The world looks a lot different today than it did just ten years ago — and social media gets most of the credit. No matter your opinion of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, it's impossible to deny that these platforms have largely shaped the modern digital sphere.
While numerous challenges surround social media, it's also an area of great opportunity — and companies are determined to capitalize on it. As a social media marketer, you could help organizations make the most of top platforms, while avoiding the pitfalls that less strategic campaigns might face.
Social media marketing is a rapidly growing field, but it remains highly misunderstood. How, exactly, do social media marketers help the organizations they serve? What types of entities employ them — and what is their job outlook for the next several years? We answer these and other key questions below:
What Is a Social Media Marketer?
At its core, social media marketing involves the use of key platforms to promote a brand. Social media marketers are hired specifically with the intent of reaching consumers via these platforms — as opposed to marketing through print or other “traditional” forms of media.
Social media goals and definitions of Return on Interest (ROI) can vary considerably from one business to the next; it is the social media marketer's mission to achieve these goals and, ideally, quantify the results. Some businesses strive for lead generation above all else, while others hope to build quality connections with a smaller but more committed clientele. Still others view social media as a valuable tool for unveiling major changes, such as revised branding.
Creating Meaningful Content
No matter the underlying goal, social media marketing strategy typically involves developing and posting content (such as images, videos, or text-based messages) on selected platforms. While much of this content is promotional, the most successful pages provide a blend of promotional content and posts that provide direct value to followers. For example, some posts may alert followers to sales, while others link to blogs or videos that impart valuable information.
Diving Deep into Analytics
Analytics play a key role in social media marketing. Specialists set goals for various posts and track them carefully to determine consumer interest. Public response is indicated not only through likes, shares, or favorites, but also through conversions. A successful post will lead to more website traffic, or better yet, contracts and sales. Through detailed analytics, social media marketers can maximize the value of every digital update.
Top Platforms for Modern Social Media Marketers
Different companies rely on different platforms to get their point across. Each site comes with its own unique set of opportunities and pitfalls. Some social media marketers focus on one or two platforms; increasingly, however, specialists implement a broad strategy that integrates a variety of pages. The following are among the most prominent websites for modern social media campaigns:
- Facebook. Still the largest platform, Facebook remains a key tool for reaching large audiences — even as new sites attract interest from younger users.
- Instagram. Influencers on Instagram develop strong connections with consumers, making this a uniquely effective platform for marketing to Millennials and Generation Z.
- Twitter. It may not boast as many active users as Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter remains an effective platform for communicating directly with niche audiences.
- Snapchat. Like Instagram, Snapchat is ideal for connecting with a younger audience. Proponents believe that Snapchat delivers more authentic branding to a generation that is increasingly skeptical of overly polished updates.
- LinkedIn. Designed for use in the professional world, LinkedIn provides often untapped marketing potential for a variety of companies. It is a particularly valuable tool for B2B marketing.
- TikTok (Formerly Musical.ly). This rapidly growing platform is a hit among preteens. According to some experts, it's also the best alternative to Snapchat.
- YouTube. Most people don't think of YouTube as a social media platform, but experts refer to it as the most influential site of all. Social media specialists anticipate that YouTube will continue to dominate as video content takes over.
The Future for Social Media Marketers
If there is one constant in the digital sphere, it's that change can always be expected. That being said, all signs point to social media continuing to shape our online interactions — and to companies continuing to reach consumers via major platforms. These platforms may evolve over time (remember when MySpace was a big deal?), but the need for social media expertise will not. In fact, constant changes will make social media marketers' role that much more important. Most business leaders don't have the time or resources to stay on top of shifts in social media strategy — they rely on specialists to handle these changes.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights a job outlook of ten percent for the broad category of advertising, marketing, and promotions. Likewise, the BLS suggests a nine percent outlook for public relations specialists. In social media, however, growth rates may be considerably higher. Positions within this niche may be designated by a variety of names, including social media strategist, social media manager, or even brand ambassador.
Social media marketing represents a huge opportunity for those with a natural talent and passion for digital communication. A digital marketing degree can provide the edge needed to excel in this promising field — as can a willingness to keep up with — or better yet, anticipate — social media trends.
Johnson & Wales University offers a BS – Digital Marketing and Social Media degree. For more information, complete the "Request Info" form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.