Take a moment to consider how much you’ve been on Facebook lately. All those beach holiday photos by all of your friends while they were frolicking and getting sunburnt while people ask you what you got for Christmas and the answer is “fat”. And then you got back to work a week into 2017 and you started it off in spectacular fashion with strained shirt buttons and by doing a whole lot of nothing in particular, because you sat in your office chair that’s creaking more than usual under your engorged weight while you were scrolling through Instagram.

All the while, you came across several Facebook ads for January flight sales that you would genuinely love to take advantage of, but your personal banker would go beyond giving you the usual side-eye over your spending.

Why, then, do these ads seem to be exactly the things we’re thinking about at exactly the right time? It’s a combination of clever marketers and your own traipsing all over the internet leaving clues about your behaviour.

Social media marketing is a way of using data about your clientele’s behaviour to make sure that they’re most likely to see your content purely because it’s most relevant to them. There’s a lot of data out there, and social networks will never allow you to access it, but rather use it as a path to deliver your message. You’ll never know exactly who gets your content, but you will know what kind of people do. Clever, eh?

Here are a few things to remember about social media marketing:

  1. Personal information is never compromised. There are a lot of myths about how social networks sell personal data to marketers – it’s not true. Your information is secure and never accessible to outside parties. Marketers only use their own information about their clientele demographics to choose who sees the ads, and if you fall into that demographic, you’ll likely see their content, but your information will never be seen by some evil overlord sitting in a dark room somewhere.


  1. Social media is massive. Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, is closing in on having 2 billion active users, out of a total global population of 7 billion. Instagram has more than half a billion, Facebook Messenger (as a standalone app with built-in business functionality) has another billion, and Whatsapp (not strictly a social network) has a billion users. Those are massive numbers of people. Twitter, not so much though – they only have 350 million (and falling).


  1. Social media marketing is very refined. The algorithms and tools used to deliver advertising to users is extremely fine-tuned – you can choose demographics like age, location, education level, income bracket, gender, interests, preferences, even what car they likely drive – and yes, all of this information is on the internet. Marketing on social networks means delivering tailored content to an extraordinarily specific sector of society.


  1. It’s cheap. It really, really is. Social media advertising costs a fraction of what traditional forms of marketing does. As an example, a Facebook advert can reach up to 5,000 unique individuals for R150. This budget is paid directly to Facebook by an agency account and the network’s clever algorithms handle the distribution. It’s how the networks make their vast amounts of money.


  1. It’s dynamic. The real power of social media marketing is that it’s not static like a billboard – you can interact with those who interact with you, respond to comments, exchange messages, share details and promote sales. It’s active, it’s personal and it’s very effective. It’s also great for reputation management, making your audience see you as more trustworthy and willing to respond to their queries than your competitors are.


These days, businesses that advertise on social media have the upper hand. Having an agency manage it for you means all of the design work, text writing, planning and campaign management is done for you – so you can get back to the important things, like losing those expanding love handles that all of that fruitcake gave you last month.


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