As more people use their mobile devices to interact with others and conduct their daily activities, businesses are increasingly using social media for marketing as part of their overall strategic mix.
This is because social media offers huge market opportunities to reach global audiences — 3.48 billion people throughout the world use social media (9% more than last year), according to a report from We Are Social and Hootsuite. A Pew Research Center study reports that social media adoption in the U.S. has grown from 5% in 2005 to 69% in 2018.
The integration of social media in marketing strategy makes expertise in social media skills a valuable commodity for business professionals, entrepreneurs, social influencers and even authors. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, like the one offered online from Rider University, can provide social media- and digital media-savvy professionals with key knowledge of business communication and strategy to help them gain a competitive edge.
A Primer on the History of Social Media in Business
It all began with a banner ad in 1994; AT&T purchased a small piece of online real estate on Hotwired.com and the marketing world changed. Soon thereafter, online advertising would become a line item in corporate marketing budgets. About a decade later, social media would transform digital advertising, and the marketing world changed again. Today, social media ad revenues are estimated at $98.247 billion, according to Statista.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the likes of Bulletin Board System (BBS) and CompuServe’s online chat system, we were introduced to the concept of interacting with people via the internet. When the early internet service provider America Online (AOL) came along, online communities were formed, setting the stage for today’s social media boom. In the early 2000s, Friendster was launched, and soon thereafter, Myspace became the giant of the fledgling social media industry. That is, until the rise of Facebook, which was first available to the public in 2006. In that same year, Facebook landed its first advertising deal to promote Chase credit cards. In the following years, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram launched their own advertising platforms.
Social Media Market Trends
Using social media for marketing has become commonplace in business. Among the most noteworthy of the social media giants is Facebook. With over 6 million active advertisers and 90 million business pages on Facebook, it is clear that it is a go-to platform for organizations using social media for marketing to reach consumers. Today, there are plenty of other social media platforms to choose from: some of the biggest include YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
How fast is social media adoption in marketing? According to Merkle, year-over-year spending on social advertising continues to flourish, outpacing other forms of digital advertising: 24% to 12%, respectively.
As new apps continue to emerge, businesses are using social media for marketing to reach different targets. For example, Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook in 2012, has over 1 billion users today, and according to Bloomberg, headed for 2 billion users over the next five years. Instagram’s success as a marketing platform has attracted notice: It was named the most innovative social media company by Fast Company “for becoming an essential tool for business.”
Another form of social media marketing is influencer marketing. It showcases individuals — often celebrities in their own right — who can influence followers on social media platforms. Using influencers to target consumers has been a significant moneymaker for Instagram: Its influencer marketing business shot up more than 39% in 2018.
Consumers tend to see influencer marketing as authentic, which is why many organizations are attracted to it as a social media strategy. But the potential danger of influencer marketing is the relative ease with which it can be misused. The failure of the Fyre Festival, touted as a glamorous party on an island in the Caribbean, provides an example. Well-known influencers were paid to promote the event but were unaware of the facts on the ground — that the site of the festival was not ready for the thousands who had planned on attending. It proved disastrous for everyone involved, and the organizer who perpetuated the lies is serving a six-year jail sentence.
However, most companies continue to believe the benefits of social media outweigh its disadvantages. For example, using social media for marketing gives companies better precision when targeting specific audiences, even at the local level. Businesses in the U.S. spent an estimated $151.2 billion in local social media advertising, just behind direct mail and local television, according to a report from BIA/Kelsey. The report estimates that social media advertising spending will take the number two spot by 2022.
Social media is often thought of as a marketing tool to target individual consumers. But it has shown in recent years to be an effective marketing platform on the business-to-business (B2B) side, too. In its 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook, Chief Marketer reports 22% of survey respondents found social media to be one of “the most effective ways for moving prospects through the purchase funnel.”
Social Media Specialist: An Essential Role for Marketing
In the 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook survey, 37% of respondents indicated they had plans to invest in social media management. As for who runs social media at their companies, 23% said they had an in-house social media team, but most of the others noted their social media efforts are run by their marketing organizations (75%). As the value of social media continues to grow, more companies will likely choose to outsource their social to outside agencies. What this means for people seeking a career as a social media specialist is that several skills are needed to stand out from the competition — no matter what field.
Social media specialists can help companies in their efforts to use social media as part of their overall marketing mix. Social media specialists interact with the public in various ways, from fielding criticisms from users to reinforcing relationships by responding to positive feedback. They leverage different social media platforms to share marketing content in the form of texts, images, links and videos to build the awareness and reputation of the brands they represent.
Social media specialist roles can have varying job titles, such as digital engagement specialist, social media strategist and online community manager, to name a few. The median annual wage for social media specialists according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which groups them under the public relations specialist category, is $60,000 as of May 2018. Projected job growth is 9% from 2016 to 2026.
MBAs with Social Media Skills Will Have a Competitive Edge
Candidates who have earned an MBA with social media (or digital media) know-how will have an edge in a marketplace where social media has become an essential component of the marketer’s toolkit. The Rider University online MBA program prepares graduates with the analytical, communications and technology skills to succeed in a world where social media has become a core strategic marketing tool for businesses.
In determining the success of their business and marketing strategies, MBAs draw upon their analytical skills to measure performance. When using social media for marketing, data helps businesses improve the effectiveness of campaigns. To track the effectiveness of social media marketing campaigns, MBAs with social media savvy define goals (key performance indicators, or KPIs) and use various tools to measure the performance of their programs. In using social media for marketing, today’s popular social media platforms can provide information on user statistics, demographics and consumer behavior.
For example, analytics tools that are part of the advertising ecosystems of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn enable users to gain insights on key measures such as page views, engagement rates (number of people who clicked on links), followers and other metrics. Google Analytics is a tool that can provide data around conversions, which means it can show which links are generating product sales, lead submissions and/or email subscriptions.
Social media specialists also consider market trends in demographics. Pew Research Center reports that 69% of adults use Facebook, while platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are more popular among teens. This type of data can be useful in planning effective strategies for marketing campaigns.
Learn More about Rider’s Online MBA Program
As new social media apps hit the market and providers in this space jostle for the top position, it is important for MBAs to understand the emerging social media platforms, the evolution of social media and the role of social media in business marketing initiatives.
Explore how the online MBA program at Rider University can prepare you with the relevant business background to help companies using social media for marketing to succeed in their efforts.