The Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing

Maia Clinch Maia Clinch, Product Specialist

No matter what business you’re in, it’s a safe assumption that the vast majority of your customers are using social media. Most businesses now have some kind of social media presence, whether it’s a basic LinkedIn profile or a huge footprint with multiple brand accounts across different platforms. However, to reach a wider audience and engage with your customers, you need a well-planned strategy. In this guide, we’ll be looking at why social media marketing is so essential and how you can make it work for your business.

The Importance of Social Media
Here are some of the main benefits that businesses can gain by implementing an effective social media marketing strategy.

  • Build stronger relationships with your customers. For both new and long-time customers, social media sites provide platforms to stay in touch, offer basic customer service and answer questions. Many customers today would rather interact with you on Facebook or Twitter than by phone or email.
  • Acquire new leads and customers. By posting regularly on social media sites, you can build your following. You can provide links to your website and opt-in pages to build your email list. Not all of your followers will become customers, of course. But some may be curious and check out your offers. Others may share your content and put it in front of better prospects.
  • Keep up with competitors. Social media has become the town square of the internet. You can find out what people are saying about your industry, such as the products they’re using and what features they prefer. You can also follow your competitors’ pages for clues and ideas.
  • Build brand awareness. One of the best reasons to post on social media is simply to get your message to the world. People are always more comfortable dealing with businesses that they’ve heard of. That’s why large brands spend millions every year to reinforce their logos and taglines. Even when someone doesn’t become your customer right away, they’re more likely to buy something from you or recommend you later on if they’ve seen your content.

Know Your Audience
With any type of marketing, the first step is to know your audience. Most likely, you don’t need to start from scratch here. Every business does market research for their brick and mortar store, e-commerce site, or website. You need to do a specific type of research for social media, which is getting increasingly diverse and fragmented. It’s not in your best interest to try to establish a strong presence on every site. Rather, find out where your audience is most active and concentrate on these platforms. You can always run limited test campaigns on sites you’re not currently using. As the social media landscape is constantly evolving, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends.

Plan Your Content Strategy
No matter who your audience is or which sites you target, you need to consistently publish content. Here are some points to keep in mind.

  • Schedule your content. One of the keys to succeeding with your social media strategy is consistency. Even if you publish great content, your impact will be limited if you’re not posting regularly. Identify the base times of day and days of the week to post on each platform. Then devise a schedule so you can publish consistently.
  • Find the right tools. In order to create a social media calendar, it helps to have automation tools. There are various tools and services to help you post on a schedule you set up. One point to keep in mind is that it’s not always ideal to post the exact same content to several sites at once. The same format is not always best for each platform. Furthermore, you’ll probably have people who follow you on several sites and they’ll not want to see the same posts everywhere they go.
  • Test different formats such as text posts, images, videos and infographics. Emphasize what your audience responds best to. You should also change things up so your followers don’t get bored.
  • Repurpose content. You can turn blog posts into shorter Facebook posts or tweets. Text can also be transformed into slideshows or videos. Reusing and repurposing content lets you get more leverage out of each piece without having to start from scratch.

The following are some guidelines to keep in mind for some of the major social media platforms.

Facebook
With over two billion monthly users, Facebook is, by far, the largest social media site that no business can afford to ignore.

  • Facebook is still used by people of all ages. Although younger users may prefer other platforms now, they still use Facebook. Every brand should have an active Facebook page and post regularly.
  • Facebook Stories can help you get more views and engagement. It’s now harder than ever to have posts in the regular news feed seen but Stories are featured at the top of the page.
  • Facebook advertising, while more costly than it used to be, lets you reach a targeted audience. As noted, since Facebook includes all demographics, you can quickly reach any audience.
  • Videos are a powerful way to reach your audience on Facebook. For better engagement, use Facebook native video rather than embedding videos from YouTube or other formats. Live streaming videos are effective for reaching your audience in real time.

Instagram
Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can use many features of these two platforms together. For example, you can publish Stories to both sites at the same time. Paid ads on Instagram are part of Facebook ads. Nonetheless, Instagram is also a site with clear differences from Facebook.

  • Instagram is ideal for marketing products or services where images are crucial. This includes fashion, food & drink, fitness, vacations and many other industries.
  • Make sure you have an Instagram business account. There are several advantages to having a business account, such as the ability to insert a clickable contact button in your profile and access to analytics.
  • Encourage your followers to submit content. Instagram is one of the best platforms to make use of user-generated content. Since Instagram is a visual platform, it’s beneficial to have followers contribute photos and videos. To motivate people to send in UGC, run contests. However, many users enjoy posting photos and will do so if you encourage them even if there’s no prize.
  • Influencers are popular on Instagram. You might consider having an influencer take over your page to do live streaming or Stories. Or you could create Stories or live streams where you interview them.

LinkedIn for B2B Marketing
Whether or not you should market on LinkedIn really comes down to whether your business model is B2C or B2B. Retail stores and e-commerce sites, for the most part, don’t need to promote on LinkedIn though it certainly doesn’t hurt. If your market is other businesses, however, LinkedIn is essential.

  • Optimize your profile. Be sure to write a compelling, keyword-rich summary that describes your services as clearly as possible. You’re permitted to list 3 websites in your contact information. This gives you a chance to add, in addition to your business website, other sites such as your YouTube channel, Facebook page, or other sites where you’re active.
  • Consider upgrading to a premium plan. Sales Navigator is especially powerful for businesses that want to generate more leads as it provides you with greater search options, the ability to contact more prospects, and recommended leads.
  • Publish content. Many businesses have LinkedIn profiles but seldom publish anything. You can stand out by posting to your timeline, engaging with other posts, and publishing articles. LinkedIn has also recently added video capabilities, including live streaming video.
  • Participate in groups. Both joining groups and starting your own can be a good way to engage more on LinkedIn. Groups give you a chance to widen your circle, build your influence, and connect with leads, partners and investors.

Twitter
Twitter, while not as big as Facebook, is still a large and diverse platform that most businesses can benefit from using. Twitter is the only major social site that specializes in extremely short-form content. You always have time to type out tweets in your spare time.

  • Use Twitter to link to your other content such as blog posts, videos, upcoming events, new products, etc.
  • Twitter is efficient for providing customer service, at least for answering simple questions.
  • Use trending hashtags to tie in popular issues and events with your business.
  • Adding images to tweets provides more visibility and shares.
  • Interact with followers by asking questions and creating polls.
  • Sponsored tweets can help you build your following and increase brand awareness.

Don’t Overlook Pinterest For Visual Marketing
Like LinkedIn, Pinterest is a site that’s not ideal for everyone. However, if images play a large role in promoting your business, you shouldn’t overlook it. Pinterest can be a good supplement to Instagram for showcasing images.

  • Many users come to Pinterest to shop for physical products so it’s ideal for highlighting products from your e-commerce site.
  • Create distinctive pins that display your brand’s uniqueness. These can be photos of your business, location, products or employees. Infographics are also good for this site.
  • Create boards for different audiences and product lines. One benefit of Pinterest is that it’s easy to create a board for any specialty you choose. Long tail keywords you target in your written content often make good topics for Pinterest boards.
  • Use Rich Pins. Rich pins are a relatively new feature that allows you to sync pins to your website and product pages. You need to apply for Rich Pins.

YouTube
YouTube can be considered a social media platform. A YouTube channel is a valuable resource and lets you tap into the huge popularity of video.

  • Identify the best format for your videos. Depending on your goals, you may prefer to speak into the webcam or create whiteboard or animation videos.
  • Short videos are best for most purposes.
  • Optimize SEO for YouTube. Include keywords in your titles and descriptions. Another good video SEO trick is to include close captioning with your videos, which gives the search engines more text to crawl.
  • Use videos to educate and stimulate conversations. As with other social media pages, don’t oversell. You can, of course, mention your business and products. However, if you want to attract views, you need to focus on covering popular topics and offering solutions.
  • Build connections. Include links to your website, Facebook page and other relevant links in your profile and video descriptions.
  • Consider YouTube advertising, which is part of the Google Ads platform. You can target ads on other relevant videos and channels.

Track Your Metrics
Analytics are crucial if you want to succeed with social media marketing. You need to track both your organic and paid campaigns. Be sure to track essential metrics such as:

  • Followers, including trends of losing or gaining followers.
  • Reach, impressions and engagement.
  • Profile visits.
  • Reposts, shares and retweets.

Use free analytics tools provided by social media sites. Facebook Analytics, Facebook Insights, Instagram Analytics, Twitter Analytics and others. If you want more extensive analytics, you can also use paid services. When tracking analytics, compare your results from one site to the next to gain insights on which platforms are worth your effort and resources.

Create Your Own Social Media Strategy
Social media offers many measurable benefits for businesses. At the same time, it’s necessary to clarify your own goals and create a customized strategy. Determine what you want to accomplish. You should set both short and long-term social media goals. Be ready to reassess these goals and make adjustments as you gain more experience and analyze more data. Although social media will continue to evolve in the coming months and years, it will continue to have a major influence on society and business.