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:

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Increased traffic
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Lower marketing costs
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Better search rankings and more sales
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Boosted lead generation
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Improved brand recognition and exposure
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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:

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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?

Defining Accountability

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.

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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.

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Social Proof

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.

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Social Video

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.

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Social Login

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.

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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.

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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

Video is fast becoming the media consumption format of choice for the masses, so using live video in social media is a great way to boost your marketing. Instagram has an impressive and steadily growing fanbase. Instagram Live allows you to reach these individuals by shooting a live video that'll rocket to the top of your feed, increasing its visibility and presence. Facebook Live is another option you can turn to which allows live broadcasting.

This is ideal for events, meet and greets, launches or anything you'd like to allow your audience to share in live. You can also repurpose your videos in blogs and offers later on as well.

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 AdWords.

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 TrendspotterHaving a content strategy and plan for your social media marketing is essential. But to be successful, you also need to be flexible.

Trends in topic may occur from time to time on social media, and it's up to you to spot them and capitalise on them with your content and postings.

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.

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