Social Media Marketing: Building Brands in the Digital Age

We live in the digital age, where social media has completely revolutionised the way people and businesses engage with their audience and build their brands. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn offer unparalleled opportunities for reaching and connecting with a hugely diverse and widespread population of potential customers. Just imagine if you would have described this scenario to a business person in 1950. They would never have believed it! Even in the 90’s I clearly recall my Maths teacher telling me off for using a calculator when he I thought he wasn’t looking, stating that as an adult “you will not always have a calculator with you”! That was only thirty years ago too! Indeed, the transformation brought about by social media is nothing short of extraordinary. Back in the 1950s, the concept of instantly connecting with millions of people worldwide was inconceivable. Businesses relied on traditional forms of advertising and communication, things like cold calls, print ads, wireless broadcasts and face-to-face interactions. I even recall as a child when my parents wanted to sell an item of furniture, like a chest of draws or a table, they call up a ”land line” (what even is that!) and have it listed in the ‘Friday Ad’, along with their phone number for folk to call. This was a paper that came out weekly full of listings of items people were selling. If that didn’t work, you really go big and put it on a card that went on the wall near the checkouts in ‘Safeway’! The idea of reaching a global audience with the click of a button would have seemed like something out of Back to the Future! However, as easy as it is to post content on these platforms, leveraging them effectively requires a strategic approach to maximise impact. Simply having a presence on social media is not enough. Businesses must understand their audience, tailor their content to resonate with them, and actively engage with their followers to build meaningful relationships. It’s a full-time job in itself! Moreover, the sheer scale and scope of social media present both opportunities and challenges for businesses. While the potential reach is vast, standing out amidst the sea of content can be daunting. Algorithms, trends and user behaviours are constantly evolving, requiring businesses to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. Sometimes I read a post on my timeline, yet before I even download in my head what I’m looking at, it’s gone and its ten scrolls down! It’s non-stop! Yet, despite these challenges, the benefits of social media marketing are undeniable. From increasing brand awareness and driving website traffic to generating leads and fostering customer loyalty, social media has become an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes. At the core of social media marketing lies audience engagement. It’s not merely about broadcasting messages but creating meaningful and memorable interactions with your followers. It’s just like speed dating, where you’re seeking a quick and instant connection that prompts them to hit that ‘follow’ button and keep coming back for more. Understanding your audience has never been more paramount than in the current day. I dedicate hours every week to scrolling through analytics tools, meticulously analysing trends and patterns in my content, from optimal times of posting to the types of posts that resonate most with my audience.   According to research by GlobalWebIndex, a staggering 54% of social media users say they actively use these platforms to research products before making a purchase. This statistic underscores the importance of creating engaging and informative content that not only captures attention but also drives action. Whether it’s showcasing product features, sharing customer testimonials or offering exclusive promotions, providing value to your audience is key to fostering engagement and ultimately driving conversions. Furthermore, understanding the preferences and behaviours of your audience is essential for crafting targeted and relevant content. By leveraging insights from analytics tools, such as demographic data and engagement metrics, businesses can tailor their messaging to resonate with their target audience on a deeper level. So, you’ve finally done it, you’ve got your content out in a post on social media, you’re done! Well actually no, it’s only just started! You see, consistency is key in maintaining audience engagement. Regular posting keeps your brand top of mind. The more you post, interact with other posts, share etc, the more your posts appear on others timelines. It’s like a huge game! HubSpot reports that businesses posting 16 or more times a month on Facebook receive 3.5 times more engagement than those posting less frequently. Responding promptly to comments, messages and mentions fosters a sense of community and trust around your brand. The type of content is also incredibly important. Visual content is a secret ingredient for capturing attention and conveying your brand message effectively. High-quality imagery plays a crucial role in shaping brand perception. According to MDG Advertising, articles with images receive 94% more total views. This makes sense too, because as humans we know that we connect better with visuals over written words due to our brain’s efficient processing of visual information, the emotional impact of visuals, their memorability, universality and their ability to stimulate creativity. Visuals evoke emotions, trigger memories and resonate with experiences more effectively than text, making them a powerful tool for communication and connection in the digital age. Video content has emerged as perhaps that premier league standard of content. Generation Z and Generation Alpha now expect on demand, video shorts in content that they demand. According to Synthesia, video made up 82% of all internet traffic in 2022. Over 2.6 billion people around the world use YouTube every month. Viewers retain 95% of a message when watching it on video (vs. 10% through text). Incorporating videos into your strategy, whether promotional clips, behind-the-scenes glimpses or customer testimonials, it’s a no-brainer! Platforms like Instagram Stories and Reels offer unique opportunities for storytelling and interactive content. Instagram reports that 500 million accounts use Stories every day. Leveraging these formats