For a while there was a time when the only way for businesses to get their message out to consumers was to rely on expensive television commercials or pay-per-click ads on popular websites. However, thanks to the development of social media, a form of online advertising that allows companies to “network” with consumers, the playing field has shifted.
Often described as the “the world’s largest digital playground,” social media gives businesses the opportunity to connect with customers, potential customers, and even competitors through interactive platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Here, we’ll examine the various ways that businesses use social media to attract and retain customers.
Why Should You Advertise on Social Media?
The convenience and the reach of social media make it a natural choice for advertisers. Consumers can gain access to a wide range of content when they log on to social media platforms, so advertising on these sites can be highly targeted and effective. According to HubSpot Blogs data, 66% of consumers have used social media to research a product or service, and 59% have done so to find out more about a company.
However, beyond the potential to reach a large audience, businesses gain access to powerful tools on social media that allow them to measure the success of their ad campaigns and determine the optimum cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
These tools can track the number of impressions (i.e., the number of times a consumer’s device scans a social media platform for your ad), the number of users who viewed your content, and the number of clicks (i.e., an action taken by a user that takes you to a new page or screen).
How to Advertise on Social Media
While there are several ways to advertise on social media, the first step is to decide which platform you will use. There are a number of pros and cons to each platform, so it’s important to understand what you’re getting into before committing. Here are some of the most popular social media platforms and the ways in which businesses advertise on them:
With 1.9 billion active monthly users, Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform. Thanks to its growing user base and its effective advertising options, many businesses choose to advertise on Facebook. Its effective targeting options, user base, and interactive features make it a popular choice amongst advertisers.
Facebook also has a “Sponsored Stories” advertising option, which places your business’ banner at the top of a user’s news feed. The banner then acts like an ad for your business.
One downside of Facebook is its restrictive advertising policies, which prohibit businesses from paying to have their banner displayed. This option is available to anyone, but it’s generally considered unethical to pay for ads because it gives the appearance of deception. Despite this, many businesses choose to use Facebook because of its huge user base and its open acceptance of sponsored content.
Founded in 2006 and now with more than 500 million monthly active users, Twitter is the second-largest social media platform behind Facebook. Like Facebook, it’s a popular choice amongst advertisers due to its user base and its useful tools for measuring the success of an ad campaign.
In addition to the banner ads that you see on traditional websites, you can also promote yourself on Twitter by creating and curating relevant content. Like Facebook, Twitter has a “sponsored stories” advertising option, which places your business’ banner at the top of a user’s news feed. However, unlike Facebook, Twitter allows businesses to pay to have their banner displayed. This option is especially beneficial for those seeking to gain brand awareness amongst a highly-targeted audience.
Aside from advertising on social media, you can also use these sites to engage with customers. For example, you can set up automated tweets to be sent out at regular intervals, such as once a day or once a week. Users can then opt-in to receive these messages, which can serve as an important conduit for prospective customers seeking information about your product or service.
Another popular social media platform with over a billion monthly active users is Instagram. It’s a bit of a combination of Twitter and Pinterest, in that it’s a place for users to post and share the content that they find interesting, which in turn, promotes your business.
The best part of Instagram is that it’s very easy to use. Simply create a profile for your business and add content that is relevant to your niche. Be sure to follow the Instagram guidelines, and you’ll find that customers easily engage with your content.
Aside from advertising on social media, you can also use these sites to gain more insight into the type of customers you’re attracting and where they’re coming from. For example, Instagram can help you identify the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer, as well as the types of content that they’re most interested in. This can help you determine the most effective approach to marketing, which in turn, can boost your bottom line.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social media platform that was initially designed for workers to connect with other professionals. However, due to its effective marketing options and its user-friendly tools for measuring the success of an ad campaign, many businesses choose to advertise on this site as well.
Like all of the other platforms mentioned here, LinkedIn has a “sponsored stories” option, which places your business’ banner at the top of a user’s news feed. However, unlike the other platforms, LinkedIn allows businesses to target a more specific audience by connecting with specific people.
If you’re looking to attract potential customers to your business, LinkedIn is a great option. Since it’s a professional social media platform, many businesses choose to advertise on it, regardless of their niche. However, if you’re seeking to retain current customers, it’s not the best option. LinkedIn is a place for workers to socialize and connect with professional peers, so there’s a higher chance that your customers are already connected with other professionals in your industry. This means that it’s more difficult to gain new followers, because there’s already a community of people interested in your product or service.
If you’re seeking the most effective way to advertise, LinkedIn is a great choice because it allows for highly-targeted marketing. However, if you’re seeking to establish brand loyalty amongst a more general audience, Twitter is a better option.
The Evolve of Advertising
Thanks to the internet and social media, the way we perceive and experience advertising has changed. Advertisers used to rely on expensive television commercials to get their message across, but thanks to the development of web 2.0 and beyond, that’s changed.
Thanks to the ability to target the right audience and use platforms such as social media to engage with consumers, businesses can now see the benefits of advertising on these sites. While these platforms may not always be the most effective way to attract customers (i.e., paid advertising typically has the highest click-through rate compared to other forms of media), they can certainly be a useful tool in the process of building a business.
However, despite the benefits of digital media, it’s important to remember that not everyone will benefit from internet marketing. If you’re seeking to advertise to an already-connected group of people, then LinkedIn may not be the best fit. Likewise, if your target audience is primarily found on traditional media such as television or the radio, then those forms of marketing may still be needed.