Why Is Social Media So Important In The Marketing Industry?

By: Jessica Steffens

February 24, 2023

Source: Animated Heaven

          Social media has been the up-and-coming form of digital media that is surrounded by many people every day. It has been and continues to be a huge part of our lives. Between shopping on Amazon to connecting with managers through LinkedIn, to even sending a perfect snap on Snapchat to your best friend, social media shapes our everyday lives. Digital media is described as the way we connect with others through computerized tools (Chayko, 2018). Our technologies allow us to share our information, achieve an assignment, or satisfy a goal (Chayko, 2018). We dive into a digitalized world where we can online shop, message an old friend, check what the latest trends are, and even ask a question. Because of all these advancements and uses of technology and media, we are actually using them in ways we can use them in the future (Chayko, 2018). We spend multiple hours a day on various forms of technologies playing video games, scrolling through the Internet, listening to music, and more. According to We Are Social, the below image displays the average amount of time spent with media each day by Internet users aged 16 to 64.

Image Source: We Are Social

          Social media is forever evolving and does not only help us as humans on a personal level, but on a professional level as well. Social media is very important in the marketing industry because it offers access to a wide range of consumers quickly, they can use online influencers to display and market their products, and they can use social media content creation as a more affordable way to market their products and/or services.

Image Source: Canva

Content Creation

          Content from businesses is all around us, whether it is on a digitalised platform or on a flyer we get in the mail. Content created for businesses is used to send a message out to attract buyers to a service or product, using some sort of creativity. But how can digitalised content creation be better for businesses? Digital marketing is a way for businesses to market their services or products in an affordable way. Our online space has allowed marketing firms and businesses to have low-cost production in their content creation process, which doesn’t require much technical expertise (Blank, 2013). Blank also states that creating digital content requires little to no financial resources and it is at minimal cost to the company to post to their target audience. Using free applications such as TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest allow users in the marketing field to edit their content and post to their audiences at minimal to no cost to their company.

Image Source: Canva

          Creating content on a digital platform is also a part of knowledge work. Knowledge workers are involved in fields of work that involve the interactions of ideas and content, such as educational occupations, scientific jobs, and media work (Chayko, 2018). It is creating knowledge and then using it in production. In the case of social media marketing, knowledge is created within content and is shared to many, in order to market products and services.

          Creating content for social media marketing is also a way for companies to diffuse their innovations to their consumers. Diffusion is where our innovations are communicated within specific communication channels, where the message of our innovations involve new ideas (Rogers, 2003).

          Marketing firms and businesses can also use social media marketing to transcend time. Transcending time allows us to obtain more storage so we can archive more and be able to access whatever we keep in storage easily. Transcending time with social media marketing means that firms and businesses can keep all of their content and marketing materials on technological hardware that is easily accessible. Businesses and firms are also able to capture their demographics better on social media, giving them data quicker than if they were to go out in person or communicate via mail. By already having demographic data on apps like Instagram and Facebook, companies are able to archive and retrieve data within an efficient amount of time.

Image Source: https://thinktreemedia.in/blog/the-m-in-meme-stands-for-marketing/

          Many forms of media being used as marketing tools have become trending or viral, helping many businesses get traction to their pages and websites. For example, in recent years many marketing firms and businesses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, have used memes has a form of creative content to create communities on social media with entry level-staffers and Chief Marketing Executives (Coffee, 2023). This is only one of many examples of companies using memes to connect with customers on a more personal level. Marketing firms and business use content in a way to build trust between their business and their customers.

Influencers and Audiences

Image Source: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/complete-history-social-media

          Reaching large audiences whether that be in person or on the Internet is important for marketing firms and businesses because they need to reach enough of their target market to achieve attraction and sales goals. With low costs and little to no tools needed to create content, individuals are able to deliver content to the Internet in a way that reaches a substantial audience. Social media has been shown as a resource that allows marketing firms and businesses to reach their consumers over short and long distances over a short and quick amount of time. This is known as transcending space. When we are transcending space, we are connecting with people that might be long distances away or not easily accessible. The pie chart below displays the percentage of mobile phone, social media, and Internet users worldwide, which is substantially large and continuing to grow, according to We Are Social.

Image Source: Jessica Steffens

          Attracting larger audiences also comes with building closer relationships with their customers. By customers communicating with businesses through social media, businesses are able to understand customer concerns, comments, and even reviews of products and services, and be able to answer them promptly, ultimately allowing for better, more efficient customer service (Martin, 2021). Interaction is a way for customers to communicate how they are feeling about a product or service, which tells the company how they are feeling. When a customer comments, likes, follows, or reposts, they are interacting with the business’ page, drawing for attention to their content.

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          A lot of this traction can come from influencers we may see on TikTok or Instagram. Influencing is a way in which someone leads a group with similar likes to catch onto an idea that will continue to bring more and more people into the group (Satell, 2013). Influencers are a piece of that. Influencers are a trusted group of individuals who have a big social media following and understand the importance of capacity and influence (Carter, 2016). By marketing firms and businesses sponsoring influencers to come on board and promote their business, it results in a way to not only save costs, but to reach audiences that those influencers may already have.

          Because the Internet has been formed into a social system, it has also become a place to build new relationships between people individually or within a group, along with the technologies themselves (Athique, 2013). A lot of relationships built on social media, whether they are with a friend, an influencer, or even a business within a community, tend to be trusted. Trust is big for marketers because when customers develop trust with an influencer of a company or trust with the company themselves, they will be more likely to continuing interacting with that company and trusting in their products or services. This creates what we call a critical mass. A critical mass is when a sufficient number of people adopt an innovation past its early stages and take it further into society (Chayko, 2018).

Image Source: Jessica Steffens

          Many social relationships built bring people together within communities on social media networks from all over many distances (Tiago & Cristóvāo, 2014). One example of this is Facebook. Many users on Facebook have created communities in which they can form different social groups. There are groups for VIP members of a store, groups for babysitters, and even groups to sell things in your local neighbourhoods.

The Consumer

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          In the consumer’s point of view, companies involved in social media marketing may benefit them more than reading about them in magazines and watching them in commercials. With the convenience of your phone in your hand, viewing an advertisement or looking up the branding of a company can be simple with the click of a button or link. Social media cites have different functions for marketing firms or businesses to make it easier on the consumer. For example, Instagram has a feature when you go to edit a story where you can choose to add a link to something. Once that story is a posted, a consumer can view it and simply click the tab with the link to access what the marketing firm or business was promoting, instead of the consumer trying to find it on their website.

          Another example of social media marketing benefiting the customer is when customers want to see clothing tried on everyday people. Facebook has a unique function, like some other social media cites, where a company can choose to go live. This is called Comment Sold. Clothing or not, businesses can go live on Facebook and try things on, showcase them, and inform the audience about the details of the product. Customers also have the option to comment on the live, being able to ask questions and get them answered right there and then in the live video. Customers can also comment “SOLD (item #, size)”, to add the item or items that are being showcased to their cart. Once the live video ends, the customer is redirected to their cart and can make a finalised purchase.

Image Source: Comment Sold

          By companies using different social media marketing features like links in Instagram stories and Comment Sold on Facebook, they are able to create convenience for their customers. Consumers enjoy this type of content from companies because they have the ability to interact more on a personal level, they have easy access to what they want, and they are more likely to keep coming back to the company’s page. Customers also appreciate receiving information without having to meet with someone face to face, so information is provided that is easy to understand (Nadaraja & Yazdanifard, 2013). Companies may also be able to provide customers with better coupons and special sales online, that makes customers more attracted to a company. Again, trust is a key factor in social media marketing. Having trusting content creates a trusting relationship between consumers and a business, which has a positive effect on consumer behaviour when consuming and contributing to social media content (Cao, et al., 2021).

The Generational Divide

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          Social media isn’t for everyone one, which means social media marketing doesn’t reach everyone intended to reach. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions that everyone is interested and knowledgeable in our technologies, because not all technological innovations are made for everyone (Rogers, 2003). There are many different perspectives of social media and the technologies we use, which may involve the generational divide. As you can see below, research from We Are Social shows that as of January 2021, the older the generations become, the less they are likely to use social networks as a sources to search for brands. This is significant because it demonstrates the generational divide for brand research on social media networks, compared to just searching the Internet.

Image Source: We Are Social

          Our technologies are advancing quicker than people can learn, so it is important for companies to keep this in mind. Those who feel they are incapable of accessing or understanding digital technologies, like social media, may feel a barrier to resources and opportunities businesses have (Costa et al., 2019). Social media marketing has an incredible amount of benefits for companies and customers, but we also need to keep in mind those who are not knowledgeable about it or do not have access to it.

So What?

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          The big question is, so what? Why does this all matter? Despite the downsides of the generational divide, social media marketing is and is continuing to be a powerful tool for marketing firms and businesses. For example, Facebook marketing has increased their value with positive word-of-mouth recommendations and the power of their social networking communities (Kraus et al., 2019). It is an affordable way to create and send out content to your target market. Being in the knowledge work, it is also a simple way of spreading innovations to others. There are multiple communication channels that reach many different places, and with the help of influencers, the influential power of a product or service can go a long way. Social media marketing is important to the marketing industry because it is a fresh, innovative, and social way to reach consumers efficiently.

 

References

Athique, Arian. (2013). Digital Media and Society. Polity Press.

Blank, G. (2013). WHO CREATES CONTENT? Information, Communication & Society, 16(4), 590–612. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118x.2013.777758

Cao, D., Meadows, M., Wong, D., & Xia, S. (2020). Understanding consumers’ social media engagement behaviour: An examination of the moderation effect of social media context. Journal of Business Research, 122, 835–846. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.06.025

‌Carter, D. (2016). Hustle and Brand: The Sociotechnical Shaping of Influence. Social Media + Society, 2(3), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116666305

Chayko, M. (2018). Superconnected : the internet, digital media, and techno-social life. Sage Publications, Inc.

Coffee, P. (2023, February 1). Marketers Turn to Meme Accounts for Humor, News and Group Therapy. Wall Street Journal.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/marketers-turn-to-meme-accounts-for-humor-news-and-group-therapy-11675206914?mod=Searchresults_pos17&page=1

Costa, C., Gilliland, G., & McWatt, J. (2019). “I want to keep up with the younger generation” – older adults and the web: a generational divide or generational collide?. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2019.1678689 

Digital 2021 – We Are Social UK. (2021, January 27). We Are Social UK. https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog/2021/01/digital-2021-uk/

History of Social Media (It’s Younger Than You Think). (n.d.). BroadbandSearch.net. https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/complete-history-social-media

Kraus, S., Gast, J., Schleich, M., Jones, P., & Ritter, M. (2019). Content is King: How SMEs Create Content for

Social Media Marketing Under Limited Resources. Journal of Macromarketing, 39(4), 415–430. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276146719882746

‌Martin, F. (2021). Council Post: Digital Media As An Early Warning System. Forbes. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/07/12/digital-media-as-an-early-warning-system/?sh=21103c4b3eb5

Nadaraja, R., & Yazdanifard, R. (2013). Social media marketing: advantages and disadvantages. Center of Southern New Hampshire University, 1-10.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). Free Press. (Original work published 1962)

Satell, G. (2013). How Disruption Happens. Forbes. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2013/10/05/how-disruption-happens/?sh=42d1c6c63212

‌Tiago, M. T. P. M. B., & Veríssimo, J. M. C. (2014). Digital marketing and social media: Why bother? Business Horizons, 57(6), 703–708.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2014.07.002

 

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