The way we, as marketers, do business has changed dramatically over the past century. Where we once relied on posters and street corner newsboys, these transformed into radio and billboard advertisements. Soon that translated into television ads and integrated marketing in film, and it only kept growing from there. Nowadays, we have social media—a powerhouse that has changed the way we all live. 24-hour news no longer needs to be consumed through a television set; you can catch up on the news through several different apps. No longer do you have to wait to hear a big announcement; we can receive confirmation of global events just moments after they happen. Marketing and advertising are no longer a venture àla Mad Men; regular people can take to social media and market their hobbies, passions, and businesses.
But what does this change look like? How have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram changed the way we live? With most internet users being on one social media app or another, the truth is that social media platforms have a great deal of power. Whether it’s promoting a business through an affiliate marketing campaign or a specially crafted video, a business can develop its brand overnight, reaching millions of people in the process, thanks to social media.
1. Organic Marketing Prevails
Followers matter when it comes to social media, especially when building your audience. The development of unique, branded content is one of the easiest ways to achieve this, as doing so will help foster organic growth—users finding your content naturally, rather than having your brand be advertised to them.
In some cases, you don’t even have to seek out your customers; rather, they come right to you if you use the right hashtags and keywords. This unprecedented change is incredible for marketers, as it lessens the load of having to find avenues to seek out an audience. Marketers can analyze the audience they’re attempting to persuade, all while producing content specifically curated for them.
2. Mass Visibility
Over 3 billion people use social media every day. It’s a staggering number when you think about it, considering there are 7.8 billion people on earth. The sheer number of users alone is an incredible opportunity when put into perspective. This is especially true if you’re a small company. In the past, there were barriers to entry for many people when it came to the business world. Enterprise businesses held their place, and smaller businesses had far fewer opportunities. Moreover, consumers could only dream about interacting with their favorite brands—it was a long-shot dream to think of interacting with the advertising team from Coca-Cola or McDonald’s. But social media has changed all that.
Now, small businesses can do exactly what enterprise businesses do in terms of outreach. With high-quality content, it can be simple to create organic traffic to your company’s social media profile and, eventually, to your website. This traffic means a lot, too. It means that businesses run out of someone’s home can generate millions of followers, whereas mere decades ago that would have been a pipedream. Instagram affiliate marketing has truly changed the game in this fashion, as brands can now utilize the audiences of affiliate brands and social media influencers to promote their products. The visibility these affiliates offer cannot be overstated, as it allows a mass number of eyes to be placed on your content, increasing your chances for lead generations, website conversions, and sales.
3. Easier to Target Consumers
It wasn’t very easy to target your customers in the near past. If you wanted to track down specific customers, it often involved doing door-to-door research that was merely unattainable for most businesses—who had the time for such rigor on a mass scale? Social media has changed all that. With a wealth of data and analytics, companies can now readily filter consumers they want to target within the greater market, ensuring that ads and marketing campaigns always fall into the right hands.
Facebook advertising has been an excellent example of this, over the past decade. Its targeting options are some of the most advanced among the different social media platforms. For instance, credit card companies can create ads that are catered to specific age groups and demographics, engaging their targeted customers exactly how they want, rather than throwing a wide net and pulling in whatever remains. We can only expect the targeting parameters to get better as time goes on. The Internet of Things (IoT) is disrupting the way we do business alongside social media, making it easier than ever for companies to learn about their customers.
The trove of available information will soon be endless: whether it’s their interests, their past sales, what times of day they check their email, when they’re most likely to be browsing Instagram, what their most common Google search terms are, keywords that attract their attention in posts, when they turn on their electric coffee pot in the morning, etc. All of this can be used by marketers to better target their audience, ensuring the right customers are brought into the fold.
4. Customer Service on Demand
One of the biggest changes that social media has provided is the “leveling of the playing field.” What this means is that no longer are consumers on one level while businesses are on another: People can interact and communicate with brands one-on-one. Whether they have a complaint, a criticism, or a positive review to leave, they can flock to social media to publish a post, share an image, or leave you a direct message (DM).
Best of all, you can have dedicated staff on hand that gets back to consumers around the clock, guaranteeing that customers’ needs are met, as expected, to prove your reputation as a business. This opportunity is incredibly important, as that level of connection—one that is time-sensitive—means a lot to consumers, especially when they hear back from a brand. It lets them know that their voice is heard and that they matter.
Change Is Afoot
The way we do business has changed over the past decade. While some veterans will say it’s for the worse, it’s all progress. Consumers and brands can fluidly interact with ease, allowing the utmost transparency in the sales funnel. If anything, it’s made doing business and finding customers easier than ever.