Social Media Marketing (A beginner’s Guide), Why Your Business Needs Social Media Marketing.
Social Media Marketing (A beginner’s Guide) Over the last decade, social media marketing has become an indispensable tool in the arsenal of brands and businesses of all kinds, with opportunities to build relationships, engage with customers, and increase sales like never before – and the stats back it up.
A May 2021 survey by PewInternet revealed that 74% of
adults in North America used social networking sites, including 82% of 30-49
year-olds and 89% of 18-29 year-olds.
In addition, research from social media analysts Digitas predicts that the growth of social commerce could make it a
business worth $50 billion before the end of 2021. And in a Social Media Examiner poll conducted in 2021, 91% of respondents said that social media marketing – worked on for at least 6 hours per week – increased exposure for
If you’re not using social media at all, or your current strategy isn’t working for you as well as you hoped, now is the time to make a change.
You are about to learn over 500 expert hints and tips to effectively market your business across all of the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google my business, and Pinterest.
Before You Begin: Let Look at Key Considerations For All Social Media Marketing.
Peer pressure, success stories in the media, and general hype tell today’s business owners that having a presence on social media is essential. That’s not to say a business couldn’t do well without utilizing social networking, but they’d
certainly, be missing out on a myriad of opportunities to build and grow.
However, one of the biggest mistakes that a brand can make is to leap into social media marketing with no real clue of what they are going to do with it; only the vague hope it will somehow make their fortune.
While there is a possibility that you get really lucky, in most cases this kind of unplanned approach will lead to
unrealistic goal-setting, poor results, a huge waste of time, and ultimately a defeatist attitude that puts you off the idea of social media marketing completely.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you – and to give you the best chance of success – I urge you to digest the key considerations for social media marketing detailed below.
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Decide which social networks will work best for you
Unless you’re a big company with the resources to plow full speed ahead into every potentially viable social platform, chances are you’re better to focus on one or two “core” social networks first. It’s better to excel on a couple of social
networks than be mediocre on five or six, and while social media is (mostly) free, your time is valuable.
Indeed, depending on the type of business you run, not every social media site is going to suit your marketing, your audience, or
what you are trying to achieve.
To help you decide where to begin, identify which social networks your target audience already “hangs out” or use customer
personas and research of social network demographics to judge where you will best be received.
Joining Facebook and Twitter is often a given for brands simply due to their sheer size and influence, but more “niche” communities with their own unique attributes – still with hundreds of millions of users, mind you -like Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn, might be where you find can make an impact more successfully.
You’ll learn all about what each particular social network brings to the table as they are introduced in the chapters to come, but to start off, experiment with a couple of social networks where you can invest some significant time, track your progress, and then either build on your achievements with them or steadily begin to experiment with other platforms on which you
might have additional (or better) success.
Define and assess your goals.
Before you start posting content to social media, it is useful to define the guiding themes and overall goals of your strategy, as these will help you shape the way you approach what may well become the linchpin in your marketing machine.
I’m a fan of the SMART technique for creating actionable social media goals. Here’s a breakdown, hopefully, they’ll help you too:
Specific: Be specific in what you want to achieve. Do you want to raise awareness of your brand? Increase sales? Improve customer service? Strengthen loyalty?
Measurable: How will you know that your goal has been achieved? What analytics tools will you use to track your progress?
Achievable: Is your goal realistic? When you are just starting off, don’t aim too high at the risk of being deflated if you don’t hit your projected goal; getting really adept at all this stuff (particularly if you are approaching social media marketing seriously for the first time) takes a while.
Relevant: Is your goal aligned with your company’s mission, vision and values?
Time Specific: When do you want to have achieved the goal by? To add a focus to your marketing, stick to one overarching goal at a time, e.g. “I want to increase traffic to our website by 15% in the next 3 months”.
For example, if you’re a shoe store owner and you normally sell 20 pairs of shoes a day, why not aim to use social media to help you sell 25 per day? After a good amount of time (at least a few months), evaluate where you are by using analytics tools, social insights (likes, followers, comments), and other metrics to help you track and measure your activity – you’ll find lots more information on these shortly.
Perform an audit to help shape your content strategy
Carrying out an audit is one of the best ways to get an idea of the kind of social media content strategy that will resonate with your audience, and a great way to decide upon what you want to post to your audience. Take time to identify your audience’s needs, desires, and interests on social media – ask yourself what problems you can help them overcome, what questions you can answer, what type of content they prefer (e.g. text, photo, graphics, video), and when they are most likely to be around to see it
First, identify your competitors (you’ll probably know them already, but a simple web search will tell you), then visit
their websites and social media profiles for a nose around.
Make notes on how often your rivals publish blogs and status updates on social media, and which content seems to perform best for them based on the number of likes, comments, and shares.
You can gain further insight by identifying how much of this content appears to be original versus shared from other sources, and what the topics and tone of voice used are like. Use the information you gather to mirror successful types of content in your own social media strategy, but also to identify gaps and opportunities where you can do better.
Plan ahead with a social media content calendar
One of the stiffest tests facing brands on social media is to consistently publish high-quality content for their fans.
company’s social media presence that appears abandoned is the digital equivalent of turning your lights off. Because
you’re not updating online, people will assume that you’re going out of business, even if the opposite is true. Since it’s this consistency that can really help to boost levels of engagement (by enabling fans to anticipate your next post) and foster a stronger relationship with your audience (who will keep coming back for more), one of the best ways to help get it right is by compiling a social media content calendar.
An editorial calendar will allow you to plan your activity for weeks – or even months – in advance. This foresight will allow you to build seasonal themes into your updates and prevent you from posting sub-par stuff just because you need to publish something. As well as planning for the big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, you will also be able to map out a
strategy for “mini holidays” like July 4th or Valentine’s Day, occasions where fans are actively searching on social media for deals, discounts, advice, etc.
Re-purpose content across social media
It is worth emphasizing that something that might be distributed as one piece of content in the real world (a press release, say), can be marketed as four or five content pieces for social media: a blog about it, tweet, make a video, share on Facebook, turn it into an infographic for Pinterest, etc. This is a fantastic strategy for making the most of your content creation, particularly if you are strapped for time or low on resources.
Drop old-style communication methods and get social – find and define your social voice
Successful Social Media Marketing (A beginner’s Guide) strategy requires just that – a social strategy. Traditional marketing techniques like TV and newspaper advertising worked because the direction of communication could only go in one way (from brand to consumer)
with little chance for reply, but social media means that this is no longer the case. Now that a two-way dialogue is firmly established and your brand is under the spotlight 24/7, you must resist the urge to talk at people, and adapt your tone
of voice and communication methods to connect with them on a human level speaking to them in a personable manner and listening with intent, rather than just hearing and doing nothing about it.
This lesson applies the same whether you are a small business employing a handful of people, a multi-national company with thousands of staff, the owner of a “fun” business like a karaoke bar, or something more “serious” like a finance company.
Brands that define their social voice (and strive to maintain it in all of their social interactions) can cut through the noise and deliver a clear message that, ultimately, will deliver more improved results.
There are occasions where something like the old-school method of direct promotion is beneficial, but expect to spend the majority of your time being much more selfless, even going out of your way to make individual customers feel special as a way to generate a good feeling about your product or service that travels way beyond that one person.
Humanize your brand and be emotive
People use social media to connect with other people, so lower your barriers and show fans the real you, and the people behind your business’ logo; be transparent, open, and authentic in all of your communication – authenticity often means being a little bit more open about what your business might traditionally share with customers, but there’s a fine line – if you’re consistently
sharing posts about internal conflicts or your love life, that line has probably been crossed! establish your unique voice, show a sense of humor, use everyday language, etc.
Don’t over-promote: build relationships and provide value
The vast majority of social media users do not visit Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al. to be given the hard sell by companies; they use them to interact with family and friends, and to be entertained. If they do “like” or “follow” brands on social media, they often do so on a whim (think about the number you “like” or “follow”), and all but the most passionate fans won’t care to see every single post you publish (in fact, it is unreasonable to think that you can even make it happen without spending a lot of money).
Therefore, it is your job to convince people to enjoy having your business as something that is a big part of their everyday
lives, and continue to earn your place – don’t see it as a right, see it as a privilege. You do this by building trusting and loyal relationships, by being friendly, sharing great content, helping people with customer service issues (with the odd promotional post in between, of course… which if the rest of your strategy is up to scratch, your audience really shouldn’t mind).
Consistently post high quality content
First and foremost, don’t launch a presence on a social media channel, post for a few weeks, and then let its activity dry up! For most social networks, one, two or three updates per day is a good target, but at a minimum, you should post at least a couple of times a week so that your content continues to appear in the news feeds of your most engaged fans.
To single out Facebook as an example of a social network that a large majority of brands use, here’s some wider perspective
to explain why consistency is so important: When someone visits their Facebook News Feed, there are an average of 1,500 possible posts – generated according to the site’s complicated algorithm – that they can be shown at any given time,
from friends, Pages, groups, events, etc. Add the fact that around half of users don’t check Facebook every day (and, of those that do, they only browse for around 30-60 minutes in total), the chances of all of your posts being seen and engaged with in amongst all of that competition, falls considerably. Get a copy of this book and solve your issues.
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Which types of posts get the most engagement?
One of the great debates amongst social media marketers is whether text, image, video, links, or other post types are the most effective in reaching fans and encouraging them to interact. The truth is that nobody can tell you for certain -social networks are forever tweaking their algorithms, forcing brands to play catch-up – and at the end of the day, it very much depends on what your individual data reveals to you is working best.
Don’t get hung up on reach; focus on creating loyal, passionate fans and meaningful relationships
As you now understand, fierce competition between individuals, brands and the way social networks’ algorithms work, means that not all of your fans will see your posts in their news feeds when you publish them, and by their own admission, sites like Facebook admit that this situation is only going to get tougher as more and more brands enter the fray. Therefore, you need to think less about chasing “likes”, follower numbers, and post reach – as these metrics (although having some influence and merit, especially if they are from and reaching a target, high quality audience) can often be arbitrary.
Instead, concentrate more on producing great content that will grow you a loyal following of people who love what you do (showing it via post likes, comments, sharing your content, and eventually through sales), therein encouraging more people to invest in your cause.
Provide great customer service, handle complaints right
Unlike in times gone by, social media gives your company instant and effective exposure to your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customers also have similar access to you, and this is no more apparent than in what can only be described as a revolution in customer service. What’s more, as well as making your customers feel good, answering complaints provides a useful insight into your target audience’s personality, what your business is doing well, and what it could improve on.
Automation doesn’t have to be a dirty word
With so much work involved growing and maintaining a strong social media marketing strategy over a variety of channels, automation will allow you to save time, stay flexible, and plan your social media strategy down to the minute.
Tools like Buffer (http://www.bufferapp.com) or Post Planner (http://www.postplanner.com) allow you to manage multiple social media accounts from a single dashboard (allowing you to upload in bulk for the week’s upcoming post, publishing content when you are asleep but your audience is not, or when you are on vacation, etc.).