Social media marketing can help businesses of any size showcase their products and offerings in front of millions of people. With almost everyone you know (even grandma) on social media, you know just how important it is to reach your customers where they spend their time.
One important thing to remember is that social media use primarily takes place on a cell phone instead of a desktop or laptop because people love to scroll wherever they are. Each year, social media usage increases, and so do its users.
The Core Pillars of Social Media Marketing
Next to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing, social media marketing is an important part of inbound marketing, which can help many brands reach their potential audience, boost engagement, and promote leads and sales.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply start using social media for your business and expect it to be a success; you need these five core pillars of social media marketing:
Before you do anything, you’ll need a social media marketing plan. This strategy can be as simple as finding out who your target audience is, the types of content they like to see, how you’re going to make content, and how often you should post. If you’re doing social media advertising or influencer marketing, make sure these are included in your strategy.
To begin your strategy, there are a few things you need to consider:
- Your goals: Your goals can be something as simple as brand awareness, which should be a constant goal you have unless you are a household name. Other goals can be to increase engagement, promote sales, increase web traffic, and so on.
- The platforms you’ll use: You know your customers better than everyone, so it’s important to determine which platforms will work best for you and them. If you’re a B2B business, your best bet will be LinkedIn. If you’re a visual business, like eCommerce, you’ll have success on Facebook and Instagram.
If you’re completely new to social media marketing, make sure you don’t make the mistake of trying to be active on every single social media platform. This will be a waste of time and resources. Instead, get to know your audience a little bit better and determine which two platforms work the best.
- Type of content: The type of content you create will depend on both your audience and the platform you’re using. For example, Instagram is a visual platform, which means the photos and videos you use are worth more than the captions you create.
- Your audience: Your audience impacts so many things like the platforms you choose, the type of content you create, your tone of voice, and more. Make sure you do thorough research on your audience for a successful strategy.
- Competitors: The best way to build a strategy is to look at both the successful and unsuccessful strategies of your competitors. Looking into their social media pages can help you understand the right types of posts and find the topics that perform best. You should also look at posts that don’t perform well so you know to avoid them in your strategy.
To help you keep everything organized, consider creating a social media marketing checklist so you know everything you have to do and can keep your data in one place.
Social media success, especially for small businesses, is about being consistent. It doesn’t make sense for you to post once every so often because your audience will become less and less engaged over time. Publishing posts for a business is different from publishing posts on your personal social media profiles. Instead of posting when you feel like it, you’ll need to know the best time to post.
Publishing the right content involves planning. Make sure you know the following:
- When your target audience is online
- Reach of your posts
- Engagement of posts
Once you have a large enough following on social media, each platform will give you insights about your audience, which includes:
- Times active on social media
Once you know when your audience is online, you can schedule posts for those times to make sure your content gets in front of as many eyes as possible.
When you’re in the early stages of social media marketing, your business pages might not have a ton of followers that can interact with you. However, posting engaging content can help you build that audience. Once you have built up an audience, you need to keep your followers engaged so they continue to follow you. Not only should you post consistently, but you’ll need to respond to any comments, direct messages, and tags. If you are engaging with them enough, you might even get social shares.
This part of social media marketing involves customer service. Many customers or clients who are facing issues may choose to message you on social media to get information. If this happens, make sure to direct them to the appropriate department with a phone number they can immediately call. You may also choose to have the person running your social media campaigns answer these inquiries on their own as long as they know the right answers.
4. Analyzing and Reporting
All social media platforms will provide you with some insights into how your posts and page are performing. If you want more robust information, you can choose to work with software that helps you plan your posts and provide detailed analytics in one spot.
If you are consistently posting content, you’ll need to know how everything is doing so you can adapt or change your strategy accordingly. Here’s what you should look for when analyzing your social media analytics:
- Posts that have the highest and lowest reach
- Positive mentions
- Increase or decrease in engagement
- Follower count
Every effective social media marketing strategy should include a small advertising budget. This is because, in recent years, Facebook and Instagram have updated their algorithms to show fewer people your organic posts. This is because these social platforms care most about their users, not the companies who use their platforms to promote products. Users were asking to see fewer posts from brands and more posts from people they knew, and social media gave them what they wanted.
Because you’ll see fewer organic engagement and reach, a small advertising budget can help your posts reach more people at a small cost. In fact, social media is still one of the most cost-effective digital advertising solutions out there. If you have plans to have a full advertising campaign, then you should create a strategy separate from your organic strategy. However, if you don’t have plans to consistently advertise every month, consider boosting posts that do well organically so you can reach more people.
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.