One of the most significant flaws of humans is our tendency to be impatient.
We are living in a fast-paced world. Everyone is in social media and business owners are using social media marketing. Every day, new trends and technology appear, and keeping up has become increasingly difficult. So, you get tempted to jump on the social media bandwagon without a clear picture of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Jumping into it without a clear understanding of its scope and how it can benefit your business can be detrimental.
In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to build a successful social media marketing strategy that helps grow your business.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing aims to identify and reach out to target audiences via social platforms and websites in a meaningful way with the ultimate goal of promoting a product or service.
Businesses benefit from social media marketing because:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build engaged communities
- Sell products and services using native social commerce solutions
- Measure brand sentiment through social listening
- Provide customer service on social media platforms
- Advertise their products and services to target audiences
The importance of social media for business
Businesses once thought of social media as just a passing trend, a way for kids to waste time scrolling through endless news feeds.
Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more evident that social media can be one of the most effective marketing tools ever created. Approximately 5.22 billion people are online, with over 4.20 billion active users on social media (marketing statistics). If social media were a country, it would be the biggest nation in the world.
Social media can provide your brand with tremendous exposure and brand recognition, thanks to its enormous size. We are so accustomed to using social media that our preferences and problems are freely revealed to the public.
Businesses that are savvy know how to take advantage of the vast amounts of data users generate in real-time. More than 500 million Tweets are sent every day, 95 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram, and 4.5 billion posts are liked on Facebook. However, behind all of this data is an invaluable insight into your customers: who they are, what they want, and what they will pay for.
Using social media, brands can easily listen in on customers’ conversations and join them. By gathering audience information from social networks, you can create better marketing messages that fit their profile.
There’s no doubt that social media can significantly benefit your business.
What is a Social Media Marketing Strategy?
A social marketing media strategy lays out your social media goals, the tactics you plan to use to reach them, and the metrics you plan to measure your success.
Your social media marketing strategy should include a list of all your current and planned social media profiles, as well as a list of goals specific to every platform you’re using. Last but not least, a good social media plan should outline the roles and responsibilities within your team and your reporting schedule.
What are the benefits of a Social Media Marketing Strategy?
Social media has become such an integral part of a brand’s marketing efforts that over 97% of marketers use it.
Unfortunately, not all businesses have grasped the benefits of social media. Approximately half of the small businesses are not using social media to market their products/services.
That’s a huge number.
Over 25% of those businesses indicated that they don’t plan to use social media in the future. It appears that there is a big gap between those who understand the value that social media can provide and those who see it as a passing fad.
If you’re one of the few businesses that have trouble seeing the value of social network marketing, consider these advantages:
- Brand Recognition: People usually buy products provided by brands they recognize. By engaging with your brand on social media, even non-buyers can learn more about your business and engage with you.
- Humanizing Your Brand: Social media allows you to show your customers that you are not just a faceless corporation only interested in their money. It enables you to build your voice and showcase your team’s personality.
- Establishing Yourself as an Authority: Social media is an excellent platform for sharing valuable content proving your expertise. Participate in discussions, respond to industry-related questions, and contribute helpful resources to your network to become an authority in your niche.
- Improving Your Customer Service: Although social media might seem to be a waste of time, your audience expects you to be present. 67% of consumers go to social media for customer service. These statistics are from four years ago; you can only imagine how much has changed since then. However, that’s not all: consumers expect brands to respond to their requests within 24 hours. While you ignore social media, your prospects are talking about your business online.
The list could go on forever. In addition to driving more traffic to your site, social media helps with ranking in Google, keeping track of your competitors, and more.
The real question is how you can build a social media marketing plan to reap all of these benefits.
How to create a social media marketing strategy
Digital marketers and business owners often haphazardly approach social media without a clear direction. They “need to have a presence,” so they set up pages on every social platform out there and start publishing inconsistent content.
For your business to be successful on social media, you must understand what you want to achieve. Once you’ve identified what you want to accomplish, then you need to create a structure and a specific plan for getting there.
Here are the key areas you should consider when creating a social media marketing plan for your business.
Social Media Research
To successfully use social media, you must understand the needs and expectations of your audience. You should make social media research an integral part of your overall strategy for social media.
If you think it through, it makes perfect sense: the more you understand your customers, the less difficult it is to create content that caters to their interests.
The only problem is that the volume of discussion on social media is so enormous that finding valuable insights can seem impossible.
Do not panic just yet. With the right approach, social media research is doable.
Start by asking the right questions.
Suppose you’re a digital marketing agency interested in finding out what people are saying about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. You may want to ask several questions, such as “What are people’s opinions on this topic?” “How are they responding?” “How popular are different types of SEO?” “When it comes to SEO, what are the other digital marketing agencies mentioned?”
Now that you have your questions and topics, note the possible words or phrases your audience may use when discussing this topic. Don’t forget to include slang terms and misspelled words since people often use them on the internet.
Use social media to get a feel for what your audience is saying about your list of topics by jumping on social media and selecting the most relevant platform for your audience.
Review your results and refine your list. Don’t include anything that isn’t relevant to what you are looking for or doesn’t provide any useful information. Consider some basic questions to answer with your data, such as how do audiences feel overall about websites in this space, which audience categories are most vocal, and so on.
Do not hesitate to look beyond the surface of your research and uncover more details. You can use this information to develop an effective marketing strategy for your products or services.
Paid vs. Organic Social Media
It is possible to increase your business traffic via social media marketing without burning through your budget. Obviously, for that to happen, it will take time, patience, and hard work.
When it comes to boosting brand awareness, traffic generation, and customer acquisition, perhaps paid social media advertising is a better option.
Now let’s see, shall we?
You can use organic social media marketing to reach your target audience without spending a dime (excluding the time). That is if you learn the rules of the game and play by them.
Here’s the thing: just like Search Engine Optimization, the algorithms for each social media network change regularly. Facebook, for example, has slashed average organic reach for businesses over the past few years and will continue to do so. It is clear that Facebook will only show valuable, relevant, and helpful content.
It may be challenging to crack the algorithms and get your content in front of audiences. Still, there are a few advantages to paying attention to organic results instead of paying attention straight away:
- Being consistent can benefit your business long-term by developing authority;
- If you have a tight marketing budget, it’s much more affordable;
- Your audience likely trust “organic” engagement and messaging more than they do paid advertisements;
On the flip side, paid social media advertising can lead to faster results, but it’s also short-lived. If you stop paying for a campaign, it will stop driving traffic and leads, but evergreen social media content will continue to generate ROI for years to come.
At the end of the day, there’s no clear winner. The best option for your business depends on your metrics and budget. In reality, each of these social networks is a business itself, and they must monetize their audiences to stay afloat. As this industry matures, organic reach will become more difficult. As such, if you believe that social media is an “free” way to market your business, you will be disappointed.
Picking the Right Social Media Platforms
The biggest mistake small business owners make is that they see social media as a homogeneous entity. It is true that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all social networks, but they are so different that every aspect, from audience to style, is completely different.
How can you make sure that you are focusing on the social networks that will benefit your business?
Here are some points to remember:
Consider User Demographics: Size isn’t always relevant. While Instagram is one of the fastest-growing networks, if you are a digital marketing agency that sells SEO services to businesses, after that, you should concentrate your resources on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Resources: Do you possess the skills or personnel to create the right content for the networks you intend to target? While Pinterest and Instagram emphasize creative imagery and videos, Twitter places first priority on quality articles.
Time: You won’t be able to post on every social media channel unless you have a dedicated social network marketing department. Make sure you post to every network daily.
Focus your efforts at first on the social network(s) that are MOST relevant to your customer group, and give them your all. As a general rule, I would suggest choosing the top 3 networks your customer most frequently frequents and sticking with them.
Learn everything you can about your audience
Create audience personas
The key to social media success is knowing your audience and what they want. This will allow you to create content that they will like, share, and comment on. Having a strong social media presence is also essential if you want to turn followers into customers for your business.
You should know the following things about your target customer:
- average income
- Typical job title or industry
Understanding your fans, followers, and customers to target and engage them on social media will help you build an effective social media presence.
Be careful not to make assumptions. Are you convinced Facebook is a better network to reach Baby Boomers than Millennials? The numbers show that Millennials still have a huge lead over Boomers on this platform.
You can also use social media analytics to find out who are your followers, where they live, and how they interact with your brand. You can use these insights to refine your strategy and better target your audience.
Know your competition
There’s a good chance your competitors are already using social media, so you can learn from what they’re doing.
Conduct a competitive analysis
You can analyze the competition to determine who they are and what they do well (and what they do not so well). By getting to know what’s expected in your industry, you’ll be able to set social media goals you’re proud of.
You will also be able to identify business opportunities.
Perhaps one of your competitors dominates on Facebook but neglects Twitter or Instagram. Instead of winning fans away from an existing dominant player, you might want to target networks with underserved audiences.
Do a social media audit.
Assess your social media efforts thus far if you are already using them. Consider the following questions:
- What’s working, and what’s not?
- Who is engaging with you?
- Which networks does your targeted audience use?
- How does your social media presence compare to the competition?
After collecting that information, you can start thinking about ways to improve.
Your audit should help you understand the purpose of each of your social media accounts. If you aren’t sure why the account is necessary, you may want to reconsider keeping it.
Consider these questions when making your decision:
- Is my audience here?
- If so, how are they using this platform?
- Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?
Asking all these questions will keep your strategy focused.
Look after impostor accounts.
Your audit may reveal fake accounts with the names of your products or your business name. Even if they do not capture your followers, these imposters can harm your brand.
You should report them.
How Often You Should Post on Social Media
Based on 14 studies, CoSchedule found the optimal social media frequency that allows you to engage with your network, drive engagement, drive traffic, and keep your business top of mind without annoying your audience.
Here is what it came up with:
- Facebook: According to studies, you should post to Facebook no more than twice a day. Anything more than that could be considered spam;
- Twitter: According to Neil Patel social media marketing can be effective when you tweet 15 times every day,;
- Pinterest: You will get the best results if you post between 15 and 30 times per day;
- LinkedIn: A single post per day is more than sufficient;
Instagram: Most brands share only 1-2 images a day on Instagram. Make use of Instagram Stories if you have additional content to share with your audience;
All of that seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? By using social media scheduling tools, posting consistently on social media becomes easier. We will discuss this matter in more detail later.
The Best Time to Post on Social Media
Social media marketing success depends on timing just like everything else in life. Imagine you’ve spent hours writing an article that is insightful and filled with useful information. The result excites you, so you share it with your network. But you find it almost entirely unnoticed.
That’s how crucial timing is.
If you are posting on social media, when is your best time to do it?
Here are some numbers:
- Facebook: Posting to Facebook is best done on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The best hours are 9 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM.
- Twitter: The best time to post on Twitter is Wednesday between 5 and 6 PM any day of the week;
- Pinterest: Saturdays are your best days for connecting with your Pinterest audience. The best hours are 2 PM, 9 PM, and even late at night (2 AM;)
- LinkedIn: Posting midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) early in the morning (between 7 and 8 AM) or late in the afternoon (5-6 PM) is your best bet;
- Instagram: One aspect that makes Instagram so great is how active its users are all week long. Despite that, don’t miss Mondays and Thursdays except from 3-4pm for maximum engagement;
Again, you can pre-schedule content to be posted at these times rather than needing to be active all day every day yourself using social media management tools!
Using Social Media to Influence SEO
In its search engine results, Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine which content should be shown high. Even though social media signals are among the less important factors, they can still influence your search rankings.
Most digital marketers believe there is a strong correlation between social signals and ranking position. A site with many social signals will perform better than one without.
Correlation is not causation, but social signals are playing an increasingly important role in SEO. High-quality content is more likely to be liked, shared, and linked to if you share it on social media. As a result, you build traffic, credibility, and reputation. All of that can, in turn, lead to a higher ranking.
You should also consider the fact that people who search for your business will probably find you on page one of a search result. This is extremely important for authority and brand recognition.
Growing a Social Media Audience
Now that you understand the power of social media, you probably know how to make your business grow. However, how do you attract those first fans and followers? If you have no audience, where do you begin?
Getting Likes, Followers, and Shares
There are many ways to increase your visibility. Your website or other social media profile should include links to social media profiles, engage with others, use hashtags, add links in your signature to your social media accounts, and so on. In the end, however, all your efforts will be useless if the content you provide to your network isn’t valuable. Ensure you are regularly creating quality content before doing anything else.
Right now, Facebook is all about video. It has been reported that live video is viewed 29% more frequently than traditional content. As a result, your social media strategy can achieve a wide audience reach. Nevertheless, be aware of the fact that trends come and go, and be ready to adapt as times change.
Marketers believe Messenger is the future, a channel that will challenge email marketing directly. You can engage with prospects using Facebook Messenger Chatbots and also increase your reach using Messenger Ads. The strategy is still evolving as a social network marketing tactic, but it’s certainly worth watching.
Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups
Both Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups have their pros and cons. However, unlike a Facebook Page, where some people might just be there for discounts and coupons, your Facebook Group audience is engaged and interested in the topic at hand. Joining one will enable you to participate in the discussion and demonstrate your expertise. Additionally, Facebook Groups get better organic reach than Business Pages, so combining the two makes a lot of sense.
Twitter is a very interactive medium. Engage with followers and other users as often as you can by retweeting, liking, and replying.
It has now evolved from a recruiting tool into one of the most powerful publishing platforms. Your business can take advantage of this by publishing content that is likely to bring potential customers to your website.
“Collaboration” is the key term to Pinterest success. Engage bloggers and influencers in your niche by inviting them to contribute to your boards. In this way, you can increase your exposure and network.
To grow your Snapchat audience, begin developing a storyline. Don’t just post random pictures or videos. Create a narrative that keeps users interested.
A surprisingly underutilized (and underestimated) feature of social media marketing is listening.
Here’s why: you need to know your audience’s perspective in order to deliver high-quality content. To reach that level of understanding, you must become an excellent listener.
Even your competition can provide important insights into your prospects through brand mentions, likes, comments, discussions on forums, and even your competition itself. Information about what your customers think about you can help improve customer engagement, determine how your audience perceives you in comparison to your competitors, uncover pain points that other companies are not addressing, or identify industry influencers.
Pay attention to keywords such as your brand name and handles, your competitors’ names, your products’ names, your campaign’s keywords, and hashtags.
Tools like Mention make this much easier than it was when social media first came about.
Social Media Community Management
Your social network marketing plan isn’t going to work if you ignore your fans and followers. Responding to comments, sending welcome/thank you direct messages, and linking and sharing posts takes time, but that’s what social media is all about.
Invest at least one hour per day in social media community management. Your brand will benefit if you respond to those who mention it – it will enhance your reputation. Using tools like AgoraPulse, or Mention will make scheduling posts and listening to conversations easier.
Social Media Advertising
Early on I mentioned there isn’t a black and white answer to the question of paid and organic social media.
While I am mainly focused on organic growth of my social media presence, with organic reach becoming increasingly limited I find that it is increasingly important to include social media advertising in your plan.
Customers’ journeys rarely follow a straight line. Your prospects go through several stages before they decide if they are interested in your product. The chances of them converting are very low if they encounter only one touch point.
In order to achieve consistent results with social media marketing, you must create as many touch points as possible, and advertising provides the most controlled and measurable means of doing that.
The following approach to social media advertising makes sense when combined with quality content and organic growth:
- Create high-quality content and publish it on your website;
- Promote it organically to ensure it reaches the widest audience possible;
- Add a cookie (Facebook or Twitter pixel) to your website that captures the information of people who visit and engage with your content;
- Remarket your future content (and offers) to the audience that has shown interest in your brand;
- Generate qualified leads that already trust you;
- Rinse and repeat;
Social Media Management Tools
Social media can be pretty overwhelming at times. In addition to creating content and scheduling it, engaging with your network, promoting posts, sharing other people’s content, and managing your community, you should also manage your community.
The good news is that you can take some of the pressure off your shoulders with a variety of social media management tools. Among the best ones available today are AgoraPulse, Buffer, HootSuite, and Social Oomph.
To gain a more in-depth understanding of social media management tools, read this post.
Social Media Reporting and ROI
The final aspect of your strategy should be deciding how results will be tracked.
According to Convince & Convert, 41% of companies do not know whether their social media efforts are successful.
I find that unacceptable… Would you really invest all of that time and money into something that “might” work?
Here’s how to track the ROI of your social media marketing in 3 easy steps:
Step 1 – Set SMART goals
Developing a winning strategy starts with identifying your objectives and goals. With no goals, it is impossible to measure success or return on investment (ROI).
Each of your goals should be:
This is the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework. It will guide your actions and ensure they lead to real business results.
Step 2 – Understand the metrics that contribute to those goals
How can you determine whether you’ve reached your goal?
Set up a baseline set of metrics that show where you stand today in order to make this work.
You could create a “Goal” in Google Analytics because it can track when someone becomes a customer based on a triggering event or visitor action. When you use the appropriate URL parameters when you share social media content, you will automatically know how many people converted directly from social media.
Step 3 – Track those metrics
Use Google Analytics, or any number of 3rd party social media monitoring and reporting tools, to track these metrics and improve your strategy over time.
Should you outsource social media marketing or keep it in-house?
Choosing to outsource or hire in-house talent, to plan and execute your social media marketing strategy, can be a challenging decision.
There are a number of pros and cons to consider…
The pros of hiring in-house social media talent
- They understand your business more intimately
- They can take action (typically) more quickly when required
- They are immersed in your culture
- You have control of your marketing
The cons of hiring in-house social media talent
- They may not have the expertise, specialization or experience that an outsourced solution has
- The cost is more, and the risk is higher if you need to replace them
- It prevents you from being able to scale quickly
- It’s hard to find great talent
If you’re looking to outsource your social media marketing, you could choose a professional digital marketing agency such as Damex Digital.
In the process of creating your own social media marketing plan, you may feel both excited and overwhelmed. Even though you know it will benefit your business, it seems almost impossible to get started due to the many factors to think about. This guide should help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In the end, what choice do you have?
It is your customers who are online and interacting on social networks and they expect you to follow suit. You can either ignore or embrace that reality.
You can hire someone who is already proficient in social media marketing & strategies to handle it for you rather than learning it yourself.
Damex Digital is a professional digital marketing agency located in Smithers, British Columbia, that offers a range of digital marketing services, among them social media marketing.
Our list of satisfied clients is growing rapidly and we are an experienced company with years of experience. Let Damex Digital help you get your digital marketing goals met by unlocking the true potential of your social media profile.