Social media marketing is an extremely useful and versatile tool for e-commerce businesses.
Brands can advertise across a wide range of different platforms, each with its own unique audiences, ad formats, and targeting options.
This allows advertisers to quickly achieve enormous scale, while also driving cost-efficient conversions. A digital marketing strategy that incorporates both paid social and organic social can generate incredible results for businesses of all sizes.
So what makes social media marketing so effective for marketers? And how can you make the most of these social networks within your campaigns?
Let’s explore the world of social media marketing and outline everything you need to know about these platforms and partners.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is a broad term that covers a lot of different campaign types, activations and strategies.
However, the basic definition of social media marketing is pretty simple.
If you’re using a social media platform to reach your target audience and achieve your business goals, then you’re running social media marketing.
Fairly straightforward, right?
Well, yes. But there are a huge range of different approaches that businesses can take to social media marketing.
Brands can post content on their social feeds, launch paid social ad campaigns, and communicate directly with their target audience through comments and messages.
All of the above would be considered social media marketing.
The key is understanding the role that these different social media tactics can play in your wider digital marketing strategy.
Organic Social vs Paid Social
If you’re looking into using social media marketing for your business, you’ll inevitably come across the terms ‘organic social’ and ‘paid social’ on a regular basis.
So what do these terms mean?
Organic social is any form of social media marketing that doesn’t cost money to run.
This often involves brands posting content on their social feeds – this could be product images or videos, business updates, or interactions with followers.
However, although distributing organic content is free, it will still cost money to hire designers to create visual assets, or copywriters to draft social media posts.
If an agency will be managing your organic social activity, you’ll also need to factor in retainers and fees. Bear this in mind!
Organic social activity is a great way to communicate with your existing audience.
Maintaining an active and engaging feed keeps social media users interested in your profile, meaning they’re more likely to interact with your content and visit your website.
You can also use organic content to build your brand identity among your followers, and even test new content that can feature in your paid social campaigns.
Paid social is any form of social media marketing that costs money to run.
Paid social activity can be targeted directly toward specific audiences, meaning you’re not limited to communicating with existing page followers.
This helps advertisers to increase the reach of their campaigns and target audience segments who might be more likely to purchase a certain product.
Paid social campaigns can include a wide variety of different formats that are tailored towards particular business goals and objectives.
Although paid social requires investment, marketers can launch highly cost-efficient campaigns with the right strategies and targeting tactics.
Utilising both organic and paid social media allows brands to maximise their reach and communicate effectively with new prospects and existing customers.
8 reasons why social media marketing is vital for your business
Now that we’ve covered the social media marketing basics, let’s take a look at why this activity can be so beneficial for your business.
Although different brands will use social platforms to achieve different goals, one thing is true across all businesses – social media marketing can generate exceptional results.
1. You can take advantage of advanced targeting
Advertisers can reach incredibly specific audiences through paid social marketing.
Brands can build data-fuelled target audiences based on demographics, behaviours, and interests.
These audiences can prove to be highly profitable, particularly when businesses build and test multiple segments to optimise performance. Audience sizes can also be scaled up and down to help marketers achieve specific business objectives.
While organic social posts are a fantastic way to reach existing followers and customers, paid social targeting enables brands to proactively reach brand new audiences and larger groups of potential customers.
2. You can run cost-efficient social media marketing campaigns
Social media marketing is accessible to businesses of all sizes, allowing brands to launch highly cost-efficient campaigns.
Organic social can obviously be hugely cost effective, because uploading a new social post doesn’t cost anything.
Brands can post content on their own social feeds without paying a penny, instantly reaching their existing followers and customer base.
But it’s important to remember that there can still be some costs associated with organic social – for example, content creation and agency management.
Paid social can also be very cost-efficient. Many platforms don’t require a huge minimum spend for new advertisers, meaning businesses can launch campaigns without needing to break the bank.
Many social networks also operate on a ‘pay per click’ or ‘pay per conversion’ buying model, meaning marketers will only pay when a specific action is taken by their target audience.
Even better, many platforms use an auction system to serve advertiser impressions, giving you full control over the amount you’re willing to bid for ad delivery.
3. You can build a strong brand identity
Social media marketing provides you with an excellent opportunity to develop your brand identity, enhance your reputation, and grow your reach.
Through both paid social and organic social, businesses can establish a clear tone of voice and capture the attention of potential customers.
By maintaining a consistent brand voice and personality across social communications, you can build trust with your target audience, which is essential to generating sales.
Everything that your business shares through social media channels, from organic image posts to promoted videos, contribute to your brand identity. You can’t build a reputable brand overnight, but with a consistent social media presence, you can accelerate the process.
If you can build a positive and memorable brand persona over time, you can quickly separate yourself from the competition and carve out your own space in a crowded market.
4. You can achieve different objectives
One of the most useful aspects of social media marketing is the wide number of objectives that it can help to achieve.
Businesses can use social media marketing to tackle a variety of goals, from improving brand awareness to increasing sales of products and services.
Different platforms, audiences, ad formats and tactics can all be utilised to help you deliver against your most pressing targets.
You can also map certain social media metrics against different areas of the sales funnel, to identify which objectives align with your core business goals. For example:
- Top Funnel (Brand Awareness) – reach, clicks, engagements, video views
- Mid Funnel (Consideration) – lead generation, app installs, downloads
- Bottom Funnel (Conversion) – online store visits, sales
Whatever your business objectives, social media marketing can help you to achieve them through both organic and paid strategies.
5. Your competitors are active on social media
If you’re still debating whether social media marketing is right for your business, it’s worth remembering that your competitors are almost certainly active on these platforms.
Social media marketing is almost universal in every market and industry – if you’re not reaching new audiences through social media, your competitors will be.
To stay ahead of the curve and actively competing with similar brands, you need to build a visible and consistent presence on social platforms.
Although you might not necessarily be targeting identical audiences, social media marketing presents you with a good opportunity to win over new customers from your competitors.
Conversely, organic activity can help you to retain loyal customers by keeping them engaged with your brand. Don’t let those pesky competitors steal your audience!
6. You can experiment with different platforms
Every social media platform presents you with an opportunity to reach new audiences, experiment with new formats, and generate incremental conversions.
Different platforms offer the ability to reach specific audience segments that you may not have targeted previously – and this means more potential sales.
An effective social media marketing strategy can often include multiple social media platforms, all targeting unique audiences with a variety of formats.
Over time, you can establish the social networks that deliver optimal reach and results for your business.
Plus, you can slowly increase investment in new platforms to test performance – this enables you to control your budget and focus on the best-performing tactics.
7. You can drive traffic to your website
Social media marketing can be exceptionally effective at increasing traffic to e-commerce websites.
Engaging and creative organic content can encourage your existing followers to click and convert, helping you to retain loyal customers in the long term.
Advertisers can also vary their organic communications to keep them interesting – for example, sharing product discounts, package deals, or competition incentives.
Paid social can also be an excellent tool for increasing landing page visits.
Social media ads that are targeted toward effective audiences (i.e. those more likely to click) can achieve enormous scale, driving cost-efficient clicks that can be converted into sales.
8. You can communicate directly with your audience
Social media networks also offer e-commerce businesses a valuable platform for communicating with their target audiences.
Although organic posts and paid ads are technically a form of communication, they can feel a little one-sided at times.
However, when businesses respond to social media comments or message users directly, this opens up a much more engaging and interactive dialogue.
Consistent communication helps brands to improve their reputation among their customers. They can deliver top-notch customer service, acknowledge their most loyal shoppers, and even just take part in casual conversations with followers.
Customers are more likely to shop with brands who are responsive and willing to communicate with them, which is why social media is so useful for online businesses.
What platforms can I use for social media marketing?
Online businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to social media networks.
There is a wide range of different platforms available for both paid and organic activity, and each social media partner offers its own unique advantages.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest players in the social media market, and explore the different opportunities they provide for marketers.
Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms, with around 2.93 billion active users logging in each month.
The algorithm has collected a colossal amount of user data over the years, and advertisers can use this data to build highly effective and profitable segments.
Facebook advertising also works on an auction system, meaning brands have total control over their bidding strategies and budgets.
When it comes to paid advertising, marketers can target users based on:
- Demographic data – including age, gender, education, job title
- Interest data – including specific hobbies and interests
- Behavioural data – including previous purchases and device usage
For organic social, brands can use several different content formats to communicate with audiences, including image posts, text posts, and Facebook stories.
Twitter is designed to encourage organic conversations and user interactions.
Brands can engage with their target audience through direct Tweets and replies, allowing them to improve long-term consumer relationships.
Advertisers running paid Twitter ads can access the following audiences:
- Demographic audiences – based on language, gender, location, age, etc
- Audience types – targeting conversation topics, keywords, events, etc
- Your audiences – includes follower targeting and Custom Audiences
Twitter ads also work on an auction system.
Although the size of each bid is important, the platform also assesses ad quality based on three core metrics – Resonance, Relevance, and Recency.
Twitter is a particularly handy platform for organic social activity. Businesses can share content on their own Twitter feeds, but can also instantly reply to customer Tweets and respond to trending topics to boost their profile.
Instagram is a huge social media network, with approximately 1.2bn users accessing the app every month.
The Instagram feed is all about showcasing bold visuals and quality content, with a focus on engaging images and videos rather than text posts.
Since Instagram and Facebook are a part of the same social media family, there are a lot of similarities between the platforms when it comes to audiences, targeting and formats.
Instagram ads appear throughout the app in various placements and look almost identical to organic user posts aside from a ‘sponsored’ label.
Brands looking to increase their organic presence on Instagram can upload images and videos, utilise more creative formats like Reels and Stories, and use strategic hashtags to encourage user engagement.
LinkedIn is designed to allow business professionals to network with new connections and share industry updates.
LinkedIn advertising is particularly useful for brands looking to run B2B lead generation, as many business decision-makers and business owners use the app.
Paid advertisers can target the following audience segments:
- Demographic – based on gender, location, age, etc
- Company – based on company size, industry, name, and followers
- Education – based on fields of study and qualifications
- Job Experience – based on specific roles, seniority, and years of experience
Marketers can use various ad formats within LinkedIn campaigns, including Sponsored Content native ads, Sponsored InMail and simple Text Ads.
LinkedIn is also fairly unique when it comes to organic content. Popular posts tend to revolve more around industry news and thought leadership – while images and videos can still drive engagement, long-form pieces and articles are also common on the platform.
Although Pinterest is technically a social media app, it’s also known as a visual search engine due to its search functionality and focus on content discovery.
The platform places a huge emphasis on quality visual assets and eye-catching content.
Highly creative images and videos are crucial for both organic and paid activity on Pinterest.
Pinterest content is delivered through ‘pins’ which are effectively bookmarks that users can open, click, and save. New pins are discovered through search results and can be saved into different ‘boards’ to keep them organised.
Paid ads are served on Pinterest in the form of ‘promoted pins’ that sit alongside organic content in the feed.
Pinterest offers several unique ad formats, including:
- Promoted Pins
- Promoted Carousels
- Promoted Video Pins
- Promoted App Pins
- Collections Pins
- Idea Pins
- Buyable Pins
Marketers can target audiences based on Demographic data, Interest data and Keyword data.
When it comes to organic social on Pinterest, advertisers need to focus on uploading bold and interesting pins that will resonate with their target audience and generate clicks. Brands can also set up their own boards for easy content navigation.
Snapchat is particularly popular among Millennial and Gen Z audiences, and so can be a very useful platform for advertisers looking to reach a younger demographic.
The Snapchat app allows brands to launch creative and punchy ads that can capture user attention and drive action.
Some Snapchat paid ads are fairly standard, and often used to drive mass reach and brand awareness. Others are more bespoke, enabling advertisers to deliver eye-catching and innovative campaigns – for a price.
Snapchat paid ad formats include:
- Snap Ads – 10-second video and static image ads that can be adjusted to drive web traffic to a landing page, app installs, or long-form video views
- Story Ads – placements containing 3-20 individual image or video assets
- Sponsored Lenses – promoted AR experiences and filters
- On-Demand Geofilters – sponsored camera filters for geofenced locations
For advertisers looking to run organic activity on Snapchat, creativity is key.
Brands need to stand out with bold and exciting Snapchat Stories to generate excitement among their target audience. Organic content is slightly more limited on the Snapchat platform, so paid social plays an important role in driving traffic and page followers.
TikTok is a relatively new app in the social media world, but the platform has grown at lightning speed in recent years.
Around 1 billion users are active on TikTok every month. The app is particularly popular among the Gen Z user demographic.
The platform provides brands with enormous reach and scale, and TikTok is continuing to expand its marketing opportunities with new formats and ad types.
TikTok paid advertising comes in several forms, including:
- In-Feed Video Ads
- TopView Ads
- Spark Ads
- Brand Takeovers
- Branded Hashtag Challenges
- Branded Effects
Standard audience targeting options are available, but brands can also create more advanced segments (i.e. Customer File, App Activity) using first-party and pixel data.
When it comes to organic social on TikTok, businesses need to create exciting, attention-grabbing content that appeals to the user base.
The brands that build the most successful organic profiles on TikTok are the ones who are tuned into popular content and willing to embrace the latest user trends.
YouTube is an enormous social media platform. And that’s putting it mildly.
YouTube boasts around 1.7bn unique monthly visitors, with 694,000 hours of video content streamed every minute on the website.
Marketers can access a wide range of paid ad formats on YouTube, including:
- Skippable and Non-Skippable In-Stream Video Ads
- Discovery Ads
- Bumper Ads
- Overlay Ads
- Companion Banners
- Display Ads
Granular audiences powered by Google data can also enable e-commerce businesses to deliver incredible returns through paid advertising.
Since YouTube is the home of online video, brands need to focus on producing high-quality video assets to build their organic presence on the platform.
Organic video content needs to be diversified to keep users engaged. A solid YouTube video strategy can include product tutorials, thought pieces, user guides, and other forms of content.
Proven social media marketing strategies
Social media marketing has the potential to generate jaw-dropping results for e-commerce businesses.
To help you maximise the impact of your social media campaigns, we’ve pulled together some expert strategies that are guaranteed to enhance performance.
Implement pixels wherever possible
Most social media networks allow businesses to implement a pixel on their website that connects paid social media ads with site actions and online conversions.
Pixels can be incredibly valuable for advertisers, enabling them to track conversions more accurately and calculate the exact ROI of their paid social activity.
Once a pixel is in place, marketers can quickly improve their social media campaign management, measurement, and optimisation.
And this is all good news for paid social performance.
(Although iOS updates have thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to tracking Apple users through pixel data, implementing a website pixel is still a very smart idea.)
Diversify your organic social content
Maintaining an active social media profile through organic content is highly recommended – organic content can help to retain loyal customers and enhance your brand reputation.
However, the key is to keep your organic content fresh, creative, and interesting.
If you’re constantly uploading the same type of organic posts, users will quickly lose interest in your content. That means less engagement and fewer clicks.
Try to diversify your organic social content as much as possible. Experiment with different formats (e.g. images, videos, text posts, infographics) and tackle a wider range of topics.
You should also tailor your organic content to the platform you’re using. A successful organic TikTok post, for example, will look very different to a popular LinkedIn organic post.
Experiment with A/B testing
A rigorous A/B testing strategy can completely transform your social media marketing.
For both organic and paid social activity, A/B testing can allow you to gather valuable insights and produce more effective content.
In the world of organic social, testing different posts and messages enables brands to figure out what resonates with their target audience. For paid social, advertisers can experiment with different targeting tactics and formats to determine what generates the best returns.
The key to an effective A/B test is to establish your core metrics (i.e. clicks, views, conversions) and track them closely to identify superior assets.
How much does social media marketing cost?
Social media marketing is a very powerful tool that can help businesses to achieve a range of objectives.
But let’s tackle the big question here.
How much is social media marketing going to cost?
Well, it depends.
Organic social doesn’t necessarily need to cost anything, but many businesses enlist the help of a professional agency to help them optimise their content.
Social media advertisements naturally have certain costs associated with them, but many factors can influence the price of a campaign. Once again, many businesses also rely on agency teams to support them with their paid social activity.
Let’s take a look at some of the costs that businesses can incur for social media marketing.
Content creation costs
If you’ll need a professional to create bespoke social content for your organic posts or paid campaigns, this will come at a price.
A graphic designer, for example, can cost anywhere between £20 to £100 per hour depending on your requirements.
If you need a copywriter to create engaging post copy for your social feed, this can cost anything from £40 to £75 per hour.
It’s also worth noting that agencies and freelancers can work on different pricing models – some may charge an hourly rate, while others may charge on a project basis.
As always, there will be cheaper options and more expensive options available to businesses.
Superior quality often requires a bigger investment, but most businesses can find a package that suits their budget.
Agency retainer costs
If you’re keen to work with a dedicated social media marketing agency, you’ll often need to factor in a flat monthly retainer cost.
Every agency will have its own approach to a retainer. Some retainers will include additional elements (e.g. content creation) while others will charge extra for this work.
An agency retainer can cost anywhere from £750-£8,000 a month.
It’s important to find an agency that you can comfortably afford, but it’s equally important to employ an agency that delivers quality work. Ultimately, you get what you pay for!
Ad spend costs
Many agencies will also bill a separate commission for ad spend on top of their monthly retainer costs.
The more advertising budget you’d like your agency to manage, the more you’ll need to pay, which is important to factor into your forecasts.
Some agencies will also request a minimum spend for new clients. Here at Upbeat, for example, we require a minimum monthly spend of £5k.
The reason is that a healthy ad spend allows us to test and optimise more efficiently, ultimately enabling us to deliver superior results more quickly.
If you’re interested in learning more about the individual paid social costs of each platform, check out this guide which covers this topic in more detail.
Scaling paid social media marketing
If you’re seeing success with your paid social marketing efforts, you can begin the process of scaling your investment.
Scaling, in simple terms, means increasing your paid social spend efficiently while still maintaining positive returns.
But how do you know when you’re ready to begin scaling?
You’ll need to calculate your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).
If you’re delivering a consistently positive ROAS, that’s a signal that you’re in a good position to accelerate your spending. Fortunately, the ROAS calculation is pretty straightforward:
(Revenue from paid advertising / Cost of paid advertising) * 100 = ROAS
If your ROAS is floating between £2-£4 for every £1 invested in paid social, then you can start to think about increasing your investment.
Tips for successful social media marketing
Running successful social media advertising can take up a fair amount of time and resources.
However, by following a few best practices, you can quickly enhance your social media marketing and improve the performance of your content.
Identify a clear and measurable objective
You’ll need to start any organic or paid social activity with a clear objective in mind.
Once you’ve established the right objective, you’ll need to identify the social metrics that will help you to achieve it.
For example, website clicks are important for increasing sales, while impressions are more relevant for improving brand awareness.
Without a clear objective in mind, you won’t be able to optimise your campaigns effectively or gauge the success of your activity.
Think about your target audience
Keeping your target audience in mind is also vital for creating effective organic content and launching profitable paid campaigns.
Who is the audience that you’ll be reaching through social media? What are their pain points or ambitions? How can you drive them to take action or purchase a new product?
By answering these questions you’ll be able to deliver more relevant and impactful social media communications.
Getting started with social media marketing
Now that you have learnt how effective social media marketing is you probably want to get going with it.
Every social media platform has its own unique processes and requirements for setting up new campaigns.
However, there are a few steps that you can take to prepare for launching new organic or paid social activity:
1. Create a business/advertising account for the platform
2. Think about your most important business objective
3. Research the audience targeting options available
4. Choose the right ad formats based on your objectives
5. Produce quality creative assets based on platform specs
6. Set up regular campaign reports with relevant metrics included
Useful social media marketing tools
If you need some additional support to improve your social media marketing, there are a plethora of tools available online.
However, you can also utilise digital tools that can tackle more specific challenges beyond day-to-day campaign management.
There are plenty of social media tools that can help businesses to create visual assets, monitor consumer sentiment through social listening, schedule organic posts, and more.
You just need to ensure that these tools will genuinely help you to achieve your most important business goals.
Helpful resources for social media advertising
Keen to get started with your own social media marketing?
Below are some handy resources that will help to keep your social campaigns on the right track.
Social media marketing can be invaluable for businesses looking to enhance their customer communications, build their digital presence and generate more conversions.
A truly effective social media strategy needs to combine optimised organic content with polished paid tactics.
If you can launch effective organic and paid activity across multiple paid social platforms, you’ll be guaranteed to deliver some eyebrow-raising results for your business.