Social media isn’t just a hobby or a time-waster anymore. It’s a crucial element of digital marketing that businesses large and small cannot afford to ignore.
The world has seen a 13% increase in social media users since January 2017; that same year, 46% of businesses reported using social media to build brand awareness. But social media isn’t just for awareness. Social media platforms can drive conversions and even sales. Consumers no longer have to leave their favourite social media apps in order to buy products. And businesses can improve user experience, post engaging content, and make a sale with a single post.
In order to get to that point, you have to have an organised and consistent approach to posting and sharing content with the right followers. You have to build a community through engaging content and tactics that encourage current and potential customers to follow your business online. Social media is a large landscape to navigate. Creating and implementing a strategy for a single platform often requires new knowledge and extra resources that you not have budgeted for in previous campaigns. But it must be done to hold your team accountable for integrating social media into your overall marketing strategy.
Create a social media marketing strategy today to prepare for content creation and distribution throughout your next marketing campaign. Whether you are investing most of your time and resources into content marketing, PPC, or search engine optimisation, your social media presence can help you meet your overall marketing goals.
A Brief Look at Different Social Media Channels
Before you lay out your strategy for posting, think about where you want your business to appear on social media. There are many different social media channels that provide opportunities for marketers, but they are not always effective depending on the audience and industry that the business is trying to reach.
Not all social media websites are created alike. Some are growing, while others are shrinking into the distance. Some social media channels encourage business and brand participation, while others require a lot of savvy and a high budget to get your posts onto consumers’ timelines (we’re looking at you, Facebook.) Social media platforms serve different purposes for different demographics. Choose wisely before you start building your social media marketing strategy:
Facebook is the social media giant. It boasts over 2 billion monthly users, and it currently owns other social media giants like Instagram. Facebook also provides great opportunities for remarketing. However, the giant’s future with marketers and businesses isn’t all sunshine and roses. The Cambridge Analytica scandal certainly was a huge setback for users and businesses who relied on third-party data to place strategic and effective ads. Recent algorithm changes also discourage posts from brands from being at the top of user feeds.
Facebook is still the most popular and fastest-growing social media platform. Many businesses and influencers are responding to algorithm changes by moving away from Pages and starting Facebook groups to create a community and promote products. It’s so important to be on Facebook and understand how consumers are using the platform as it evolves and grows. Facebook is becoming a search engine of its own, and if your business doesn’t appear in Facebook searches, consumers may not pursue you further.
If you are just starting out, don’t expect to see an astronomical ROI from effort that you put into Facebook content, especially if you aren’t paying for Facebook ads. Be patient with Facebook, and prioritise creating a community with your content and Facebook activity. Once you develop a relationship with Facebook users and start to build a community through Facebook, you will see more engagement.
Twitter is a “microblogging site” that allows you to connect with over 336 million monthly active users. (It has seen growth in the past year, but not always for the best reasons. It has become more relevant due to its use by politicians and reporters who want to express quick thoughts to the world in real-time.)
There are many ways that businesses can use Twitter, including:
- Responding to customers and monitoring discussions about your business
- Sharing content (blog posts, website links, etc.)
- Telling and sharing a brand story in a creative way
- Connecting to consumers, clients, and partners at events
- Engaging in discussions during conferences
Twitter is a great way to respond to consumers who need to get a hold of you, but should not be the first priority for businesses, unless that is where your customers are spending all of their time. Ads and promoted tweets can also be used to reach more Twitter followers, event attendees, etc.
Consumers love visual content, which gives Instagram a fun opportunity to take the throne next to Facebook. Over one billion users are on Instagram, and a majority of these users are under the age of 30. Many experts suggest that if you are trying to reach older consumers, focus on Facebook. If you are trying to reach younger consumers, switch that focus over to Instagram.
Businesses can use Instagram to:
- Post visual content that displays their products, location, or recent offers
- Livestream events and announcements with Instagram Live
- Tell a story through photo and video content in real-time with Instagram Stories
It’s important to note that Instagram is one of a handful of social media platforms that allow you to make sales directly on the app or website. Instagram Stores can be set up through your Facebook Business account. If you are on Instagram, you can also post content straight to Facebook, making it a time-saving and versatile app.
LinkedIn is crucial for B2B businesses who want to establish themselves as an authority in their industry and reach consumers in specific job positions. It’s not the shiniest or hippest social media platform, sure. But it allows you to step out of the silliness that is allowed or encouraged on other social media sites and really talk shop.
Businesses can use LinkedIn to:
- Share content in the form of blog posts or case studies
- Connect with people based on their job position or employer
- Find potential employees
There are over 500 million users on LinkedIn.
Pinterest is often shrugged off as a less serious social media marketing tactic, used solely by party planners or housewives. If you are an e-commerce company, however, you can’t ignore the power of Pinterest. Pinterest users aren’t just window shopping. They have intentions to buy; 93% use the social media platform to plan purchases. Buyable pins allow users to head straight to a business’s store and put the pins they see online in an online shopping cart.
There are over 200 million monthly active users on Pinterest, and the Pinterest app has been downloaded by over 500 million users.
Does your business have video content? Share it on YouTube! The social media giant has taken attention away from traditional forms of sharing video content; six out of ten adults prefer online video platforms, like YouTube or streaming services, to television. It is also the third most-visited website behind Google and Facebook. It’s a reason to start investing and posting video content for consumers.
Video content on YouTube can give consumers an inside look at your products and brand. YouTube content ideas can reach consumers at every point of the buyer’s journey:
- Informational videos explaining topics in your industry can answer the questions of consumers who have not heard of your company before
- How-to guides can provide an in-depth look at how to address problems and issues that your customers have before purchasing your product
- Product demos show potential customers how to operate your products
- Video testimonials provide proof that your customers enjoy your products and business
If you are using Google AdWords, you can create display ads to appear on YouTube. Even if you are not posting videos, you can put your content on this platform.
Conduct research about your audience’s online behavior. It’s not just important to know which social media platforms your audience is using; it’s important to know why your audience is on each platform, what content they expect to see, and what will encourage them to engage with content. If you are trying to reach users at a specific point in the buyer’s journey, focus on a platform where they are spending their time at that point.
What To Include In Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve chosen a selection of social media platforms for marketing and content distribution, it’s time to lay out a strategy for what your social media content should include.
Your Brand Story and Personality
Social media allows businesses to let their hair down and enjoy a less formal conversation with customers. Get creative with your social media strategy, and let your brand’s true personality shine through. You don’t have to be the next Taco Bell, but you can enjoy taking more of a risk.
Adjust your tone and content for the purpose of each social media account, but remember to stay consistent and true to your brand. (Twitter is a great place for sarcasm, but LinkedIn? Not so much.) Keep your language consistent throughout any team member who has access to your accounts.
Consistency should be a top priority, especially when you are dealing with a strategy that appears across multiple platforms. Your logo, for example, should stay consistent across all social media platforms. The story and core values of your brand should be apparent and consistent no matter where your consumer finds your brand.
When consumers are using the search bar on different social media platforms, they’re using keywords – but these keywords may differ from ones that are being used on Google and other search engines. The keywords consumers use on Pinterest may have more purchase intention than the ones used on Facebook or LinkedIn, for example. Keywords for LinkedIn may be more specific to certain B2B needs or career-related solutions. Buyer personas will tell you how and why consumers use different social media websites. Keyword research goes deeper and tells you exactly what users are searching for on each platform.
This information gives you the opportunity to put yourself in front of consumers no matter what platform they are using. Optimise your social media content based on each platform’s place in the customer journey and how consumers prefer to interact with your business. Keywords will come in handy when you are creating your bio, pin descriptions, and other forms of social media content. Keep them in the back of your mind while you create your strategy and tactics.
Plan for Posting Regular Content
The content you put on Facebook or Twitter isn’t going to stay at the top of user feeds for more than a day. Instagram users share over 95 million posts…each day. 500 million Tweets are sent out per day. In order to stay relevant, you will need to create a plan for posting multiple times throughout the week. This number will vary based on the platform you are using…pinning 30 pins a day is considered normal for business accounts, but posting even more than two or three Instagram posts a day may turn users off. Ephemeral content (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat stories that disappear after 24 hours) is a top trend in social media marketing. What is your plan for creating and posting stories in real time?
In addition to creating a strategy for creating content, include a plan for how your team will distribute, recycle, and share content throughout your campaign. It may be more effective to create your content all at once, but scheduling or posting that content for optimal viewing times may be another issue altogether.
Social media accounts that are neglected send an unprofessional message. If you haven’t posted content in a few months, how reliable are you if customers want to reach you?
This is why it’s important to choose your social media platforms wisely, especially if you do not have the resources to consistently create content and manage accounts. A handful of neglected social media accounts won’t do your business any good. Focus your social media strategy to one or two platforms where you can engage with your users and distribute your content.
Monitoring Your Reputation
Users are not obligated to engage with their content in order to discuss your business online. In fact, 96% of users who make a comment or create content related to a brand do not follow the brand’s social media profiles. If you are not actively seeking content related to your brand, you could miss these discussions and free insight into what people are saying about your company.
Whether customers are spreading the good, the bad, or the ugly, it’s important to set aside time and resources for social media monitoring. Simply typing your brand name into the search bar of Twitter or looking through your location on Instagram can give you a lot of content to work with.
Have guidelines in place for what team members can do if they find content related to your business. Should the business respond and thank the user for their feedback? Should they direct the inquiry or comment to a private forum where the user can go into detail about their purchase? The more engagement you can encourage on your business accounts, the more relevant your pages will become. Just make sure that this interaction reflects positively on your brand.
In some cases, content you find online could even be shared on your social media platforms. There you go. You have free user-generated content that promotes your brand and encourages further engagement.
Social Media Crisis Plan
Mistakes happen. You may schedule a piece of content that is posted during a tragedy or write content that doesn’t exactly translate in the way you intended. That is ok. All brands have experienced a social media flub or two.
Have a plan in place just in case something goes wrong on one of your accounts. Who will be in charge of writing copy to apologise for or explain the mistake? Who will be given access during the crisis? Keep this documentation handy and accessible at a moment’s notice. You probably will not need to use it, but if you have to, you’ll be relieved that you put a plan in place.
Analytics and Measurement
Your business will put time, resources, and money into your social media marketing strategy. Will your strategy pay off? Monitor the success of your efforts by collecting data before, during, and after your social media marketing campaign.
Measuring social media success has been a challenge for marketers since the dawn of its existence. How valuable is a tweet? How often does social media content influence purchases and generate leads? What percentage of your social media traffic is actually driving sales?
Creating a measurement plan can be as simple as measuring engagement (how many likes, views, and shares you got during this month vs. last month.) If you are hoping to look deeper at the ROI of your social media marketing plan, you will need to look deeper into how social media plays into the overall buyer’s journey. Measurement efforts may require extensive data analysis and connecting your Facebook or other social media accounts to in-store and online purchases.
Ready to Build Your Social Media Marketing Strategy? Call Digital Squad.
Social media is evolving every day. The connections between Facebook and Instagram, Google and YouTube can help your business boost its rankings and reputation on multiple platforms at a time. In order to truly make the most of your social media strategy, you have to understand how these platforms can be used to reach consumers at each stage of the buyer’s journey, and where the future of social media is taking businesses and brands who want to foster engagement and community.
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Megan Okonsky is a copywriter and content marketing specialist with Digital Squad. She is originally from Philadelphia but has landed in Melbourne after traveling for eight months in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. She also teaches vinyasa yoga online.