Long gone are the days of advertising and marketing being limited to outdoor billboards, radio advertisements, or glossy magazine pages. While all of those types of media still hold value they fall far behind one media in particular- the internet. Marketing via the web can also take many forms but the utilization of mediums such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media platforms consistently turn out unique results. These outcomes should be incentive enough for business owners to hop on the bandwagon. And you are probably already waiting to simply be told what those benefits are but in order to properly understand and discuss them, you must also understand why they produce the results that they do. And this is directly correlated to the type of media they are categorized as.
Social media falls under two categories of the diverged marketing mix: owned and shared media.
Similarly, to anything that is considered someone’s property, owned media allows for extensive control. Businesses have the ability to brand their content and to create versatile tailored channels between themselves and their consumers. This is advantageous to those who wish to target specific niche audiences. Especially smaller niches. Let’s say for example, you own an athletic gear line that only produces garments in the darkest of colors and always features prints with plenty of skulls, dead roses and anything else that is reminiscent of a dystopia. Naturally you might have a difficult time marketing your line through main stream media but with the help of social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, you are much more likely to find and connect with potential customers that are into the underground health goth aesthetic. (And yes, it is a real thing. Look it up.)
Now, shared media is largely self-explanatory and simply means that the content can be shared across various interconnected platforms. This has its own special advantage because not only can businesses actively share their own content but it allows others to share it on their own platforms as well, essentially doing the work for them. The linkage of web pages aid in an increase in traffic to the source of the original post or a company’s main website. Because of this, you could sell even more of those $50 breathable moisture-wicking vampire shirts.
But what if you have a larger non-niche target market that you need to reach? Well that is covered too! With 78 percent of the U.S. population having at least one social media profile there is a lot of room for impressions, which brings us to the next advantage-demographics.  Once you have determined the target market for your business you can find a site (or sites) that will connect you to millions of those in your target. For example, 90 percent of Instagram’s 77 million active users are under the age of 35.  Other sites like Twitter skew a bit older, being most commonly used by those between the ages of 35 to 44. Once a business has connected with its target it can increase interaction with consumers which then leads to an increase in positive perceptions and the overall reputation. 77 percent of Twitter’s 1.3 billion users reported that they view a business more favorably when they reply to individual’s tweets and post their own content.  And as we all know, in the business world reputation is everything. (Plus no one wants their company to seem old and outdated. Get with the times!) Whomever your target market is, social media provides one of the quickest and cheapest ways to reach them. And of course by cheap, I mean free.
Well maybe not completely free but this is the one everyone wants to hear. Remember when I said that social media counts as owned media? Well that ownership and control ensures that any marketing done via social platforms is free or at the most pretty inexpensive. Yes, a company may have to pay someone to come up with and implement a campaign but the actual use of the mediums are free. If a social media marketing campaign is planned and executed properly, the cost effectiveness combined with the high rate of impressions can quickly result in a high ROI.
In the end the bottom line of any marketing plan is to build and maintain relationships with a customer base and to boost the level of communication between them and the brand or business. And frankly I can’t think of another way for a company to be more connected than directly interacting with others via their personal pages. Business startup writer Ryan Lilly said it best, “Social media is not just the spoke on the wheel of marketing. It is becoming the way entire bicycles are built.”