Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube…you’ve probably used, or at least seen and heard of some of them. Social media, like our smartphones and computers, has become so intrinsically part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine how things would be like without them now.
Social media has undoubtedly been one of the modern world’s fastest growing technology. From the first social networking sites of LiveJournal and Friendster to today’s top popular platforms of Facebook and Instagram, social media has expanded and developed so rapidly that businesses hopped on to take advantage of this new platform to sell their products and services. Some companies, cemented in old fashioned tradition, refuse to use social media for business, citing lack of digital skills or disbelief in its effectiveness to bring in revenue. Others eagerly take on the social media sphere, and various new terms born of the business-in-social-media endeavour are now a common sight.
Type “social media” into a search bar and at least two suggestions are likely to come up: “social media marketing” and “social media management”. If you are a small business just starting out in marketing, you may come across the term “SMM” a lot. This refers to social media marketing. However, you might have probably heard about social media management too – the acronym which also is, unfortunately, “SMM”. It’s easy to get confused or mistake them for the same thing. So what’s the difference, and which should you care about?
Never mind the marketing for now, this is about managing the account. It’s about handling how it’s run: content, frequency of posting, following, commenting, responding. Managing the account means deciding on what kind of content to post, posting said content, seeking out influencers, responding to comments and messages, and just generally engaging with your target audience. You’re the captain of the ship, the overseer who runs it all.
Social Media Marketing
It’s all about marketing…using social media. Your job is to bring in sales and promote your brand via social media. This could vary from spreading the news of a sale through promotional campaigns, to running advertisements on your products, to projecting your brand message out there with organic (aka unpaid) marketing. You’re the navigator of the ship, the guide to finding more valuable leads.
Now that we’ve hopefully clarified their differences, there begs the question of Which one should I be caring about?
The answer: both!
Social media management and social media marketing go hand in hand. Both are needed to make a brand really work successfully. Management without marketing is, well, a wasted effort. Sure, you could be posting the most amazing, high quality content and be running the account smoothly, but it’s hard to really get your brand out there without marketing. You want your business to grow, you’ve got to get word of it out there. And who’s going to see those attractive deals you just posted? You can’t really rely on purely your followers to spread the word. Besides, the more the merrier. Even if someone doesn’t take up the offer, they would have now heard of your brand. Another point for brand awareness!
Marketing without management is something that can get messy. Has an online advertisement ever caught your eye, but upon digging around a little on their social media accounts, you don’t see many updates, or responses to public comments? Did you follow the page, and if you didn’t, do you remember what the brand name was? There’s a big chance the answer is going to be a solid “No”. Inactivity and poor content quality are major factors that affect consumers’ interest in your brand’s social media pages. People can lose interest quickly if your social media account isn’t managed well – and at the very worst, be put off by it.
Marketing and management have got to work together. One without the other leaves an imbalance that upsets your brand’s image and chances at growth. Just like yin and yang, a balance of the two would be hugely beneficial to your business.
The Basics of SMM: Strategy
It’s all good understanding the importance of both management and marketing, but there are some things that all businesses – especially small ones – should know and apply when just starting out on social media marketing. While not rules per se, following them is probably a far better option for your cost per result rate. The absolute key thing you need before starting out on social media marketing is strategy.
- Target Audience
You need to know where your target audience is at on social media before you even begin to create a social media account. Are they millennials? Gen Z? Gen X? If your products are aimed towards the older generation, making a TikTok account may not be such a good idea, since the platform is far more popular with the younger Gen Z.
Choosing what content to post is a sweet mix of finding your audience’s interests, being interesting, promoting your products but not appearing too pushy. A coffee bean supplier doesn’t always need to (or should) post about the high quality of their beans. They could share brewing methods, titbits of coffee facts, or ways to use coffee in a recipe. Since their target audience are coffee lovers, they should be thinking about what they’d be interested in seeing. Let the content speak for itself.
- Awareness or Sales?
Depending on where you are in the marketing funnel, your priorities on social media could be very different. If you’re still a small, growing brand with few followers, marketing towards brand awareness and engagement is a wiser option than pushing for sales. Likewise, if your brand has grown considerably and has a decent following, pushing for more sales campaigns could be a great way to get business going.
- Be Social
Engagements will start coming in once your brand has a certain amount of awareness and gains some decent traction. Engage back! People enjoy a personable brand and like feeling seen and heard. This is called “social media” after all, not “standoff media”.
The Final Equation
Social media marketing and management are needed now more than ever. These two go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. One without the other just isn’t quite right; both are needed to bring about a tasteful balance to propel growth and harmony. With the application of a well thought out strategy, and a balance between strong management and smart marketing, you can lift your brand up to progress and success.