Social media marketing is one of the most direct, accessible, and effective ways to promote your brand to consumers, but its success hinges on knowing your audience.

In this guide to social media marketing for brands, we take a closer look at the benefits marketing your business via social media delivers, and how best to create a social media strategy that actually makes a difference to your end of year profits.

But first, let’s start with the burning question on everyone’s lips:

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing refers to engagement you have with your audience that takes place on content sharing platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

It offers a way to directly speak to members of the public who have a vested interest in your brand, while also giving you the means to reach new consumers who represent your ideal target customer but may yet be unaware of your existence.

Benefits of social media marketing

Social media marketing has become such a popular way for brands to interact with consumers because it offers a wealth of benefits for relatively low investment.

These include:

1. Growing your audience

With billions of daily active users, social media is a treasure trove of potential customers. In this respect, it offers a reach that can rival even that of mainstream advertising, but at far lower overheads. It also allows you to engage with your audience one-on-one, and grow your following through content shares and hashtags.

2. Boosting sales or bookings

Another benefit of social media is the potential it offers to increase your revenue. As well as being a great promotional tool you can leverage to drive traffic back to your brand website, some social media platforms actually allow you to sell direct to consumers. You can also use your social media channels to communicate when a well-loved product is back in stock, or if you’ve experienced a last minute cancellation.

3. Delivering a better customer experience

Social media can also help you to better service your customers and leave them with a positive impression of your brand. If it’s their birthday, you could give them a shoutout so they feel special. You can also use social media to assist customers who need support as well as to run competitors and flash promotions, which all help to drive engagement.

4. A competitive advantage

Social media also gives you a platform to keep up to date with what your competitors are doing and how customers think and feel about their brand. This offers you a commercial advantage in terms of having oversight of any campaigns they’re running, and the ability to see how well their posts are resonating with consumers.

Create a social media marketing strategy

As with any marketing activity you engage in, your social media strategy needs to be well informed by customer and industry insights, as well well as having a clear goal or objective.

First and foremost you need to have a solid idea of who your target customer is. This will help you to decide which social media channels you should focus on, as well as the type of content you should be creating and sharing.

You also need to figure out what time and day is best to post. You want your content to generate as much reach as possible, so it’s important to schedule your posts to go live when your audience is online to maximise impact.

Finally you need to measure your posts’ performance to determine how well your social media strategy is working. Look for patterns and themes in the posts that generate the most likes, comments, or shares, and try to emulate this content to keep engagement high.

If you have a bit of money to spend on social media marketing, you can also invest in social media advertising, which can help you to target customers based on criteria such as gender, location, or interests. It can also be beneficial to engage the services of a social media marketing agency, who can work with you to devise and implement your strategy, as well as to monitor its performance using KPI metrics.