Have a knack for curating an Instagram feed or writing the perfect tweet? Intrigued by the dynamics of social media engagement or the art of making a post go viral? If you said “yes” to any of these, you might have a future in social media marketing for businesses.   

Long gone are the days when companies trusted their social marketing to interns. Today, social media campaigns are created, crafted, and coordinated by skilled social media marketers who get paid good money to make a brand’s online presence work effectively while seeming effortless. And if you’ve got your fingers on the pulse of the latest social networking sites and trends, then social media marketing might just be your perfect creative career path.

Here’s what to know about breaking into a career in social marketing, including a quick look at why social media marketing is important—and necessary—for running a strong and sustainable business. 

What Exactly is Social Media Marketing?

Okay, so what is social media for businesses?

Social media is one arm of a brand’s digital marketing strategy, alongside other strategies that include blog posts, paid ads, and email newsletters. The goal is to establish a presence on various social networking sites so as to generate leads, turn leads into customers, and turn customers into brand loyalists. And brands invest a lot in making sure it’s done right.

While it’s a business’s products or services that are the main highlight of social media marketing, a social media marketing campaign also serves to further brand identity and foster more authentic connections with potential and current customers. It’s the social marketer’s job to humanize the business—posting content, engaging with followers, staying ahead of the buzz, and tracking data and analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.

As you can probably tell from the job description, there are a lot of moving parts to any successful social marketing campaign. Social media marketers are as much data scientists as they are content creators, and more than anything, they’re always on top of what’s trending, including new social media platforms and the constantly evolving rules of consumer-brand engagement.

Why Social Media Marketing is Important

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of social media marketing for modern businesses. No other marketing mediums offer such widespread reach. Nor do they offer brands the chance to engage with an audience on a seemingly peer-to-peer level. Whether it’s LinkedIn or TikTok, engaging on social platforms is one of the most effective tools that brands have for targeting an audience and generating buzz, and often, they don’t even need a big budget to do it.

Business is about building relationships, and social media is the ultimate relationship-building tool. The second they get a follow—or even a “like”—a brand gets the opportunity to forge a connection that might lead to a sale. And in the high-stakes, high-competition marketplace that is the world wide web, that’s an opportunity that no brand can afford to pass up.

Big Benefits of Social Media Marketing

It might be people who are at the heart of social platforms, but social media marketing for businesses is all about the numbers.

Brands get a lot of bang for their buck when it comes to social media marketing benefits, so much so that social media management itself has gone from a side hustle to a major marketing arm in just the last decade or so. As for why that’s the case, here are just a few of the major benefits of social media marketing for today’s businesses:

It’s cost effective. Many brands invest in paid ads as part of their social marketing strategies, but social media also offers a lot of organic reach potential. This evens the playing field a bit, particularly for new and small businesses that are big in creativity but low in budget.

It offers broad reach. There are 3.6 billion social media users around the world. And while only a small percentage of those people may fall within any single brand’s target audience, social media offers an invaluable resource for reaching a lot of people all at once, including individuals who may otherwise have never come across a brand’s name or website.

It increases conversions. Effective social marketing strategies are able to draw more traffic and more awareness towards a brand’s products and/or services, and with every “like,” share, follow, and click-through, they increase the chance of a profitable conversion—and the chance of a sale.

It builds brand loyalty. Brands spend less and earn more from customer retention than they do from new customer acquisition. Social media provides a place where brands can stay top of mind with their customers, offer up customer service, and encourage more purchases—all of which lead to a customer base that sticks around.

These and other social media marketing benefits make it so that brands can’t really opt out of having a social presence. That means a huge demand for skilled social marketers who can help take advantage of all this available opportunity.

Social Media Marketing Statistics

If you really want to get a feel for the importance of social media marketing, then look no further than the stats. These social media marketing statistics make it clear just how much potential exists for brands on social platforms—and why it would be a mistake to ignore them.

  • More than half (55.1%) of the global population is active on social media. (We Are Social)
  • The average consumer spends 2 hours and 23 minutes per day browsing and messaging on social media. (GlobalWebIndex)
  • After following a brand on social, 91% of consumers check out their website, 89% make a purchase, and 85% recommend the brand to other people. (Sprout Social)
  • 57% of consumers will follow a brand to learn about its products or services. (Sprout Social)
  • 39% of consumers will only trust a brand after they have engaged with them on social media. (Edelman)

Brands have to stand out if they want to compete, and they have to do so in ways that build trust with their consumer audience. Social media provides one of the best ways to accomplish both of these things, and as the statistics show, this can lead to more sales, more brand loyalty, and more peer-to-peer recommendations.

7 Social Media Platforms to Master

New social media platforms pop up all the time, but to see success with a social marketing campaign, it helps to stick with the tried-and-true favorites. Here are the top seven social platforms for businesses that are looking to reach and engage with a diverse and plugged-in community of users.

1. Facebook

Number of active users: 2.70 billion

There is no denying the dominance of Facebook in regards to social media marketing—and digital marketing as a whole. Sixty percent of all social media users are on Facebook, and in 2020, a whopping 87.1% of companies with 100 or more employees used the platform for marketing purposes.  

2. Instagram

Number of active users: 1.16 billion

Instagram has a huge pull with the 18 to 34 age bracket, and women in particular. And with 62% of users logging on at least once a day (and 130 million clicks on commercial posts every month), there’s a ton of engagement on the platform, with users ready and willing to shop through the app.

3. TikTok

Number of active users: 689 million

TikTok’s audience may skew young (60% of its users are aged 24 and younger), but they’re thoroughly plugged in. Users watch a total of one billion videos per day on the platform, with each individual viewer spending nearly an hour a day scrolling through content.

4. Pinterest

Number of active users: 442 million

Pinterest excels because it’s specifically geared toward a consumer audience, with 1/3 of users following companies on the site and 77% of users discovering new products while they browse. It also saw huge growth in 2020, jumping up more than 100 million users in just a single year.

5. Reddit

Number of active users: 430 million

Reddit is another social media platform that saw huge growth in recent years, with 52 million daily active users in October 2021—a 44% jump from October 2020. It also boasts more than 50 billion monthly views, including 1.4 billion native video views.

6. Twitter

Number of active users: 353 million

A single day’s worth of tweets on this Millennial-filled platform is enough to fill a 10 million page book, a fact that points to the high levels of engagement, as well as the need to market creatively so you cut through the noise. Videos are a good way to do that, with tweets with videos seeing 10x more engagement than those without.

7. LinkedIn

Number of active users: 350 million

For brands with a B2B focus, LinkedIn is the place to be. The platform is used by 94% of B2B marketers to distribute content, 80% of whom consider it their most effective lead generation tool. And with more than a million hours of content watched every week on the site, it’s worth investing in if that’s where your audience is.

Feeling overwhelmed? The good news about social media marketing is that you don’t necessarily have to be everywhere at once. Many brands pick and choose among the top platforms, prioritizing those sites where they’re most likely to connect with their target audience. And with all of these platforms offering data-rich analytics dashboards for their business users, it’s easy to get a clear idea of what’s working and where.

Examples of Social Media Marketing Strategies

A good social media marketer knows that every brand needs its own unique social media strategy and campaigns. However, there are some best practices that every strategy is built around and that form the basis of a (hopefully) successful campaign. Understanding what these are can help a burgeoning social marketer find their footing, especially those who are trying to crack the code of smart social strategies for their client’s benefit.

What is a Social Media Campaign?

We’ll talk strategy in a second, but what is a social media marketing campaign anyway?

A social media campaign is a targeted plan for achieving a predetermined business goal on one or more social media channels. This coordinated effort is defined by its purpose—i.e. the objective of the campaign—as well as the content that will be used to pursue that purpose.

Examples of the types of goals that a business may build a social media marketing campaign around include launching and/or promoting a new product or service, boosting follower counts, or increasing web traffic and on-site sales.

What’s Behind a Great Social Media Strategy?

Campaigns—and the strategies behind them—are never just a shot in the dark. Brands invest a lot of time, money, and effort into strategizing and executing their campaigns, relying heavily on the expertise of social media marketers as they do so.

While individual strategies and campaigns are closely intertwined, there are a number of strategic building blocks that you’ll always find at their foundation. These include:

  • A deep understanding of the target audience, including demographics and content preferences
  • Well-defined goals for what is trying to be achieved
  • A comprehensive content calendar that outlines the what, when, and where behind each post
  • Frequent analytic check-ins to see what’s working and to modify the strategy as needed

There’s nothing arbitrary about the content that a brand puts out there or the channel they choose to disseminate it on. When designing a campaign, always make sure that these building blocks are a front and center consideration and that you’re tweaking the campaign along the way to achieve a brand’s desired results.

Social Media Marketing Examples

For examples of social marketing in action, look to the pages of brands that you know and trust to get an idea of how they use this type of marketing to their own benefit. You can also look at specific campaign types, many of which are used over and over by various brands to drive attention to their product or service.

Here are some trending social media marketing examples that you’ve likely seen on your own feeds in recent months:

Influencer Marketing

In short, influencer marketing campaigns are peer-to-peer social ads posted by people with large social media followings. Brands pay influencers to provide an authentic-seeming endorsement, sometimes shelling out thousands of dollars per post depending on an influencer’s follower count.

snack socks
Source: Instagram
Moms and their trendy kids are a popular pick for brands looking to benefit from influencer marketing. This Instagram post from “mommy blogger” Katie Stauffer garnered more than 44,000 likes for sock brand Odd Sox. 

User-Generated Content

Called UCG for short, this is content created by a brand’s followers and then shared by the brand itself. A popular way to develop this social strategy is with a hashtag campaign, which rewards posters with visibility in exchange for a direct promotion of a product or service.

Starbucks turned this pretty Instagram post from a fan into a simple but effective Facebook post that got nearly 3,000 likes in just two days. 

Contests and Giveaways

Everyone loves to get something for nothing. Contests are a huge driver of engagement, giving followers a chance to win a prize by giving a follow or a like, leaving a comment, or tagging a friend. The better the prize, the better the engagement that follows.

Ipsy, a beauty box subscription service, celebrated 10 years of business with a makeup and skincare giveaway that required entrants to give a follow to them and a partner, “like” the post, tag a friend, and comment with their campaign hashtag. 

How Do Beginners Start Social Media Marketing?

The first step to becoming a social media marketer is acing your own social media game. If you’re able to prove to brands that you know how to create share-worthy content, they might be willing to bring you on board on a freelance basis. While you’re at it, do plenty of research into successful campaigns and brands that are killing it on social. What are the main takeaways? How might you employ similar tactics for someone else?

To get experience, you may want to consider offering your services on a volunteer basis to a local charity. Your town’s animal shelter, for example, might be in need of someone who can help them spread the word about available pets for adoption. You can also look for entry-level social media roles on freelance marketplaces and job boards.

As with any new career, networking is crucial. Do good work, meet new people, and take opportunities when they arise. If you’re good at what you’re doing, the work should follow.

Written by:

Laura Mueller