When I first got into baseball, I had little to no idea what I was doing. Where do I run? How do I throw? Where do I hit? Is that my ball?
Terminologies such as ‘grounders’, ‘routine plays’ and ‘double plays’ and flew past my head like the balls that I was supposed to catch. Being a completely new fish in the deep waters, every other bit of jargon and technique that goes into the sport was totally new information for me. I was excited at the thought of hitting a home run, or just simply, getting a good hit to start my ‘adventure’.
But I had no idea how.
I imagine that a social media marketing strategy would feel the same way for the unimitated.
Starting from square one has the mixture of excitement and anxiety. The unknown can be quite thrilling yet overwhelming.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media is an essential piece of your business marketing strategy. Social platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads and sales.
Driving website traffic, building your brand, increasing your sales all involves having interesting and reliable content. You have to engage your digital online social circle.
Contrary to popular belief, Social Media Marketing is not just merely about social media.
Social media has matured to beyond just a place to broadcast content. Today, it is a staple for company’s digital marketing efforts.
Why is Social Media Marketing Important?
The importance of harnessing social media for ongoing communications and public relation management can no longer be ignored. Press releases are being replaced by live videos.
Social Media is a game changer.
Facebook has over 2.45 billion monthly regular users.
Twitter still has over a billion registered users.
Instagram is still developing, with only 300 million.
YouTube is available in more 100 countries, supporting 80 languages, which isn’t surprising given that there are more than 2 billion YouTube users as of 2020.
Types of Social Media
There are many platforms for social media sharing, each with its own interest and usage.
Social Networks – Facebook, Linkedin, Google+
Social networking sites allow you to form connections with people online. It is quite self-explanatory. Facebook, as a platform, even has a movie called The Social Network.
Platforms like these allow companies to connect with brands directly, obtaining direct feedback through measurable numbers, such as shares, likes, comments. Through these channels, you can also keep track of the general public trends and possible issues that your prospective customers might face.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin remains as the most popular examples of a social network site.
LinkedIn acts as a professionals social media marketing site that is essentially a network of digital name cards. On this platform, Linkedin Groups are a great avenue for entering a professional dialogue or conversation with like-minded people in similar industries.
Encourage your customers to award your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations builds your business’ credibility and helps you secure more leads in your network of prospective leads.
Facebook, on the other hand, has a casual family-friendly environment that requires more of an active social media marketing strategy. Having a page can allow you to build a community with your customer base. Organic reach on Facebook can be extremely tough to achieve, but paid ads are a useful way of directing traffic from within Facebook.
Bookmarking Sites – Pinterest, Instagram
Bookmarking sites work slightly differently. Instead of having pages and friends as the connecting factor, bookmarking sites focuses more on content like a resource.
They have a ‘tag’ feature to classify images and videos which makes it easier for viewers to save and return to on a later date. The Pinterest tag is also useful in allowing you to track actions people take on your website after viewing your Promoted Pin.
Content on sites like these tend to be more informative and aesthetic, rewarding accounts with superb photography and editing skills.
For example, Pinterest’s image-centric platform is ideal for retail, and allows businesses to showcase their products aesthetic value while developing a brand presence with the site’s pinboard function.
Instagram, while usually classified as a social networking site, shares many similarities with Pinterest as a social bookmarking site.
Social News Site – Twitter, Reddit, Quora
News sites are commonly used to allow users to share and post links to external articles. These platforms emphasise on speed and consistency of news updates and are also commonly filled with links and resources.
Some aspects of news site functions similarly to a forum, allowing companies to gain an insight on the potential problems that their clients would like to know more about. Sites like these usually include forum news sites like Reddit and Quora, although Twitter has been gaining momentum for opiniated content pieces due to its recent character limit change.
This makes for great content planning and market research.
Microblogging is a recent trend, involving users to submit written content and opinion pieces to share and discuss with the community. Surpassing over two billion page views per month, Reddit is a platform whereby interesting and unique content quickly gains traction. Valuable content would reap tremendous organic traffic, as it attracts Reddit users to give the article a second look.
Sites like these are also a decent method of obtaining backlinks, by finding the right areas to promote your content and offer it as a form of resource.
Media Sharing – Youtube, Vimeo, Vine, Pinterest
Media sharing social sites allow users to share media in various mediums. The most popular mediums being videos and images.
Most of the sites also offer social features such as profile and comment sections, encouraging interactions between content consumers and content creators. The barrier to entry is relatively low, making it easy for any new companies to enter, curate and slowly tweak to find the winning formula for viral trends and online popularity.
In this realm, YouTube remains the largest video sharing site in the world and is also positioned as the second largest search engine. “How-to” videos have the added benefit of being YouTube-algorithm friendly and can circulate across the platform to end up on the viewer’s Recommended Videos section.
Snapchat is becoming increasing popular. Dubbed the fastest way to share a moment, Snapchat is currently huge enough to support content creators and keep its user base interested. Tiktok, is another application with similar capabilities, but boast its influencing capabilities with its 800 million users.
Social Review Sites – TripAdvisor, FourSqauare, Yelp, AirBnb
Reviews from community members, local and international, from anywhere in the world, can be found on review sites. Location-based services and experience-based services stand to benefit from this social media marketing channel due to the coverage they receive.
Reviews are valuable. They provide prospects with the required information to help them make a more informed decision. Businesses would also get to benefit by understanding the customer’s perspective and demands from their industry. This can allow them to identify what is working, and what needs further improvement.
Yelp and FourSqaure are important for physical businesses looking to imprint their digital marketing footprint. Register on these sites to start claiming your location spot. Consider extra incentives in the form of discounts or free gifts to get your customers to contribute to your online presence. This can be done via a check-in or an online review.
How to Start Social Media Marketing
Step 1 – Strategy
Strategy is important. Some questions to ask yourself:
- What is your end goal? Social media can help you achieve many objectives. Brand awareness, driving traffic, increasing sales, gaining engagement are all part of the bigger picture.
However, what is important is that social media suits your marketing needs. Different industries will require different strategies, and younger, newer companies will have a different set of focus as opposed to old and established brands.
Your social media marketing strategy will hence depend heavily on your end goal.
- What type of content do you need to share? Images, videos, links, animated gifs are all commonly shared and circulated throughout the internet.
The type of content that suits your company best will depend on the social media medium you employ.
- Which Social Media platform should you focus most on? When it comes to social media, it is best to stick to a few choices and stand by them. Significant traffic on a few social media sites is more valuable than spreading yourself too thin and ending up on all relevant social media sites, but with little to no traffic.
You do not have to be on all of them. You just have to be around those that matter most to your target audience and you.
You should choose the social networks that best fit your strategy and the goals you want to achieve on social media. You don’t have to be on them all—just the ones that matter to you and your audience. Find out and learn which social network has the right demographicsfor you and your industry.
- What are your resources? What personnel and skills do you have to work with? Social networks like Facebook emphasize quality content. Visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram require images and videos. Do you have the resources to create what is needed? How much time can you devote to a social network? Plan on at least an hour per day per social network, at least at the start. Once you get used to the process, you can save time through the use online tools.
Do you have a marketing team? How equipped are their skillsets? Social networks like Facebook emphasize quality content. Visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram require images and videos. Do you have the resources to create what is needed?
Would you stand to benefit more from focusing on your website, or growing another marketing channel through social media platforms? Would you have sufficient monetary resources to have a separate budget, to hire an external marketing firm for a parallel digital marketing channel?
Step 2 – Publishing
Social media marketing first started with publishing. Sharing your content on social media can allow businesses to generate traffic and convert them into, hopefully, sales.
The key is consistency.
Close to three billion people use social media.
But just being present and checking in online on a daily basis, you give your brand an opportunity to be discovered by the internet.
Publishing to social media is can be as simple as sharing a blog post, an image, or a video on a social media platform. It is similar to how you would operate your personal social media account.
You need to publish great content that your audience likes, at the right timing and frequency. And there are a variety of social media scheduling tools to help you with that, such as
- Buffer Publish
- Facebook Post Scheduler
These online tools can help you to publish your content at the most optimal time, saving you time and allowing you to have a better outreach towards your audience.
Step 3 – Engaging
As your business and social media presence grows, conversations around your brand will start to circulate. It is important to eavesdrop digitally to those conversations.
Social media listing and engagement tools help business owners to better understand their social media presence.
Engage your audience members. Set aside time to communicate with them, following up on conversations with your following. Create an online system for listening and engaging. This will help build rapport between you and your client base.
Step 4 – Analytics
How many more people are you reaching per month?
How many positive mentions do you get a month?
How many people know of your brand and page?
Whether you are actively publishing or responding to your following, it is important to monitor and digest the analytics provided by social media platforms. Having in-depth analysis of engagement metrics allows you to modify your benchmarks and expectations.
Most importantly, the metrics will also inform you of the strategies of the marketing campaign, revealing what works and what doesn’t.
Step 5 – Advertising
When you have more funds to grow your social media marketing, an area that you can consider is social media advertising. Social media ads allow you to reach a wider audience than those who are following you.
Social media advertising platforms are so powerful nowadays that you can specify exactly who to display your ads to. You can create target audiences based on their demographics, interests, behaviours, and more.
When you are running many social media advertising campaigns at once, you can consider using a social media advertising tool to make bulk changes, automate processes, and optimize your ads.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Speed and Efficiency
Social Media Marketing has the unique advantage of being able to get your brand to the screens (and faces) of people much more quickly and easily.
It gets your audience looking and thinking about your brand even when they do not plan to do so. You want your social media presence to be huge and widespread, but yet not too distracting or overwhelming.
Generate a Conversation Around Your Brand
A good social media strategy will generate conversation, and even trendy topics about your brands and products. Host open-ended questions and interact with your audience members through that.
Fans can have genuine, unfiltered conversations about the product, facilitated by comments, likes and shares. This is an effective channel for direct feedback.
Build Customer Loyalty
53% of customers who follow your business are likely to be loyal to your brand and your brand alone. Customers like to feel that they are a part of something bigger. Include them in your journey to grow and your milestones across the years.
Host celebrations in the form of giveaways or contests to commemorate such milestones.
Learn Your Competition
In the midst of staying active in social media, you will also stand to gain more insights about your competitors and their pages.
Knowing what works and does not work for them is helpful and valuable information as it can serve as a guide for you to plan and implement your campaigns.
Tips for an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy
Focus more on knowing everything you can know about your audience.
Allow your audience to know you better.
Showing and not telling is the age-old method of engaging your viewers. More often than not, the tone of the article matters.
Placing details in the format of ‘What Have I Done Before’ rather than ‘Who am I’ allows you to keep your pitch or language fresh.
Do a Social Media Audit
Businesses have to transit from stages to stages as time passes. With each phase comes a new marketing focus and thus, a new strategy is required to pilot the social media marketing efforts.
Running a social media audit can be as fast as an hour. The process involves using your business analytics and metrics to access any growth opportunities you should focus or give up on. Similarly, it lets you know any other opportunities that you might have missed.
Form a Team!
You cannot do it alone, especially when some tasks require simultaneous attention. Having a team to perform tasks and clear the weekly work for you helps you to accelerate your progress.
You want to be able to do things effectively and efficiently. Having a team of like-minded and productive individuals is the best way to achieve that.
Find Your Voice and Tone
Before you start sharing and managing your social media accounts, it is important to remember that social media is all about a voice and tone.
Voice is what you say, while tone is how you mean it and how you say it.
Content will always be similar, having similar key points or arguments. However, it is the voice of the person behind the screen that makes a social media account interesting.
Take, for example, Telegram’s snarky comments about its rival WhatsApp, in a sarcastic, yet unoffensive way, has managed to garner online popularity. Screenshots make rounds across the internet.
Fast food restaurant Wendy’s made full use of the online viral trend back in 2018 to take a shot at McDonald’s, striking a chord with its followers.
To achieve all these in a controlled manner, you should spend some time coming up with a persona and ‘team personality’. Use your customer base, demographic and company’s mission as a guide.
Ask yourself these:
- If my brand had a personality, what would it be?
- If my brand was a person, what hobbies or defining factors would it have?
- If my brand is alive, what is their role in the customers’ lives?
- Are there any competition that are already adopting this persona?
- What words/character/personality do you want your customers to relate your brand to?
Aim to cultivate an online voice that understands and engages your customers. Making your customers excited and interested about what you have to say. This way, they will be thrilled to spread your content and excited when you have an update.
Plan Your Content Uploads
Having a content upload calender is crucial to not only schedule your content, but plan the variety of your content.
Plan your content to revolve around these six types of different updates that can be posted.
- Text Updates
Sticking to one of the six main mediums can allow you to focus your efforts onto one medium. Supplement the staple medium update with a different medium to add variety to your audience’s news feed.
Social media platforms are always evolving.
When Facebook first started, people could only share text updates. Friendster was still a thing back in early 2010s. Twitter had a 140-character word limit. Instagram was purely for image-uploads.
Now, in recent years, there are so many new content formats such live videos and stories. With that, Social Media Marketing techniques and strategies will have to change to keep up with the game. Keeping updated allows you to gain an edge over your competition.
Being resourceful is part of the battle.