What Qualifies as Marketing on Social Media?

Marketing on Social Media

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When you hear the term “social media marketing” it conjures images of pay per click (PPC) ads being disruptively plunked down into the middle of consumers’ social media feeds. However, modern social media marketing is actually a bit of a complex, multi-faceted marketing channel that has grown to represent much more than just PPC ads.

From personal conversations to sales promotions, giveaways, and more, here are some of the many activities and strategies that qualify as marketing on social media.


Let’s start with the obvious one. Utilizing pay per click ads is one of the most common ways that companies can promote themselves on social media. If an ad pops up in an Instagram or Facebook feed, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that someone paid for that ad to be there — and they likely want you to take action.

While PPC ads can get expensive depending on the industry and the social platform, they have remained an effective social media marketing tool for years now, at least for companies with significant marketing budgets.


Another popular marketing option on social media is the use of influencers. Influencer marketing takes place when a company pays a popular social media personality in order to team up with them and access their fan base. They can then use this affiliation to help promote brand awareness and increase sales. This can happen in a variety of different ways including:

  • Influencers directly promoting a company or its products.
  • Influencers using a company’s products in an organic setting.
  • Companies endorsing or sponsoring an influencer.

Whatever the method, influencer marketing is extremely popular and can scale to nearly any marketing budget. On the one hand, gigantic companies with massive budgets will often team up with celebrity influencers and the millions of fans who follow them. On the other, countless smaller operations will use their limited resources to recruit teams of micro-influencers with small yet fiercely loyal audiences in the thousands or tens of thousands.

Regardless of the particular manifestation, influencer marketing is effective and only set to rise in popularity in the future.

Customer Service

Many companies are using social media to bolster their customer experience strategy. This includes the essential activity of providing stellar customer service through social media channels.

Social media-based customer service involves directly providing answers to customers’ complaints and questions by engaging with them on social platforms. This also provides an opportunity to utilize active listening to gather customer feedback to help develop a company’s products and marketing strategy over time.

While all of this used to be separated from traditional marketing activities, in the modern, omnichannel-focused atmosphere, they have become integral parts of the marketing process. As customers engage with companies’ social profiles looking for answers to their questions, businesses are increasingly taking these opportunities to develop relationships in an attempt to retain each customer within their client base for the long term.

Promotions and Giveaways

When a company has a decent following on social media, they can begin to use their profiles for the direct marketing of promotions and sales. For instance, if Reebok has a Black Friday sale, they can post a discount code on their Facebook page in order to alert their followers to the potential savings — thus encouraging them to take action and make a purchase.

In addition, many companies will utilize giveaways on their social channels in order to promote products and services. This can be done by creating a raffle using a variety of apps or even simply asking their followers to like or comment on a post. When the giveaway ends, they’ll select one person who engaged with the promotional post to be the winner — even though the real winner is the company that received so much online attention and engagement.

Brand Awareness

Another social media marketing opportunity that many businesses take into consideration is the ability to create brand awareness. Branding yourself on social media is an effective option for small, medium, and large companies alike.

Many companies take the opportunity of a free social media channel to enhance their recruiting efforts and promote their brand along with the vision and values that it stands for. While these are less focused on conversions and more focused on building internally and maintaining awareness and keeping a company in the mind of the consumer, they still remain powerful tools for social media marketers.


Along with spreading brand awareness, many savvy companies are using their social media channels to quietly build communities online. In other words, while brand awareness strives to keep a company at the forefront of a potential customer’s mind, many companies are also focused on steadily cultivating loyalty from already existing customers and fans.

This is often done through producing meaningful, valuable content for their audience as well as engaging in conversations with followers on their social profiles. This provides a sense of relatability that customers are often attracted to, especially in a world full of faceless, cold, corporate entities.


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While Google clearly disassociated social media from search engine ranking back in 2014, that stance has slowly shifted over the years. Hootsuite ran an experiment in 2018 that demonstrated “a strong correlation between social activity and rankings”.

However, they went on to clarify that this doesn’t mean you should spam your social accounts with SEO-focused content. Quality is still more important than quality. Interestingly, an additional note pointed out that paid promotions on social media nearly doubled a piece of content’s effects on SEO.

While the specifics are still quite hazy, there’s little doubt at this point that up-front, quality-focused activity on social media will, indeed have a positive impact on how your site ranks in the search engine results pages.

Using Social Media to Market Your Business

As can clearly be seen, there are many, many different ways to utilize social media in a company’s marketing strategy. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s simple or easy. Many of the options listed above are creatively focused and require quite a bit of effort to bring to fruition.

For instance, running a company’s customer service department through their Facebook profile or working with influencers on Instagram requires a great deal of sweat equity, time, and content creation. However, the rewards often far outweigh the costs, which is precisely why nine out of ten U.S. companies are busily churning out content on their social channels on a regular basis as part of their marketing strategies.

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