What is Social Media Marketing (SMM) and what does it achieve?
Are there any advertising guidelines in SMM?
What Key Performance Indicators (KPI) do you track to understand your performance?
How do you continually learn about new trends in the social media world?
What is the future of SMM and where do you see it going?
Social Media Marketing, or SMM for short, is different for each and every client. Social Media Marketing is creating unique, customized content for the different social media platforms to drive engagement, and build brand awareness. There are around 3.5 billion users on social media who are looking to share information, create information, or look for information. It is a powerful medium to get your message across to millions, if not billions of people all over the world in a very short amount of time.
Brands want to use Social Media Marketing to connect with their audience, to help the audience understand their brand better. The majority of Internet users are on social media, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Tiktok. Brands are conscience of where they are advertising and where their audience is. Most of the Gen Z and Millennials are on Tiktok and Instagram, and that is where brands are turning to to get their message across. Billions of advertising dollars are spent through Facebook who owns Instagram, and now through Tiktok, as the focus of these young age groups turns to the newest game changer.
Once these brands have connected with their audience, their job is to make them happy. It is like when you go to meet a person for the first time, you want to make a good impression, and say and do the right things. No one wants to hear boring, meaningless words or long moments of awkward silences. So it is our job to help brands share meaningful content consistently, that either entertains or educates their audience, to make them happy enough to share that content and interact with it. Not doing these things will produce little to no results and can cost brand’s a lot of money.
Social media marketing (SMM) is powerful, it can do a lot for brands and it can help them achieve the results they are looking for. It helps with things like Brand Awareness, becoming relevant and familiar with potential customers, in the places they will be. Brands want to be recognizable and memorable, so they can be trusted and gain loyal, repeat customers. SMM can also help with building relationships with customers and audiences. Brands can do this by interacting with their customers by leaving comments, interacting with them, asking them questions, being attentive to their needs and looking after them via great customer service. Being good to customers and giving them what they want, can lead to increased sales, more traction and a thriving social media community. Social media is also a great way to spy on competition and emulate them, more brands are doing that then you would think. Social media is where everything is happening, and where people go to get the latest news and information from around the world in real time.
When it comes to Social Media Marketing, brands and people cannot just advertise whatever they want, there are guidelines. Every country has their own guidelines that follow the ICAS (International council for ad self-regulation), and these guidelines are there for influencers to be transparent – so customers know when an influencer is promoting an item, and to protect consumers for immoral intentions. These guidelines are there mainly for influencers, who advertise products on their social media for brands for a fee.
These advertising standards want to ensure that any paid promotion is clearly labeled as paid promotion, or sponsored content by the influencers promoting the content. This is important as it lets the consumer know that the influencer has been paid to promote this piece of content by a brand, so don’t take it too seriously. A few years ago celebrities were advertising this slimming tea all over social media, and it was big thing. People started to buy it to lose weight and many ended up getting sick, and the slimming tea actually was bad for you due to some ingredients in it. People were getting muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea and other sicknesses; this was an embarrassing scandal for all those that advertised the tea.
Then there was the Fyre festival, a fraudulent luxury music festival founded in 2017 by con artist Billy McFarland, and rapper Ja Rule. Celebrities like Kendal Jenner, and other models advertised the festival on social media, and thousands attended an event that was not equipped to handle, or host the guests. It was a huge scandal, with people being sued all over the place, and celebrities trying to distance themselves from these con artists.
So over the years, advertising guidelines came into place to help protect consumers from these kinds of ads and now influencers have to disclose when the place an ad on social media. There are some products that are not allowed to be advertised here in the UAE, and they are alcohol, smoking, drugs – medicines and approval from the relevant authorities to share sponsored content on health, education, real estate, Hajj & Umrah campaigns and more.
Overall, there are guidelines as we mentioned above to help protect everyday consumers from products, and by labeling the content as promotional or sponsored, it does tell the user that the influencer is paid and to proceed with care. Then if the consumer does choose to buy a product that is sponsored it is on them. Every country is different and what you can advertise in the west, you can’t in the UAE.
Every time we run a social media campaign, we are determined to see how well it does. We give the campaign some time to work, typically 1-3 days, to make sure the advertising platform has found the right place for the ad, and has optimized it based on the first 1-3 days. It takes 1-3 days for the platform to test the ad with different groups under the interests, demographics we set, to find the right place for the ad. Then we go in and check the analytics tools and certain metrics to see how well an ad it doing. We don’t want to waste our money if the ad is not performing.
Engagement is the most important KPI. Engagement measure things like the amount of likes, comments and shares your media post gets. Having a large reach with low engagement is really bad; it shows that your piece of content did not resonate with your audience. Paying lots of money to reach millions of people means nothing if they aren’t interested in what you have to offer them. As long as your audience is engaged no matter how small, it will start to grow organically and start to generate more leads for your business. It is about the quality of the audience not the size. You want an active community that really loves your brand, and are willing to purchase from you. So a 20k follower audience, where engagement is 30-50% is better than a 1million follower audience with a 0.7% engagement rate.
Within engagement we look at clicks. Clicks to your website or social profile show how well your title, picture or message did with your audience. Your fans may click on your posts but new people will only click on your posts if they are interesting. You can have a large number of clicks with few post likes and shares, which shows that you got their interest but you did not do enough to convert them into customers. Good overall engagement with low clicks shows that you need to work on how you pitch your content by testing multiple titles and media assets.
We also take a look at reach. Reach shows you how far your message is travelling and how many eyeballs you got in front of. First of all, when you publish a social media post you know that roughly a certain percentage of your following will see your posts. Then we look at impressions, so how many times did your post show up in someone’s newsfeed, either because they are already following you or because someone they know has liked or shared your content. For every impression within reach, it just shows that they had a chance to see your post and not actually clicked to see your post. At finally we look at the bottom line, how many leads did we get due to the above data. We focus our attention on where most of our leads are coming from.
The world moves at a fast pace. There are new trends coming and going on social media. If you catch these trends, they can do so much for you in terms of getting more followers, more engagement and more popularity overall. You have to be quick, and always on your toes if you are to get ahead of the rest when it comes to a new trend.
The thing with social media is, the landscape changes everyday. You could wake up one morning and check your socials and be completely confused as to what’s going on. How I learn about new trends in the social media worlds is just to keep active on social media and be on the most important platforms, where everyone one else is. I’m on Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and the list goes on. I check my feeds a few times a day, and I see all the cross posts from the different media platforms. Sometimes you can catch some interesting trends this way.
I listen to and follow popular podcasts like Social Media Today that talk about social media and all the interesting things that are happening. They analyze social media and give you a good breakdown of what’s popular and what’s not. Watching you favorite Youtube channels is also good. These Influencers know what’s popular and what’s not, they will be doing the latest trends to keep relevant. Keeping up to date with Social media gurus on Twitter will also help guide you. They are on the lookout for new trends and will share them to their feeds.
I like to keep checking popular sites like Mashable and Buzzfeed for the latest information on social media and the world in general. These sites not only inform you of what’s happening in the world, and the world of tech, but also on trends and all the gossip that comes with it. They will be talking about the biggest influencers and their latest moves.
I would urge people to get onto social media and start getting involved. Start following people who have what you want, start engaging, start commenting, start liking, and start sharing. Make sure you add valuable information when you engage. Then start sharing your own work, and start to follow groups and communities. Getting involved will help you keep up to date with the latest things happening in the social world. Joins as many popular social media platforms and you will be happy you did. There is so much information going around and so much to learn. This is a great way of find out the latest trends going on in the world.
The future of Social Media Marketing is going to be interesting as technology advances. We are going to start seeing things like AI and chatbots come more into play to make life easier for people. We are going to see more augmented reality come into play for adverts and consumers. There are a whole host of new technological advances that are going to come into play and push out some of the more manual, labor requiring tasks.
Influencer marketing is still going to be a huge factor, where brands will pay influencers for sponsored posts as we have talked about above. It not just the big influencers cashing in, it will be micro-influencers, those with a smaller number of followers but with much higher engagement rates. Chatbots powered by AI are starting to come into play, where users interact with this chatbot and have a conversation with it. It is hard for humans to respond quickly to all the messages coming in, so these chatbots are there to communicate and guide customers to where the need to go or the desired outcome. It is still a working progress but very quick and effective in keeping customer retention.
More and more people are shopping online in this day and age. Social media is becoming a bigger part of online sales; so social media companies are adding methods to allow users to buy products directly from their platforms. Look at Instagram where you can purchase products directly within the app, sell from the app and more. Tiktok is working with Shopify to allow people to buy directly from the app. Facebook have their pixel that tracks user behavior and purchases, then allows advertisers to target them with precision. E-Commerce will be intertwined with social media in the future.
Facebook groups are becoming important where there are whole communities based of single interests. They get together and do live videos, interact and boost engagement for products. One of the most important features that will only be more important is Live Videos. Live videos are a great way to give your audience the opportunity to interact with you in real-time and ask any questions. Augmented reality is starting to show itself on social media, this is where you can try on sunglasses from a brand through your front camera lens. Brands like Ray-Ban and trying this through Instagram stories and Snapchat.
Overall I think social media marketing is going in the right direction. It is trying to make things easier for the consumer and the brands. These new ways of interacting, purchasing and communicating are paving the way to a better ecosystem. These methods are giving brands more ways of communicating with their consumers.