What Is Social Media Marketing (SMM)

The term social media marketing (SMM) refers to the use of social media and social networks to market a company’s products and services. Social media marketing provides companies with a way to engage with existing customers and reach new ones while allowing them to promote their desired culture, mission, or tone. Social media marketing has purpose-built data analytics tools that allow marketers to track the success of their efforts.

Key Takeaways

  • Social media marketing uses social media and social networks to market a company’s products and services.
  • It allows companies to engage with existing customers and reach new ones as they promote their culture, mission, or tone.
  • Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are commonly used to execute social media marketing.

How Social Media Marketing (SMM) Works

Social media has changed the way we function as a society, including the way we connect with one another. As platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram took off, businesses also took notice. They began to use these sites to further their interests through social media marketing. That's because these sites are able to change consumer behavior.

Social media websites allow marketers to employ a broad range of tactics and strategies to promote content and have people engage with it. Many social networks allow users to provide detailed geographical, demographic, and personal information, which enables marketers to tailor their messages to what is most likely to resonate with users.

According to Buffer, there are five key pillars of social media marketing:

  • Strategy: This step involves determining goals, the social media channels to be used, and the type of content that will be shared.
  • Planning and Publishing: Businesses should draft plans of what their content will look like (i.e. will there be videos? Photos? How much script?) and decide when it will be put out on the platform.
  • Listening and Engagement: Monitoring what users, customers, and others are saying about the posts, brands, and any other business assets. This may require the adoption of a social media engagement tool.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Part of being on social media is knowing how far posts are going, so reports of engagement and reach are very important
  • Advertising: Purchasing ads on social media is a great way to promote and further develop a brand. 

Because audiences can be better segmented than more traditional marketing channels, companies can ensure they focus their resources on the audience that they want to target using social media marketing. Some of the metrics used to measure the success of social media marketing (which is also known as digital marketing and e-marketing) include:

  • Website reports, such as Google Analytics
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Customer response rates or the number of times customers post about a company
  • A campaign's reach and/or virality or how much customers share content

People appreciate a human touch even in the digital age, so don't just leave things up to social media to get the word out.

Special Considerations

A major strategy used in social media marketing is to develop messages and content that individual users will share with their family, friends, and coworkers. This strategy relies on word-of-mouth and provides several benefits. First, it increases the message’s reach to networks and users that a social media manager may not have been able to access otherwise. Second, shared content carries an implicit endorsement when sent by someone who the recipient knows and trusts.

Social media strategy involves the creation of content that is sticky. This means that it gets a user’s attention and increases the possibility that they will conduct a desired action, such as buying a product or sharing the content with others in their own network.

Marketers create viral content that's designed to spread quickly between users. Social media marketing should also encourage customers to create and share their own content, such as product reviews or comments. This is referred to in the marketing industry as earned media.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing campaigns have the advantage of appealing to a broad audience at once. For example, a campaign may appeal to current and prospective customers, employees, bloggers, the media, the general public, and other stakeholders, such as third-party reviewers or trade groups.

But these campaigns can also create obstacles that companies may not have had to deal with otherwise. For example, a viral video claiming that a company’s product causes consumers to become ill must be addressed by the company, regardless of whether the claim is true or false. Even if a company can set the message straight, consumers may be less likely to purchase from the company in the future.