Foundations of Social Media Marketing

The average internet user has an account on eight different social media platforms and spends more than two hours a day on social media (Tuten, 2021, p. 5). While that number may seem shocking, social media are used for a wide variety of things, such as entertaining yourself and your friends, finding people you used to know and reconnecting with them, raising money for charity, writing a blog (for fun or for a class, like me), mobilizing a group of people to protest, and numerous others. The list could go on and on. The main message to take away is social media enable active participation in the form of communicating, creating, joining, collaborating, working, sharing, socializing, playing, buying and selling, and learning within interactive and independent networks (p. 7).

As social media users, we are empowered to participate in social media any way we’d like. Some of us use different platforms to silently watch, while others create their own posts and videos. This where the social media value chain comes in, which is basically where anyone that works in technology makes their income. The social media value chain consists of four main parts: the web as a platform, social channels, social software, and devices. All of these concepts are important, but for the purposes of this blog, I want to focus on the social channels.

Social channels are what Tuten defined as “the networks and platforms that support social media functionality and connections” (2021, p. 9). Think Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon, Candy Crush, and Pinterest. All social media are networked around relationships, technologically enabled, and based on the principles of shared participation. The media range from mass media (a means of communication that can reach a large number of individuals) like broadcast, print, and digital channels, to personal media (channels capable of two-way communication on a small scale) such as email, post mail, telephone, and face-to-face conversations. Facebook is a great example because you can use it as a mass media and share a post to all of your friends, but you can use its Messenger feature as personal media and text with one person.

Social channels are organized in what’s known as the zones of social media. Sharing, socializing, and conversing fall under Zone 1, the Social Community. Editorial, commercial, and user-generated fall under Zone 2, Social Publishing (this blog falls under Social Publishing). Zone 3, Social Entertainment, contains games, music, and art. The final zone is Zone 4, Social Commerce, containing CRMs, retailing/sales, and human resources. Some areas overlap two or more zones, but that’s just the fluid nature of social media.

Let’s talk about the main focus of my job as an entrepreneur: monetization and social media. At first glance, this topic doesn’t really make sense. It’s free to join a social media platform and it’s free to post, so how do people make money from social media? Just like other businesses, social media providers need a way to earn revenue. That’s just the way the world works. That’s why all successful companies need a business model, the strategy and format the business follows to earn money and provide value to its stakeholders (Tuten, 2021, p. 17).

For example, Google earns most of their revenue from its widely used search engine from the fees it charges advertisers to put their messages on the results pages. You know those first couple of entries on the first page of a Google search? Google charges companies to have their information be the first thing you see when you search something. Streaming services, such as Hulu and Spotify, have relied heavily on the interruption-disruption model. They create programming that grabs your attention, and right as you’re hooked, they interrupt the show or the song to bring you a commercial message. This makes them money in two ways: first, they sell that ad space to marketers who want to gain the attention of a targeted audience, or the audience buys an ad-free subscription.

However, not all perceived value on social media is expressed in a monetary form. Referred to as social currency, “people and brands need to earn a reputation for providing high value—whether that value comes from information, relevance, and/or entertainment” (Tuten, 2021, p. 18). Basically, it’s how popular an individual or company is on social media. For example, let’s focus on Apple. Despite their products having a similar functionality to other brands, such as Samsung, but Apple is able to charge extremely high prices for their products without worrying about a decrease in brand loyalty. Apple invested in its social currency, and now Apple products represent a certain status or premium.

Social media marketing is the utilization of social media technologies, channels, and software to create, communicate, deliver, and exchange offerings that have value for an organization’s stakeholders (Tuten, 2021, p. 19). Let me break it down for you: the job of a social media manager is to use strategies on social media platforms to promote a product/service of an organization. Marketers have many possible techniques to promote goods, services, ideas, places, or people. Tuten identifies two overarching objectives relevant to the use of social media marketing as part of a brand’s promotional mix: extend and leverage the brand’s media coverage and influence the consumer throughout the decision-making process (p. 22). Marketers have access to four core types of media: paid, owned, earned, and shared (PESO). Tuten shared a gorgeous figure summarizing the PESO model, seen below.

A major objective related to using social media marketing for promotional purposes is to assist in moving the consumer through the purchase process. Those working in social media target various stages of the purchasing process to increase brand awareness, enhance brand liking and image, build brand equity, incite desire, and move consumers to action.

While there are various careers in social media, I specialize in social media management. What does this mean? I develop and execute plans to engage and acquire superior recommendations/content for services. I execute a viral marketing plan, engage influences, and drive word-of-mouth programs. I create beautiful imagery and easy-to-understand written messages. I brainstorm with clients to develop the best strategy possible to promote their services. I also stay current with emerging digital marketing and social media trends and best practices.

All in all? Understanding the foundations of social media marketing is the best way to get the most bang out of your buck as an entrepreneur. Whether you’re just getting started as a small-business owner or you need help with a specific part of your branding, utilizing the above knowledge will give you a head start in driving traffic towards your business.

Jordan Price

Price Media


Tuten, T. L. (2021). Social Media Marketing (4th ed.). London, England: SAGE Publications Ltd.

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