Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites. Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions. For instance, Twitter is a social site designed to let people share short messages or "updates" with others. Facebook, in contrast is a full-blown social networking site that allows for sharing updates, photos, joining events and a variety of other activities.

Social media marketing has been on the minds of marketers since the rise of Facebook and Twitter more than a decade ago. In 2018, it is very important for every brand to invest time and resources in social media marketing.

With 30% of millennials saying they engage with a brand on social at least once a month, your strategy cannot be only about existence. Brands must be fully invested in their social media marketing strategies and focus on engagement. Otherwise, you will lose out on real customers, which means serious effects on your bottom line.

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging. It is vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals.

The goals of social media marketing cannot be just to gain likes, fans, and retweets. These things are not ends, but means to an end. Social media marketing is far more than an online popularity contest, and the better business owners understand that, the better they can use it for their companies.

We asked social media expert Kyle Golding at The Golding Group to share a few social media marketing tips.

How and why did you get started in social media?

Like most people, I started social media out of curiosity. A lot of marketing professionals I knew were talking about Twitter and how “micro-blogging” would change communications. So I jumped on the platform to see what it was all about and what I needed to know for my job as a marketing professional. I’ve taken a similar approach, although more aggressive now that social media is mainstream, for every other platform to come along.

Which social platform do you think is the most under-rated and under-used by businesses?

LinkedIn is very under-rated in comparison to the other “big” platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…. This is partially their fault for having a slow start and not being very innovative early. But, the last 18-24 months have been much more constructive for the platform. New options, features and focus on connectivity has really made LinkedIn stronger. New partners and a focus on providing tools while staying business focused has payed off. LinkedIn is right staying focused on business relationships and not trying to be the next facebook. Being able to start a targeted ad campaign by job title or industry is very important, but also the options to add more factors to make my ads even more targeted has huge payoffs. The cost of ads on the platform are still very low comparatively.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make in social media?

Not speaking in a brand voice when using a brand account. Too many small businesses use social media as an extension of them, their personality and their attitudes. It’s confusing and waters down the brand message. This is partially due to not having a well developed strategic plan for their social media and simply making it up as they go. Since post are “free” too many business owners think they have nothing to lose. In reality, this discombobulated messaging is at best a wasted opportunity to build real relationships with loyal customers and brand ambassadors or at worst a complete watering down of their paid marketing. Put your brand needs before you personal wants.

What are some ways that a brand can connect and interact with social media influencers?

Go where they are. Think and act like your target market and the influencers will become obvious. Who are the people, groups, etc. that your audience are engaging with in-person, online and via social media? The market will always give you the answers. Being first to a “diamond in the rough” influencer can bring you great value by costing less and appealing to your target audience as more authentic, not just a paid spokesperson. Hashtags on social media platforms is a great place to start looking.