By Saurav Rajbhandari

Companies operating within every industry have invested a fair amount of time and energy to focus on social media marketing. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other similar sites are used by people from all over the world, and this has created a huge platform for companies to market their products and services. Thus, by advertising on social media, companies are able to further their reach to a larger audience while still retaining the ability to market to certain geographies, age groups and other sub-sets. Let’s take a closer look!

Recent Social Media Trends

Targeted Audience Reach

Social media advertising has been able to target audiences in a variety of ways. Not limited to solely general demographic and geographic data, social media advertising has opened the door to behavioral and connection-based targeting methods. Four advanced targeting options have been made for business marketing. They are: Interest Targeting, Behavioral/Connection Targeting, Custom Targeting and Look-a-like Targeting.

Interest Targeting reaches specific audiences who’ve self-reported their interests. Interests can be as general as an industry (e.g. automotive industry) or as specific as a product (e.g. convertibles). This service is offered by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (Under Skill), and Pinterest.

Behavioral Targeting studies people’s purchasing behavior. With behavior targeting, the company or brand can reach people who have a specific kind of connection to the company’s page, app, group, or event. Both types of targeting take past behavior into account to help the company determine intent. This service is offered by Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Custom Targeting focuses on targeting real people through their e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Facebook has called it Custom Audiences, whereas, Twitter calls it tailored audiences. The concept is simple if the company has a known group of people they’d like to target; they can upload the information and target them directly. This service is offered by Facebook and Twitter.

Look-a-like Targeting gathers information from current customers and targets people with similar interests. Look-a-like targeting finds new like-type users to extend the company’s business. This is useful for companies looking to acquire new customers through social media. This service is offered by Facebook and LinkedIn.

Dominance of the Mobile Phone

New data from BI Intelligence found that U.S. social media ad expenditures topped $8.5 billion in 2014 and is predicted to reach nearly $14 billion in 2018, up from just $6.1 billion in 2013. Social media advertising through mobile phones has created a big wave in advertising culture. Over half of mobile phone users will have a smartphone by 2018. Mobile now represents almost 2 out of 3 digital media minutes, and mobile apps are approaching 60% of total digital time spent.

Facebook has been able to capitalize on this opportunity. SeatGeek spends millions of dollars a year on Facebook and now allocates about 30% of its mobile ad budget to the social network, down from nearly 100% originally. Similarly, in May, Twitter re-strategized its mobile ad-network by bringing its Twitter Audience Platform mobile ad network to the worldwide web and adding IAB-standardized ads to its portfolio. Mobile advertising revenue of the company in the fourth quarter of 2015 was 86% of total advertising revenue. This shows that mobile ads are dominating in the social media marketing industry.

Shift in Platform Dynamics

In the past Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn dominated the social media scene. The three have a niche market and a way of conducting business through social media marketing. However, in recent times Instagram and Snapchat have come in to cater to younger audiences. Snapchat lets people take photos with 3D filters that have been popular among young people. Innovative apps like these attract people, and companies have been using these applications to market their products.

The newer players offer diverse services and are becoming popular among advertisers. Advertising in Instagram more than doubled in six months from February to September of 2016. Instagram now has 500,000 advertisers.

Exceptional Uses of Social Media Marketing

Some companies have proven that having a good presence on social media can do wonders for the company.

Oreo has used apps, like Vine, to create videos for its social media campaigns. In 2013, the brand released a video on Halloween depicting Oreo cookies as characters from famous horror films. The brand has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter.

GroPro uses photos and videos taken by its customers to promote its products. This creates a fan following which not only promotes the brand but also shows potential customers the quality of the products used.

In 2016, Esurance garnered a lot of attention during Super Bowl Sunday. Sysomos a social intelligence platform analyzed data and showed that Esurance was one of the most talked about brands on social media during the event. Esurance ran pregame and postgame ads paired with a social media campaign. The campaign consisted of giving away $1 million to 17 lucky winners who retweeted Esurance’s social media posts.

Not only brands, but company executives, have had a strong following on social media Elon Musk is famous for posting developments of Tesla vehicles which has boosted popularity of the company’s demand in the market. He has 5.4 million followers on Twitter. Musk’s posts are fascinating, and he has garnered stature similar to a celebrity.

Research conducted by Brandfog in 2014, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. and U.K. employees from different size firms, found that 82% of respondents believed a CEO’s active engagement on social media enhances their reputation as forward-thinking, trend-setting leaders.

Benefits for Business Development

Customer interactions on social media can provide companies with valuable information about customer demand. This helps to improve problems that companies may be facing. Companies can also develop new products and improve certain services according to consumer demand.

Social media can be used for the benefit of economic development agencies. News of available talent and developments in the community posted through social media outlets has an ability to make an impact to bring in projects. Social media marketing assists economic development agencies in generating a higher conversation rate of leads. MHI Global, a research institute, determined that world-class companies rated social media as the most effective way to identify key decision makers and new business opportunities. Social media can also be used to increase website traffic. The more social media shares a company receives, the higher the search ranking will be. Monitoring other competitors on social can also help agencies in determining strategic decisions. Social media enables economic development agencies to foster relationships with potential clients before talks of a project happen. Posting pictures of available locations and properties allows EDOs to tell stories about their communities.

Are you making social media marketing work for your organization?