Looking for something to help you get started with social media?
Change is the only constant thing in life and the same applies to marketing strategies. Marketing tactics always adapt to the latest technology, and Social Media Marketing is the new buzzword. Many businesses are yet to catch up or get the grip of it.
Social media is now an integral part of our daily living. Imagine what would happen without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn! No idea!
Social media has definitely changed our mode of communication with friends and family, sharing thoughts and photos, and marketing our business. As such, for small businesses, social media marketing is a game-changer.
Statista report reveals that 81% of the American populace had a social networking profile with a steady growth of three percent compared to the past year. Popular social networks like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have a unique appeal, distinct from the other. For instance, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform whereas Facebook has both personal and professional features.
YouTube, on the other hand, is for videos and Instagram is a dedicated site for photos. Pinterest is a fine digital bulletin board. However, Facebook has fast become the powerhouse of social media, helping users promote the content of various brands and new sources.
Understanding Social Media
Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding Social Media
- 2 What can Social Media do to your Business?
- 3 Social Media Marketing – The New Buzz
- 4 Should you engage in Social Media Marketing?
- 5 How to choose the right Social Media platform for your business
- 6 How to Create a Brilliant Social Media Marketing Strategy
- 6.1 Step#1: Set your Goals Aligned to Business Objectives
- 6.2 Step#2: Know your Target Audience
- 6.3 Step#3: Competitive Research and Analysis
- 6.4 Step#4: Audit & Evaluation
- 6.5 Step#5: Set up your Business Profile and Account
- 6.6 Step#6: Have a Social Media Content Alert
- 6.7 Step#8: Testing & Evaluation
- 6.8 Is Social Media Marketing a Fad?
- 7 Final Word
Social Media is the platform for communicating and interacting online. It is so called because users engage with and around it in a social context, which includes conversations, comments, and user-generated annotations, and various other engagement interactions.
While it existed since the advent of World Wide Web, it is only over the past one decade or so that social media surged in both popularity and number. Over time, social media made it easier to publish content exponentially. As a result, the use of social media has also skyrocketed. Even non-technical web users can easily create engaging content on a fast-growing number of platforms such as hosted communities and blogs, social networks and third-party communities, and commenting or contributing. Today, the web scene is no longer one-to-many; it is many-to-many engagement.
For small and large businesses, this shift in trend of web consumerism followed by the increase in social media prevalence is certainly an opportunity. However, any opportunity has a host of responsibilities too. The sheer amount of consumer data available through social networks alone opens up vast opportunities for web marketers.
However, the jackpot lies in the opportunity to develop scalable and long-lasting relationships with the customer base of an organization through social network platforms. This is the right place to shape up online responsibilities for customers.
The change in customers’ buying behavior also indicates a change in their expectations. Regardless of your business engaging and listening to customers, they are conversing and debating over topics relevant to your business functions.
What can Social Media do to your Business?
Let’s take an example: You have a business and you want to share an interesting piece of content relevant to your business on your Facebook Business Page. Your page has 200 fans, out of which 175 see the post. Some may click and read more, others may share it with their friends, and some others may pinpoint the important points and take a screenshot. This is the beginning of a post going “viral.”It is also how particularly engaging and clickable content is seen on various social media platforms.
Hootsuite study shows that 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business. Can you afford to miss this awareness?
Having said that, social media marketing strategy is much more than merely racking up Likes, Shares, and Comments. At the core, the goal is to connect with more and more customers and building a lasting business connection.
Social Media Marketing – The New Buzz
Social media marketing is a summary of all marketing to-do plans on social media with the hope to achieve startling results. A strategy guides actions and allows business owners to understand whether their plan is a success or needs improvement. Every like, comment, and post serves the purpose and counts.
In addition, it includes an array of activities such as promoting blogs, launching a recruitment drive, business ad posting on social media etc. Getting specific with your strategy ensures effective execution. Therefore, it should be concise and practical rather than broad, lofty and unattainable.
Should you engage in Social Media Marketing?
If you are looking for something to get you started with social media conversation, social media marketing is just what you need. It is indispensable to organizations and businesses today. Social media platform offers an opportunity for both free and paid ads. The platform gives access to a huge audience you can build and allow yourself to grow.
Technically, there’s nothing free, not even on social media. Someone has to spend time posting ads on social platforms or writing content and blog posts. However, even bare minimum investment can do wonders if it is done strategically.
In general, social media marketing works for everyone. However, you should not see it as an inexpensive, low effort and an easy way to money. The best marketing strategies usually take a lot of planning, trial-and-error, and various combinations. In addition, there is no one-size-fits-all formula.
Just remember, social media marketing has great potential for most businesses. However, it is rarely as simple as sending out a tweet or posting a comment. There is a lot more to it.
How to choose the right Social Media platform for your business
While networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest each offer a unique set of benefits, engaging your audience across multiple platforms won’t necessarily drive results for your business.
So how do you choose the best social media platform?
Be strategic about where you spend your resources. Rather than misallocating your time across multiple networks, focus on finding the best social media plaforms—those that complement your business’s needs and make the most of the benefits those specific platforms have to offer. To help you optimize what social media networks can do for your business, we’ve outlined 2 steps to guide your decision on picking the network that will work for your business.
Seek Out Your Target Audience :
The first step is to identify your targeted audience. You want to be as specific as possible since it will make your decision easier.
Define Your Objective on Social Media :
Once you know your audience, you need to define goals for that audience. As a business owner, your primary goal will likely be to boost sales by attracting customers-yet, there are other creative goals for social media that up to you.
How to Create a Brilliant Social Media Marketing Strategy
Step#1: Set your Goals Aligned to Business Objectives
Build SMART goals to establish your business objectives on social media. Without predefined foals, there is no way of measuring your success or social media return on investment.
• S: Specific
• M: Measurable
• A: Attainable
• R: Relevant
• T: Time-bound
This framework is essential to ensure your goals lead to real business opportunities and results, instead of haughty ideals.
In addition, it is crucial to track metrics, especially the relevant ones, for better opportunities. Instead of devoting your time to vanity metrics such as retweets, which are easier to track and fun, focus on targets. Retweets have no real business value, whereas targeted metrics like leads generates, conversion rate, and web referrals are critical.
You may also like to track various goals of multiple channels, or different uses of channels through paid social campaigns, organic social post engagement, and measurable acquisition.
Make sure your social media goals are perfectly aligned with the overall marketing strategy. This would make things easier for you to bring out the real value of work and ensure executive investment.
The first step to develop your social media marketing strategy is to write down the social media goals.
Step#2: Know your Target Audience
Here’s a small real-world example:
Jugnoo, an autorickshaw service in India, just like Uber, used Facebook Analytics and learned that 90 percent of their users who referred their services to other customers belonged to the age group of 18 to 34 years, whereas 65 percent of the same groups were Android users.
They used this same information for targeting their ads, which led to a 40 percent cost reduction.
Getting to know your audience is what you need to create a compelling and targeted social media marketing plan. You have to present content for your audience so that they like it, comment on it, and share it as much as possible. It is equally critical to plan how to develop social media fans and convert them into customers for business.
Creating an audience persona is a compelling way to know your audience. It allows you to think of your potential followers, customers, and fans like real people with real needs and wants. As a result, you can think with clarity about what you want to offer and how.
Instead of making assumptions, it is critical to collect real-world data for a better strategy. For example, you may believe that LinkedIn is better to promote your business than Facebook Business Page. However, the latter could have a wider reach and viewer base.
For a targeted approach, you can use social media analytics to gather relevant and valuable information about your followers – their demographics, languages they speak, and the way they communicate with your brand, on social networks. With these insights, you can refine your business strategy and improve your social advertisement posts.
Step#3: Competitive Research and Analysis
Image Cource : Slideshare
It is highly likely that your competitors are already on social media. You can start learning from their activities and actions.
Competitive analysis can help you to identify your competition and understand what they are doing; if they are doing well, how; if they are not doing well; why.
You can definitely get a good sense of industry expectations, which would assist you to set social media targets too. In addition, it can also help you to spot your opportunities, which you probably did not notice. For instance, one of your competitors dominating Instagram, but not very active on Twitter.
It is wise to understand which networks are working for your targeted audience and focus on those networks with the unreserved audience instead of trying to win some more fans from an already dominant social media player.
The other way to monitor your competitors is through social listening. You can track your competitors’’ accounts using relevant industry-specific keywords. You may even notice some strategic shifts in the way your competitors use social accounts or spot specific campaigns or posts that hits the bull’s eye or simply falls flat. Monitor information closely and use it for evaluating your business plans and goals.
Step#4: Audit & Evaluation
A social media audit is the need of the hour to analyze your market position and reputation. If you are already using the latest social media tools, you must step back and take a look at what you have already accomplished over time. By now, you should know what works for your business and what does not; who are connecting and interacting with you on social media; which sites have the highest traffic from your target audience; how is your social media presence compared to your competitor.
An audit gives you a clear picture of the purpose of your social accounts. If the purpose is not defined, what can you do to make it clearer and easier? Instead of striking it off, how about a strategic redirection?
Social media audit is also necessary to discover fraudulent accounts. Some offenders may be using your business name or product name, but you do not own them. These types of fraudulent accounts are harmful to the brand image.
If you find them, report immediately. You may also want to get your social media accounts verified to ensure your target audience, followers and fans know that you are real.
Step#5: Set up your Business Profile and Account
Firstly, you have to decide which social network you want to use. Once you choose the social channel(s), device a strategy for each network. As all the social network channels have a different approach with various features, your marketing plan should be aligned with it.
It would be apt to create missions for each network – just a tagline is enough or one-sentence declarations focusing on the particular target for each account on different social networks. However, if you cannot create a robust and compelling mission statement for a specific social network, you can reconsider using the network.
Once you choose the network to focus on, you have to create a business profile or improve your already existing profile to align it with the strategic plans and changes. Generally, fill out the profile fields and use keywords to help people find you on social search results. Use images and videos for each network.
Step#6: Have a Social Media Content Alert
Social media thrives on good quality content, essentially informative and engaging. Nonetheless, it is important to have a proper strategy in place for sharing content in order to achieve maximum impact. Therefore, having a social media content calendar can be very effective, accounting for the time you spend interacting with your audience.
A calendar is crucial here as it lists the date and time at which you publish different types of content on different channels. It is also the best place for planning all social media activities starting with link sharing and image sharing to videos and blog posts. It also includes content for day-to-day posting and social media campaigns. Having a calendar also ensures your blog spots are perfectly spaced out and published at optimal intervals.
On your part, ensure the calendar reflects your business mission statement assigned to each social media profile so that whatever you post supports your business goals. Having your business goals and mission written ensures proper planning with minimum chances of failure.
As a beginner, you can follow the 80-20 rule, wherein 80 percent of posts should be informative, educational, and entertaining for the audience, whereas 20 percent should be promoting your brand directly.
Once your calendar is set, start using scheduling tools to prepare advanced messaging instead of updating constantly all through the day. This would also allow you to craft a format and language of your posts instead of writing them and forgetting.
Step#8: Testing & Evaluation
Remember, your social media strategy is paramount for your business. You may not get it right at the first instance. As you start implementing your plan and tracking results, you may find some strategies not working, while others might work better than you expected.
Tracking social visitor data is also important as they move through a website. You can see which posts are driving more traffic to the website.
Once you start receiving data, use it for re-evaluating the strategy regularly – test posts, strategies, and campaigns against each other to see the result. Constant testing ensures you have an in-depth understanding of what is working for your business and what is not. Accordingly, you can refine the social media marketing strategy in real time.
A great way to find out the prospect of your strategy and track progress is through a survey. Involve your social media followers, website visitors, and email lists whether you are meeting the needs and expectations or not, and what they would like more. Subsequently, you should work to deliver what they want.
In the social media sphere, everything changes at lightning speed. New networks are always emerging while existing ones go through considerable demographical shifts. Businesses must go through these periods of transition as well.
It only means that your social media strategy is a document you are looking at regularly and making necessary adjustments from time to time. Refer to the same to remain on track and make necessary changes reflecting your new goals and plans.
When you modify or update the social media strategy, convey it to your social team so that they can work together to promote it.
Is Social Media Marketing a Fad?
Undoubtedly, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn witnessed an exponential growth over a decade. It would not be wrong to say that the social media era is just beginning and there is a steady need for this interface to promote businesses and have a stronger hold. The world has witnessed this massive expansion and adopted social media tactics. The rising statistics are proof of this transition:
- Facebook has more than 1.19 billion active users per month
- YouTube reaches more US adults in the age group of 18 to 34 than any cable
- LinkedIn experienced 105 percent growth between 2011 to
- 86 percent of employers search potential job candidates on social
- 57 percent bloggers operate over a single
- 74 percent of Smartphone owners use their phone for real-time and location-specific information
Social media is definitely not a fad. Customers rely more and more on social media as much as on phone and emails. It is how they connect with you and your business. So, do not limit your business prospects by thinking that it is some kind of fad with no returns.
If you are new into this business, give yourself some time to get used to this friendly place.
The landscape of social media marketing for businesses is vast and overwhelming, especially for small businesses have limited resources. However, if you make time to do it properly, be authentic in your approach, offer compelling and informative content to your audience, respond to your customers, and aim to build lasting relationships with your existing customers as well as prospects, social media can definitely generate bigger returns than you can imagine.
Note that not every channel may work for your business. So, allow yourself to experiment in this vast world of web. Test content regularly. Try various platforms. Play with your posts and timings. Start small and gradually build your social media marketing strategy on what you learn each day as you grow. Give enough time as nothing starts working overnight.
Promote your business so well that it reaches your target audience and compels them to click, follow and read more. Only when they go through these steps would they become your customers. Over time, you would be able to adjust to the content, personas and other things that matter. It would also help you to fine-tune your social media marketing strategy and generate consistent results with a greater return on investment.
The social media, after all, is not an overwhelming place as it is deemed to be. Rather, it is a truly social platform that allows you to experiment, make changes, try and test, and give your business the much needed time to succeed and grow. All you must do is focus on quality than quantity, engaged loyal followers and customers, and never sway.
Allow your audience to take control of online conversations and commenting, be responsive, and develop emotional attachment with your audience. Help them to identify your brand and relate to it for better visibility, which is crucial for your very existence on the World Wide Web.