Social media is one of the most powerful ways to reach and engage with buyers today.
Now the status quo in a business’ digital presence, the modern internet user expects to see their favorite brands on social media – which provides an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of. Social media marketing offers marketers the ability to engage with their buyers across the entire customer lifecycle, on the platforms they actively tune in to for information.
So, it’s important you know how to leverage social media marketing to build your brand, drive demand, and engage your buyer. Which is why we have put together this guide to help you get started. Let’s get started.
1. Understand Why Social Media Marketing Important
According to eMarketer, in 2017, 2.46 billion individuals (or 1/3rd of the global population) and 71% of internet users will access social networks at least once a month, up 8.2% from 2016.
Because it’s universally used by consumers and brands, social media is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) channels to connect with your audience. Social media platforms provide an outlet for you to promote your business culture, promote products and services, share organizational updates, post job opportunities, practice customer service, engage with clients, fans, prospects – you name it. The opportunities to showcase your business are endless – and it has become critical that your brand understands how to leverage social media to your advantage, so you can connect with the right audience, in the right way, at the right time.
Here are some key benefits of keeping an effective and interactive social media presence:
Drive Brand Awareness & Preference
Social media is an important channel to reach large audiences and develop their awareness, recognition, and sentiment for your brand. According to Global Web Index, more than a third of users seek out brands on social media – using social platforms to engage with brands that they already like, research products and services for purchase, obtain customer service, and write or evaluate reviews.
Increase Demand and Generate Leads
Social media offers an outlet to develop offers, promotions, contests, and content that engages audiences, drives conversions, and accelerates purchases.
Social media is one of the easiest and most effective ways to push out your content. The incoming links from your social media shares can impact your website visitor activity and engagement, and if your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines.
Social media marketing is most effective when its messages and content support and reinforce those on other marketing channels. Coordinated messages across channels (including social media) allow marketers to carry on a continuous conversation over time with their audience.
Networking and Peer-To-Peer Influence
Word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations are an extremely powerful way to increase brand visibility through social proof, as people believe their network of peers more often than a branded campaign. According to a McKinsey Study, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate.
2. Develop a Winning Social Media Strategy
Jumping into a social media for your business can be overwhelming. You know your organization needs one – but you don’t know enough to push out a winning plan of attack for your business. Creating a social media strategy will help keep you organized, concise, and touching your target audience with the right content.
Here’s what you need to know to begin building out a winning social media strategy:
Understand Your Audience (Build Personas)
Before you effectively write to someone, you need to first know who they are. So before jumping into building out a social media strategy, take the time to understand your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? Building out personas will help you paint a picture of who your target audience really is.
Map Your Goals to the Customer LifeCycle
As with any marketing strategy, it’s important to define your goals. To do this, we recommend identifying your social media marketing goals for each stage of the customer lifecycle (awareness, engagement, purchase, retention, growth, advocacy). Doing this creates a foundation for a solid social media strategy that’s flexible enough to react to an individual’s buyer journey while also providing a roadmap for you, to determine which platforms, messages, and offers make sense for your buyer.
Creating Content for Social Media
In today’s day and age, content is King. If you want to grow your social media presence and hit your different objectives, you need to create content that maps to each stage of the customer lifecycle and aligns with your buyers’ expectations on each social channel. Here are some tips to get started:
Define your writing style – Based on your defined personas, you should have a solid understanding of the tone, style, and delivery strategies to use for each platform.
Create a variety of content – No matter your business type or your audience, you will want to make sure you have the following mixed into your content strategy: Whitepapers, Tip sheets/checklists, Blog posts, Infographics, Photos and videos, Fun visual content (such as memes), and Slideshows.
Use visuals to your advantage – Social audiences love visual content, so make sure you are consistently using images and videos in your posts. We recommend that every post you put on your social profiles has some sort of an image or video included. Visual images appeal to viewer’s emotions, creates intimacy and helps humanize your company. According to Buffer, visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.
3. Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business
There are many different social media platforms you can utilize to reach and engage with your audience. Choosing the right social media platforms comes down to asking, “Where are my customers?” If they are on certain platforms more than others, it makes sense to allocate time and resources towards that platform over others, because the chances of reaching them are that much higher. Keep your audience and objectives in mind as you choose which social media platforms to focus on.
We’ve broken down a few of the most popular platforms for business – and what you need to know to get started with each:
According to Pew Research Center, there are more than 1.59 billion active users and 1.44 billion active mobile users on Facebook every month. And it’s only growing. Facebook is an essential tool to connect with your buyers – because the vast majority of every type of buyer is somehow involved with the platform.
A Facebook Page for your company has many benefits: it makes your business discoverable in Facebook search, allows you to connect one-on-one with your followers, helps you reach large groups, and gives you deeper insights into your audience. But to accomplish this, businesses need to strike the critical balance of offering content that is relevant and adds value, with content that just plain entertains. For your Facebook posts, be sure to have a mix of fun, ungated (without a form as a barrier) content as well as more educational, gated content and promotions. Promoting company culture spikes engagement on the platform, as well as using images and videos to enhance product offering and drive users back to your website.
Below are tips to get started with Facebook:
- We suggest posting 5-10 posts per week on your Company page to stay relevant in user’s newsfeeds.
- The best times to post on Facebook are Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 12pm – 3pm.
- Verify your Facebook page to ensure users that your brand page is active. Verification also helps pull your page towards the top of search results. (Follow the steps to verify here – it only takes a few minutes to submit the request!)
- Use Facebook’s link format on your posts to point to a landing page on your website.
- Incorporate Live Video into your posts to engage your audience in the moment.
Twitter has over 320 million monthly active users, with 80% of them on mobile. Additionally, it drives 1 billion unique visits monthly to sites with embedded Tweets. Twitter has become an optimal network for thought leadership growth and development, and has become a huge hub for breaking news, business service promotions, and customer service and fan engagement. Building your following on Twitter is a key activity that drives awareness and engagement success on the social network, and by following accounts and companies of interest, you can reach and engage with the right audience in real-time.
- We suggest tweeting at least 5 times per day to increase following and engagement.
- The best times to Tweet are Monday – Friday, 12pm – 3pm.
- Keep your tweets short, sweet, and to the point
- Create and utilize hashtags for events and all other posts.
- Include a relevant link to posts.
- Add visuals to your posts to draw maximum engagement
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories. LinkedIn Company pages can showcase products, employee networks, blog posts, upcoming events, and status updates, making the social network a highly targeted advertising solution and publishing platform. It’s important to note that because LinkedIn is a professional network, your content mix and tone should aim to be professional and engaging. We’ve found that because users are on LinkedIn mostly for professional purposes, educational posts perform very well.
- We suggest posting once a day to LinkedIn (at a minimum, 20 times per month).
- The best times to post on LinkedIn are on Monday – Friday, 6am – 12pm.
- Encourage employees to participate on LinkedIn by liking, sharing, and commenting on your posts so it appears in their follower’s newsfeeds – furthering your reach for free.
- Treat and optimize your LinkedIn page for SEO – include your top keywords in your company description and specialties to see a real impact on search results.
- LinkedIn’s algorithm for post-appearance is different than other networks. LinkedIn has implemented a four-step process for content distribution across its network as a way to reduce the spread of spam or inappropriate content – to better understand how this works, read more about it here.
YouTube has over a billion users – making it the second-largest search engine in the world after Google. Your video titles should be customer-centric and descriptive so that users can easily find your content when they search, and your video description should be two or three sentences that include targeted keywords. 5-7 tags are optimal and will ensure your video is associated with other videos that use the same tags so they can appear as a “related video” when users are viewing other videos.
- Use a keyword-rich description since this section represents the meta data that is searched by Google.
- Post new videos on a consistent basis so that users feel like it’s worthwhile to subscribe to your channel.
- Include calls-to-action in your videos, asking viewers to subscribe or visit a link directed to your website.
With more than 500 million active monthly users, Instagram has a very active user base. With Facebook’s acquisition of the platform, the platform has become increasingly popular for marketers to touch, and many brands use it to showcase their products and engage their audience through posts, contests, and giveaways. Post photos and videos that give your audience personal insight into the inner circle or workings of your product or company; you can use Instagram to share interesting quotes and fun visuals, capture event and office culture photos, and run contests to engage followers and show them the human side of your organization.
- We suggest posting at least 3 times per week on Instagram.
- The best time to post on Instagram is Monday – Friday, 12pm – 1pm.
- Identify the hashtags that fit your business and product and incorporate them into every post.
- Use Instagram Stories to post more frequently without overwhelming your audience.
- Tag and use the location feature on images to reach a larger audience.
4. Take Advantage of Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising has become a necessity for marketers to allocate spend towards due to the size and quality of audiences on the leading social networks. eMarketer reports that in 2017, social network ad spending will reach $35.98 billion worldwide. Advertising on social media helps increase impressions, clicks, and conversions in an effort to drive brand awareness and sales – hence why organizations are willing to spend money on these otherwise-free platforms.
The hype here is the way that social media platforms have configured their algorithms for what shows (and what doesn’t show) in newsfeeds. Your organization’s posts are likely not making it to the forefront of people’s feeds – unless you are pushing money behind it – in an effort of the social platform to decrease noise on newsfeeds. So, if you are not currently boosting your social posts, your followers are likely never seeing your post, unless they visit your page. As marketers increasingly spend more on social platforms, it’s more important than ever to have the right strategy in place, track all of your paid social campaigns, and gain insights into what’s working and what’s not.
Our clients frequently ask us how much spend should be allocated towards advertising on social media. And our answer is always that it depends – and that it takes time, testing, and tracking to find a budget that works best for your business.
To help guide you – below is a breakdown per channel on how you can leverage advertisements and boosted content on social:
You can spend as little as $5 per day on Facebook advertising and see significant results. For small to medium-sized businesses, this could be a good start.
Learn more about advertising on Facebook – [Buffer] The Complete, Always-Updated Guide to Facebook Advertising
For every $5/day spent on Facebook, we recommend increasing 3x for LinkedIn – meaning starting off at a minimum $15/day and then working your way up. Especially for B2B organizations, the quality of audience on LinkedIn typically out-weighs the quality of audience reached on Facebook – so you may spend more, but in efforts to reach a more relevant audience.
Learn more about advertising on LinkedIn – [LinkedIn] How to Advertise on LinkedIn
There is no general suggested budget for Twitter – this varies entirely on the type of promotion you choose to run on Twitter and the bid you put in place.
Learn more about advertising on Twitter – [HootSuite] How to Use Twitter Ads: The Complete Guide for Business
Experts suggest experimenting with $5/day on Instagram ads to start. While Instagram ads cost less for impressions and clicks, Facebook ads have higher click-through rate.
Learn more about advertising on Instagram – [Buffer] The Complete Guide to Instagram Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram
5. Avoid these Social Media Pitfalls
As you plan your social media goals, strategy, and activities, it’s important to avoid these common pitfalls:
- Don’t go in without goals: You need to establish your objectives, goals, and ways to measure success.
- Don’t just brag or sell: Endless self-promotion will alienate your audience and irritate existing customers.
- Don’t overlook measuring your ROI: There are concrete ways to measure your impact (outlined above) and they need to be tracked.
- Don’t assume every social media site is good for your business: It’s critical to understand how and when your buyers are using social media. Social media requires you to actively engage with your audience and can be a resource drain if you’re on too many channels.
- Don’t create a presence on a social site and then abandon it: Creating a presence means finding and building engagement with your audience. It’s a continuous process that takes time but is well worth the effort.
Growing your brand with social media takes time, testing, patience, and tracking and reporting. For the full social media report, download Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.