Why social media marketing will matter in 2018

Social media marketing, such as on Facebook and Instagram, is not a fad. It is critical for small businesses that wish to secure a base of loyal customers in the year ahead. Here's why.

When it comes to running a small business, all owners know it's important to make every cent count. Finding ways to run efficiently while keeping costs down and customers happy is vital to success.

Fortunately there are tools for the SMEs to minimise costs while running efficiently. Digital marketing makes it easier for small business to target the right customers without committing a huge budget to the process.

While there are plenty of different ways to engage your audience through digital marketing one is becoming increasingly popular and effective - social media. The amount of time users spend on social media platforms is rising so it makes sense to target and connect with them on these platforms.


Social media part of customer service

Social media engagement is no longer an added bonus for consumers; it is seen as an important part of customer service, according to Microsoft's 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report.

More than half of 5,000 respondents from Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States had a more favourable view of brands that reached out to them via social media.

Of the millennials surveyed, 74% felt this way.

The findings make sense. People are spending an increasing amount of time on social media, and the trend is likely to continue in 2018.

The New York Times reported that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook, and its Instagram and Messenger platforms. In 2014, they spent just 40 minutes on Facebook.

“I don’t feel there’s any upper limit. Everybody wants to be the platform that’s on all day, kind of like some people used to have their television on all the time,” says Mr Ken Sena, managing director of investment banking firm Evercore.

“Facebook is probably in the best position because people are already such active users,” says Mr Sena, who specialises in consumer internet companies.


Positive association

Businesses that react quickly on social media give the impression they are modern, informed and open to engagement. This can set one apart from competitors, especially in industries with low barriers to entry.

When Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling won a historic Olympic gold medal last year, the nation was in a celebratory mood. Many small and medium enterprises, which make up 99% of businesses here, congratulated him on social media.

Some offered perks to mark the occasion, which were generally well received. Grab gave its users $3 off three GrabCar rides to 23 public swimming complexes. Honestbee provided chocolate gold medals with deliveries.

Businesses should also strive to extend successful social media campaigns – either via online or offline means – in 2018. Doing so will increase brand loyalty and engagement in the long run.

In the case of promotions around Joseph Schooling, online advertisements should have been followed by sports sponsorship, says Ms Beatrice Lee, managing director of MP & Silva Asia Pacific.

“It is a powerful way local companies can tap on themes of patriotism and positive values around sports as a vehicle to drive desired conversations about their own brand,” she told Marketing Interactive.


More value for brands

Social media platforms allow brands to gauge the success of their marketing campaigns.

Traditionally, the circulation of a newspaper or magazine gave business a sense of an advertisement's potential reach. Still, there is no way to tell if customers are engaging with it.

As a result, a business may invest in prime advertising space, but see marginal increases in profits. The ineffectiveness weighs heavily on small businesses with tight marketing budgets.

On the other hand, it is easy to determine the effectiveness of advertisements or posts on social media. Businesses can see the number of 'likes', read comments and even determine how long users are spending on marketing materials.

Analytics on a user's profile helps a business get a sense of its audience. Depending on the reaction, a business can tweak its marketing strategy for optimum results.

As more businesses embrace social media in 2018, these insights are less of an advantage than a way to level the playing field.


Influencing customers

Lastly, experts predict that influencer marketing will continue to trend in 2018. MSL Group found that messages are shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees, instead of the brand in question.

“With the continued democratisation of content publishing, traditional marketing channels have less influence while social media users and content creators have more,” says Mr Neal Schaffer, a social media strategist.

To build customer loyalty, try to go beyond commissioning a sponsored post on social media platforms. More effective uses of influencers include utilising them as actors in a compelling narrative.

In Singtel's “You Make The Call” video, personalities Shane Pow and Kimberly Wang are involved in the world's longest video call. The campaign showcases the power and wide coverage of the telco's network.

Laneige promoted its range of BB cushions in a short film titled “MY BB LOVE”. The South Korean cosmetics brand commissioned Ms Jemimah Wei to work behind the scenes as its writer and casting director.

The resulting story of a male Korean exchange student's first love in Singapore resonated with many. Ms Trishna Goklani, a fashion writer and stylist, was cast as the female lead.

“Everything Trish and I stand for – diversity in beauty, representation, girls supporting girls, and plain ol' love for a good story – we have put into this,” Ms Wei told AsiaOne.

Amid a barrage of information, getting creative with marketing will help businesses stand out in 2018.

The realm of social media enables just that. It allows of businesses of all sizes to cultivate a desirable image, build a loyal customer base and increase profits.


Summary

  • Social media is a cost-effective way for small businesses to market to their customers
  • Social media is an important part of customer service
  • Businesses who are active on social media create a positive impression
  • Small business can easily gauge the success of their campaigns through data and analytics
  • Social media is a unique platform to engage with customers
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