What You Don’t Know About Social Media Marketing and the 5 Design Elements Essential for Social Media Marketing Success

By Gizela Snyman

“If it’s not online, it doesn’t exist” is a modern-day phenomenon. But it extends much further than looking at businesses without websites with distrust. Social media has also become some sort of validator with employers looking up potential employees and those on dating apps researching a right swipe’s likes and dislikes.

And as with anything that shows exceptional growth, businesses and advertisers are quick to jump on board. That’s why you’ll be able to find most brands on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even TikTok.

But while recent studies have shown that 71% of all SMMEs have a social media presence, the sad news is that less than half of them know how to use the platforms effectively.

The reality of social media marketing

The biggest problem these businesses are faced with is the fact that they don’t understand what social media marketing actually entails. Just because you know how to post a photo of your dog on social media doesn’t qualify you as a social media marketer. Social media marketing has a lot more technicalities and psychological aspects to it than most realize. And unfortunately, if you do not have the social media marketing know-how, your business will get lost in the social media crowd.

Things you might not be aware of

Based on our experience, there are usually a few things that get left by the wayside when you’re a newbie to social media marketing:

Copy is important

Not only are there certain character limits that apply to social media statuses and captions, but the style and psychological factors are what grows your following and increases conversions. Firstly, it’s social media, so be social. You need to communicate with your audience in a way that they will engage with. If you’re just rambling off the specs to your latest printer in stock, everybody is just going to scroll past. Furthermore, we all lead busy lives (or at least we’d like to think so), so we don’t have time to read the “novel” someone has posted about weed killers. As a general rule of thumb, posts with copy of 50 characters or less get more engagement.

There are different types of posts

We’re not even talking about the fundamental differences, such as carousels vs. single-image posts. We’re talking about the different marketing types to attract and retain followers with variety. For your social media marketing efforts to be successful, you’ll need brand awareness posts, engagement posts, lives, and much, much more.


You need to define your target audience

A famous sales quote states: “if you sell to everybody, you sell to nobody”. Yes, even if you sell toilet paper, your target audience won’t be everyone. And you need to tailor your social media marketing efforts around that specific target audience. If your target audience is pensioners and you keep flooding them with TGIF posts, they won’t be able to relate to your brand at all. So, to define your target audience, you need to dive into the details such as gender, age, what they like (interests), what they do (behaviors), where they are (location) etc.

You’ll need to run ads
The days of getting anywhere as a business on social simply by pushing out organic content are long gone. Social media ad spend is said to grow an average of 25% a year, so if your business is not even on that advertising train, you can be sure that you’ll get left behind. The various sponsored posts by brands in your industry will completely crush you as the competition. And running ads on social media is a specialized field with different options such as brand awareness, engagement, traffic, and conversions. If you don’t even know what those are or where to go to get them up and running, whatever you’re doing on social media is not social media marketing.

You need to analyse the metrics

Simply posting whatever, whenever on social media is just social media posting, not social media marketing. Marketing is when you have a well-thought-through and researched strategy in place, clearly outlining what you will be doing in terms of marketing efforts, where you’ll be doing it, and when and what the desired results are. To evaluate and amend your strategy and marketing efforts, you’ll need access to specific findings. If you do not track your marketing efforts, how will you ever get your hands on these necessary numbers and stats? For example, if my social media marketing strategy is to increase the traffic to my website, how on earth will I be able to tell how many of my social media followers have gone to my website because of a post if I don’t have a tracking mechanism? In terms of social media marketing, this tracking device comes in the form of a pixel that you can embed on your website and campaign landing pages.

You’ll have to stay on top of the ever-changing algorithms

If you don’t know, every social media platform is run by a specific algorithm, which decides who will see what in their newsfeeds and how many times. Unfortunately, due to ever-evolving technology and the speed at which digital user’s and consumer’s needs change, so do these algorithms. And, quite frankly, it can be hard to keep up if you’re not working within the digital space.

Design is crucial

If you’re still posting without any images, you might as well get off the social media marketing bus right now. Exceptional design is essential to your social media marketing. The reasons why can be seen from the five design elements that are crucial for social media marketing success:

1. Quality can attract or repulse

All your social media marketing images need to be high-resolution images. Have you ever seen a posted picture that is blurry or pixelated? It can completely put you off a brand because if that’s the quality of their marketing deliverables, what quality of service can you expect?

2. Size matters

Each social media platform has precise sizes they require for their images. The bad news? Some platforms still allow you to post your image even though it’s not the exact optimal size. Not only does this make you seem ignorant and lazy, but it leaves potential customers very uncertain about the attention to detail you give your product or service offerings.

3. It makes you recognizable
Have you ever watched a Coke ad, saw a Coke poster or drank from a Coke can wondering what brand it is? Well, that’s because Coke has a CI manual the size of a university textbook to ensure consistency and uniformity throughout their deliverables. Your CI (Corporate Identity) is your brand’s colors, fonts, styles, etc.

These should be so unique to you that everybody will recognize your brand without even having to mention the name of your business. We’re also no longer in the year 2000. Slapping your logo onto any and every picture or photo you can find before posting it to your social media platforms is an absolute no-go. Not only is that not a CI but it’s considered pretty tacky in the social media marketing world.

4. Your reach can increase dramatically

Have you ever shared a quote post on social media? So have we. Everyone has shared an image post from someone else at least once in their lives. So, what will happen if you share an image post to your business page with 500 followers? Then have 30 of those followers share it to their profiles of 400 friends? Then have 30 of those friends share it to their profiles of 400 friends and so forth? Exceptional design makes images shareable, and shareability leads to a dramatic increase in the number of people your brand reaches.

5. A picture speaks a thousand words

It turns out that it’s not just a catchy saying but a scientific fact. Our brains can interpret images much faster than copy. 60 000 times faster, to be exact. This essentially means that while it will take time for us to read text, it will take even more time to truly understand the message and comprehend the assumption or conclusion the writer wants us to reach. But think about any newspaper cartoon that’s commenting on a recent event or political statement, and it will have you laughing in seconds.

Why are most people so terrible at social media marketing?

Sadly, most of these individuals don’t even realize how terrible they are at social media marketing, and they’re not purposefully trying to fail at it. The reasons why people are so awful at social media marketing include:

  • Not having enough time. If you’re running a company, you don’t have the time required to do proper social media marketing yourself. Between the crisis with a supplier and creating a strategic editorial calendar, the supplier crisis will always win.
  • It’s too expensive. Many businesses feel too strapped for cash to pour money into social media marketing, and most social media marketing agencies charge a pretty penny for their services. As you can see from just this article alone, the specialized skill set and knowledge required to do proper social media marketing justify their prices, but that doesn’t make it more affordable for a startup or SMME. The biggest issue here is perception. Social media marketing shouldn’t be a business expense where you pay someone to post pretty pictures with cute captions on social media – it should yield results. If you are not getting ROI on your social media marketing, it’s being done wrong.
  • A lack of knowledge. They may not know how specific social media platforms work. Or they may not even know which ones to be on in the first place. That’s not to mention the actual marketing knowledge needed for effective social media marketing. This is where companies such as Digital Web Solutions become invaluable to your marketing efforts.
  • A lack of expertise. Not everyone can be Edgar Allan Poe, and most people’s design skills begin and end at taking the photo to share or picking a random image from Google, not even realizing how much legal trouble they can get. This is where companies such as ManyPixels can save the day in terms of your marketing deliverables.

The old adage says: “if you can’t do it right, it’s better not to do it at all.” In today’s competitive business market, business owners do not have the luxury of not doing it at all. Social media marketing is a vital part of any company’s marketing strategy. Whether you decide to get the training you need to do it yourself or get the pros to do it for you, you need to get your social media marketing up and running (effectively!) as soon as possible.