“You can’t tiptoe into social media. You have to jump into the pool. People have a natural fear of it. But the scary part is not being there. Your customer is already there.” — Dave Saunders, Founder madisonmain.com
From all that we have seen, we can categorically say that social media plays a paramount role in the future of business. Social media is creating opportunities for companies that would have been just mere dreams decades ago. Social media has become an advertisement engine in the macrocosm of new media. In the words of Lori Ruff, speaker and author, “Social media is here. It’s not going away, not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.” Social media is where the people are, so businesses must be present on social media to engage people. Only the future will tell the possibilities that social media will create in the years to come.
- Content Marketing Institute. (2020). B2C content marketing 2020: Benchmarks, budgets, and trends. Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020_B2C_Research_Final.pdf