Social media marketing is the practice of using various social media channels to connect with customers and lead them to your product or service, a compelling option in the marketing toolkit. But don't feel bad if you don't fully understand the concept as the term often gets thrown around without a whole lot of thought about a clear definition.
Social media marketing is simple on the surface, but it includes multiple layers that impact the best practices for different types of organizations. While social media marketing may seem easy, jumping in without a solid understanding will hurt your chances of getting the right results.
A Quick History of Social Media
Social media began in 1997 with a website called Six Degrees, growing to around 1 million members who could create profiles and connect with one another by "friending." Then, in the next couple of years, with the rollout of a site called LiveJournal, blogging took off to keep friends updated with each other’s personal lives.
The first decade of the 2000s saw expansive social media growth with the addition of Friendster, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter. Not all of them survived as we all know, but they changed the internet landscape and marketing forever.
Social Media Marketing Defined
Before building a social media marketing plan, you need to start with the fundamentals; a definition of the concept will provide a foundation on which to develop your understanding. At the simplest level, social media marketing involves the use of various social media channels to connect with more customers and lead them to your product or service. That is an excellent place to start, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
Neil Patel, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the social media realm, defines social media marketing as the process of "creating content that you have tailored to the context of each social media platform to drive user engagement and sharing." This definition expands our view to see the need to understand the differences between the various platforms and to be clear about our goals.
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Many organizations jump into social media marketing or develop a social media marketing plan without thinking much about the outcomes. It doesn't make sense to invest time, energy, or money in social media without understanding the benefits.
A clear view of potential outcomes can help you evaluate the cost-benefit and fine-tune your strategy for the best results. Here are just some of the possible benefits:
- Better awareness of your business and brand
- High website traffic
- More sales leads
- Increased sales
- Good customer engagement
- The chance to better understand customers
How Does Social Media Marketing Work?
A well-developed social media marketing plan includes several steps, all of which are required to get the most bang for your buck.
It starts with an effective strategy. Determine your business goals and choose a path to achieve them. Then come planning and publishing. At some point, you need to jump in and start sharing content on the platforms with which you’ve chosen to engage. But, unlike other marketing methods, the next steps are just as important—listening and engaging.
The benefits of social media become apparent when people begin to comment, tag, share, and message you (or your business). It’s important not just to watch and listen, but also to respond and continue the conversation.
Finally, part of a great social media marketing plan is reviewing analytics. You can track views, likes, shares, comments, and other aspects of engagement to see what parts of your plan have the most impact.
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Is a Career in Social Media Marketing for You?
As an increasing number of businesses discover the benefits of social media marketing, there’s a corresponding need for social media experts. Fortunately, for those who are interested in this field, the necessary skills are easily attainable as it just takes a willingness to learn and succeed.
Social media marketing as a career field was virtually unheard of a decade ago. Now, however, it’s an established, growing field with a positive outlook for the foreseeable future.
But don't feel like you need to be an expert to start your career in social media marketing. If you know how to communicate, tell compelling stories, and enjoy analyzing trends, you might be a perfect fit as a professional in this industry. What’s more, it helps if you have the drive to continue learning as social media is evolving and needs professionals who can keep up.
How to Get Started in Social Media Marketing?
Social media is undoubtedly an exciting and ever-changing industry. Psychology is as much a part of the job as creativity and data—it utilizes both the right and left sides of the brain, and each day brings about new challenges. There are a couple of things you can do right away to prepare yourself for a career in social media marketing, helping transform you into an industry-ready marketer.
Play in the Sandbox
The first thing to do when considering a career in social media marketing is to get your feet wet in the social media world. Start building your presence on major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Also, follow other thought leaders in the industry. See what type of plans they’re working on and get a better understanding of the benefits of social media marketing from their standpoint.
Next, start learning and seek education. While online experience is essential, you also need the theory and background that social media marketing courses can provide. With social media certification training, you’ll learn fast and obtain the credentials to share with prospective clients and employers.
Simplilearn offers an advanced social media certification training program, Advanced Social Media Certification Training, that will help you become a social media specialist who’s primed for the professional industry. Complete our training, and you’ll soon be ready to execute an advanced social media marketing plan for yourself, your clients, or better yet—your employer.
Want to test your knowledge of social media marketing? Try these Advanced Social Media Practice Test Questions and find out now!
Fast-Track Your Career Today
There’s no end in sight for the growth of social media. Consider just one social media network: Facebook. Facebook's ad revenues are expected to grow from $39.9 billion in 2017 to $67.5 billion in 2019.
And this is just one piece of the social media landscape. New networks, yet unheard of, will continue to pop up and fight for dominance or carve out a niche in this dynamic industry. Businesses will be on a constant lookout for the latest edge to cut through the clutter and connect with new customers.
Simplilearn is a certification training provider that helps working professionals like you achieve their career goals. Enroll in our certification courses covering the disciplines of social media, content marketing, and web analytics to elevate your brand and execute compelling campaigns. Fast-track your social media marketing career and take it to new heights today!