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Logos of popular social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, Wikipedia, and Google plus.

Social media giants are imperative for companies to use in order to market and advertise to consumers. Source: Google Images.

The majority of consumers depend on their social networking accounts to not only send but also receive information. Facebook currently has around 1.3 billion monthly active users and Twitter boasts and impressive 288 million monthly active users. Marketers and advertisers realize that social media marketing is essential to gain competitive advantage. However, companies now face the difficulty in selecting which platform to choose from. Although most marketers recommend being involved in both Facebook and Twitter there are still a multitude of options.

Marketers, public relations companies, and advertising agencies use social media to place messages in front of consumers. Based on an article by Forbes, 92 percent of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for business. Furthermore, 97 percent of marketers currently participate in social media but 85 percent of the participants were not sure which social media tools were the best to use. Many ads, within social media, are targeted and personalized for the user. For example, Facebook allows marketers to place targeted ads to people who work for specific companies or job roles based on information placed within the users profile. This type of targeting allows marketers to personalize their message towards each individual consumer. See below a screen shot of how messages are displayed within Facebook’s news feed.

A screen shot of facebook’s news feed featuring advertisments.

Facebook features advertising in a multitude of ways on its desktop news feed. Source: Google Images.

Social media sites are increasingly adding and improving paid advertising platforms. These sites, although they are used to display messages for consumers, must convince advertisers to use them. For advertisers, determining which platform to choose can be difficult based on the advantages and disadvantages of some of the social media giants like Facebook or Twitter. Even though Facebook and Twitter ads work similarly, there are differences. Facebook uses a bidding system that is affected by the advertisers bidding strategy and targeting whereas Twitter, although it uses a similar bidding process, does not automatically target users like Facebook.

Social networks have evolved into more than just a place to post photos or daily updates. Social networks now have begun to offer users the ability to shop. According to a recent article found on NBC, social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, rather then just populating news feeds with ads, brands will guide consumers to make impulsive purchases. Because consumers spend so much time on social media it was only natural for these sites to become part of the buying process. Now, social media sites store user credit card information that enable one-step purchasing. Furthermore, these sites have partnered with platforms, such as Shopify, which provide software, security and data analytics.

Social media has developed a reputation and is a powerful tool that is here to stay. As social media spreads across not only large audiences but also quicker than any other medium, it is an important tool marketers must know how to utilize. The huge potential for how social media influences others is growing at a rapid pace and through better understanding the different social media platforms, marketers can better align their interests with those interests of consumers.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • Research which types of social media are best for businesses that are new to market.
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages that you think social media provides to brands?
  • Do you think social media is a fad or a big marketing tool? Why?