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3D model of multiple social media logos.

It is nearly impossible to have a small business or organization without engaging on social media. Ever since the explosion of MySpace back in 2003, the flood gates of social media have disintegrated, leaving a torrent of information and social interactivity online.

Fast forward to 2024 and the landscape of social media has vastly changed. Technology has exponentially gotten better, social media companies have rolled out new feature after new feature, and attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter. We are going to get into the different tactics you can use for your business or organization, but we will highlight short-form vertical video quickly. Since the dawn of smartphones, it has been considered faux pas to take vertical videos, that is until the pandemic in 2020, since then vertical video has become the most common type of video on the internet today.

Social Media

The Landscape

The most popular social media sites today have almost always been behemoths. The older applications have been setting trends and directing fads for decades now., and it is important for you to familiarize yourself with the titans of Social Media:

The Facebook logo in white on a blue background.

The largest social media platform in existence. In 2024 Facebook revealed they have over 3 billion active users. For perspective, there are 8 billion people on planet Earth. This means Facebook has over 37% of humanity on their platform. Businesses can do anything a social media platform can offer from text, photo, and video posts to live-streaming, selling products on Facebook’s own marketplace, to creating fan pages for idols, mascots, or anything else. Truly, Facebook is the “all in one” social media site.

Instagram's logo in 3D with a pink background.

Owned by Facebook, it started off as a photo gallery site, but has evolved over the years. Today the most popular posts on it are vertical short-form videos called Reels. Facebook and Instagram both have Reels, and they are often interchangeable because your accounts are connected through the parent company, Meta. You can always check a box while posting to have Instagram and Facebook post the same thing in tandem.

3D X logo (formerly Twitter)

X (Formerly Twitter)

The king of short text posts has taken a hit lately with its acquisition and rebranding in the last couple of years. It still has many users, and it is one of the number one ways people get their news, because if you follow outlets one of the most immediate ways to disseminate information is on X. This can be especially useful for you while building your brand awareness or even advertising special deals or promotions.

3D LinkedIn logo with a blue and black background.

Owned by Microsoft, this is the premiere professional app for businesses and professionals. Think of it like Facebook, but everyone is wearing a suit and tie. This is a great place for businesses to interact with each other, and for potential relationships to be built catering towards business to business or business to consumer. This is a great way to find volunteers, employees, sponsors, and business partners.

The Reddit logo on a phone screen.

The front page of the internet. This site is a bit tricky as the culture inside of Reddit is unique. If you ever need the answer to a complex problem the fastest way is to post on Reddit about the problem and give the wrong answer. An army of dedicated super nerds will legitimately create a thesis explaining why exactly you are wrong with sources cited. Reddit is also a very good place to post and interact as a business, because these computer junkies love new technology, and love helping with business and non-profits doing well in the world. If you sell a product, oftentimes you will already have a subreddit made for your business by a fan who wanted to rave about your product. Hardly any business has their own forum started by their own actual employees, it’s an ocean of passionate people and can be used for your benefit.

3D version of Youtube's logo.

This should be an easy decision. This is where you upload showcase videos of your business, educational videos about your services, or mission statements about your goals. YouTube has always been the long-form video content king, and with their introduction of YouTube Shorts it seems like they want to compete in the newer short-form vertical video race. Google, the parent company, has integrated text/photo-based community posts, and even short-form vertical videos known as “Shorts”. YouTube is also the second largest live-streaming platform on the internet as of April 2024.

The newer platforms that have prominence are also shaping the internet in unique way, and some are following the status quo:

3D rendering of the TikTok logo.

The premiere short-form video platform. It has influenced other social media sites to integrate short-form video content into their sites. Facebook and Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and even Reddit and X have integrated short-for vertical content, even vertical live streams. TikTok is known for being a bastion of information and comedy. Short funny videos are consistently thrusted into virality, and recently TikTok has announced they are now letting creators make videos up to 10 minutes long.

3D representation of the Threads logo.

A clone of X (Twitter) in response to the wave of users who left X once Elon Musk purchased and rebranded it. It is owned by Meta, so Facebook, Instagram, and Threads all have an incredible level of inter-connectivity. As of April 2024, Threads has not started running ads on their platform, which could be huge for your business in two ways. First, interacting on a platform without advertisers allows users to focus on your content, since they are not inundated with ads. Second, when they do start advertisements, you can be first in line to utilize it. Threads has amassed 120 million active monthly users, and thirty-three million daily users. That is not a small amount of people, and if you plan correctly, you can be one of the premiere organizations on Threads.

The logo.

While it has been around for a while, it gained an extremely large viewer base during the lock-downs through the pandemic. Twitch is the largest live-streaming site in existence and has its niche on the internet. There are many people and businesses who have utilized it to increase their popularity, and to give educational lectures and informational announcements. Twitch allows a live streamer to read and interact with internet users in real time. It is great for people who want to ask you questions about your organization. It might not be right for your specific niche, but it can be powerful if you want to interact with people live.

Key Trends in Social Media Today

A person holding up a 3D like and comment button from Instagram.

We have already touched on the topic of short-form vertical video, but it cannot be understated exactly how large of a phenomenon it has become. Videos in general are now the norm across the internet. Business and organizations need videos to display their mission and their value, as videos are much more interactive than text posts or images. Video has taken over, because it requires much less thought and consumes much more of our attention, remember our attention spans have decreased significantly over the past ten years. This is why videos have gotten shorter and shorter and more intense and explosive with graphics and jumps in the footage. Streaming is also the newest trend. We touched on it under Twitch’s description, but most major social media sites have live-streaming available on them without any restrictions. Oddly enough, TikTok has the strictest live-streaming requirements.

Online shops are also popping up on every social media platform imaginable. Facebook Marketplace, the TikTok shop, FourthWall, and tons of other services are now integrated in social media sites. Say you are scrolling through photos, and you see a post showing off a person’s outfit. Wow, you really like that shirt, and wonder where you can get it from. Well, nowadays there will be a small button in the post that takes you to a store selling it, and the creator will make a small commission. Many small businesses have started selling their products this way, as it feels more natural for a consumer to like something, and they go out of their own way to find your product. This leads us to our next point.

Another facet of online commerce is something called “User Generated Content”. This is when a creator or influencer makes a review of a product or service, and they usually have a link for the product in their profile or description and they make a small commission off anyone using that link specifically to buy the product or service. Now, hiring an influencer to advertise to their audience can be pricier, but there is nothing stopping you from utilizing your own social media sites to sell your product. It’s as easy as taking photos of whatever you are selling, then making an Instagram post with a link right to your store. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier for you, or your agency, to cater to your audience.

A hand holding a smartphone showing off multiple social media applications.

Effective Social Media Marketing

The first step in any marketing campaign is to define a clear objective. Think forward five years and really imagine what goals you want accomplished and write them down. Sit down with your marketing agency and define your goals that you want to accomplish together by a certain date. A common acronym used all over is called the “SMART” method:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound

The SMART method will help you zero in and focus on where you want to be in a certain period. Taking your social media accounts and concentrating on an achievable result will move you forward, and even if the actual goal itself is not completed within the timeframe you have made progress towards the goal, and most companies avoid taking any action if it means falling behind or moving the deadline back for their videos, posts, or social media accounts.

Demographics are everything in the marketing world. It is a clever idea to sit down with your marketing firm and really define exactly who you are selling to, or who you are helping. Understanding who your target demographic really helps in paid advertisements as well. Meta and Google both have incredibly detailed indicators that you can give parameters to get your product or service out to them. These audience analytic tools are incredibly specific, and once you plan to run ads, you will need a lot of work done on defining their demographic.

A phone laying on a notebook with a pen laying next to them.

Content Calendars are extremely helpful with marketing to an audience. Anything you create should be planned out and curated. Working with your marketing firm can be busy if there are multiple projects on the books, and having a set schedule can get everyone on the same page. Just like you plan out your week for work and fun you should plan out your business’ plan to make videos, write blogs, or post pictures.

The absolute hardest part of social media is being social. Social Media platforms really want businesses to engage and be social with audiences on their platform. This means responding to comments and learning etiquette when dealing with criticism or saying thank you when being praised. These types of interactions will not only boost your prevalence on the platform, but it will build community among your audience for your services. You must be social on social media.

Lastly, and this is always the case, money talks. Work with your marketing agency to plan out a paid advertising campaign. Paying for a spot on the homepage of multiple users is a fantastic way to get in front of your potential clientele. Google is unprecedentedly good at putting ads in front of people who have recently searched for something similar. While we all hate ads in general, we really hate ads that have nothing to do with anything we want or need. In most paid campaigns you can set up specific demographics and check the return on your investment. Usually platforms will give you “Key Performance Indicators” or KPIs that can show you exactly where your ads are working well, and where they are not. Inquire about KPIs with your marketing agency and talk about adjusting strategies to hit a better KPI or increase the return on investment.

A c;loseup of social media applications on a smartphone.

And That’s a Wrap

There are many ways for small businesses and non-profits to utilize social media platforms, and we know, it can be overwhelming at first to get a handle on it all. That is why many companies pay a marketing firm like us to manage all the little things. Acclaim actually specializes in helping smaller non-profits around Cleveland, and there are multiple studies done on the success of social media campaigns for non-profits.

Take time to familiarize yourself with these platforms, even if it is just on your own personal account. This will help you when you seek the help of a marketing agency, or if you must dive in yourself to solve a problem or respond to comments. Most importantly, learn how to be sociable online. It really helps when it feels like a business care, at least enough to say, “Let’s connect and solve this” or “We’re so glad you liked the product”.

We hope this little introduction to social media marketing has helped you, and if you ever have any questions, you can always reach out to us here at Acclaim with any questions, or to just pick our brains.