Regardless of your take on it, there is no denying that social media has become an essential part of people's lives. Whether through more traditional platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or more recent, millennial and Gen Z-focused providers such as TikTok and SnapChat, nearly everybody has some form of personal presence online.
Of course, in order for your business to take advantage of this, you also need to be present across these platforms. This means researching where your customers are, and building relationships with them through organic and targeted content; after all, when done right, social media can be a prominent means through which to push your products and services.
Therefore, the importance of social media marketing – and, indeed, social media in general – cannot be overlooked, especially given its dramatic, smartphone-driven growth in recent years. To illustrate this point and to explain why in greater detail, let's take a closer look at the role of social media in today's business world.
Global Social Media Statistics
To fully understand the potential for businesses within the social media sphere, it's first necessary to get some grasp of the kinds of figures involved.
As of January 2019, there were nearly 3.5 billion active social media users around the world – a staggering 45% of the global population, according to DataReportal. This figure marks a 9% increase compared to the previous year, too, with data from earlier reports also indicating that this growth will continue through 2020 and beyond.
Social Media Breakdown by Region
DataReportal / Starting Business
Meanwhile, in terms of platform activity, Facebook topped its peers with around 2.3 billion monthly users, followed by YouTube with approximately 1.9 billion. Instagram was next with 1 billion monthly users, whereas Chinese social media platforms Qzone, TikTok, and Sina Weibo, attracted 531 million, 500 million, and 446 million monthly users, respectively. Twitter ranked eighth amongst social media platforms, with 326 million monthly users, while LinkedIn had 303 million active monthly users.
From using Instagram to research products to chatting with customer support on messaging apps, social media has become the heart of all digital consumer touchpoints.
All these numbers mean one thing: social media is not only here to stay, but to grow, too, which means that social media marketing will continue to be the focus for most brands in the coming years.
The Importance of Social Media Marketing
Numbers are, of course, one thing, but how do these figures translate across into your day-to-day marketing operations? Here are some of the critical roles that social media marketing can help fulfil in your business:
Building a presence: Social media makes it easy for companies to be part of ongoing trends, build an online presence, create conversations, and engage with current and potential customers.
Awareness and brand exposure: Through social media marketing, new businesses can introduce their brand to their target audience and establish relationships with them. Moreover, long-time brands can also build awareness about new or unused products and services.
Customer engagement: One of the key things that differentiates social media marketing from other forms of marketing is its capacity for customer engagement. Brands can easily build relationships and cultivate conversations with customers and enhance their revenues and product offerings.
Lead generation: With the correct target audience, brands can generate leads and conversions through social media, whether through direct selling or by redirecting users to its website's landing page.
SEO: Search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies often overlook the impact of social media. But social media marketing can contribute significantly if a brand's page name, description, and links are placed correctly on various platforms.
Moreover, linking between your website and your social media platforms boosts both credibility and engagement. It is essential to have all your social media links included on your website.
Cost-effectiveness: Creating accounts on all social media channels is free. In addition, social media advertising is considerably cheaper than paid ads on Google, or what is known as search engine marketing (SEM) (or paid search).
Ease of access: All social media channels are accessible through (and designed for use on) computers, mobile phones and tablets. Given that the average person spends over two hours a day on social media, this means that getting your product or your brand in front of as many eyes as possible is easier than ever.
Measurability: Unlike offline marketing strategies, such as billboards or print advertisements, social media marketing is measurable. You can track how every dollar is spent and how much it generates, whether in terms of new followers, increased engagement, website traffic, or responses.
Data collection: It is easier for businesses to collect primary data about their customers or research their clients' through insights and analytics (legally and responsibly, of course). For instance, companies can easily see what types of posts their customers respond to and engage with, as well as what kinds of posts they dislike. Brands can also review their customer base's demographics and problems.
Customer support: As previously mentioned, brands can easily engage with their customers through social media. This means that they can also provide quicker customer support by chatting directly with their customers. This also has the added benefit of developing loyalty and trust between business and customer.
Through social media marketing, businesses can vastly improve their knowledge of their customer base and provide better products and services to them. Using these platforms, brands can engage more effectively, join their customers' conversations, and become leaders in their field. Moreover, in some situations, companies can use social media to make announcements and special offers, or comment on negative news or issues that may arise.
As detailed, social media usage and marketing is only set to continue its upward trajectory in the coming years, especially as more platforms and apps appear on the market. As a business owner, it is your responsibility – and your prerogative – to be as present on as many of them as possible.
Is social media marketing a vital source of brand exposure and growth, or a waste of resources? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.