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The Digital Student: Social Media Marketing

In the past two decades social media has emerged and grown at an astonishing rate. Facebook now has over two billion active monthly users and Instagram over a billion. Unsurprisingly, the advertising potential of these platforms is now becoming understood and organisations are increasingly using social networks to interact with audiences. Many employers favour graduates who have knowledge of social media marketing.

Targeting demographics

One of the most important aspects of using social media for marketing is how specific audiences can be reached. Factors like age, gender, location, interests, and workplace can help an organisation decide who to focus their marketing on. For example, a vintage camera lens shop based in Manchester might look to advertise to people under 30 interested in photography living in Greater Manchester. If this shop decided to start shipping nationwide it could broaden the marketing to people under 30 interested in photography living throughout the UK. The images below are an example of which attributes of social media profiles would make these individuals a suitable audience for the shop's marketing efforts.

Table showing attributes of social media users
Pooja Cristina Chris
Female Female Male
23 19 20
London Warsaw Manchester
Paralegal Bartender Student
Photography Photography Photography
Action films Travelling Hiking
Influencer Blogger Jazz musician
Table showing attributes relevant to the shop
Pooja Cristina Chris
23 19 20
Photography Photography Photography
Influencer Blogger  

Targeting specific platforms

In addition to knowing which people to advertise to it is also important to know which networks to advertise on, and what content to post on which networks. The shop mentioned above would post different content to social media than a law firm and would use different social networks (although there may be networks both post to) to suit the target audience. Snapchat's largest base is aged 18-29, whereas LinkedIn's largest user base is aged 30-49 (PewInternet). The shop would likely produce high-quality pictures of products or how-to videos, whereas the law firm would more likely post articles, awards, or commendations.

Chart showing different social networks and which are appropriate for a lens shop and a law firm

Different types of marketing

Although it is important to cover your primary customer base, it is unwise to try and use every social network. Few organisations will have a customer base so broad (or enough resources) that it would be appropriate to use every social network available. Instead, it is more efficient to focus on producing effective content on a smaller, specific, selection of networks. Different organisations have different resources and so opt for strategies appropriate to them. Some social networking sites also have 'chatbot' features, which are automated services which can respond to messages or automatically send messages to subscribers. Below are examples of chatbots from the World Economic Forum on WhatsApp and RAM Records on Facebook Messenger. Chatbots are generally used by larger organisations that have the funds available to hire specialists to create and maintain them. Smaller organisations can use more creative (and cheaper) content to appeal to customers, below is the Welly nightclub Spotify playlist.

Screenshot of World Economic Forum chatbot on WhatsApp
Screenshot of RAM Records chatbot on Facebook Messenger
Screenshot of Welly playlist on Spotify