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The marketer’s guide to social media


Social media marketing is an indispensable part of any business’ digital strategy. What should professionals know before embarking on a campaign on these platforms? Find out how to get starting, where to focus your efforts and what you should be looking at the measure success.

Social media is something no business can afford to ignore. At the start of 2024, there were an estimated 5.04 billion people around the world connecting and communicating via platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn and TikTok.

You always need to be where your customers are, and with more than half the planet’s population being active users of social media, this means a coherent social media marketing strategy is essential. This can come in several forms, from brand awareness campaigns to raise your company’s profile to product launch campaigns or customer engagement strategies like polls, quizzes and Q&As. The possibilities are huge.

Regardless of how you want to use social media marketing, you’ll need to be aware of a few basics and best practices to see success. So what should you be aware of when embarking on a social media marketing campaign?

What is social media marketing?

This type of marketing refers to the use of any recognised social media platforms to publish content and engage directly with potential or existing customers. It can be used to build your brand, promote products or services, communicate directly with users or drive traffic to your website, among many other uses.

What are the business applications of social media?

While there are many applications within social media for business users, a key use case is to increase awareness and engagement at the top of the marketing funnel. In many cases, a social media post or ad will be the first point of contact a new customer has with your brand. Therefore, it needs to not only capture a user’s attention, but quickly get across who you are and what you do – which can be a challenge when you have limited space to work with. 

Why should your brand consider social media?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business looking to reach out to customers in the local area or a multinational enterprise, setting up a social media account and using it to post engaging and informative updates to your users is a vital part of any digital marketing strategy.

Apart from anything else, if you don’t have a presence on the key social networks your audience uses, you’ll be giving up this space to more active competitors. What’s more, research by HubSpot suggests social media is the number one method of product discovery for consumers aged 18 to 44, so if you’re not visible here, you’ll be missing out on a key demographic.

How does social media marketing work?

Social media marketing can essentially be split into two categories – organic and paid. Organic is similar to what you’d do on a personal social account – you create posts, publish them and see how far they spread. It’s cheap, easy to get started with and there are almost no restrictions on how you can use it, as long as you stay within the site’s terms of service.

Paid social media advertising, on the other hand, will help ensure that your message gets seen by the right people in a way that’s not always possible with an organic-only strategy. One of the major advantages of social media platforms is they collect huge amounts of data on their users’ demographics and interests, which allows you to tailor your campaigns to as wide or narrow an audience as you choose. If you’re not sure how to do this, a specialist LinkedIn or Facebook advertising agency can provide assistance.

There’s no single answer to the question of which social networking platform is best for marketers. It will depend on the type of business you are and the audiences you expect to reach. However, among business-to-consumer (B2C) firms in the UK, the most popular social media platforms are:

  • Instagram (used by 20.31 per cent of firms)
  • Facebook (20.18 per cent)
  • YouTube (16.3 per cent)
  • X (13.84 per cent)
  • TikTok (12.94 per cent)
  • Pinterest (8.41 per cent)

For business-to-business (B2B) marketers, on the other hand, LinkedIn is always a popular option. Its ability to target audiences based on factors such as their job role and the size of the company they work for makes this platform particularly appealing.


The pros and cons of using social media in your marketing

It’s clear that these options can’t be ignored, but why is social media good to have as part of your content marketing strategy? Understanding what you can expect to get out of it – and being aware of the potential pitfalls – is essential if you’re to create an effective strategy.

What are the benefits of social media marketing?

Some of the key advantages of social media that you can enjoy from a well-planned and executed campaign include:

  • Higher brand visibility and customer recognition
  • More engaged customers
  • Higher website traffic
  • Improved search performance
  • Better lead generation
  • Positioning your brand as a thought leader
  • Demonstrating you are up-to-date with trends

How does social media affect customer relationships?

Knowing how to increase social media engagement via social platforms is one of the key routes to success with this strategy. Regular, engaging posting can help build a deeper relationship with your customers and show off your expertise on your key topics. In turn, this builds you up as a trusted source of knowledge and shows you understand your audience’s interests and concerns.

What are some of the risks of social media for businesses?

That said, there are a number of risks involved with social media marketing. For starters, there are ethical considerations to think about. It’s tempting for brands to jump into whatever’s trending to try and get involved, but this can quickly backfire if companies are seen to be doing it in an insincere or insensitive way.

Direct interactions with customers can also result in negative comments or feedback that appear publicly. However, by being proactive and showing that you are listening to customers – whether they are happy or not – the impact of this can be minimised.

How to use social media for business

Simply posting haphazardly on your preferred platform isn’t likely to see results. You need a carefully planned and curated campaign that is tailored specifically to your target audience and plays to the strengths of each site. But what does social media optimisation mean in practice?

If you’re wondering how to create a social media strategy, here are a few key pointers you’ll need to think about before you start in order to stand the best chance of success.

Which social media platform is best for business?

The first step in any social media campaign will be identifying the best place to publish your content. To do this, you’ll need a clear idea of exactly what your goals are and what audiences on different sites will be receptive to.

There are various types of social media content, from the short messages of X to in-depth thought leadership content posted on LinkedIn. They all have different purposes and unique audiences.  Therefore, social listening activities to build a deeper understanding of what people are talking about on the various options is highly useful, especially if you’re planning a paid campaign. 

Should you opt for an organic or paid social media strategy?

The next big decision will involve whether to go for an organic strategy or a paid advertising campaign, or a mix of both. 

The benefits of organic posting are that it’s low-cost, easy to implement and offers proven results over a long period. Organic posting is ideal for generating brand awareness, building direct relationships with customers and sharing engaging, authentic content. In fact, according to Sprout Social, this is the most valuable tactic for social media engagement, ahead of social media ads or partnerships with content creators, so it should definitely be a part of any strategy.

That’s not to say paid campaigns are less useful. In fact, there are occasions where Twitter ads, LinkedIn advertising or promoted Facebook posts can prove very cost-effective. For instance, a paid campaign is ideal if you’re looking to launch a new product, promote an event or drive conversions. If you need a short-term boost to your visibility and want to get results fast, an ad campaign is often the way to go.

What are the best strategies for building a social media presence?

Understanding how to increase social media engagement will be essential if you want to enjoy a positive return on investment. This means tailoring your content to each platform while maintaining a coherent brand identity and tone of voice.

For example, short-form video is one of the best ways to get noticed on social platforms. But you could also repurpose this content for use in Instagram advertising as a great way to get your brand noticed with bright, colourful visuals. 

What are the best practices for social media etiquette?

Striking the right tone is the key to success when it comes to social media engagement, and this can be a hard line to walk. You want to show off your brand or highlight your latest product or service, but posts that come across as overly-promotional or inauthentic won’t get shared or responded to.

It’s also important to always be respectful, no matter which platform you’re using, and make sure you’re engaging directly with the audience. If a follower reaches out to you with a query or complaint,  79 per cent of people expect a response within a day. However, only 63 per cent of messages are actually answered in this timeframe, indicating many firms could be doing better at meeting their customers’ expectations. 

Which social media metrics should you be tracking?

There are a wide range of social media statistics and analytics you can use to evaluate the performance of a campaign and headline figures such as the numbers of views, likes or retweets may not always tell the whole story.

Among the key metrics that will be of use are:

  • Clickthrough rate
  • Engagement rate
  • Amplification rate
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Brand mentions
  • Video completion rate
  • Qualified leads generated
  • Conversions
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per thousand impressions

A B2B lead generation campaign will have very different goals to a B2C awareness effort, and this should be reflected in which metrics you choose to focus on as your key performance indicators.

What help can a social media management agency offer?

You could go through all the above steps alone, but in many cases, it pays to enlist the services of an expert social media marketing agency. This can help with every aspect of a social media content strategy, from planning and content creation to managing an ad campaign.

Some of the areas you can get help with include:

  • Strategy ideation
  • Content creation (including copy, imagery and video content)
  • Social listening
  • Social media advertising campaign management
  • Paid search services
  • Pay per click (PPC) management services
  • Data analytics

There are many specialist social media management options out there, from Facebook marketing experts to YouTube marketing agency services. However, a full-service partner like Axonn can help manage your organic and paid social media campaigns from start to finish, and then apply learnings for the next one. Or, we can help manage ongoing brand awareness content that keeps you in your customers’ minds and engages with them on a regular basis. We’re much more than just a digital advertising agency, so get in touch to learn more.

8 Minute Read

By Emma Dodd | Updated

Emma is a senior member of Axonn’s editorial team, with more than 12 years’ experience in writing engaging content for a wide range of audiences.

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