Today, 69 percent of the U.S. population uses some type of social media. Across demographics, people use it to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves.
Facebook alone has 202 million American users and two billion global users. Its user base is broadly representative of the population as a whole. Roughly 75 percent of Facebook users and 50 percent of Instagram users visit these sites at least once a day. Millions of Americans also use sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn.
Social media has become a primary means through which humans interact. As such, it is a powerful tool for marketers to “humanize” their brands and connect with people in meaningful and personal ways. Each platform offers unique tools to help marketers achieve specific marketing objectives. Here are a few examples:
- Target Highly Specific Audiences with Facebook AdsBecause of the reach of Facebook and all of its user data, advertisers can deliver highly relevant messages to specifically targeted groups of people. This efficiency enables advertisers to get more value and ROI for their promotional budgets by reaching only the people who matter.
Facebook ads can target users within a certain radius from a city, or they can use country, state, city or zip code data. They target by demographics including age, gender, relationship status, education and occupation. Ads can also be targeted by specific interests and hobbies, or behaviors and activities that people engage in on Facebook or even offline. The site enables advertisers to target their own customer lists while they are on the site, or to find lookalike audiences. Finally, “re-marketing” from Facebook ads enables follow-up marketing with banner ads to people on Facebook who have visited the advertiser’s website.
- Educate and Nurture Prospects on LinkedInIf your company’s product or service is complex or pricey, there may be a learning curve associated with prospects making an initial or follow-up purchase. Or there may be multiple people involved in a purchasing decision in many B2B transactions, especially those involving sophisticated IT investments. LinkedIn is a terrific platform to post written “nurture stream” content to educate prospects and customers in order to move them through the customer journey. This content can also be posted to relevant LinkedIn user groups, where people are already having related discussions.
- Drive Traffic with YouTube and Facebook VideosOne hundred million hours of video content are consumed on Facebook daily, and just 10,000 YouTube Videos have generated more than 1 billion views. Now, more than half of all YouTube views are on mobile devices, which mean video reaches and influences people whenever and wherever you want to find them.
Facebook videos are often watched with the sound off, which means video content for this platform should be created with captions in mind. In 2016, Facebook added automatic captioning to videos posted to its pages — a free feature that enhances the value of your investment. When creating content, envision the user experience that a subway rider or a college student waiting for class to begin will have with your captioned messages.
What works best on YouTube are high-quality videos that tell a story and can keep users engaged and entertained. Music, action and humor are powerful tools in creating YouTube content, just as they are in creating television content. Videos should conclude with a call-to-action, such as a link to a website to learn more about your product or a phone number to request a consultation.
- Cross-Promote With Other Brands on InstagramLooking for a cost-effective way to “share the love” with your customers? Partner with other brands in a cross-promotional effort on Instagram. Simply find a business with common target audiences and marketing objectives. For example, if you are a microbrewery, partner with a local restaurant chain and tag one another in your Instagram promotions, driving users to experience your brew at the one of the restaurant’s locations. This technique is highly effective in targeting females and Millennials, and in conjunction with event marketing or with contests.
- Engage Thought Leaders on TwitterDoes your business need to assert influence in an industry or a local market to succeed? Use Twitter to find and engage other influential people in your sphere, including potential clients and journalists. Add these voices to your private Twitter list, respond to and engage with their content and reciprocate by tweeting quality content of your own. Tweet comments and links to blogs or video content. Remember to be conversational, rather than salesy, speaking “with,” rather than “to” your intended audiences.
For marketers with drive and imagination, the possibilities for acquiring and engaging customers — and earning their continued loyalty — through social media are limitless.
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