Think about the first social media website that you joined. Social media has been a major part of the internet for decades; essentially, as soon as the internet became available for recreational use, social media began developing. As the internet is used to connect people with their loved ones no matter how far away they are from one another, social media usage has only grown. MySpace was one of the first giant social media sites, and as it fell apart, Facebook rose; and is still very much a prominent website to this day. Twitter and Instagram have grown to encapsulate their own audiences. As social media is heavily dependent on visuals, with Facebook and Instagram, in particular, relying on photographs, it likely comes as no surprise that social media has more recently become a part of how businesses both small and large advertise their products. But as the economy is stressed evermore by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many small business owners are researching the validity of social media as a marketing tool for the first time. Before you can make an effective social media marketing plan, however, you must understand the advantages of utilizing social media in the first place, and whether or not they apply to your particular business.
One of the reasons why people take their time before beginning to strategically use social media in advertising their small businesses is that they simply don’t recognize the transition that social media has made from a fun distraction to an important part of the ecommerce world. With that being said, let’s look into whether or not an effective social media marketing plan can aid your small business in the long term.
Why Has Social Media Become Such An Important Part Of Online Advertising?
For one thing, it’s important to come to terms with the fact that your small business will have a hard time flourishing if it does not have an online presence. Any advertising agency will tell you that almost every type of business, whether it is selling a product or a service, needs to be available online. People research products online, and they buy products online. Even products that once seemed to be difficult to sell online are now accessible there just as they would be in person. Even used car dealerships advertise online, but they can’t do so without an effective social media marketing plan. The fact is that there is no use in having a great website or products that can easily be shipped worldwide if you aren’t advertising online properly. Right now, an estimated 95% of all shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. One of the reasons why it’s so important to consider social media marketing is that it not only allows you to be everywhere; it also allows you to easily educate consumers about your business.
The ubiquitousness of social media essentially allows consumers to be reached by your marketing everywhere. This is one big reason why businesses starting relying on social media marketing in a major way. Websites like Facebook can give users advertisements that coincide with their search terms. While a lot of people think that they make their purchasing decisions easily and independently, in this day and age many of them are slowly led to these decisions through social media marketing. You might think that you suddenly decided to buy a boat independently, but you probably saw a lot of advertisements for a boat for sale on Facebook or Instagram before you finally decided to make that call. Furthermore, as that advertisement was chief in your mind already, you may very well end up seeking it out again to make your final decision. This constant flood of advertisement is what allows social media to appeal to consumers in a way that normal ads can’t. For that matter, social media marketing is often more organic, as well as more targeted, than traditional ads. A lot of people don’t even realize that they’re absorbing these ads until they’ve made their purchases. Just as social media has become an important part of life in general, it’s also become an important part of how we consume advertising.
Why Does Social Media Appeal To Small Businesses?
There are a lot of reasons why small businesses are focusing on building effective social media marketing plans, as mentioned above. Therefore, there are clear benefits to relying on social media. Part of them, of course, have to do with that constant flood of advertisement, as well as the way social media allows businesses to advertise without seeming desperate. But there are plenty of other reasons why social media would be more appealing to small businesses in particular than traditional advertising strategies. For one thing, a lot of people have an easier time trusting businesses that advertise on social media than they do with less organic marketing. While it may not necessarily be founded in fact, lots of people often find it easier to feel as if they know a business when it’s discovered on their favorite social media platform. Social media feels personal. This is why even some of the bigger companies are attempting to make their social media accounts more “lifelike” and personalized. Look at restaurant chains like Wendy’s; their Twitter account is run as if Wendy is a real person!
Of course, there is also the advantage of affordability to consider. While print and television ads were once the norm, now that online advertisements have become more popular their expensiveness is considered more of an issue. Online advertising, and in particular social media advertising, can be much more affordable with a much higher return. Consider the fact that an effective social media marketing plan can be conceived of and implemented by a completely remote workforce. Social media marketing can be as simple as a quick single-sentence tweet or an interesting video on Instagram. For that matter, social media marketing has a quick cycle, and it’s often fairly easy to see if it’s effective within a short amount of time. Social media advertising can also be visual, or textual. It can be adjusted fairly easily to suit its audience, ultimately resulting in better results in a smaller period of time.
Why Do Consumers Like Social Media Marketing?
In order to have an effective social media marketing plan, a small business owner has to understand why consumers will like their social media marketing techniques as well. While part of that has to do with the familiarity of social media marketing, part of it also has to do with the fact that it’s often so customized. When a user searches for a diamond engagement ring photo on Instagram, cookies collect that information. This allows companies selling engagement rings to essentially target those consumers with specific ads. Ultimately, people spend less time on ads that they aren’t interested in, and small businesses spend less time on consumers that aren’t interested in them in turn. A major reason why small business owners are drawn to social media marketing is that they are essentially advertising to the right people, rather than a small pool of people. Those right people are more likely to buy, and therefore the small business owners are going to spend less on their marketing. It essentially cuts down on the amount of time being wasted by both parties, and consumers often feel less overwhelmed.
There’s also the ease of accessibility that needs to be considered. Consumers like being able to order things quickly after they’ve seen them in attractive advertisements. Of course, business owners also like the fact that consumers can buy products or services easily. A lot of social media advertisements enable consumers to buy items with just the click of one button. For that matter, there are a number of different platforms through which people can order products. It’s no longer necessary for consumers to give out their credit card information whenever they order something online. They can use platforms like Paypal to encrypt their information, making it easier for them to get exactly what they want. At the same time, there are a number of different ways in which social media advertising has changed the way that people approach shopping in general, and certainly online shopping
What Kind Of Changes Has Social Media Marketing Brought To Advertising?
There are a lot of changes that social media marketing has brought to the advertising world. People perceive online advertising and shopping differently due to social media marketing, in ways that are both positive and negative. Social media allows consumers to compare products in a manner different from what they once did. Online shopping has always been used as a way through which people can compare different products and companies, simply for an extra level of reassurance. A major part of an effective social media marketing plan is making it easier for people to research and compare businesses. For that matter, social media marketing has also changed the way that people view brand loyalty. Being able to use a hashtag when taking a photo with a product matters to people today. And in a cyclical turn, seeing those pictures under that hashtag, from real people, allows people to build a certain level of trust in a business that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
This leads to what is perhaps one of the biggest changes that social media marketing has brought to advertising. For a lot of companies today, part of building an effective social media marketing plan is employing influencers. For those unfamiliar with influencers, these are individuals who essentially live their lives online, give or take some time. Influencers develop a bond with their followers through blogging, vlogging, or simple social media posts. Most influencers make income off of their online presence through brand deals and sponsorships. They create content approved by their sponsors, which could be as subtle as simply mentioning a product in their list of favorite things for the month, or as clear as giving a long-form video review. No matter what, it’s important for influencers and business owners to create a kind of balance between brand deals and sponsorships, as well as truly organic content that isn’t meant to advertise, at least not directly. Consumers can lose trust in their favorite influencers if all they post is advertisements or sponsored posts, understandably. At the same time, it’s important for companies to become their own influencers, to an extent. This is why part of an effective social media marketing plan for some small businesses is letting their employees make blog posts, or posting about their favorite lunches during the workday and tagging their business. This further personalizes these small businesses and makes it easier for people to feel a sense of loyalty to the brand. While this feeling of loyalty to not just a company but people working within the company probably isn’t a final dealbreaker for people considering whether or not to buy, it does make a difference.
Of course, there are so many factors beyond an effective social media marketing plan that go into a person’s online shopping decisions. But these factors are perhaps among the most important that come to consumers’ minds in a post-social media world. Social media marketing allows businesses to have more control over their brands, and furthermore allows them to connect with consumers in a way that they never could before. This is all done through a system that is more targeted than traditional online advertising and yields better results. Finally, this process often doesn’t require as much manpower to execute, and overall can be more cost-effective than alternative forms of advertising.
At the end of the day, social media marketing could be considered the future of online advertising. Yet it has already taken hold of the online advertising sphere in so many ways. You can advertise your small business through influencers, targeted ads, and flashy images or videos. Why not do so and apply this form of advertising to your small business?