Most of us use social media. But are you using it effectively for your business? Social media marketing is one of the most popular channels brands are using to connect with their customers. So… what is social media marketing? And how can you use it effectively?
If you haven’t already heard about it, social media marketing is a form of marketing and advertising that uses social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., to get your message in front of people interested in what you have to offer.
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These social media networks give businesses a chance to share their expertise, build trust with consumers and provide customer service 24/7.
It’s also a great place to generate leads, conduct competitive analysis research, and gain valuable insights from your community.
However, social media marketing isn’t easy work! It takes time and effort for business owners to really take advantage of all it has to offer. In this blog post, we’ll explore five benefits you can’t afford to overlook when you’re getting started on social media marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is an umbrella term for your work on social channels to increase your brand awareness, engage customers, and drive sales.
This includes organic activities like:
- Create engaging content (blog post, podcast, or video)
- Post your compelling content to social media platforms
- Engage with followers who like, comment, or share your post
- Track effectiveness using social media analytics (typically included in scheduling software like Lately or Buffer)
It also refers to social media advertising, where you pay a social network (such as Facebook or YouTube) money to run social media ads that target specific demographics of social users.
Ad spending on social media ads is expected to grow by over 10% to $230 million per year by 2025. It may be time for you to take social media ads seriously. They can be incredibly targeted and highly effective.
The key to any social media strategy is to remember you don’t own your social media followers. The ultimate goal is to zero in on target audiences and convert them into customers or email subscribers so they’re interacting with you on a platform you own.
Core Pillars of Social Media Marketing
The first step in social media marketing strategy is to identify the goals of your social marketing campaigns, for example: increase brand awareness, drive traffic or lead generation, etc.
Once you have defined these goals, it’s time to create a social media marketing plan and prepare for execution.
So, here are some questions to consider when developing your social media marketing goals:
- What social media networks are you going to use?
- How will social marketing benefit your company now and in the long run?
- Who’s your target audience?
In addition, you should develop a social media strategy for each social network that a business uses. For instance, Facebook requires a different approach than Twitter or LinkedIn. It would be best if you researched what works best on which platform based on social media statistics.
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Social Media Marketing Plan and Publishing Schedule
Social media posts should be planned in advance and published on social media channels at the best time to get more engagement. Social media content must be relevant and well-timed to increase engagement.
Planning social media posts begins with a great content strategy. Here are a few things to consider before you create content or schedule social media posts:
- How do my customers consume content? (e.g., videos, images, blog posts)
- If you’re active on social media now, what social media content performs best? (Review your social media analytics. Most social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) include business analytics. You can also use social platforms like Sprout Social and BuzzSumo or even Google Analytics to track performance.)
- What events and specials can you plan for throughout the year?
- Are you collecting and sharing customer reviews? Don’t forget reviews make great social content.
- What content can you share that isn’t about your company? (Remember social media is about community — talk about someone other than yourself.)
- How are your competitors using social media?
- Can you leverage user generated content?
Scheduling social media updates can be very effective when launching new campaigns or events.
Although it can be difficult, take time and work on it. Luckily there are social media management tools (e.g., Social Bee, Lately, and Buffer) available to schedule social media updates.
Social Listening and engagement
As your business page keeps growing, social media listening allows you to monitor what people say about your brand, competitors, or industry.
Suppose a customer is complaining on Twitter and other social channels that they had trouble with their account login. In that case, you need to respond quickly and resolve this issue as the social media manager.
Social listening also gives an opportunity to engage with customers who are happy with your social media marketing efforts. This way, you can build up a loyal fan base and keep them coming back for more.
Social monitoring is when you have something specific you want to learn more about. For example, gauging interest in a new product or service you’d like to offer, evaluating a specific campaign, or generating a list of keywords.
Social Media Metrics
One way to measure the success of your social media strategy is by checking up on how many people are viewing and engaging with what you post.
For example, if it’s just a matter of posting once per day but only getting one like, then there may be some room for improvement in terms of Reach efficiency.
To get more information about which posts perform best across different social media platforms or when they work best at certain times during weekdays vs. weekends, consider using tools such as Lately Omni Analytics, Facebook Insights, and SocialPilot.
Armed with this information, social media marketers can then determine which types of posts or social updates resonate best with their target audience and adjust accordingly.
Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising is one of the most critical aspects of social media marketing. It is a major investment that can either help your social media efforts or hinder them.
The success of your social media advertising strategy comes down to four main factors:
- How much do you know about your target customers?
- What is the goal of your social media advertising campaign? (e.g., web traffic, conversions, post likes and comments, lead generation, sales)
- What social media advertising tool (or agency) will you use?
- What is your monthly advertising budget? (Set a budget and don’t exceed it.)
Social media advertising allows you to make use of one of its most significant benefits: targeting features and demographics. You can target specific groups based on factors like age, gender, location, and social interests.
This allows for social media advertising to be very cost-effective, which is why 79% of marketers report buying social media advertising.
If you’re not ready to invest in an agency, here are three social media advertising platforms to consider:
- AdEspresso by Hootsuite: Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads
- Madgicx: Facebook, Instagram, and Google (AI-backed)
- Plai: Facebook + Instagram Ads, TikTok Ads, Google Search, Snap, YouTube, Google Display, Google Play
Although the power of social media advertising is undeniable, it’s so much easier once you know how to communicate with your audience effectively and where they like to hang out on social media.
Different Types of Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing Success Means Selecting the Right Social Media Channels Based on What You Create (and Your Audience)
Social content-sharing services are social media sites that allow users to share specific types of content (e.g., text, videos, photos, and audio) with other social media followers.
You’ll want to create a social media communication strategy that fits your organization and your target audiences’ desires.
Social Media Channel by Content Type
Here are a handful of social media sites that feature specific types of content creation:
- Blog: Medium, Tumblr, and HubPages
- Long-form video: YouTube, Instagram TV, and Vimeo
- Short-form/mobile video: Instagram Reels, Rizzle, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts
- Photos: Pinterest, Flickr, Snapchat, and Instagram
- Audio: Clubhouse, Podbean, and BlogTalkRadio
Many of the above-listed services aren’t as widely used (or as frequently used) as other social media platforms (exceptions: YouTube and Instagram). However, that doesn’t mean they won’t work for your business. It only means researching where your people are and being there.
Social networking services
It is not uncommon for businesses to use social networking services to advertise their products and services in today’s world.
In addition, these sites often provide features that allow people in one group or category – such as those interested in computers, for instance – to communicate more easily with each other.
Some common types include full networks like Facebook and LinkedIn and short message networks like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Twitter, which offer various functions but typically focus on publishing sales notices, events, and announcements from brands themselves.
Professional social channels like LinkedIn and Xing are for more business-oriented socializing. Both are great for job-hunting (especially Xing) and meeting colleagues from similar industries.
For local businesses, Alignable is a great place to at least have a profile because it helps you meet professionals in your local service area. Don’t connect your address book to Alignable, otherwise, you’ll be sending invitations to friends and business colleagues which can be interpreted as spam.
Social bookmarking services
In a world where we are constantly plugged in, and always on, social bookmarking services are like personal bookmarks for your favorite websites on the computer. They’re public collections of websites that others have recommended.
Some of the most popular services include StumbleUpon and Pinboard; others are shopping-centric social media platforms such as ThisNext and Kaboodle.
Some social bookmarking services allow users to make their own personalized sublists within certain categories if they want more specific information about what’s being shared with them at any given time.
Social news providers such as Digg and Reddit also exist where readers recommend articles from blogs/news sites. Everyone can vote on which stories deserve wider attention based on popularity alone.
Small local business profiles and meeting services
Rather than congregating in virtual spaces, people come together in real space using social geolocation and meeting services.
Foursquare and Meetup are two prominent examples.
They create opportunities for meetings, social interaction, and collaboration designed to take place in real space.
The top local business network is Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).
If you are a small local business with a brick-and-mortar presence or service area, a Google Business Profile is a must-have. This is a place where your business can add its products, photos, videos, FAQs, and even get a Google advertising ad-match of up to $500.
Nextdoor is an up-and-coming social platform for neighborhoods. If your business is focused on a small area (e.g., a handyman or plumber who prefers working close to home) creating a Nextdoor Business account may be for you.
Community-building services such as forums, message boards, Google groups, or Facebook Groups have been around for a long time. Other examples of community building sites include Ning, which provides group sourced content.
Certain Wikipedia pages are also made up primarily or entirely by members who contribute their knowledge on the topic at hand to create an encyclopedia. Wikipedia has no single editor but rather contributors worldwide editing collaboratively.
Many personal brands are also using services such as Facebook Groups, Circle, and Mighty Networks to create free and paid communities where they can build influence, social capital, and potentially turn fans into customers.
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Community-building is one of the leading social media trends for 2022 and beyond. If you’ve considered creating a community, here are some tips to make it more powerful:
- Create something valuable for community members — this isn’t a place to sell, sell, sell — offer valuable advice that demonstrates how you’re different from your competitors.
- Take the time to create content that will improve the customer experience. You can do this by getting feedback from your existing customers.
- Encourage community interaction and engagement.
- Be sure to have community rules and moderators to keep the community on track.
If you doubt the efficacy of having an online community, in addition to the high ROI potential, you can also expect increased customer loyalty and brand awareness.
You might not know this, but there are many different ways people look up businesses online before deciding where they want to spend money.
One way would be by reading reviews on review sites from other customers who have tried out a certain product/service at an establishment like yours; another way involves searching through social media pages regarding your business.
You can find valuable information about your business on review sites such as Yelp, YouTube, and TripAdvisor.
Leading Social Media Platforms
Let’s review the top social media platforms. Before jumping on one (or many) platforms, you’ll want to research the social media channels your target audience tends to use and consider why they use each platform. And then be there.
8 Social Media Platforms Where Your Target Audience Might Hang Out
Facebook sets the standard for social media. Its data is robust, and its ads are extremely precise, making it a go-to advertising platform for marketers looking to target specific demographics as well as those interested in their products or services.
It has become one of the most popular sites on earth, with over two billion monthly active users (MAUs) who engage primarily through text posts shared by friends.
Instagram is the go-to social media platform for many brands, with its high engagement rates and wide range of formats.
You can release short videos or long-form posts on Instagram stories that do well when marketing your company’s products. They’re engaging enough to keep people watching without feeling bored quickly.
Google recently announced that Instagram and TikTok videos will be indexed and searchable, adding to the appeal of video social content.
YouTube is a social media network that has changed how we consume video since it’s made streaming super fast and free. It allows us to instantly express our opinions thanks to comments, which skyrocketed with almost 5 billion videos watched on YouTube every day.
YouTube can be credited for kickstarting thousands of careers through content creation. Marketers should consider using long-form blogging posts as tutorials or guides – either by turning them into short video formats (such as how-to steps) or making animated gifs from screenshots.
Don’t forget that YouTube is owned by Google. YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. If you want to create a social media following that doubles as an SEO strategy, YouTube may be for you.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that’s all about business.
LinkedIn users are looking for information on what’s new in their industries, who to hire or fire from jobs they’ve applied for recently (and how), as well as tips on performance optimization at work-related matters like getting more out of meetings and presentations.
It might be tempting to use a casual writing style such as you would find online elsewhere — but don’t!
This website has over 740 million members now; those people want nothing but specific details surrounding businesses instead of other topics entirely unrelated to today’s economy.
TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing app that has been taking over social media. TikTok first launched in 2016.
Today there are over 800 million active users across the globe who share short videos, which can include dancing to music while lip-syncing about thoughts concerning politics & social justice matters such as equality among genders.
These features set Tik Tok apart due to interactive aspects, including filters (for enhancing your look), add-ons like stickers featuring characters such as Frozen’s Elsa®, etc., making creativity possible through special effects.
TikTok’s success is due to its unique features and the social responsibility it has taken on by engaging young users in social justice issues. TikTok’s app provides an easy way around censorship rules that are often imposed on public platforms like Facebook or Google.
TikTok’s terms of service have raised several privacy concerns, including its recent change that allows it to collect biometric data.
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Pinterest is a social media platform that caters specifically to women. 60% of its monthly active users are female.
It has been estimated as being the number one site for marketers who want their marketing material targeted at this demographic group with over 500 million Pinners worldwide – not including those on mobile devices or via a desktop web browser! You’ll need special formatting so your images will look good when displayed vertically.
What makes Pinterest different is the intent of its users. It’s one of the few platforms where users go with an intent to buy rather than be social. Recently, Pinterest announced that it’s adding Pinterest TV, an e-commerce live stream service to its offerings.
Quora is a social media platform that functions exclusively on questions and answers.
It doesn’t have any of the typical features you find elsewhere so that Quorans can engage with one another more directly than users from other social media platforms do because there aren’t many distractions or interruptions in between conversations as they happen.
Quora is a great place to position yourself as an expert. It’s also a great place to find key questions you can answer on your blog or share on other social media platforms.
Because 14% of Google searches are questions, from an SEO perspective, answering questions on Quora may lead to more site traffic.
The key is to fill out your profile completely and occasionally link back to your site when answering questions. Here’s Neil Patel’s guide to a Quora marketing strategy.
Reddit is the front page of the internet, and it might just live up to its slogan.
With 1.5 billion visits from May 2019-2021, Reddit has been an amazing platform for people all over America who are looking for different ideas or perspectives on current events in their respective communities – but only if this community accepts you will they let you join.
This college-originated social media site focuses entirely on benefits rather than promotions; users can be very fierce when attacking sites promoting spammy content (linkbait) as well as getting rid of any promotional links about products/services that aren’t related to what’s being discussed within certain subreddits.
Reddit has grown to be one of the largest social media platforms with the help of its AMAs (Ask Me Anything) and voting feature.
Why is social media marketing important?
In today’s world, people are socializing more than ever before. People use social media to connect, share photos and videos, promote their business or blog posts, learn about important issues, etc.
Businesses of all sizes use social media to promote products/services they offer and share helpful information with people who would be interested in it.
As a business, if you don’t have a social media presence, you are missing out on many potential customers. Your social media presence lets you connect with people interested in your products/services and share information that will help them make an informed buying decision.
Some stats to convince you why having a sound social media marketing strategy is imperative to business success in 2020 and beyond:
Take a look at these Oberlo statistics to see why having an excellent social media marketing strategy is so crucial for company success in 2021 and beyond:
- There are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide, with over 2.7 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone.
- 84% of US adults aged from 18 to 29 are active social media users. 81 % for the 30- to 49-year-old age group and 73% for those aged 50 to 64.
- An average of two hours and 25 minutes are spent per day per person on social media.
Your prospects and customers are on social media. It’s time to find them there and start engaging with them on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
What is a social media marketing strategy?
A social media strategy is a document that details your company’s social media goals, what tactics you plan to use to achieve them, and how often you will track those metrics.
Your social media strategy should align with the larger marketing plan of your business, so it’s essential not only to list all existing accounts on various social media platforms but also what you hope will be new ones in the future along the way.
To make sure everything aligns with company goals, this document needs three main parts:
- A plan on why these channels would work best (e.g., our target audience loves hanging out here).
- An idea as far ahead into the future we can think of describing exactly HOW THIS WILL PLAY OUT OVERTIME.
- Roles & Responsibilities – Who does what job at every level within your organization.
5 Amazing Business Benefits of Social Media Marketing
1. Social media marketing gives you a leg up on competitors
It is critical for companies to consistently monitor their competitor’s social presence so that they can see what is working for them.
Keeping track of your competitors’ activities in social media marketing should be an important part if you want to get ahead these days, as monitoring gives insight into how other brands are doing things right or wrong which could give you a leg up on your own plan.
It might make sense then if you find out Facebook advertising is generating good results with certain rivals- experiment by trying these same techniques too! However, don’t copy another competitor verbatim; instead, aim at standing apart from others while still following tried & true principles like creativity or engagement through content creation.
2. Social media marketing generates more leads & conversions
For years, companies have been using the internet as their primary sales platform.
The rise of video marketing and social media has made this even more accessible for business owners to connect with prospects personally, which boosts conversions by providing more engagement opportunities than ever before.
You can use a mix of paid and organic tactics to boost conversions on social media.
Paid ad campaigns, giveaways with prizes like eBooks or physical products in exchange for an email address are some examples that have been seen as effective ways to get prospects into your sales funnel.
There are plenty of opportunities to convert online customers with the help of SMM. The system is quick and easy, making it an excellent choice for businesses that don’t have much time on their hands but still need leads or new clients.
3. Social media marketing is cost-effective
Social media marketing is a cost-effective way to reach your customers. Signing up and creating profiles on social networking platforms can be done for free. At the same time, any paid promotions you decide to invest in are relatively low compared with other types of advertising like TV commercials or print ads.
This gives an advantage because it scales better than traditional methods – meaning that if one platform isn’t successful, then there’s always another waiting just ahead.
If you decide social media marketing is suitable for your company, one of the best places to start with social ads is Google.
This platform offers several benefits, including lower ad prices and more targeting options than other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Always start small to see what social media marketing works for your company.
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4. Social media marketing builds stronger relationships with customers
SMM is not just about promoting and selling your products.
It is about building deeper relationships with your customers and creating a social community around the brand you are promoting.
Promoting social activities, discussing new product releases and giveaways can help develop stronger bonds between consumers and brands, resulting in increased loyalty over time.
Successful brands connect with their target audience to build lasting relationships by responding to comments or asking questions on social media platforms like Facebook.
For instance – rather than just posting something for sale without any kind of conversation starter, try asking your followers what they need from a product instead; then provide them that assistance.
This little change in technique will make people feel involved, which increases customer loyalty exponentially over time.
5. Social media marketing consistently Warms Up A New Audience For Your Business
One of the worst things you can do as a business owner is to face an audience that doesn’t care about your brand.
Thankfully, social media marketing allows us the opportunity to warm up those on the fence with engaging content – so they know more about what you do and how great it can be for them.
Social media platforms allow businesses of all sizes easy access to content that will engage new visitors, such as creating an exciting video ad or publishing some engaging images on Instagram stories.
It might seem hard at first – but once people see what great products/services there are out there (and how much fun they’re going to have).
You’ll start getting lots more likes than dislikes by posting consistently relevant updates every single day.
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In this blog post, we covered a lot of information about social media marketing and why it’s so important.
We’ve also given you five benefits that come from putting in the work to create a solid social media strategy for your business.
If you want more help with choosing or implementing social media marketing strategies for your company, be sure to subscribe to our email list.
We’re actively building several marketing courses to help you build your business.
Jen McFarland is a passionate and compassionate champion of entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners. She has more than 25 years of experience in leadership, digital marketing, and strategic project planning across corporate, nonprofit, and government environments. She is the Co-Founder of Epiphany Courses.