What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the practice of selling brands and products on social networks. As networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have grown their advertising and sponsorship policies and options, organizations have grown their dependence on social to sell products.

How social media marketing works

1. Advertising

Organizations flock to social media to advertise their products because campaigns can be launched on the fly and draw an immediate return. Social networks are constantly updating algorithms to allow companies more precisely target potential customers.

2. Marketing campagns

Social networks offer the ability for organizations to set up special pages or accounts to use for marketing campaigns. For instance, a car company might set up a special page on Facebook to market a new model and offer a set of interactive experiences to connect with potential buyers.

3. Sponsorships

As with television, organizations can sponsor cultural events such as movie releases and create advertising directly related to content launches. Companies can also pay celebrities to endorse products on celebrities' social channels, although in most cases the endorsement must indicate if they're paid.

Why it matters

1. It's where your consumers live

Facebook has more than two billion users, Youtube about 1.5 billion, and Instagram more than 800 million. Organizations simply cannot ignore the influence social networks have on the purchasing habits of consumers.

2. Ability to target

Because social networks capture the online behaviors and preferences of users the networks can offer pinpoint targeting of potential consumers through their advertising programs. For instance, a car company can target their advertising to any user who has visited or who follows other car companies.

3. It's interactive

Social media offers interactive experiences that other mediums, such as radio and television, cannot. Organizations can engage with customers and potential customers in ways that build longer-term relationships and allow consumers to feel like they're part of the organizations' brands.

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