Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service. Most of these social media platforms have their own built-in data analytics tools, which enable companies to track the progress, success, and engagement of ad campaigns. Companies address a range stakeholders through social media marketing including current and potential customers, current and potential employees, journalists, bloggers, and the general public. On a strategic level, social media marketing includes the management of the implementation of a marketing campaign, governance, setting the scope (e.g. more active or passive use) and the establishment of a firm’s desired social media “culture” and “tone”. To use social media effectively, firms should learn to allow customers and Internet users to post user-generated content (e.g., online comments, product reviews, etc.), also known as “earned media”, rather than use marketer-prepared advertising copy. While social media marketing is often associated with companies, as of 2016, a range of not-for-profit organizations and government organizations are engaging in social media marketing of their programs or services.
Social networking websites are based on building virtual communities that allow consumers to express their needs, wants and values, online. Social media marketing then connects these consumers and audiences to businesses that share the same needs, wants, and values. Through social networking sites, companies can keep in touch with individual followers. This personal interaction can instill a feeling of loyalty into followers and potential customers. Also, by choosing whom to follow on these sites, products can reach a very narrow target audience. Social networking sites also include much information about what products and services prospective clients might be interested in. Through the use of new semantic analysis technologies, marketers can detect buying signals, such as content shared by people and questions posted online. An understanding of buying signals can help sales people target relevant prospects and marketers run micro-targeted campaigns.
To integrate social networks into their marketing strategies, companies have to develop a marketing model. In a marketing model (SNeM2S) based on social networks is provided. The model includes the following steps:
- Selection of the potential social networks to use;
- Setting out a financial plan (regarding hiring social media brand managers or consultants);
- Designing or modifying organizational structures to manage the social network in the companies’ market (this may involve adding a social media unit to an existing marketing branch or creating a new social media branch);
- Selection of target market(s);
- Selection of the products, services, brand(s) or company messages which will be promoted;
- Performance measures for the social media strategy such as evaluation, data analytics, etc.
In 2014, over 80% of business executives identified social media as an integral part of their business. Business retailers have seen 133% increases in their revenues from social media marketing