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What Is Social Media Marketing?

How much time do people spend on social media networks? According to a Nielsen report, adults spend a weekly average of five and a half hours on social media -- or 36 percent more time than they did last year. "Heavy users" spend more than three hours every day on social media.

Numbers like this help explain the value of social media marketing. For marketing professionals who do not want to be left behind, keeping up with current trends is important. Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in marketing is one way to develop a foundation in traditional marketing methods as well as more contemporary approaches.

La Salle University offers an online MBA, Marketing Specialization that combines theoretical knowledge with real-world experience, including in social media. Working professionals who want to advance their careers in marketing can earn this degree in as few as 14 months.

Where Does Social Media Fit in Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing refers to marketing efforts that happen online. Business websites and blogs are common examples. So are those pop-up ads that people install ad-blockers to avoid. Social media marketing also falls under the domain of digital marketing.

A Pew Research Center survey found that 73 percent of Americans are online daily, 21 percent of them "almost constantly." This helps explain the growth of digital marketing, including through social media.

According to the Nielsen report, "Social media is one of the biggest opportunities that companies across industries have to connect directly to consumers." Statistics back this up:

  • HubSpot reports that 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.
  • According to the Nielsen report, close to 40 percent of heavy social media users turn to social networks to find out about products and services. Nearly 30 percent believe it is important to support their favorite brands.
  • Social Media Week reported on a study showing that the purchasing decisions of 74 percent of shoppers were influenced by user-generated content on social media.

Social media marketers typically turn to a mix of social media networks to connect with customers. Should that be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, or whatever is currently trending? The answer is where a company's current and prospective customers are spending their time.

Targeting the right social networks helps customers find information about a brand's products and services. Online reviews, such as with Yelp, are one example. And while personal recommendations have traditionally driven consumer decisions, HubSpot statistics indicate that buyers now trust online reviews just as much.

Effective social media marketing also requires creating meaningful content. An article in Entrepreneur explains the benefits as "The Law of Compounding." Engaging with an audience through conversations on social media sites helps build a following. When followers share that content with their own audiences, it creates more ways for a company to expand its reach.

What Are Marketers Saying About Social Media?

Just how important is social media to a brand's marketing efforts? According to HubSpot:

  • 83 percent of marketers actively employ social media marketing.
  • 90 percent of marketers report that using social media has increased exposure for their business.
  • 50+ percent of marketers using social media for at least two years say it has boosted sales.

Social media is a powerful marketing tool. Take the case of someone who tweets about "the best energy bar ever." Every retweet is an opportunity to build brand awareness and convert new customers.

As a Forbes article on the benefits of social media marketing explains, "When you build a following, you'll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers, and old customers, and you'll be able to interact with all of them."

Learn more about the La Salle online MBA in Marketing program.


Sources:

Nielsen: 2016 Nielsen Social Media Report

Pew Research Center: One-Fifth of Americans Report Going Online 'Almost Constantly'

HubSpot: The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics

Social Media Week: How Social Media Is Influencing Purchase Decisions

Entrepreneur: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Forbes: The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

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