What is Social Media Marketing?

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The simplest definition of social media marketing is that you’re marketing your business on a social media channel. That doesn’t really answer the question what is social media marketing very well though, does it? No, it doesn’t.

So, what is Social Media Marketing? It’s several different things that all work together to help you grow your business.

Social Media Channels

When you want to market your business on social media, you have to decide which channels work for your business. There are lots of options and each one caters to a slightly different interest or audience. Social media channels you might consider using for your business include:


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  •  YouTube
  •  Instagram
  •  SnapChat
  • LinkedIn
  • Medium
  • Google+

How do you choose which social media channel to use for marketing?

The right social media channel(s) will depend completely on your audience. This is one of the reasons that it’s so important to know about your audience, their interests, their needs, and most importantly, where they spend their time.

If your audience is younger, you’ll likely have more success on SnapChat, Instagram or YouTube than you would on LinkedIn. If you’re a B2B (business to business) marketer, there’s a good chance that LinkedIn will be a better fit for your business than some of the other options.

If your audience is primarily female, you may have more success on Pinterest than other channels.

What is Social Media Marketing Content?

When you’re crafting a social media marketing strategy you’ll need to think about your audience and their needs. This post digs deep into understanding what messages your audience is looking for and how to connect with them in general. 

The content you create for social media marketing should be unique for each channel because the channels draw different audiences and people visit the social channels for different reasons. Even if someone is active on multiple channels, their interests probably vary from one to another.

Think of your own social media usage. If you’re spending time on Pinterest, why are you there? Are you looking for inspiration, a recipe, design ideas, etc.? If you’re on Facebook or Instagram are you looking for pictures or video from friends and family? You might spend time on YouTube looking for video tutorials on a new subject or how-to guidance. And you might visit LinkedIn for career updates and information from your network.

Because each channel is unique, the content needs to be different as well. If you post the exact same thing on every channel, you’re not going to see the same results as you would if you were more strategic in your approach.

Social media content can be written, image or video.

Paid vs Organic Social Media Marketing

While social media marketing is the process of marketing your business via a social media channel (or multiple channels) there are different ways of marketing your business on most channels.

Organic Social Media Marketing

When we use the term organic in marketing, it means efforts that you don’t pay for. It’s not completely free in the sense that you have to understand how to leverage the channel the right way and you often need to be very strategic about your efforts in order to see results. However, you don’t pay for each visit, click, or comment. Your organic audience is comprised of both those who already know & follow you (on all channels) and those who discover you via the optimization you do on your content (most channels).

Pro: organic social media marketing is free.

Con: organic reach is really low on some of the social channels.

Paid Social Media Marketing

Paid social media marketing is just what it sounds like. It’s a form of advertising where you buy exposure for your brand on a social media channel. Each channel has its own paid options but most include ad space in the newsfeed. The prices vary by network and some are very affordable, others cost a lot more.

Pro: great opportunity for exposure to new audiences.

Con: as paid social media marketing becomes more popular the competition is increasing and causing the ad cost to rise.

Is Social Media Marketing Right for Your Business? 

In most instances, social media marketing is a great opportunity for small business owners. Even with paid ad prices increasing, it’s still one of the most cost-effective marketing channels for businesses. Social media marketing can easily stretch your dollars further than if you were to invest in more traditional media like print, radio, tv, or billboard. It’s also a way to get hyper-local or relevant and target your audience in a specific area or based on interests they have. The information available from social media channels is much more targeted than some traditional media.

How Should You Market Your Small Business on Social Media?

A mix of both organic and paid social media marketing will produce the best results for most businesses. If you’re interested in learning about what’s working today in social media and crafting a strategy for your business, contact us today.

If you’d rather learn how to craft and execute the social media marketing strategy yourself, visit the Marketing Academy page to learn more about our Social Media Marketing training classes.

Register for our FREE Marketing Training Workshop program and join thousands of other small business owners who have learned how to create their marketing plan with our help! Click here to register today.