Whether you’re trying to revitalise existing channels or branch into some new ones, this guide provides everything you need to know about social media to stay at the top of your game.
Social media is a landscape that brands have been using for a long time to connect with their audiences. There are some stalwarts in the social media game such as Facebook and YouTube. But there are lots of new players to take advantage of, too. One thing is for sure: social media is never static, and brands need to stay ahead of the curve to get the most out of their presence on social channels.
What is social media?
Social media refers to websites, applications, and other online platforms that allow users to create, share, and interact with content and information. Social media platforms provide users with tools and features that enable them to communicate and engage with others in various ways, including sharing text, photos, videos, and other multimedia content. Social media platforms have become an integral part of modern communication, with billions of users around the world using these platforms to connect, engage, and share information with others.
The origins of social media can be traced back to the early days of the internet in the 1970s and 80s, when online bulletin board systems (BBS) and forums emerged as the first platforms for online communication and interaction.
In the 1990s, with the advent of the World Wide Web, online communities like Geocities and Tripod allowed users to create their own web pages and connect with others with similar interests.
The launch of Six Degrees in 1997 marked the birth of the first social networking site. Six Degrees allowed users to create profiles, list their friends, and send messages to other users. However, the site was short-lived and shut down in 2001.
The early 2000s saw the emergence of several social networking sites that are still popular today, including Friendster (2002), MySpace (2003), and LinkedIn (2003). These sites allowed users to create profiles, connect with friends and colleagues, and share content.
In 2004, Facebook was launched by Mark Zuckerberg as a social networking site for college students. The site quickly grew in popularity and expanded to include users from around the world.
The rise of smartphones and mobile devices in the late 2000s led to the emergence of mobile-first social media platforms like Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011), which focused on photo and video sharing.
Today, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok have exploded, with billions of users around the world using these platforms to connect, engage, and share information with others.
The Role of Social Media in an Ever-Evolving Digital Landscape
Overall, social media has transformed the way we communicate, network, consume information, and entertain ourselves in the digital age. The importance of social media in today's digital landscape cannot be overstated, and businesses need to leverage its power to stay relevant and competitive.
From news to networking, social media has come to play an integral role in worldwide communications:
Social media allows people to communicate and connect with others from all over the world. Users can easily exchange information and ideas, share content, and engage with others in real-time.
It has also become a powerful tool for building and promoting a brand's image by providing businesses with an opportunity to engage with their customers and build brand awareness through social media marketing campaigns.
Social media platforms are a great way to network with like-minded individuals or professionals. LinkedIn, for example, is a popular platform for professionals to connect and engage with each other, exchange ideas and knowledge, and seek new opportunities.
News and Information
Various social media channels have become a primary source of news and information for many people around the world. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow users to stay updated on current events, follow breaking news, and get insights and opinions from experts and peers.
Social media platforms are also a source of entertainment, with many users following influencers, celebrities, and brands for their content. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become popular for their user-generated content, entertaining videos, and memes.
No matter your competitive landscape in the world of social media, top-class content to share will always put you head and shoulders above the rest. Reach out to us today to chat about strategies for increasing the reach and impact of your social media content.
Types of Social Media Platforms
There’s more to social media than the big name platforms. Different social media categories include.
Social Networking Sites
These platforms allow users to create a profile, connect with friends, and share content. Examples include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ (which is now discontinued).
These platforms allow users to share short-form content, usually in the form of text-based updates or posts. Examples include Twitter and Tumblr.
Media Sharing Sites
These platforms allow users to share various forms of media, such as photos and videos. Examples include Instagram, YouTube, and Flickr.
These platforms allow users to discuss various topics with others who share similar interests. Examples include Reddit, Quora, and Stack Exchange.
These platforms allow users to save and share bookmarks or links to web pages. Examples include Pinterest and Flipboard.
These platforms allow users to create and publish blog content, typically in the form of written articles or posts. Examples include WordPress, Blogger, and Medium.
Live Streaming Platforms
These platforms allow users to broadcast live video content to an audience in real-time. Examples include Twitch, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live.
Virtual Reality Platforms
These platforms allow users to experience a virtual world and interact with others in a simulated environment. Examples include Second Life, VRChat, and AltSpaceVR.
Each of these platform types serves a different purpose and attracts a different audience. For many brands, the highest levels of engagement can actually be found through diversifying their social presence into smaller channels and creating tailored strategies for each one.
The Benefits of Social Media
There are lots of social media advantages that brands can leverage to increase their reach, engagement, and bottom-line results. By carefully curating content and establishing a consistent posting schedule, brands can expect to:
Increase Brand Awareness
Social media allows businesses to reach a broader audience and increase their brand awareness. By creating engaging content and leveraging social media marketing strategies, businesses can attract new customers and keep their brand top-of-mind for existing customers.
Improve Audience Engagement
Social media provides a way for businesses to engage with their customers and build meaningful relationships with them. Through social media platforms, businesses can respond to customer queries, provide customer support, and receive feedback on their products or services.
Leverage Highly Targeted Advertising
Social media platforms offer targeted advertising options, which allow businesses to reach specific audiences based on factors such as age, location, interests, and behaviour. This can help businesses save money on advertising by targeting only those who are likely to be interested in their products or services.
Nurture Competitive Advantage
Social media provides a level playing field for businesses of all sizes to compete for customers' attention. With a well-executed social media strategy, even small businesses can reach a large audience and compete with larger, established brands.
Examples of Social Media Marketing Campaigns That Drive Brand Success
Using TikTok to Reach Younger Audiences
The Chalke Valley History Festival is well-known and has an established social presence. But they wanted to reach younger audiences. To do this, they pivoted to platforms where they knew this target audience could be reached. By producing content specifically for both TikTok and Youtube Shorts, the campaign achieved 110 million organic views (60 million on TikTok, 5 million on YouTube Shorts).
Leveraging YouTube Shorts to Build Subscriber Base and Engagement Rates
The Grand Tour, produced by Amazon and featuring the well-known trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, wanted to expand the reach of the show. They used a combination of channels including Instagram Reels, TikTok and YouTube Shorts to distribute clips of the show, capitalise on social media trends, and engage audiences with tailored content for each platform. As a result, the YouTube channel saw a 1,193% increase in watch time, a 1,286% subscriber increase, and a 958% increase in engagement rate.
Learn more about the social media content strategy used for The Grand Tour to achieve these results.
The Risks and Challenges of Social Media
While there’s a lot to love about social media and what it can do for your brand, it’s not without its pitfalls. Before you dive headlong into a social strategy, take some time to understand and mitigate some of the common risks and challenges.
Online Reputation Management
Social media can pose a significant risk to a person's or business's online reputation. Negative comments, reviews, or posts about a person or business can spread quickly and damage their reputation. It is important for individuals and businesses to monitor their social media profiles regularly and respond promptly to negative comments or reviews.
Social media platforms collect a significant amount of personal data from their users, which can lead to privacy concerns. Users may be unaware of how their personal data is being used, and it could be shared or sold to third-party companies without their consent. Additionally, social media platforms may be vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which can result in the exposure of sensitive information.
Social media can pose legal risks for individuals and businesses. Users may be liable for the content they share on social media, and businesses may be at risk of lawsuits for false advertising, copyright infringement, or defamation.
Keeping Up with Constant Changes
Social media platforms are constantly evolving, and businesses need to keep up with the changes to remain relevant and effective. This can be challenging, as it requires staying up to date with the latest trends, features, and algorithms.
Creating Engaging Content
Creating engaging and relevant content that resonates with the target audience can be challenging. It requires a deep understanding of the target audience's interests, pain points, and behaviours.
Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social media marketing can be difficult. Unlike traditional marketing methods, which may have clear metrics for success, social media metrics can be more nebulous. It can be challenging to determine which metrics are the most relevant to a business's goals and how to track them effectively.
Balancing Quantity vs. Quality
There is a constant tension between the quantity and quality of social media content. Posting frequently can keep a brand top-of-mind for its audience, but it can also dilute the quality of the content. On the other hand, focusing on high-quality content can limit the frequency of posts, potentially reducing engagement.
Balancing Automation and Personalisation
Social media automation can be an effective way to save time and streamline social media marketing efforts. However, businesses need to find the right balance between automation and personalization. Over-reliance on automation can lead to a lack of personalisation and engagement with the audience, potentially damaging the brand's reputation.
Best Practices for Social Media Marketing
Regardless of the channels you’re leveraging, you need a strategy in place from content creation to distribution and maximising your engagement rates. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of resources creating content and building social channels that provide little to no ROI.
Each social platform is unique. The demographics, content best practices, posting schedule, and expected engagement rates vary between different social media apps. But regardless of which social media channels are best for your brand, there are some general best practices to keep in mind when creating social media content:
Tips for Creating Engaging Social Media Content
Use Eye-Catching Visuals
Eye-catching visuals such as images and videos can grab the audience's attention and increase engagement. For example, Instagram is a visual platform, and users respond well to high-quality images and videos. Brands like National Geographic use stunning photos and videos to engage their audience.
Focus on Storytelling
Telling a story is a powerful way to connect with the audience emotionally. For example, on Facebook, brands can share personal stories or experiences related to their products or services to create a sense of connection with their audience. Humans of New York is a great example of a brand that uses storytelling to engage its audience.
Humour can be a powerful way to engage the audience and make them feel good. For example, lots of brands take advantage of platforms like Twitter to become well-known for a witty and humorous social media presence.
Utilise User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) can be a great way to create engaging social media content. For example, on TikTok, brands can encourage users to create their own videos using a specific hashtag, creating a sense of community and engagement around the brand.
Share Useful Tips or Information
Sharing useful tips or information related to a brand's industry can be an effective way to engage the audience and position the brand as an expert in their field. For example, on LinkedIn, brands can share informative articles or blog posts related to their industry. HubSpot is an example of a brand that shares useful tips and information on LinkedIn.
Host Contests or Giveaways
Hosting contests or giveaways can be a fun way to engage the audience and increase brand awareness. For example, on Instagram, brands can ask users to tag their friends in the comments or share a post to enter a contest. Nike is an example of a brand that has successfully used contests and giveaways to engage its audience.
Strategies for Increasing Social Media Engagement
Once your content is ready and uploaded, you need to make sure it’s reaching the right people. Boosting engagement rates on social media requires strategy in how you create the content, but also in how you promote it. Here are some ways you can increase engagement with your social content:
Asking questions can be a powerful way to engage the audience and start a conversation. For example, on Twitter, brands can ask questions related to their industry or products to encourage engagement. The New York Times often uses this strategy to engage its audience.
Using relevant hashtags can help increase the reach and visibility of social media content, making it easier for users to find and engage with. For example, on Instagram, brands can use popular or trending hashtags to increase their reach. Starbucks is a brand that often uses hashtags to increase engagement on Instagram.
Post at the Right Time
Posting at the right time can help increase engagement rates by ensuring that content is seen by the maximum number of users. For example, on Facebook, brands can use insights to determine the best time to post for their audience. Hootsuite is a brand that often posts at optimal times on Facebook to increase engagement.
Use Video Content
Video content can be a powerful way to increase engagement rates, as it often grabs the audience's attention and encourages them to watch and engage. For example, on TikTok, brands can create short-form videos that are entertaining or informative to engage their audience. Chipotle is a brand that has used video content successfully on TikTok to increase engagement.
Collaborate with Influencers
Collaborating with influencers can be an effective way to increase engagement rates, as influencers have a loyal and engaged following. For example, on Instagram, brands can partner with influencers to promote their products or services. Glossier is a brand that has successfully collaborated with influencers on Instagram to increase engagement.
Run Polls or Surveys
Running polls or surveys can be a fun way to engage the audience and gather feedback or insights. For example, on Twitter, brands can run polls to gather opinions on a particular topic or product. Netflix is a brand that often runs polls on Twitter to engage its audience.
Once you’ve got a regular content schedule up and running, you need to know how to identify if your social media strategy is successful or not. That means carefully selecting and analysing specific metrics.
These metrics may vary depending on the goals of your campaign (e.g. brand engagement vs. website traffic). Either way, it’s important to reflect on your social media performance and see where you can improve.
Social Media Metrics and Measurement
Reach refers to the total number of unique users who have seen a brand's social media post. This metric helps brands to understand how far their content is spreading and how many people it is reaching.
Engagement refers to the total number of interactions that users have had with a brand's social media post, including likes, comments, shares, and clicks. This metric helps brands to understand how well their content is resonating with their audience.
Impressions refer to the total number of times that a brand's social media post has been viewed. This metric helps brands to understand how many times their content has been seen by their audience.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
CTR refers to the percentage of users who click on a link in a brand's social media post. This metric helps brands to understand how effective their call-to-action (CTA) is at driving traffic to their website or other online assets.
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of users who complete a desired action after clicking on a link in a brand's social media post. This metric helps brands to understand how effective their social media marketing efforts are at driving desired actions such as sales, sign-ups, or downloads.
Brand sentiment refers to the overall sentiment of user comments and interactions with a brand on social media. This metric helps brands to understand how their audience perceives their brand and can inform future content and marketing efforts.
Connect Your Brand with Your Audience Through Social Media
At Little Dot Studios, we believe in a data-led approach to ensure you’re leveraging the right content to speak to the right audiences on the right platform.
From content production, distribution and amplification to organic audience growth and community management, let our team take your campaigns to the next level.
Get in touch today to see how we’ve helped brands like Farfetch, Gordon Ramsay, Formula E and more amplify their brand through social media.