What Should Every Marketer Know About Social Media Today? Here’s the Lowdown.

By the SMU Social Media Team

In today’s digital-saturated world, the power of social media should never be underestimated. With 3.2 billion daily active social media users around the world—a whopping 42 per cent of the entire global population, social media seems to be the best way of getting your brand and products out there.

Yet, while it is an essential tool for every marketer today, there are still some who have not quite mastered the art, science and tricks behind marketing well on social media. From tone-deaf campaigns that are culturally insensitive, to a failure to understand the latest trends and tools that will help maximise their initiatives, we’ve all seen some pretty big social media marketing fall flat over the recent years.

To find out more, we sat down with Astha Kalbag—Marketing Science Expert at Facebook, SMU Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) alumna, and founder and president of the SMU Marketing Alumni Association—to glean some deets on the latest insider social media marketing tricks, plus the most common social media boo-boos to avoid like the plague.


Astha at a speaking event


The evolution of social media

Social media has come leaps and bounds from the days of Friendster back in the early 2000s. Today, Facebook alone dominates with over 2.38 billion active users. With numbers increasing exponentially annually, there’s never a boring day in the current digital world we live in.

“It is always evolving with new ad products, capabilities and technologies. The industry started with being obsessed with clicks and click-through rates, but now I think the entire ecosystem is moving to a model where there is a lot more focus on understanding the value that is driven to the end goal—often sustained sales,” Astha says.

The number of tech-savvy consumers has also increased drastically over the years, with 54 per cent of social browsers using social media to research products.

“There is much higher credit card penetration and so much more focus on usability that makes the entire system seamless”.


Biggest hurdles

Working with social media isn’t as easy as most might think. It goes beyond boosting a post on Facebook and Instagram, or sponsoring a social media influencer. With the complicated algorithms that social media platforms now have, and the complexity of the landscape which businesses have to consider, one of the key challenges of social media marketing is aligning marketing objectives and metrics with business metrics.

“Given the complexity of the landscape with multi-channel touch-points, it has been a challenge to attribute the value with 100 per cent accuracy with sales metrics and other business outcomes,” explains Astha.

“Also with the fragmentation of the media landscape, it is fairly complex to map out a clean purchase cycle and ensure that the right treatments and media exposures are providing incremental return on marketing investment.”

Through these challenges, Astha has learnt that working with different stakeholders of varied backgrounds and experiences requires recognising and managing expectations for all the parties involved and avoid assuming that everyone knows why certain social media campaigns have to be run a certain way. Training to read the room, studying people’s backgrounds and contextualising things in a language that makes sense for everyone is just as important as the campaign itself.

“Most of the time, it’s not about how much you know, but how well you can simplify a fairly complex topic to bring everyone on the same page.”


Astha with Balloons

The future of social media 

Social media has added fuel to consumerism, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping or slowing down any time soon. So Astha has some advice for marketers who are new to the world of social media campaigns.

“I believe the most important thing to have is the right ‘testing and learning’ mindset. In this field, you need to consistently test different hypotheses, continuously iterate and unlock growth loops for the business. It is critical to be open to experimenting without the fear of failure.”

Astha emphasises that it’s all about keeping an open mind to experiment with creative solutions and pick up crucial tricks from case studies and past examples to succeed. Learning, focusing on the metrics that matter, and understanding how different channels interact with each other and the consumer journey will help marketers come up with better campaign strategies.

When asked what the next big thing in digital marketing will be, Astha surmised it to be the onset of digital core businesses, with organisations putting digital media at the core of their business models to accelerate growth and sales.

No longer will businesses just be “doing digital marketing”. Astha goes on to explain: “In my opinion, the future holds that every organisation will be a digital business or be driven digitally. We are currently in the stage where businesses are undergoing digital transformation. It will be incredible to see what the world looks like when this transformation is complete and every business is a digital first business.”