What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is a form of internet marketing that finds its roots in (you guessed it!) social media networks. It uses your business's social media channels, if you have any, to help achieve some of your overall marketing and branding goals. This extends beyond putting out the occasional post or tweet but relies on creating content and targeting specific audiences on your networks to maximum effect.
This might mean hosting a live video on Instagram, or creating some excellent adverts for Facebook or LinkedIn paid ads. Perhaps it might be creating amazing content to delight your fans and followers. The choice is yours and the options endless.
What are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing?
Let's face it; no one would use social media for their business if it didn't show a proper return on investment. It might not seem like a serious contributor to your overall marketing goals, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
Social media marketing has some tremendous benefits to offer your business and brand. Some of these include:
- Increased traffic
- Lower marketing costs
- Better search rankings
- Boosted lead generation
- Improved brand recognition and exposure
- Heightened marketplace insights
It All Starts With A Social Media Strategy
When considering the benefits above, it's easy to become excited and rush off and sign up to as many social media networks as possible. Just hold it right there though. While a powerful marketing tool, social media can only deliver a decent return on investment (ROI) if utilised within the appropriate strategic framework.
A successful social media marketing strategy only does its job well when underpinned by other inbound marketing campaigns and tactics. Wondering why? Let's pretend you strike gold with a post on Facebook. You get a ton of fans and followers that click through from your post to your website. Only when they get there, they're disappointed by a poor user experience and content that doesn't meet their specific needs. Quick as a flash, they've bounced from your website, leaving you with nary a lead in sight.
Now imagine you've got an inbound marketing strategy and relevant tactics in play. You've researched your audience and created some badass content that you know is going to pay off with your target buyer personas. You post to Facebook. A whole bunch of people love your content, and the "likes" are flowing freely.
Some of them click through to your site, and to their delight, it's awesome (probably because you've been focusing on using Growth-Driven Design to continually improve it with them in mind). They think your content offer is fresh and they convert and become leads. Once they're leads, your inbound marketing tactics help carry them along the buyer's journey until they're customers. See how it works?
None of this is achievable if you're only doing social media marketing. The key takeaway here is that social media marketing and its tactics have to be part of a larger digital marketing plan and they need to support your overall marketing goals and objectives.
Planning For Success
Want the ROI social media promises? You're going to need a proper social media marketing plan. If you're wondering what this looks like, it's a concise statement that covers your company's goals for social media, an audit of their current social media accounts and the tools/tactics they plan to use to achieve the goals above.
There are few critical elements to consider when developing your plan. Check out this infographic covering what you should do to create an excellent social media marketing plan.
Building out a social media plan doesn't have to be a daunting task. But there's more to winning at social media marketing than throwing out a few tweets now and then. A solid plan will help you ensure you're reaching the right audiences, at the right time, with the best content possible while meeting your overall goals.
A great social media plan needs to take into account the following:
Creating Social Media Campaigns That Work
Once your social media marketing plan has come together nicely, you're going to want to start creating some social media campaigns. These will ensure you're covering all the right elements and will also serve as an outline for all the social media marketing you plan to do going forward.
Let's look at some of the questions you should be asking yourself when you create your first social media campaign.
Just Starting Out
If you're getting ready to create a campaign, ask yourself the following:
- Do I have an overarching business goal I'd like to meet with social media marketing?
- Are all my goals, whether social media marketing or overall business-related created around the SMART principle?
- Have I created defined mission statements and goals for my social media channels?
- Have I got well-researched buyer personas and a target audience to focus on?
- Have I audited my current social media accounts and conducted thorough competitor research?
Due to the ongoing nature of social media marketing, and its dependency on consistent publishing and activity, responsibility is a critical consideration:
- Have I designated a particular individual to watch over and be responsible for maintaining the business's social media accounts?
- Are there individuals tasked with creating and curating content for posting on the company's social media accounts?
When Developing Your Content Strategy
Content is important when developing successful social media campaigns. After all, no one's going to click through to or share sub-par content. Remember that you're trying to provide your target audience with interesting, entertaining and informative content that meets their needs, and not your business agenda. Ask yourself whether:
- Have I created a content plan covering viable formats and best posting times for each channel?
- Do I know which content formats will best fit each of my buyer personas?
- Am I drawing inspiration and sharing content of industry experts and thought leaders?
- Does my content reflect my business's voice, values and brand?
- Have I put an editorial calendar in place that outlines when and where messaging will go out across my social media channels?
Measuring Your Results And Performance
There's very little point to engaging in a marketing activity you can't measure the performance and return of investment on. Social media marketing is no different. Check that you're monitoring your performance by asking:
- Have I established which metrics I am going to track my performance against?
- Am I conducting quantitative and qualitative research that covers both the volume and quality of the leads and traffic my social media marketing is generating?
- Has my campaign met my overall goals and objectives?
By asking yourself the above, you're ticking off the necessary boxes to ensure you're creating well-rounded campaigns that are more likely to perform well.
Integrating Social Media And Your Website
Your business's website is a valuable marketing asset, and it's critical that you ensure you've integrated social media into your site. There are a couple of areas of social integration on your website you should consider.
Social Follow Buttons
By placing social follow buttons on your website, you allow visitors to become followers of your brand on one of their chosen social media networks. If they do decide to follow you, you'll enjoy added visibility for your brand. Include these buttons on your "About Us", blog and homepage for maximum effect.
Social Share Buttons
As the name implies, social share buttons allow your visitors to share your content straight to their fans and followers with a simple click. When your content is excellent, visitors can share it with their fans and followers.
When undertaking any form of digital marketing, building trust with your audience is essential. Social proof displayed on your website is a great way to do so. It shows your visitors how many followers or "Likes" you have and indicates to them that if others trust and approve of your brand, they can as well.
Video is a hugely popular content format online, and it's a smart move to include social video on your website. Social videos are those created and shared on social media channels and provide a quick win regarding easy integration with a nice payoff for your website.
By offering users the option to login into your website with their social login details, you're saving them the hassle of creating accounts everywhere or remembering hordes of passwords. And because you've simplified the registration process, you're more likely to see an uptake in conversions as well.
Embedded Social Feeds
Social media relies heavily on its interactive nature, which is why having an embedded social feed in your website can be a bonus. It draws visitors into conversations and encourages them to be interactive with your brand and followers.
Choosing The Right Tools For The Job
If you're going to be a winner at social media marketing, you're going to need to choose the right tools to help you. Here are a few of our favourites.
It's an all-in-one tool with some powerful features to help you master multiple aspects of your social media marketing.
Want to source the freshest and most relevant content, but struggling to do so? Buzzsumo makes it easy to find the perfect content for your needs.
Struggling to keep up with the scheduling of your social posts? Let Buffer help you make sense of the chaos and to keep an eye on the performance of your posting across your channels.
Bear in mind that there are many more tools you can use to help in every aspect of your social media marketing. Do thorough research before selecting a tool.
Key Tips To Consider
As with inbound marketing, there are always new trends developing in social media marketing, and it's helpful to have a few tips to keep ahead of the game.
Here are a few useful tips to get your social media marketing off to a roaring start.
Begin Using Live Video
This is ideal for events, meet and greets, launches or anything you'd like to allow your audience to share in
Invest In Paid Advertising
Media convergence is the name of the game in digital marketing, with the ultimate sweet spot lying between the sectors of owned media, earned media and paid media. Have a look at this image that indicates the principle perfectly.
Paid advertising on social media is a great way to supplement your other social media marketing activities if you have the budget for it. It also allows you to hyper-target groups of individuals with specific interests at a lower conversion cost than traditional seen on Google Ads.
Zero In On Retargeting
If you're looking to reach your existing leads or customers on Facebook, retargeting holds the key. By embedding a Facebook pixel code on your website, you can target the right people with your advertisements on Facebook, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
Make Clever Use Of CTAs
Using calls-to-action on your landing pages and blogs may be nothing new, but do you have a CTA on your Facebook page?
Add a CTA to your banner image and drive more traffic to your website by allowing your social media audience to click through to your site directly from your social pages.
Become a Trendspotter
Having a content strategy and plan for your social media marketing is essential. But to be successful, you also need to be flexible.
Data Analysis: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Data is invaluable when performing any marketing activity, as is the time spent analysing the data you've gathered. Make sure you're collecting data during your social media campaigns and taking the time to analyse it so you can spot areas ripe for improvement or those that did well.
Tips on key social channels
With its primary focus on business interaction, LinkedIn hosts more than 3 million business pages and 1.5 million groups. This makes it a great place to research and engage with companies and professionals that may require your products or services. LinkedIn is also a hotspot for job seekers and recruiters alike.
LinkedIn Company Page
A company page allows you to raise awareness for your brand, educate potential customers about your products and services and promote career opportunities within your organisation.
- Build a strong follower community by, firstly, leveraging your own workforce to spread the word with their networks, customers and business partners. Ensure that you include a LinkedIn “Follow” button across your website and include your company page link in emails or newsletters.
- Develop relationships by sharing news that is of importance, interest or relevance to your followers. Mix up status updates with a combination of company news, industry articles, thought leadership pieces or blog posts or pose questions to encourage engagement. Be sure to include rich media too to keep interest piqued. Images, infographics, videos and the like tend to have greater propensity for sharing so drop them in when they are relevant or topical.
- Attract talent by keeping your company information up to date and posting any vacancies in the career opportunities section.
Twitter is a real-time social network allowing users to post updates (tweets) using up to 280 characters. Twitter is a well-established social media network and popular for both personal and brand engagement. Like any other social site, the mere fact of having an account in your company name is not enough to boost business, you need to work hard at building your profile by providing great, relevant content for your followers.
Don’t Forget Your Manners
When someone new follows you, its generally considered polite to follow that person back. But that is about as far as it goes with most. To stand out from the crowd send your new follower a tweet, letting them know that you’re following them back and give some indication as to why. People like to hear why they are important and this small proactive gesture will ensure that you elicit some attention and interest.
Get Search Savvy
Most people will use the Twitter search function to find people but there are some other smart ways to use search to expand your reach and allow you to be specific with your engagement.
- Hashtags (#): Hashtags are beneficial when looking for tweets relevant to a specific topic or area of interest. Tweets can be tagged with hashes to make them easily dicoverable for searchers. For example, a tweet about search engine optimisation could include the hashtag #SEO. Someone searching for SEO would pick up on the tweet within a search query.
- Strategic search terms: This is where you can get really clever about searching on Twitter. Consider entering strategic terms such as “we are looking for”, “anyone know a” or “looking to find”. Results for these terms will bring up a range of potential opportunities from job offers to blogging opportunities and everything in between. Even if you aren’t able to provide the service, product or solution that the tweeter is looking for, you may be able to put them in touch
with someone that does – and that does wonders for initiating conversations and uncovering opportunities.
- Brand mentions: Not everyone tweeting about your company or products will mention you specifically (i.e. include your twitter handle so that you will see the tweet) and monitoring these mentions can be useful for proactively responding to questions, problems or hopefully compliments about your business. Another angle would be to check out competitor names and mentions to see if there are any opportunities with disgruntled users.
Keep it Short, Sweet and to the Point
Tweets are intended to be informative and newsworthy, so use them that way. While the length of a tweet is 280 characters (in total) you’ll often want to include links to other content on your website, blog or 3rd party site. Be sure to use a URL shortening service such as bit.ly to condense the link address, giving you more space for attention grabbing call outs in your tweets.
Practice Pareto Principles
Many business philosophies and concepts are built on the 80/20 rule and using Twitter for business is no different. As inbound marketers we’re not into self-promotion, hard sales and pushy tactics (we know that traditional marketing approaches do not work anymore). Keep a good balance by ensuring that your ‘self-serving’ content does not exceed 20% of your overall participation for optimal relationship building.
Make a Good First Impression
Ensure you have completed your ‘About’ section with all the important bits and pieces. Include a good description of your business, contact details and website URL. You may also add your working hours and address if relevant.
Your cover image and profile picture should appeal to your target audience immediately. Make it interesting, creative and relevant to your business.
Engage, Engage and Engage Some More
Facebook is a platform that encourages two-way conversation and engagement. User queries and questions should be responded to promptly, content should be designed to encourage interaction and complaints or brand attacks (yes, they do happen) should be dealt with professionally and openly.
Ditch the Automation and Copy-Paste Approach
Based on the fact that 80% of social network users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook, it’s preferable that that connection is with a real-life person, available to help them when they reach out. People can spot automation a mile away and while it has it’s place in marketing, Facebook is not that place. Re-hashed copy and paste responses to questions makes the interaction impersonal – a contradication to the the social aspect of social media.
Mix Up Your Media
While this applies to most of the social media platforms, posting a diverse set of content on Facebook can keep fans interested and coming back for more or to see what’s new. Use a combination of articles, videos, polls, offers, images and events to keep things interesting.
Use Your Insights
Study your page insights to uncover the demographics of your page, the best times to post content as well as which type of content performs best for your audience. Use these insights to drive your Facebook strategy and increase engagement and reach.
Stick to the Rules
Facebook makes periodic changes to their Terms of Service, which is all that boring legal stuff we tend to just click ‘yes, I agree’ without reading fully. Business pages, in particular, need to ensure that they are up to date with any amendments Facebook may make to these terms and be certain to apply them accordingly.