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Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Marketing

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Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Marketing

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With the average person spending two hours each day on social media, incorporating social media marketing into the overall marketing strategy is crucial. Small and large businesses can use social media to increase conversions, builder stronger relationships with prospects and more.

It may have started as a way to connect with personal and professional networks, but social media has become a real part of everyday life. People expect to see their favorite brands on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc. This is why maintaining a digital presence is so crucial to the bottom line. As a marketer, knowing how to leverage social media platforms and engage with buyers across the customer lifecycle is a must.

This comprehensive guide compiles essential tips to help you develop actionable social media marketing strategies and reap real benefits in 2019 and beyond.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Wikipedia defines social media marketing as the process of gaining attention and increasing attention through social media platforms. But I’d like to disagree and say that social media marketing is the creation of tailored content for social media platforms to drive user engagement.

Of course, you can leverage social platforms to promote products and services, increase brand awareness, as well as generate leads. But you can’t achieve any of the above goals without building meaningful relationships with the target audience.

Why Does Your Business Need a Social Media Marketing Strategy?

                Image source: We Are Social

Perhaps the most effective way to explain the importance of SMM to business is to look at how social media platforms impact customers.

  • According to MarketForce, 81% of the buying decisions made by a customer are influenced by what their social network has to say about different products
  • Social Media Today reports that 67% of customers use social media to contact customer service
  • Social media referrals increase the likelihood of an actual purchase by up to 71%

Today’s customers hardly use search engines to look for brands. Social media platforms are a great way for prospects to find brands, learn more about them and use their friends’ opinions to make purchasing decisions.

More than 97% of marketers use social media to increase brand awareness. And while these statistics are high, 50% of small businesses still don’t understand the importance of social media and how beneficial it could be to the bottom line. There those who view SMM as a passing trend and don’t plan on investing in it. If you are one of those marketers, here are more reasons why your business needs social media marketing.

  • Increased brand awareness: People buy from brands they recognize, and social media plays a crucial role in getting the right audience to engage with your business.
  • Brand humanization: Engaging with customers on social platforms and answering their questions lets them know that you are not a faceless brand.
  • Improved customer service: More than 67% of customers use social media for customer service. They expect their questions to be answered in less than 24 hours. Ignoring social media doesn’t mean that people will stop talking about your brand on their favorite channels.
  • Establish your brand as an authority: Responding to industry-related questions, sharing valuable resources and participating in discussions helps prove your expertise.
  • Competitor research: Social media offers a great way to spy on the competition, tweak your marketing strategies, identify opportunities and capitalize on their weaknesses.

Organic vs. Paid Social Media Marketing

There are two main types of social media marketing i.e. organic and paid. Organic social media marketing leverages free in-platform tools to connect with the target audience, engage with them and share valuable content. It offers plenty of consistency, which helps establish your brand as a niche authority. It is also more affordable, and customers trust organic advertisements more than paid campaigns.

As the name suggests, paid social media marketing involves distribution of content using paid budgets with the aim of convincing consumers to take a specific action i.e. share content, sign up for courses, watch a video, subscribe to newsletters etc. While they come with limited longevity, paid social media campaigns help businesses their goals faster. Platforms like Facebook allow marketers to target the audience based on very specific demographics such as age, location, education level, income, relationship status etc.

There is no absolute answer as to which of the above is best. What you can do is assess the needs of your business and decide what option is best for your brand.

Getting Started on Your Social Media Campaign

The first step when setting up a social media campaign is to define who the target audience is. Creating a buyer persona and identifying the demographics you want to target will make your tone and strategy more obvious. It’s also important that you establish specific goals for each campaign. The campaign should be crafted to achieve tangible results, which may include;

  • Generate new leads
  • Bolster SEO
  • Increase brand loyalty
  • Compete for keywords
  • Boost brand and product awareness
  • Improve website conversions
  • Increase product sales

Each of the above requires a different social media strategy.

You also need to decide what direction your campaign will take. There are several options at your disposal.

  • Prospecting social media campaigns are educational and used to search for customers. Marketers use informational content to provide value and pique interest in the target audience.
  • Consideration campaigns are designed to demonstrate a brand’s unique selling proposition(USP) and explain what makes a business unique. Videos and images work best for these campaigns.
  • Retargeting social campaigns use cookies to target people who have taken specific actions before. They are far more effective compared to standard display ads. Marketers use retargeting campaigns to reinforce opinions and appeal to the needs of the audience that the brand can address.
  • Conversion campaigns persuade consumers to take a specific action and become paying customers. Conversions may also include joining an email list, downloading a white paper, completing a survey and more.
  • Loyalty campaigns are long-term and designed to build trust in a brand. An in-depth understanding of the target audience is crucial to the success of these campaigns. You also need an expert copywriter, dedicated social media team and someone to monitor and plan posts for different platforms.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

One of the biggest mistakes made by marketers is viewing social media as a homogenous entity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mat be social platforms, but they are very different from each other in terms of audience and style.

So how do you know you are choosing the right platform for your business needs?

There are multiple factors to consider when identifying social media platforms to focus marketing on.

  • Posting on every channel is nearly impossible, even with a dedicated social media marketing team. Considering you need to post at least once each day on every channel, you should decide how much time you’re willing to dedicate to this task.
  • User demographics are more important than size. While it is one of the fastest growing platforms, Instagram wouldn’t be the best choice for a B2B firm. If you are B2B business that sells SaaS solutions, it’s best to focus your efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • It is crucial that you consider the resources at your disposal, and if they’ll be adequate for the platforms you’re considering. Do you have the right skills to create the required content? Can you create graphics for Pinterest and blog? What about videos? Consider hiring personnel for some of these tasks.

Get the Most From Popular Social Platforms

Facebook

Established in 2004, Facebook is an industry giant and the largest social media platform. T boasts over 2 billion active users, making it the third most visited site after Google and YouTube. It is an indispensable tool for extending digital reach through posts, images, videos and live video streaming.

The specificity with which marketers can target the ideal audience makes it easy to create customer avatars. Decide what goals you want to achieve with a Facebook advertising campaign i.e. drive conversions, promote your Facebook page, get people to claim offers, promote an event, send people to your site e.t.c.

You will also be asked to choose the target audience based on their location, gender, age, interests, connections, behaviors and language. Facebook also allows you to choose which devices to target and where the ads should show up. You can also opt for auto ad placement.

Facebook Business Manager plays a crucial role when advertising on the platform. You need to create an account and once done, you’ll be directed to the dashboard. It makes managing ad performance and marketing easy

Facebook

Finding the perfect audience can be time consuming. And when you do, you want to make the most of it. Facebook allows you to leverage this opportunity by creating lookalike audiences. This feature uses the characteristics of your current audience to make a new one that should perform well.

Another invaluable feature offered by Facebook is Instagram integration. This allows marketers to run Facebook ads on Instagram. It expands digital reach with minimal effort.

Video marketing has become increasingly popular over the past few years, and Facebook Live helps marketers tap into this opportunity. People enjoy live videos more than traditional ones, and this may explain why they spend three times more time watching live videos than pre-recorded ones.

Here are more tips to get noticed on Facebook;

  • High engagement periods: Users are more active from Thursday to Sunday, and engage most during the weekend. It’s best to post around 9.00am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm.
  • Strong business page: Be sure to include business contacts, create a summary and use targeted keywords. You need to keep the page active by posting relevant articles regularly.
  • Encourage engagement: Asking open ended questions, replying to direct messages and taking part in discussions are effective ways to encourage engagement.

Instagram

This app was released in 2010 and within two years, it reached 1+ million users. Nearly a decade later, Instagram remains one of the most popular social platforms. Facebook acquired the platform in 2012, and the number of active users has since grown to more than 800 million. People post photos, tag their friends, double tap to like them and even use hashtags. Because liking photos is so much easier on Instagram, consumers prefer it over Twitter and Facebook for images.

Instagram users can stream live videos, upload videos, upload photos in collections, send direct messages and post temporary stories. For advertisers, the stories feature offers a particularly impressive reach. More than 500 million users sign into Instagram every day and more check in throughout the month.

You need to generate aesthetic visual content on Instagram to do well. There is very limited room for informational content, so you have to be creative with the visual content you post. If you are offer cloud-based storage service, animated videos compensate for lack of product photos.

Considering that 54% of Instagram users are women, using the platform to target a female audience can prove to be a lucrative opportunity. Many brands use influencer marketing to expand their reach. This trend has become increasingly popular over the past few years, and it involves paying industry influencers to endorse your product or service. More than 65% brands use this tactic to drive sales, and with great success.

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Image source: neilpatel.com

Here are more tips on how to leverage Instagram.

  • Post on Mondays to Thursdays from 8.00am to 9.00am, and again at 5.00pm
  • Create a business profile with a phone number and link to your website
  • Use searchable hashtags when posting photos

Twitter

Twitter plays a huge role in business, entertainment and politics. It is known for its low character limit, about 280. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, feeds on Twitter move faster and work like conversations. Brands use the platform to encourage engagement by tweeting relevant information, images and videos. Below are a few tips on how to increase engagement on Twitter.

  • The best times to post are during lunch hour, 3.00 pm and 5.00pm – 6.00pm
  • Post a few times throughout the day
  • Reuse tweets that have a high value for your brand every once in a while
  • Retweet relevant tweets from industry leaders and use the @ sign to signal them
  • Use the pin tweets feature to give certain posts the spotlight for a few days
  • Promoting your account allows you to be more targeted
  • Promoted tweets that are well-crafted drive engagements and impressions
  • Take advantage of lead generation cards to collect information from Twitter

You can find more tips here;

YouTube

Formally known as Google Video, YouTube boasts over 1 billion active users. Over the past 10+ years, this platform has made it easy to share opinions. Streaming is incredibly fast, and users don’t have to pay a dime to watch content.

YouTube users earn money by doing all sorts of things including providing hair and makeup tutorials, reviewing products, playing video games, covering songs and more. Anyone can build a business on the platform. If you are a marketer, YouTube is a great place to share short- and long-form content. It allows you to reach the customers who aren’t avid readers.

One of the best things about YouTube is that you don’t need fancy equipment. You can even use your smartphone if it takes high quality videos. Microphones and light fixtures are incredibly cheap too. As for post production and editing, there are a variety of free tools you can use. A good example is WeVideo, a free online tool that allows you to layer content, add graphics and cut content.

You should consider investing in YouTube in-stream ads. You can opt for one of two options – allow users to skip the ads after 5 seconds, or make them watch the entire ad. The ideal choice depends on your business needs, and an A/B test will help you figure this out.

Here are additional tips on how to get more recognition on YouTube;

Snapchat

This platform boasts the youngest user base, making it the perfect tool for targeting millennial consumers. It may have been around only for a few years, buts its 178+ million active users are proof that it’s a goldmine for marketers who want to extend their online reach.

Snapchat

Snapchat users post a snaps and short videos, which can be viewed for a maximum of 10 seconds before they disappear. Stories last for 24 hours. This is a great platform to promote flash sales, provide sneak peeks to upcoming product launches, and provide giveaways.

You can advantage of Snap Ads to create videos that appear between stories. These have five times more engagement rates compared to regular click-through ads on other platforms. Other handy features to drive engagement include geofilters and sponsored lenses.

More tips on leveraging Snapchat;

Here are more guides on promoting your business on social media channels;

Conclusion

Customers look to social media to learn more about brands and their products. They value building personal relationships with brands and as a marketer, it is important to nurture such relationships. They’ll come handy when creating an online presence, driving sales, increasing organic website traffic and promoting products. Now that you have an overview of the top platforms and how to leverage them, you can get started on your social media marketing strategy. But keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many social platforms, and more to implementing a marketing strategy. Just start small, and keep optimizing your efforts.

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