What in the Heck is Social Media Marketing?

Are you investing money into advertising that just doesn't seem to be working?  Are you looking into this social media "thing" because everyone tells you that it's a free way to market your business and it's supposed to be awesome?

If that sounds like you - then this article will help you get started.  I'll show you what Social Media Marketing is and help you decide if you should use it to grow your business.

So let's get started!

If you want to grow your business, you have to invest time and/or dollars into some form of marketing.  Whether it's ads you pay for on radio or tv, or word-of-mouth marketing that you invest your time in, you have to do something!

But marketing can mean a lot of things...

  • Some say it's how you talk to your potential customers about your product or service.
  • Others say it's all in making you stand out from your competition.

Whichever side of the fence you're on, one thing is certain: Marketing today is all about combining offline and online tactics into a seamless experience.


Includes traditional methods that you're probably at least familiar with on some level.  This would be things like radio, tv, advertising in Mint Magazine, or any other publication.


Relies on the internet and technology to reach people with.  This includes things like websites, email marketing, Pay-Per-Click, and (you guessed it) Social Media.

Successful marketing combines them both!

Companies will use as many or as few of these as they need to accomplish their goals.  The part where they usually fall short though is in figuring out which of those channels is generating the biggest bang for their buck.  In the past, these decisions were easier because there weren't as many options for marketing to choose from and there was no way real, meaningful, way to measure ROI for those offline channels.

Now, businesses are seeing real ROI from online marketing, and many are shifting large portions of their budget specifically to Social Media because of the reach and interactions it allows you to accomplish.  In fact, according to the CMO Council"More than a third of CMOs say that digital marketing will account for 75% or more of their spending within the next five years. November 2015."

So what in the heck IS social media marketing???

Let's start off with a quick definition:  "Social Media - a website or application that allows you to create and share content while interacting with people through a private or public network. *Requires active participate to maximize effects."

Basically - social media channels are places online that people get together and talk.  There are literally hundreds of social channels, but the biggest players in the game that you will focus on will be Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

For a business, social media gives you the opportunity to let your brand, your company, interact with people in a human way.  This communication is two-way, unlike traditional methods.  Potential buyers and current customers can talk to you and you can talk back.It helps you build a trust relationship before you've ever even met the customer face-to-face.

Which social channel should I use???

This is a question that I get asked a LOT!  And with hundreds of options to choose from, it can be a hard one to answer.  So let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each network so you can decide which ones will help your business the most.



  • The list of messages you see is called your newsfeed.
  • Each message you write is called a post.
  • Business pages are different from personal pages.  Even though you log into your personal account to manage your page, they are not tied together to in any other way.  They have different capabilities and better access to analytics information about your audience.  You should always set up a business page instead of trying to use a personal page as a business.
  • There is also a separate "Pages Manager" app that you use on the phone to view and edit your business pages.

  • There are over 1 Billion users, so even if your business targets a niche of a niche, you can reach people that would make ideal customers for you.
  • You have access to insights for analytics data, so you can review tons of great information about your audience and really fine-tune your message to reach the people you want to reach.
  • The Facebook advertising platform is one of the easiest and most cost-effective of all the social channels.  You can literally boost a post to your target audience for as little as $1 per day and do it in a few minutes.
  • Cons:

  • You have to put in the time to make it work.  This is going to be true for all social media channels.  You don't just build it and have people come.  You have to spend time interacting with people, posting new and relevant content, and growing your following.
  • You do need to have an advertising budget of some kind.  The easiest way to grow your following and reach more people is with post boosts.  They are cheap - but not free.  So you need to plan to spend something, even if it's just $1 per post.
  • You need to take the time to establish your "voice."  You don't need to put an intern or your niece's daughter's cousin's friend in charge of posting for you.  You need to take the time to determine what impression people need to get from you - what your message and tone is going to be - and stick to it.


  • The list of messages you see is called your "updates."
  • Each message you write is called an update.
  • LinkedIn has a companion section called Pulse that lets you post out articles.  Those are called articles or posts.  There is a separate Pulse App for your phone that lets you access this on the go.
  • Pros:

  • This is a great place to reach professional contacts.  When people are on LinkedIn they are thinking about their business relationships.  So you can interact with them in a professional mindset.
  • It's a fantastic tool for recruiting new talent.  Tons of job-seekers are on LinkedIn and they use it to evaluate potential employment, so you can reach top talent.
  • It includes LinkedIn Pulse.  So if you don't have a blog, or want to test the blogging waters, you can get started here in minutes.
  • Cons:

  • You have more areas that you have to keep up with.  Pulse, the News Feed, and Groups.  Each section has it's own pluses and benefits, and you may need to do all three to keep up.
  • You almost have to have a LinkedIn company page.  There are a lot of people that won't treat you as a legitimate business if they can't find your company profile.
  • You have to invest time into keeping your personal and professional pages up-to-date.


  • The list of messages you see is called your feed.
  • Each message you write is called a Tweet.
  • A profile is someone's Twitter page.  It can be for a person or a company.  For example, here's mine: https://twitter.com/TJSparksFire and here's our company profile: https://twitter.com/Sparkitive
  • Hashtags look like this: #ThisIsAwesome and are used to group, or categorize, posts.  People search hashtags to find tweets from people that are all talking about the same thing.
  • @Mentions are a way to tag someone's profile.  They are used to get someone's attention, or to provide a link back to someone's profile.  For example, if you post a tweet and include @Sparkitive in the post, we'll be notified that you're talking about us and we can respond
  • Pros:

  • It's huge!  Even if you have a small business with a special niche of customer you want to find, it's big enough that you can find them.
  • Your posts aren't filtered.  Twitter shows every post you make to anyone that is following you.  It doesn't hide anything like Facebook does.
  • The character limit for each tweet forces you to stay on point and get attention quickly.
  • Cons:

  • It's incredibly busy!  There are over 340 million tweets each day, and people follow hundreds of profiles.  So you need to post frequently in order to have a shot to be seen.  For example, Guy Kawasaki (a world-renowned social guru) says that he posts every single tweet out 4 separate times in the first day.
  • You are limited to 140 characters.  So if being short and sweet is something that you truly suck at doing, then this could be a big challenge for you.

  • Why does Social Media Work???

    Now that you know more about what social media is and which channels you think will work for you, let's take a look at why it's so powerful of a tool.


  • It reaches a whopping 8 out of 10 internet users... which is a LOT of people!
  • People spend almost 1/4th of all the time they spend on the internet interacting on social media.
  • 87% of small businesses say that Social Media Marketing has helped their business
  • PROS & CONS:


  • It is very cost effective.  You can invest either your time in learning and posting or you can invest dollars and hire someone (like us 🙂 ) to do it for you.  The customer acquisition cost to acquire a lead using social media is less than almost every other type of marketing.
  • You can reach a lot of people.  There are millions of users on hundreds of social channels, so you can reach almost anyone from almost anywhere.
  • You can get information out to people quickly.  Since there are lots of updates happening all the time - and people spend a lot of time on it - then you can get in front of people quickly.
  • Most channels have a paid advertising option that lets you reach exactly the people you want by utilizing audience targeting.
  • CONS:

  • There are a LOT of messages all the time.  So it can be hard to get your message in front of people.  You have to post frequently and in some cases used the paid advertising options to get seen and heard.
  • There is a right and a wrong way to use social media to market your business.  Most businesses are doing it the wrong way, so they get frustrated easily when they don't see results.
  • There is a decent learning curve to getting starting on each channel.  They share some similarities, but in general, they are vastly different and have different audiences on each one.

  • Wrapping it up...

    Social media is not the magic elixir of marketing.  It has a lot of ups and down - and ultimately, you have to decide if you have the time and budget to do it and do it right.  If you are having trouble figuring it out, then I'm here to help!  Just leave me a comment below and I'm happy to answer your questions.

    Ashley Burnett

    Web Ninja

    One of my first jobs was running a cash register in my grandmothers diner. My job was to talk to customers and and to keep everything in my area neat and organized. Now years later those lessons I learned help me in managing client files and projects. Making sure our team is working to help our clients reach their business goals is what drives me everyday.

    I am a strong believer that to succeed in life you have to work hard and never let roadblocks stand in your way. You have to read and study but you also have to experience life and all that it can teach you.

    My mission is to help clients and our team have the materials and knowledge they need to make every project a success, while making sure to spread some of the information I learn around for others to enjoy.