Social media and its effect on digital marketing?

The rise of social media is widespread, with 3.6 billion people worldwide and 70% of the UK using at least one social network. What is the social media effect on digital marketing? The effect is epic.


social media


To get an idea of how big 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide is, and how fast it’s growing, email in its current form was invented in 1972 and there are 3.9 billion people with an email address.   The first social network of its kind – with a profile and connections – was invented in 1997, 25 years later.  The number of email users and social media users are so incredibly close, despite that difference in their lifespan.

To not incorporate this huge captive market into your digital marketing is either brave or daft.  As a solidly climbing graph would show you, the social media effect on digital marketing is only set to get bigger.

So we need a Facebook page, yeah?

Well not necessarily.  Before you start signing up to every social network there is for your business, you need to do what you would for all other marketing activity.  Stop. Then think about your target market and then where you want to reach them.  These are not the same thing.

For example, if you were a maker of luxury, environmentally friendly children’s toys, your target market might well be educated professionals with kids and a higher disposable income.  You might hear ‘professional’ and knee jerk think of LinkedIn, but I’m not convinced the average highflyer would browse for designer wooden hula hoops in LinkedIn.

Yes, look at which networks your target market would use, but also look at when and how they would use them.

How does social media affect my digital marketing approach?

The size of your business frequently determines how social media integrates into your digital marketing.

  • Social media IS your digital marketing. 4,278,225 UK businesses have no employees and are run only by the owners.  Businesses such as these might not have the need or budget for a website and may rely on social media alone as their sole source of marketing or alongside more traditional forms such as print and/or events.
  • Social media is a free or cheap source of digital marketing for you alongside your website. As a SME you have a website as standard.  Other digital marketing forms might require some degree of specialist skill and your business isn’t big enough to have the budget for a marketing professional or agency on an ongoing basis.  However, you do have the skills to run a social media presence.  This could consist of regular organic posts or even negotiating the use of some small budget paid targeted campaigns.
  • Social media is part of a large, integrated and targeted digital marketing approach. You are of a size where you have the team, skills and the budget to run campaigns made up of multiple digital marketing tools working alongside each other, for example email marketing, paid search, SEO, etc.

So which network gives my business the best social media effect?

Here are just a few of the key social networks you might work with and their potential offerings.

  • Facebook – the most popularly used social network in the UK. It has an even spread of both male and female users and it’s used pretty solidly across all socioeconomic demographics.  It is used by all ages and is significantly the most popular social network for the over 65s.  This argues for Facebook as the ‘family friendly’ social network, bolstered by the groups and events style features.  The social media effect here is community build.
  • Instagram – for a long time known as the fastest growing social network (now overtaken by TikTok) It’s a purely visual social network with the largest age demographic being the 18-24 year olds and very few over 50s   Owned by Facebook, linking your Instagram with Facebook means you can advertise on both at the same time as well as minimising work.  The social media effect here is aesthetic.
  • Twitter – the third most popular and with a steady audience. It has a stronger male presence with 60% of users being men.  It’s strongly based on breaking news with nearly three quarters of users saying they use it to get information on current affairs and media stories.  The social media effect here is information sharing.
  • Whatsapp – this is currently mainly used as a messaging tool and is owned, again, by Facebook. Whilst it is technically a social network, very few people use it for marketing in the same way. However, if you’re a smaller business and looking to offer customer service, giving out a number to use on Whatsapp is a plausible option.  The social media effect here is communication.
  • LinkedIn – ‘the professional version of Facebook,’ this is used for people to show their work history, projects they have ongoing, make business-based announcements and project their brand to a B2B and/or colleague based audience. The social media effect here is personalised corporate.

The social media effect on digital marketing overall

The social media effect on digital marketing is that it’s something of an equaliser.  A majority of people can use, or learn to use, social media.  It’s free to post, it’s user friendly and requires very little technical skill.  You can develop your graphic and photography skills, you can access it from your phone and there are free tools to use alongside it such as social scheduling sites and basic graphics packages.

Having said that, those with budget on their hands will always excel by using social media professionals, superior graphics packages, photo/video editing, and paid social on a larger and more experimental scale.

Talk to us about your digital marketing requirements