Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service. Although the terms e-marketing and digital marketing are still dominant in academia, social media marketing is becoming more popular for both practitioners and researchers.
Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you’re not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you’re missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, creating devoted brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
How Social Media Marketing Can Help You
Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:
- Increasing website traffic
- Building conversions
- Raising brand awareness
- Creating a brand identity and positive brand association
- Improving communication and interaction with key audiences
The bigger and more engaged your audience is on social media networks, the easier it will be for you to achieve every other marketing goal on your list!
A Quick Overview of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing first started with publishing. Businesses were sharing their content on social media to generate traffic to their websites and, hopefully, sales. But social media has matured far beyond being just a place to broadcast content.
Nowadays, businesses use social media in different ways. For example, a business that is concerned about what people are saying about its brand would monitor social media conversations and response to relevant mentions (social media listening and engagement). A business that wants to understand how it’s performing on social media would analyze its reach, engagement, and sales on social media with an analytics tool (social media analytics). A business that wants to reach a specific set of audience at scale would run highly-targeted social media ads (social media advertising).
As a whole, these are often also known as social media management.
Facts You Won’t Hear People Say Regarding Social Media Marketing:
1. There are No Shortcuts: Enough said. The main thing you won’t see people tell you regarding social media is that there are truly no alternate routes (shortcuts) or “hacks”. For real, you should know that “social media is a long distance race, not a sprint”. Growing a genuine, engaged following depends on research and analysis. It lies in becoming more acquainted with your audience and testing. None of this occurs overnight. The best way to ensure success is through consistent application of a strong social media strategy.
2. It Can Sometimes Be a Very Tedious Work: To those of you who think social media marketing is just about posting an image with a charming caption online, you’re in for a reality check. A decent social media marketer is always examining, modifying, learning, re-designing and more. Then you go in to making content, working out when to post, what to post, if it bodes well and if it’s working. It’s truly a work with many facets – and it’s the furthest thing from essentially posting bright updates.
3. A Large or Fast Growing Following Isn’t Often a Measure Of Success: Here’s an inquiry I’ve gotten from a few clients, in different variations: “Our rivals just got an Instagram record and they have a bigger number of supporters than us as of now, why have we not grown that way?” The appropriate response for this, is that they’ve dumped a lot of cash into promotions, or a lot of cash into fake followers.
This is the reason you can’t compare your brand with others always – recall that, you’re just observing the outermost shell of what’s really occurring in the background. Success lies in a wide range of variables, and is characterized contrastingly for each brand. It’s critical to be sure about your short and long term goals, and remain concentrated on what you’re doing, and whether your efforts are conveying the outcomes you desire. What’s more profitable – 50,000 supporters or 5,000 who really connect with you, and will proceed to end up real, paying customers? The numbers don’t generally tell the story.
4. A Lot of Time Goes into Engagement: with every accounts out there, social media is much more just than pretty pictures. You have to really put time aside to engage your audience. Like photos, leave remarks, participate in the discussion. This all requires significant time and energy – however it’s the most ideal approach to work with the various algorithms (rather than losing out against them).
5. Not Everything can be Directly Tracked: I’d love to stay here and say that I can ensure your post will go viral if you incorporate ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ elements. Well, that is not the case. Sure there are the best practices, different techniques and strategies that will enable your account to perform as well as can be expected, however you need to recall that social media depends on individuals, and people change.
Individuals are unpredictable, and along these lines certain things can’t be boiled down to a prescriptive procedure. Everything is subject to a scope of factors, which are regularly totally not quite the same as brand to brand.
6. Your Social Media Promoter will Definitely Need Creative Help: Some social media campaigns needs more creative than your social media manager will have the expertise to create – and that is alright. Simply ensure you give them a budget that gives way for hiring the right creative to help accomplish the general vision – or understand the limitations they have on their capacity.
7. The Industry is Saturated: This one is generally for my fellow social media marketers, yet it additionally applies to entrepreneurs, CMO’s or anybody attempting to hire a social media role. You should know that this industry is over saturated. A few people or businesses will guarantee they can “do social media” and they’re extremely simply loaded strategies that can’t deliver reliable outcomes.
Likewise, with the rise of the social media influencers, some have come to accept that since they’ve developed their own following that they can basically do likewise for other people – which isn’t always the case.
What worries me about this is that it is capable of staining the wide reputation of the many skilled and creative social media marketers out there – while also hurting the businesses hiring the not too good ones. My recommendation to you social media marketers out there is to continue doing incredible work, proceed to learn and develop our craft, and also please recognize and maintain your worth. To those hiring, don’t be tricked by a low price. Ensure you interview, review work and also hire somebody who bodes well for your needs.
Best Social Media Marketing Tips
If you are ready to get started with social media marketing, Here are a few tips to kick off your social media campaigns and also boost it if you are already into it.
- Social Media Content Planning — As discussed previously, building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research and competitive research to help brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience.
- A Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’s core identity, whether it’s friendly, fun, or trustworthy, it should stay consistent.
- Social Media for Content Promotion — Social media marketing is a perfect channel for sharing your best site and blog content with readers. Once you build a loyal following on social media, you’ll be able to post all your new content and make sure your readers can find new stuff right away. Plus, great blog content will help you build more followers. It’s a surprising way that content marketing and social media marketing benefit each other.
Sharing Crated Links — While using social media for marketing is a great way to leverage your own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also an opportunity to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Crating and linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.
- Tracking Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing channel or technique that seems to be working for them, considering doing the same thing, but do it better!
- Measuring Success with Analytics — You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your most triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them. And be sure to use the analytics within each social platform for even more insight into which of your social content is performing best with your audience.
- Social Media Crisis Management — Things don’t always go swimmingly for brands on social media. It’s best to have a playbook in place so your employees know how to handle a snafu.
The Five Core Pillars of Social Media Marketing
Before you dive right in and publish something on social media, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The first step is to think about your social media strategy. What are your goals? How can social media help you achieve your business goals?
Some businesses use social media for increasing their brand awareness, others use it for driving website traffic and sales. Social media can also help you generate engagement around your brand, create a community, and serve as a customer support channel for your customers. Which social media platforms do you want to focus on?
The major social media platforms, mentioned above, are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat. There are also smaller and up-and-coming platforms, such as Tumblr, Tik Tok, and Anchor, and social messaging platforms, such as Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat.
When starting out, it’s better to pick a few platforms that you think your target audience is on than to be on all platforms. What type of content do you want to share? What type of content will attract your target audience best? Is it images, videos, or links? Is it educational or entertaining content?
A good place to start is to create a marketing persona, which will help you answer these questions. And this doesn’t have to be fixed forever; you can always change your strategy according to how your social media posts perform.
2. Planning and Publishing
Social media marketing for small businesses usually starts with having a consistent presence on social media. Close to three billion people (3,000,000,000!) use social media. By being present on social media platforms, you give your brand an opportunity to be discovered by your future customers.
Publishing to social media is as simple as sharing a blog post, an image, or a video on a social media platform. It’s just like how you would share on your personal Facebook profile. But you will want to plan your content ahead of time instead of creating and publishing content spontaneously.
Also, to ensure that you are maximizing your reach on social media, you need to publish great content that your audience likes, at the right timing and frequency. There are now a variety of social media scheduling tools, such as Buffer Publish, that can help you publish your content automatically at your preferred time.
This saves you time and allows you to reach your audience when they are most likely to engage with your content.
3. Listening and Engagement
As your business and social media following grow, conversations about your brand will also increase. People will comment on your social media posts, tag you in their social media posts, or message you directly. People might even talk about your brand on social media without letting you know. So you will want to monitor social media conversations about your brand. If it’s a positive comment, you get a chance to surprise and delight them.
Otherwise, you can offer support and correct a situation before it gets worse. You can manually check all your notifications across all the social media platforms but this isn’t efficient and you won’t see posts that didn’t tag your business’s social media profile.
You can instead use a social media listening and engagement tool, such as Buffer Reply, that aggregates all your social media mentions and messages, including posts that didn’t tag your business’s social media profile.
Along the way, whether you are publishing content or engaging on social media, you will want to know how your social media marketing is performing. Are you reaching more people on social media than last month? How many positive mentions do you get a month? How many people used your brand’s hashtag on their social media posts?
The social media platforms themselves provide a basic level of such information. To get more in-depth analytics information or to easily compare across social media platforms, you can use the wide range of social media analytics tools available, such as Buffer Analyze (in closed beta).
When you have more funds to grow your social media marketing, an area that you can consider is social media advertising. Social media ads allow you to reach a wider audience than those who are following you. Social media advertising platforms are so powerful nowadays that you can specify exactly who to display your ads to.
You can create target audiences based on their demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. When you are running many social media advertising campaigns at once, you can consider using a social media advertising tool to make bulk changes, automate processes, and optimize your ads.
Other Tips To Boost Your Social Media Experience:
Establish Your Most Important Metrics
No matter what you’re selling, your social media strategy should be data-driven. That means focusing on the social media metrics that matters.
Because while “likes” and shares are nice to have, they amount to little more than vanity metrics if they aren’t resulting in meaningful engagement or sales. What good are your millions of followers if you can’t do anything with them?
Engagement metrics are essential to building meaningful, lasting relationships with your followers. Large audiences and likable content is great, but here are some additional metrics to keep an eye on:
- Reach: Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post. How far is your content spreading across social? Is it actually reaching user’s feeds? In the face of ever-changing organic algorithms, tracking reach is arguably more important than ever.
- Clicks: This is the number of clicks on your content, company name or logo. Link clicks are critical toward understanding how users move through your marketing funnel. Tracking clicks per campaign is essential to understand what drives curiosity or encourages people to buy.
- Engagement: The total number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. For engagement, it’s about seeing who interacted and if it was a good ratio out of your total reach. This sheds light on how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
- Hashtag performance: What were your most used hashtags on your own side? Which hashtags were most associated with your brand? Or what hashtags created the most engagement?
- Organic and paid likes: More than just standard Likes, these likes are defined from paid or organic content. For channels like Facebook, organic engagement is much harder to gain traction, which is why many brands turn to Facebook Ads. However, earning organic likes on Instagram isn’t quite as difficult.
- Sentiment: This is the measurement of how users reacted to your content, brand or hashtag. Did customers find your recent campaign offensive? What type of sentiment are people associating with your campaign hashtag? It’s always better to dig deeper and find what people are saying.
An effective social media marketing strategy is rooted in numbers. That said, those numbers need to be put into a context that circles back around to your original goals.
Dig Into What Your Competitors Are Doing
Before you start creating content, you should have a good idea of what your competitors are up to. Some brands might also look into third-party competitor analysis tools to dig deeper into their competitors’ numbers. Looking at your competition’s presence will directly inform your own social media strategy.
The goal here isn’t to copycat or steal your competitors’ ideas. Instead, it’s to determine what’s working for them and how you can adapt your own campaigns accordingly. Of course, you need to know who your competitors are before you start stressing over content creation. How to spot your social competitors
The simplest way to find competitors is through a simple Google search. Look up your most valuable keywords, phrases and industry terms to see who shows up. For example, if you sold various soap, “handmade natural soaps” would be a great keyword to investigate.
Excluding major retailers like Amazon and Bath & Body Works, take a look at who’s popping up in your space both organically and via ads. Then, you’ll want to take a look at who’s active on social media. In this particular case, Wild Soap is a smaller operation with an active, thriving social presence. This means they’re a great candidate to track.
After identifying some of your industry rivals, you can use social media competitive analysis tools to quickly compare competitor performance to your own. See what they’re posting on Facebook. Contrast your Twitter engagement with theirs. Find out how they’re tagging their content on Instagram. Optimize your own strategy. Rinse and repeat.
Create Engaging Social Content
Your social media marketing strategy is obviously centered around content. At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what to publish based on your goal and brand identity. Similarly, you probably feel confident in which networks to cover. Still overwhelmed by the specifics of what you should be posting? Hey, we get it.
From picking the right creative captions to finding the balance between promotion and personality, there’s a lot to mull over. The pressure is certainly on brands in an era where 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand that’s overly promotional. Additionally, 41% of users say they’d unfollow a brand that shared too much irrelevant content.
To help narrow down the specifics of what you should be publishing, let’s start with 2019’s social trends and best practices. Consider any combination of the following as you put together the content piece of your social media marketing plan.
Video Content or Bust
The need for brands to produce video is greater than ever. Across all networks, social video content is among the most viewed and shared hands-down. Facebook and Instagram, in particular, are pushing video hard right now which is notable given how their respective algorithms will continue to evolve in. Live? Long-form? Short looping video? There’s no shortage of options for brands to play the role of producer these days regardless of your budget.
Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of crating user-generated content from branded hashtags. Customers today absolutely love authentic content that doesn’t always have that sort of professional, polished touch. If nothing else, crating user-generated content (UGC) means less work on your plate and less pressure to constantly be thinking of new ideas.
Build Content Themes
One of the toughest challenges to visual content is creating it on a day-to-day basis. A Venngage infographic showed 36.7% of marketers said their top struggle with creating visual content was doing so consistently.
This shows how important highly-visual content is to marketers and the people they want to reach. That’s why building content themes is a great approach to sectioning out your content. Instagram is one your premier channels to work off visual themes.
For example, Wealthy Affiliate does an amazing job at keeping their Instagram feed consistent, colorful and eye-popping. If consistency is a problem with your social media marketing strategy, think about how a theme can help.
Make Timeliness A Top Priority
Timeliness is a two-way street. Not only do customers expect speedier responses from brands, but also meaningful conversations on a regular basis. Let’s start with the first point. Social media channels are built as networks.
A place to converse and share content. Your brand can’t forget these core elements of “networking.” It takes effort to ensure conversations or engagement opportunities aren’t left unattended. Through social media, you gain respect as a brand by just being present and talking to your audience.
That’s why social customer care is so important to brands wanting to increase audience awareness. It’s all about engagement.
Assess What’s Working, What Isn’t and How You Can Improve
By now you should have a big picture understanding of your social marketing strategy. However, it’s important that you’re able to adapt your strategy as you progress through the year. Without continuously analyzing your efforts, you’ll never know how one campaign did over another. Having a bird’s eye view of your social media activity helps put things into perspective. This means looking at your top-performing content and fine-tuning your campaigns accordingly.
Social media marketing is far beyond simply posting an image and matching it with a couple hashtags – a genuine social media marketing professional offers significantly more than that. I hope, with this post, I’ve been able to bring a couple of these general misconceptions and tips to light. Feel free to leave your thought, questions and experience with the topic so that others can learn.