Social media is considered the most successful digital channel today, with three in every four small businesses investing in social media marketing.
Planning to tap social media for your marketing campaigns? You need to develop an effective social media strategy to achieve your business goals. Check out this simple guide on social media marketing for beginners.
- What is Social Media Marketing?
- Social Media Marketing by the Numbers
- How Effective is Social Media Marketing?
- Top Social Media Sites for Businesses
- Key Elements of Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Marketing Best Practices
- Recommended Social Media Marketing Tools
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing refers to activities that use social networks to raise awareness, drive website traffic, and improve sales for brands.
Campaigns typically involve building a presence and publishing content on major social channels, engaging followers, and tracking and analyzing results, among other activities.
Statistics provide valuable insights on social media usage and behavior to beginning marketers, helping them develop the right strategies for their target market.
Here are some key facts to guide your decisions for your campaigns:
- 45% global average for social media penetration, with 3.5 billion users worldwide in 2019. [We Are Social’s Global Digital Report 2019]
- UAE has the highest percentage of social media users (99%), followed by Taiwan (89%), South Korea (85%), Singapore (79%), Hong Kong (78%), and Malaysia (78%). [Global Digital Report 2019]
- Average time spent on social media: 2 hours and 22 minutes per day [Globalwebindex 2018]
- Millennials are the heaviest social media users (90.4%), followed by Gen X (77.5%). Almost half of baby boomers (48.2%) use social media. [Emarketer 2019]
- Majority (54%) of consumers use social media to research products. [Globalwebindex 2018]
- Seven in every 10 consumers who have had a good experience with a brand on social media would recommend it to their family and friends. [Lyfemarketing, 2018]
The statistics above prove that regardless of business size, social media marketing is an effective way to get your brand known to your audience. It allows a more targeted approach compared to other digital marketing channels.
Marketing professionals see the value of social media in promoting a brand. In Buffer’s State of Social 2019 report, 73% of marketers believe that social media marketing has been very effective or somewhat effective for their business.
Here are the compelling reasons to add social media to your online marketing mix:
- Using social media is the fastest way to increase brand awareness, with a viral post reaching millions of people in minutes compared to TV and other traditional media.
- Having a social media presence enables brands to immediately connect with customers.
- Social media campaigns resonate more with consumers because content from brands is often shared by trusted sources.
- Businesses can offer value and build authority in their field through social media.
- Social media marketing supports search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns through referral clicks that drive site traffic.
- Social media helps generate leads and sales.
Marketers have many options for social media platforms to use. But for most businesses, here are five major social networks to consider for marketing campaigns (plus trends and stats proving why they’re the most dominant platforms).
- The world’s most popular social network, with 2.41 billion monthly active users
- 81% users from age 18 to 29 and 78% users from age 30 to 49, based on data by Pew Research Center
- 96% of users access Facebook on mobile devices; only 25% access it on laptops and desktops, based on Statista data
- 3.75% average engagement rate for all types of Facebook Page posts
- Videos and images have the highest engagement rates among post types at 6.03% and 4.48%, respectively
- The third most popular social network, with 1 billion monthly active users worldwide
- Fastest growing social network, with almost 5% growth rate every quarter, according to Search Engine Journal
- Appeals mostly to young adults, with 71% of 18 to 24-year-old people using the platform
- More female Instagrammers (39%) than males (30%)
- 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram
- 200 million users visit business profiles daily.
- Over 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories daily
- 33% of the most viewed Stories were posted by businesses
- 38% higher engagement and twice as many comments for Instagram videos than image posts
- 330 million monthly active users worldwide
- Most users (40%) come from 18-29 age group; 32% teenage users (age 13-17)
- 83% of users who tweeted to a company and got a response reported feeling better about the brand and were more likely to buy from it
- 31% of users more likely to remember posts they see on Twitter than general online browsing
- Largest professional network online, with over 645 million registered users
- 310 million monthly active users worldwide
- Users include 61 million senior-level influencers, 40 million decision-makers, 10.7 million opinion leaders, and 6.8 million C-level executives
- Most effective platform for B2B (business-to-business) marketing, with 80.33% of social media B2B leads and 46% of all social media traffic to company websites coming from LinkedIn
- 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content distribution.
- World’s largest video sharing platform, with 1.9 billion monthly active users
- The second most visited website next to Google, based on Alexa rankings
- Average time spent on YouTube daily: 8 minutes and 58 seconds per visitor
- 75% of adults watch videos on their mobile devices.
- 80% of users from 18 to 49 years old watch videos on YouTube.
- More male users (75%) than females (72%), based on Pew Research Center data
- 68% of users watched on YouTube to help them make a buying decision
A social media marketing strategy is a detailed plan for what you hope to achieve on social media. It provides a clear direction to your campaigns by answering the what, when, why, and how of all your social media activities.
Your social media strategy should define your goals, who your target audience is, the platforms you’ll use to reach your audience, and the types of content you’ll share.
Content is king on social media. This is why brands invest time and money in publishing social media content that helps people fulfill their needs or solve their problems.
This important social media marketing element goes beyond just creating content. It also involves planning what, how often, and when to publish.
Sharing social media content isn’t only a one-way street. Content may also come from your brand’s online community. Asking for and sharing user-generated content is a good way to engage your audience.
As your social media followers grow, so do online conversations about your brand. This presents an opportunity to engage and build lasting relationships with customers.
Social media community management entails monitoring conversations about your brand, responding promptly to comments and direct messages—whether positive or negative—and addressing complaints before the situation gets worse.
A critical part of social media marketing is measuring how your campaigns are performing, making sure that you’re on track to meeting your goals.
This is where analytics play a role. Certain social media marketing tools can help measure different metrics such as reach, engagement rates, impressions, and more.
Start on the right foot with this step-by-step guide for social media marketing beginners.
Set your social media goals
Why will you start a social media marketing campaign? What do you hope to achieve from it?
Your goals could be any of the following:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build relationships with customers and increase brand loyalty
- Drive traffic to the company website
- Generate and nurture leads
- Provide or improve customer service
Define your target audience
The succeeding steps will hinge on the specific audience you’ll be targeting on social media. So it’s important to know your audience from the get-go.
Aside from demographics (age, gender, location, etc.), find out also the interests and needs of your target audience. What do they like to talk about or discover from social media?
Choose the social media platforms to focus on
As a beginner, it’s best to start with only one or two platforms that would benefit your business the most. Consider where your target audience spends the most time on, as well as which platform is aligned with your desired results.
Facebook is the go-to social media marketing platform for many businesses. You may choose this widely used social network and then select a second one based on the nature of your business and your target audience. If your business caters to other businesses, go with LinkedIn. If you’re targeting a younger audience, establish a presence on Instagram.
Form your social media marketing team
To execute your social media strategy, you need a team composed of the following people:
- Writer who can create amazing social content
- Graphic designer who can create attention-grabbing images and videos
- Social media manager who will maintain your social accounts and respond to questions
- Social media analyst who can evaluate your campaigns and measure your progress
If you don’t have the budget for hiring these persons on a full-time basis, consider getting part-time freelancers on-board.
Share awesome content
Start first with a content calendar. Plan the schedule for the types of posts you’ll share.
Now, with your audience’s wants and needs in mind, create content that delivers exactly that. You can create text, image, and video posts from scratch, or curate content that your target audience would love to share.
Track your progress
Monitor your campaign’s performance using your social media accounts’ built-in analytics or a third-party tool.
Also, check the numbers against your goals. Are they stacking up?
Find out the types of posts your followers are engaging with the most to spot opportunities for boosting your engagement with social media users.
To be successful, you have to take a deliberate and calculated approach to social media marketing. Here are some tips to help you maximize the benefits of social marketing and minimize the failures.
- Publish content that people would find interesting and useful enough to share with friends.
- Follow back people who are already following you on social media.
- Find and follow social media influencers in your niche. *But beware of fake influencers!*
- Respond immediately to comments, mentions, and direct messages.
- Ask for feedback on your product or service.
- Ask questions that encourage people to join in the discussion.
- Run contests or games on your social media platforms.
Posting Frequency and Timing
There’s no single best practice for how many times you should post per day. Although research shows that posting twice daily on average translates to twice as much engagement as posting only once per week, this can serve only as a broad guideline. Trial and error is still the best way to know the posting frequency that works for your brand and audience on each platform.
After determining the optimal frequency for posting social media content, the next thing to figure out is when you should post.
A study by Sprout Social found that on most major social media platforms, the best time to post is weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The peak day for engagement is Wednesday, while the day with the least engagement is Sunday.
Treat your social media presence as an extension of your brand. Through consistent branding, it’s clear with your audience what you stand for, so they can easily recall your brand. To ensure this, identify your brand voice and personality, unique value proposition, and visual elements such as colors, font, and logo to use across your social media assets.
Social Media Integration
Social media integration is a marketing strategy that involves cross-promoting your social media channels to gain more followers and engagement.
Here are the different ways to integrate your social marketing efforts:
- Connect your website with your business profiles on social media.
- Add share and follow buttons to your blog posts to make them easily shareable.
- Use the same profile name across social media platforms.
- Upload your Facebook, Instagram, and/or YouTube videos on your site.
- Add a live Twitter feed to your blog’s sidebar.
- Embed your Instagram photos in your blog posts.
- Use social widgets on your website.
Social Listening and Crisis Management
Social listening and crisis management are among the social media best practices beginners shouldn’t overlook. Avert a crisis before it happens or blows out of proportion. Monitor customer feedback and conversations about your brand and then respond immediately and empathetically. Take appropriate actions, if needed.
Social Media Analytics
Social media analytics is the process of gathering user behavior data from your social media platforms, identifying trends, and analyzing that data to make sound business decisions. It helps you see what’s working and not in your social media marketing strategy.
To evaluate social media data properly, several metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) are measured, including engagement rates, impressions, page likes and views, and post clicks and reach.
Social media marketing tools help marketers implement their campaigns more efficiently and achieve better results from them.
For beginners, here are the best free and paid social tools to use for different purposes:
- Hootsuite or Buffer – Schedule posts in advance and manage multiple social media profiles.
- Google Analytics – Track and analyze referral traffic from your social channels.
- BuzzSumo – Find key influencers and most shared content on various social channels.
- Facebook Insights – Track Facebook marketing metrics such as the number of followers and likes, engagement, and post and page performance.
- Instagram Insights – Discover your Instagram marketing stats, such as audience demographics, user interaction frequency, etc.
- Twitter Analytics – Find out more about your audience and their interests, your top-performing tweets, and new followers.
- SumoMe Share – Add social share buttons to your website.
- Canva – Create high-quality images and graphics for social media posts.
- Piktochart – Create infographics for social posts.
- Typito – Create videos using images, video clips, and typography in suitable formats for your social media platforms.
- Social Champ – A social media management tool for scheduling posts, analyzing performance, and content suggestions.
Social media marketing is a challenging yet effective way to promote your business to potential customers. It takes patience and continuous learning to implement successful social media campaigns.
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Jolina is a marketing strategist working with several startups and websites based in the US, UK, and Australia. She is devoted in helping businesses bridge relationship gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on online marketing, business development, and growth hacking.