Social media is just that—media. We can’t think of social media anymore as just a way we stay connected with friends. Today, social media has grown to become one of the largest marketing channels for both sole proprietors and large businesses.
With Google AdWords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn sponsored content, Twitter ads, Pinterest promoted pins and more, social media has become a dominant force in marketing. A majority of marketing dollars allocated by a business is earmarked for one—or more—of these digital ads.
But social media marketing doesn’t stop at ads. Through branding, company engagement, consumer feedback and more, social media has completely altered the way businesses think about marketing.
It’s important that marketers understand these changing trends. People who can use social media to their marketing advantage can push themselves and their companies ahead of the pack.
To help, we’ve outlined five key ways that social media has changed marketing:
- Better consumer insights. Data drives consumer insights. With social media, marketers have access to huge amounts of customer data. Through social media advertising, for example, digital marketers can track views, clicks and even conversions. Further, social media services such as Facebook provide engagement information for company pages and more.
- Customer content creation. Before the rise of social media, marketing had always been one-sided. Marketers would use images, copy and other forms of content to communicate a company’s message to its consumers. Now, with social media, customers can create their own company-related content.
Reviews on Facebook or Yelp are great examples of customer content creation. Anytime a customer tweets, posts or comments about a company or brand—both good and bad—it ends up as a piece of marketing. Customers have a lot more agency with social media.
- Increased customer service. Customer service is part of marketing. Just ask Zappos, Amazon and about a million other successful companies. With social media, companies can engage with their customers in real time and provide them with better service. For example, if someone tweets something negative about your brand, you can resolve their problem quickly by replying to the tweet and taking action.
You can also run promotions and deals that are exclusive to social media. This betters the customer’s perception of your company and increases your service to your consumers by offering them discounts.
- Broader company reach. Before social media, companies were limited in their reach. They could market in newspapers, on billboards, on the radio and on TV, but it was hard to engage with a customer on the go.
But now, with everyone plugged into their smartphones, tablets, laptops and more, it’s easy to reach customers wherever they are. Anytime someone checks Facebook, whether they be in a coffee shop, at a desk, at the mall or an infinite number of other places, companies have the opportunity to engage.
It’s almost as if social media has allowed marketing to become mobile and fluid. Static ad pages and billboards are now like lumbering relics rather than fast and agile marketing opportunities.
- Altered the way businesses brand. Branding is one of the most important aspects of marketing. A company’s brand is the communication of its values and customer value. When you think about what a company stands for, you’re thinking about its brand.
Today, the No. 1 way to brand a business is via social media. With social media, customers can get a sense of a company’s voice, values, humor and more. Social media can even give insight into the personalities of the people running the company.
There’s no better way to increase brand equity than with social media.
Social media isn’t only changing marketing, it’s already changed it. If you want to stay ahead of the marketing curve, it’s important to spot the past—and future—trends of social media and how it’s affecting the marketing world.
Businesses that can market better are typically more successful. Use these five ways social media has changed marketing as the starting place for becoming a better marketer.