What is Social Media?
Social media has become an essential marketing element, and it is used everywhere in the world. Every day, millions of people connect to social media for information, education or entertainment. Now, we get our daily news, as well as information on different events through social media, although we may not be sure of how they came to be an essential part of our daily lives.
And so, you may wonder, how were social media created? And why do many people now use them to promote their business or to build personal relationships?
First of all, we’d have to consider how long they have existed and why they are so vital in our society.
How Was Social Media Created?
Although it may seem hard to believe, the beginning of social media dates back to 1994, with the creation of “geocities.com,” one of the first social networks. The idea was for users to select a city to host their website. These were classified as cities or regions according to their content.
Later, in 1995 two more social networks were created “classmates.com” and “theglobe.com.” Classmates.com was a social network that offered people around the world the possibility to get back in touch or continue communicating with old friends from college, high-school, work and others. Theglobe.com allowed users to customize their own online experiences by publishing their own content and interacting with others with similar interests.
In 1997, “AOL Instant Messenger” was launched, an interactive chat service to talk with friends, family and anyone with an Internet connection.
Over time, this type of service became a very profitable business on the Internet. In the 2000s, several websites started providing communication services and they were called “social networks” or, back then, Circles of Friends.
Social media had its first big boom in 2002, with the creation of many popular sites, which led to the exponential growth of networks such as MySpace, Tribe, and Xing.
That same year, Friendster was launched, a pioneering website for online connection among “real friends.” In just 3 months, it reached 3 million users.
One year later (2003), the well-known and popular “MySpace” was created, perhaps the biggest network of the time, with more than 250 million users. MySpace was one of the most popular on the Internet: a network where the users themselves provided content through personal profiles with blogs, photographs, groups of friends, music and videos. To create a profile, users could use basic options available on the page or, if they know code, they could use HTML and CSS to create traditional web pages.
In 2003, another well-known social network was started, very popular at the time: Hi5. This was founded by Ramu Yalamanchi. By the end of 2007, it had more than 70 million registered users, most of them from Latin America. It was also one of the 40 most-visited websites in the world. In early 2010, Hi5 began to evolve from a social network to a website focused on social gaming and open to new game developers.
Later on in 2004, Flickr, a photo-sharing service, was created.
Facebook, today’s big social network started in 2004. With around 900 million users worldwide (data as of April 2012), if there is one social network that reigns over all others, that is certainly Facebook. Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg while studying at Harvard University. His goal was to design a space for Harvard students to communicate fluently and share content in a simple way through the Internet.
Interesting facts (according to an infographic published on moz.com):
- If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, only after China and India.
- Monthly, there are about 1.19 billion active Facebook users.
- About 9 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook every month.
- Facebook is blue because Zuckerberg is color blind. He cannot distinguish red or green; blue is the color he sees better and, therefore, is the dominant color in his network.
Two years later in 2006, one of the most widely-used social networks today, Twitter, was created. Twitter was founded in March 2006 by students at Cornell University in New York: Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Noah Glass.
The first three co-founded the company Obvious, which would later become Twitter Inc. Currently, the team is made up of 18 people. Jack Dorsey is co-founder and chairman of the company.
Users send and receive updates from other users through short messages that should not exceed 140 characters.
Interesting facts (according to an infographic published on moz.com):
- 1 in 5 young people (18-24) use Twitter daily.
- The 2012 US elections broke all records, with 31.7 million tweets. Election day was the political event that triggered the most tweets in US history.
- Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry have more followers on Twitter than the entire population of Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Canada, Argentina and Egypt together.
In 2010, Instagram went live, a social network that has been leaving its mark. It was created in San Francisco, California by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. They wanted to focus their multiple functions HTML5 check-in Burbn on a mobile photography platform. Officially, Instagram was launched in the Apple App Store on October 6, 2010.
In 2011, the application decided to add the now popular hashtags to help users discover content posted by others sharing their same interests. Instead of tagging words like picture with the purpose of making photographs more appealing, attracting more fans and getting more likes.
The Google -Twitter Alliance
In February 2015, Google and Twitter reached an agreement in which Google would have full access to the Twitter stream.
This alliance meant that Google would now have access to the stream of tweets known as firehose. The aptly-named firehose produces almost 9,000 tweets per second (from the time of writing) on the Internet, as if Google did not have to index enough information.
Fundamentals and Principles of Social Media Marketing
According to entrepeneur.com, social media marketing is a strategy that uses each of the marketing tools to meet a company’s business objectives. Most people use social networks as a platform for promotion.
It is important to understand the fundamentals of social media marketing. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, following these 10 tips will help you build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and, perhaps most importantly, your bottom line.
Success with social media marketing involves listening more and speaking less. Read the online content of your target audience and join discussions to learn what is important to them. Only then can you create content and generate conversations that will serve your client.
A highly-focused social media marketing strategy, designed to build a strong brand, has a better chance of success than a comprehensive strategy that aims to be everything to all people.
Quality always exceeds quantity. It is better to have 1,000 online connections that read, share and talk about your content with your own audience than 10,000 connections that disappear after connecting the first time.
Success in social media and digital marketing does not happen overnight. It is best to fully commit to something to achieve good results in the long term.
- Generate Good Content
If you generate original, good-quality content and work to create your online audience of quality followers, they will share it with their audience on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and their personal blogs. This exchange and discussion of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find you in keyword searches. Those points of entry could be hundreds or thousands of more possible ways for people to find you online.
Take time to find online influencers in your same market who have quality audiences and who may be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with these people and work to build relationships with them. If you can get a good source of information that is interesting and useful, share your content with followers.
If you spend all your time on the internet promoting your products and services, users will lose interest and stop following you. Generate valuable content and keep your followers interested.
While you cannot ignore someone approaching you on the street, you will be able to ignore someone when you talk online. Building and maintaining relationships is one of the most important things to succeed in digital marketing through social media.
- The Law of Accessibility
An unforgivable mistake is to publish content and then disappear. Do not do this; be open and available to your audience and users. This means constantly posting content and engaging in conversations. Online users can be tough, and they will not think twice about replacing you if you do not post anything in weeks or months.
- The Law of Reciprocity
When you conduct a digital marketing campaign through social media, you cannot assume that other people will share your content if you do not share their content. You should spend a portion of your time sharing and talking a little about the content of other people.
Social Media Marketing
Four Pillars or Approaches to Digital Marketing
In order to execute digital marketing in social networks successfully, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve for the customer or for the followers. You should consider four fundamental pillars when making a decision for your business. According to Online Marketing Strategies, you should take the following into account:
- Generate Traffic
For a good digital marketing strategy to work, it is important to have enough traffic. However, according to Online Marketing Strategies, having a lot of traffic is not the same as having sales or leads. The important thing here is to generate “quality” traffic, that is, traffic that is highly likely of being interested in our products or services.
- Get Leads
Very rarely is a digital agency lucky enough that a first-time customer visits the website and hires a service. “Digital Marketing Strategy” highlights the importance for the website to generate “leads” or potential clients and to provide contact details (email) to build a relationship and increase the chances of becoming a customer.
- Convert Sales
Sales conversion is a factor of paramount importance for any digital marketing strategy. For any business, it is not only about getting leads; the difficult thing is to convert those leads into future clients. The strategy must consider a follow-up process and building trust with the customer to be able to make a sale.
- Web Analytics
Web analytics is the last pillar of digital marketing and probably the most important of the four. You must know how to measure what is being done, each step of the process: traffic, leads and sales conversions. If you have these numbers and know how to interpret them, it will be easier.
How to Use Social Media as a Digital Marketing Channel
Nowadays, few people do not have a social media account. Data from moz.com indicate that 89% of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 years have active a social media accounts. Moz.com also states that today, 92% of companies use social media to find and recruit new staff.
Global companies now use social media to get more and better customers. However, for everything to work and meet the company’s expectations, several people have to be creating and implementing digital strategies behind the scenes to achieve the objectives.
Whether you have a small business, a local business or a multinational company, statistics indicate that your customers are always online. They interact in social channels with their friends, colleagues or other brands in search of information, recommendations and entertainment. If your company is not ready to provide that information or is not available at all to provide it, the competition will and will most likely take a potential customer from you.
You may be wondering: will this give me long-term results? Many people do not know the benefits of investing in a company, but according to Carlos Guerra, social media marketing offers numerous benefits, such as:
-Greater brand recognition: As mentioned above, most people and companies today have accounts in different social networks. Social media are new channels for the voice of the company and its contents. That’s why having a social media presence is important, because it makes content easier and more accessible for potential customers.
-Increases brand loyalty: interacting with customers on a regular basis sets a good example for future customers. In addition, if you share content that is interesting to your audience, you are more likely to convert content consumers, loyal to the brand. This is important, as it can be a determining factor between you and the competition.
-More opportunities for conversion: when a person visits the website, clicks on an image, video or comments, it is an opportunity for a user on the network to react, and every reaction can lead to a visit to the website and, finally, a conversion. Although not all interactions are a conversion, each positive interaction increases the chances of becoming a conversion.
-Higher conversion rates: in social media, companies can act as people. This is of utmost importance, because everyone likes to do business with a person, not with a company. Therefore, by simply creating a virtual community through interaction with future clients or the general public, it gives more life and “humanizes” the company and with that, it manages to increase conversion percentages of existing traffic.
-Low cost: advertising through different social media is relatively cheap (of course, depending on your goals). Digital platforms allow reaching a large number of potential customers with quite a reasonable investment.
– Better position in search engines: Search engine optimization or SEO is an important and decisive factor for any brand or company. Being active in social networks interacting with users and followers will play an important role in searches, because with social signals search engines can determine that the business is legitimate, credible and reliable.
-More information: social networks have the great advantage of always providing as much information as possible and always being up-to-date. Digital platforms allow you to collect varied information about the interests of customers and see what type of content generates the most searches. You can also monitor user feedback and know what people think about your company.
Once all this is clear, it is essential to establish what tone of voice you will use to speak to your audience. Most of the time, companies try a more informal approach, to feel a “real” connection with their users. However, it might be better to talk more formally to users in posts, to make them feel respected.
How to Develop a Marketing Plan in Social Media
According to Hootsuite, a social media marketing plan is the summary of everything you plan to do and achieve for your business through digital platforms. It should include an audit of how your accounts are today, the goals you want to achieve in the future and the tools you want to use. The more specific the plan, the more effective the implementation. Make sure your social media marketing strategy is not too complex or broad, as it may be unattainable. The plan will guide your actions, and it will also be a measure by which you will determine whether you are succeeding or not.
Step 1: Set Goals and Objectives
Setting goals and objectives is crucial for any social media marketing strategy. Having clear objectives also allows you to react quickly when media campaigns are not working as planned. Without goals, there will be no way to measure success or prove your ROI on social media.
These goals should be aligned with the broader marketing strategy so that your social media efforts are geared toward business objectives. If your social media marketing strategy is shown to support business objectives, you are more likely to get executive buy-in and investment.
You can also use the SMART method when setting goals and objectives. Your objectives should be SMART:
Step 2: Conduct a Social Media Audit
Before creating the marketing plan, you need to review what social media you use and see how they are working. This includes reviewing who is connecting with the company through social media, which networks you target market uses and how your presence in social media compares to the competition.
Once you have done the audit, you must have a clear picture of each social media account that represents your company, who executes it or controls it, and what purpose it serves. This inventory must be maintained on a regular basis, especially as the business grows. It should also evidence which accounts need to be updated and which ones should be decommissioned.
When trying to decide which social media accounts to further, two factors must be considered:
Is my audience here?
If so, how are they using this platform?
Step 3: Create or Improve Your Accounts
Once the audit is complete, it is time to improve your online presence. Choose social networks that best adjust to the goals of your social media strategy. If you do not already have social media accounts, when creating one, remember to focus from the very beginning on the broader goals and keeping your target audience in mind. If you already have accounts, it may be time to update and refine them to get the best results. All social media profiles and accounts must be complete, with images and texts optimized for each social network.
Each social network has a different audience and should be treated and handled differently.
Step 4: Research and Inspire Yourself
In order to meet the marketing plan objectives, you have to know what the competition is doing and see what your audience likes. Based on that, develop and implement a plan that differentiates you from them.
Step 5: Make a Marketing Plan Including a Calendar of Content
Having good content to share will be an essential part to succeed in social networks. Therefore, your marketing plan must have a content plan, comprised of strategies for content creation and preservation, as well as a calendar of contents.
Your content plan should answer the following questions:
What kind of content do you plan to publish and promote on social media?
Who is your audience for each type of content?
How often will the content be posted?
Who will develop content?
Who will you promote content?
Your content calendar should have the social networks you are going to use, what kind of content you are going to post and even what time it will be published. This is perfect place to plan all the activities in social media: from images and shared links to blogs and vlogs, covering both your daily posts and the content on social media campaigns.
Step 6: Put Your Marketing Plan in Place and Modify It as Necessary
The only way to verify whether you need to adjust your marketing plan is by constant testing. Record and analyze your failures and, with those results, adjust your marketing plan.
The most important thing to remember about your marketing plan is that it should constantly be changing. As new social networks emerge, you may want to add them to your plan. As you reach goals, you will need to set new ones.
When you have already established the marketing plan and calendar of contents, you must decide which posts will be organic and which will be paid. This is better understood with an example:
A digital marketing agency handles social media for a moving company. According to the marketing plan, they should have weekly posts in 3 social networks chosen by the customer, with content developed by the same agency. The plan’s objectives include reaching more Costa Ricans so they can learn about the benefits of hiring the moving company and not the competition. Therefore, the marketing agency decided that one of these 3 posts will be promoted with money and will be aimed at informing its users of the advantages of hiring their moving services; while the other two posts will be published normally.
However, before promoting posts, you must know if the customer has a budget to help drive their traffic.
We need to add something at the end like:
Creating a marketing plan for social media is no easy task, and it is not enough to open an account on a social network and randomly post things. It involves much research, planning, organization and knowledge so that your brand has a professional and effective presence in social networks.
At Marketing Nomads, we have a team of specialists with years of experience in creating social media and digital marketing plans and strategies integrated with the rest of your digital marketing channels.
Contact us. Our group of social media professionals and specialists will help you position your brand correctly in different networks, integrating the strategy with other marketing channels.