Throughout this course, we've stressed how important it is to find and connect with target audiences where they are online. One of the best places to do that is on social media. Well over half the people in the entire world are on social media, and that number is only growing. Maybe one audience likes Twitter more than Tiktok or another prefers Facebook to Instagram. But no matter what a business sells, chances are good that social media is a key part of their marketing strategy. Social media marketing is the practice of creating and publishing content for social media platforms in order to drive engagement and promote a brand or product. Creating social media content might seem simple. After all, people post interesting, funny, or touching content to their personal accounts every day. But there's a lot more to social media marketing than writing clever or informative posts. Social media marketing involves a lot of the same concerns as a company's overall digital marketing strategy. Like increasing engagement, expanding their reach, and building their brand. It just that all of those activities happen on social media platforms. Now, let's explore some of the ways businesses use social media to amplify their efforts and reach their digital marketing goals. We can break down these activities into five categories, known as the five pillars of social media marketing. These pillars include: strategy, planning and publishing, listening and engagement, analytics and reporting, and paid social media. Let's start with strategy. Before planning your content or campaign, you need to know who your audience is, and which social platforms they use. If your audience is mostly interested in content about home decorating, you might not post on a platform that caters to business and networking. Posting the right content in the right places can save both time and money. To know what types of content to create, you'll also need to understand your goals. For example, if you want to build community around your brand, you might focus on interactive content like polls or questions and answer sessions. But if your goal is to promote a new product, running a contest or giveaway might get better results. Understanding your audience and having clear goals will help you create effective, relevant content. Once you've set your strategy and content, you'll need to consider planning and publishing. That means deciding when to post content and how often to post content. The goal is to engage followers enough so that they remember you, but not so often that you overwhelm them. Next up is social listening and engagement. Once your content is out in the world, you can track and analyze social conversations and mentions related to your brand. This could mean monitoring direct responses to a brand's social content or earned media, like posts about its products, which are great ways to find out how customers feel about your business. The insights you gain can help you decide how to respond to and engage with customers on social platforms. Those responses are important because they can affect your brand image and customer relationships. Think of social listening and engagement like a conversation. First, a business publishes content. Then they listen to how their audience responds. By paying attention to what their audience says, they can determine the best way to reply. For example, if someone posts about how helpful they find a particular tool, like a habit tracking app, the brand could respond with thanks and encouragement. But if they post that the app isn't working correctly, they could share troubleshooting tips instead. Next, you'll use analytics and reporting to find out how your content or campaigns are performing and communicate results to others. Social media analytics tools can track and measure things like comments, shares, follows, or clicks. They can tell you how many people are using a hashtag or the number of positive mentions over time. Businesses can use these insights to respond to trends, or guide future strategies. Finally, there's paid social media. Paid social media ads have a lot of the same benefits as paid ads for other channels. It can expand a brand's reach beyond its existing customer base and allow them to remarket products. But advertising on social media has some other advantages, too. For one thing, social platforms provide more detailed user information than search engines. That means brands serve ads to highly specific customer groups. Finally, paid social media is a good way for brands to grow their email lists. By linking ads to email sign-up forms, businesses can contact their followers directly and send them special offers. Like any digital marketing strategy, social media marketing involves getting to know your audience, finding them online, and setting meaningful goals. Only then can you plan, create, and publish content. Next, social listening and measurement can tell you how to engage with your audience effectively and refine your strategy. Lastly, with paid social ads, you can expand your reach, address specific customers, and grow your email lists. Coming up, you'll learn more about social media marketing and how to use email to maintain customer relationships.