Mark Adair

The shifting sands of social media marketing

As part of Bdaily’s latest feature week, the business of social media, we spoke to Andy Robson, director at the Newcastle based digital marketing agency Squidgy, to find out how social media is helping SMEs reach new audiences and the potential hurdles they might encounter as these platforms grow and change.

Social media has undoubtedly reshaped how companies market themselves. We asked Andy if this change has been a help or a hindrance to brands; “I certainly think it’s been a help… And I think without social media, some small businesses wouldn’t even have a fighting chance because it has allowed them to set very small budgets and target very, very specific people in very specific ways.

“We know that the small businesses in this country have grown exponentially and social media has really given them an opportunity to market themselves when they don’t have a £100k marketing budget, they might have £5k and they can actually do something with that.”

Andy told us that Social media marketing allows agencies to personalise advertising campaigns much more effectively based on social media users information.

“It means the messaging we put out there can target very specifically a type of person or somebody who might (for instance) be a man who’s married, aged between 25 and 30. If we wanted to reach that same person and we haven’t used social media advertising, that’s going to be very difficult for us to do.

“So it does allow us to be a lot cleverer with our spend and a lot smarter with our budgets as well, in terms of making sure that we’re getting the best bang for our buck.”

Prior to the emergence of social media marketing, Andy told us that the closest comparable tool was email based marketing. However this doesn’t allow as much scope for reaching new potential customers, rather, customers who have used the service or product previously.

This being said, as targeted social media marketing becomes a more widely used tool it has become harder for smaller businesses to compete for the same presence online that they might’ve had 10 years ago. When hundreds of companies are bidding to access certain target demographics, whoever’s willing to pay more will ultimately reap the rewards.

Andy added that one of the largest issues facing the marketing industry in regards to social media is the amount of training required to keep up with the ever evolving environment of online marketing.

He told us that they (Squidgy), “still deal with a lot of clients who’ve got a marketing department… but they still aren’t clued up on digital. It’s nice, because we are seeing an increase in marketing managers who specialise in digital. But you also speak to marketing managers who might be in their late 40s, or 50s. They’ve been around the block doing the traditional stuff, digital is definitely the second wave for them.

“It doesn’t help when you’ve got platforms like Facebook, which I would say, on average change a fairly major part of that user interface every 6 months. We used to have guides if we were needing clients to give us access to certain things, and then within six months, they wouldn’t be able to use them.

“And that doesn’t help, because from a confidence level, even if you’ve got clients who touch their social media platforms once every six months, that means every time they’re looking at it, it’s changing.”

It’s clear that social media is integrated into our everyday and working lives and inevitably it’ll become an even more valuable way for brands to market their goods and services. With this, marketing companies need to continue to adapt and grow to keep up with the ever shifting sands of this advertising frontier.

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