You’ve built your business from the ground up. You sell great products and services. But who has seen all the hard work you’ve put in? How do people know to come to your business? That’s where marketing and professional networking come in. When it comes to growing your business, platforms like Facebook and Instagram are the key to unlocking your potential. With the right tools and content plan in place, social media marketing can be a fun and rewarding part of running your business that doesn’t have to take up too much time.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is using social media websites and social networks to market your business. But it’s much more than that. Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow you to engage directly with specific audiences. You can connect your business with people who might be interested in your industry or products and share your brand message. You can also sell directly to customers, start conversations, and generate valuable feedback.
Think of social media as the “shop window” that showcases your business to new customers. It’s your chance to make a good first impression.
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Why is social media marketing important?
Social media marketing can be a huge boon for your brand. It helps connect you to the right kinds of audience and can help to demonstrate to people that your business is trustworthy and values its customers.
Here are some key reasons why social media marketing is so important:
- It boosts brand awareness: Social media showcases your business to potential customers. People can see the best products you have on offer. Most importantly, it directs traffic to your website or store.
- It generates leads because you are marketing directly to people interested in engaging with you. That, in turn, increases your conversion rates and boosts sales. There are a number of different ways you can generate those leads: contests, special offers and promotions, or selling directly to customers using features like Facebook for Business.
- It fosters customer and community engagement: Social media allows your followers to engage with your brand directly. You can respond to their questions and help them find what they are looking for. This engagement helps you learn your customers’ pain points and builds trust by showing you value their input.
- You can learn from your competitors by studying their social media strategies. Seeing how similar businesses run their marketing campaigns and engage with their followers will give you a better understanding of the types of content potential customers find attractive.
How to create a social media strategy
The first step is to design a social media strategy. Then you can decide which platforms best fit your needs and begin creating content. We will lay out the most important points in this step-by-step guide.
1. Define your buyer personas
Before you market your business on social media, you need to know who you are trying to reach.
Hubspot offers a nice definition of personas as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
The idea is to research your customer base thoroughly, then categorize them into groups and develop their personas. Once you’ve identified them then you can start to understand their needs and target them on the right social media channels with content they’re interested in.
Here are some important points to consider when choosing your marketing personas:
- Who are your current customers and who are your ideal customers?
- What are their concerns, needs, or interests?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
- What information are they searching for and where are they searching for it?
2. The best channels for social media marketing
Facebook and Twitter are some of the most popular platforms when it comes to social media marketing. It’s important to understand, however, that there is no “one size fits all” approach. You should do what makes sense for your business.
It’s also important that you don’t spread yourself too thin by putting your business on every social media platform. It’s best to start off with a couple and figure out what works best before moving on to more. If you aren’t sure where to start, you can always try different platforms using a private account. This will help you to get a feel for the different channels and what you like.
The key here is to work smarter, not harder. If your average customer is a middle-aged man, you probably won’t be reaching him through SnapChat. That’s why it’s important to focus on the platforms that work best for the content you want to create and your target audience.
Focus on what works. If you have social media channels that you don’t update often, it’s probably best to “retire” them: i.e. deleting the accounts. Outdated information, old logos and negative comments that remain unanswered can turn off prospective customers and create the impression that your business isn’t really in business.
Here is an overview of the most popular platforms for social media marketing:
- The most popular social medium
- Easy to connect your website or store and sell directly to customers
- Great as a customer support channel
- Encourages lively exchanges via quizzes, polls, competitions, and more
With Facebook, there is minimal effort involved in creating a page with the most important information. It’s definitely worthwhile posting several times a week. It’s easy to schedule some posts ahead of time. Many businesses simply post their current offers for the day.
- A photo platform (perfect to showcase your product)
- Very interactive community
- Stories feature makes it easy to reshare customer experiences
- Can use hashtags or emojis to reach your target group
Anyone who can show off their product/work out there with amazing photos is best suited to Instagram. You can build up a real community here through regular posts and share your latest updates with followers.
- Great platform to start conversations, share news, and ask questions
- Useful for regular users who want to post more frequent, short, spontaneous, and up-to-date messages
- Twitter is a news and information network for many people which gives the platform credibility
On Twitter, you have a maximum of 280 characters per message (a “tweet”) and can also post photos and videos. Twitter is useful for sharing news, interacting with other users, or for fun, entertaining posts. Again, this is especially useful for regular users who want to post more frequent, short, spontaneous and up-to-date messages. As with Instagram, the community feel is very lively. Contributions from others are happily “re-tweeted” (shared) or “liked” so that their own friends are made aware of any relevant content.
- A photo platform (perfect to showcase art, home deco, food)
- Less competition for reach on this platform compared to Facebook
- 93% of pinners use Pinterest to plan purchases
- People can find your ideas across categories
Pinterest is another network where images are clearly the focus. On Pinterest, you share your photos and/or photo collections on pin boards with other users, who can comment and spread your content. Meanwhile, Pinterest is a very busy network and one of the largest image search machines in the world. For creators and artists, Pinterest is ideal for building a network.
- Geared toward casual and fun content
- Popular with younger demographics
- Cutting edge features let you create compelling stories to steer users toward your products
- Users are more likely to make impulsive purchases with this platform
With Snapchat, the focus is on visual content and posts disappear after they are viewed. If your goal is to engage with a younger audience, Snapchat could be the tool for you. Many of its users can’t be found on other platforms like Instagram, which means Snapchat offers a unique opportunity to reach millennials and teenagers.
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3. Develop a social media content plan for your business
Defining your audience and picking the right social media platforms are only part of the battle. You need to consistently create compelling content that helps to build your brand. Posting on the fly makes that a challenge. That’s why having a content plan is so important.
Of course, the content you post on social media depends on your project and on the goal you want to achieve. For your users, content is “relevant” when they feel it is appealing, interesting or entertaining. For you, content is effective when it strengthens the attachment to your brand or creates interest in your products or offers.
Make sure the strategy behind your content plan is based on your goals and buyer personas. For example, If you’re trying to improve customer support, posting photos of cute animals probably won’t help (no matter how fun it is).
4. Set social media goals
When it comes to setting goals, try laying out some concrete things you want to achieve with your social media marketing:
- Do you want to drive engagement with competitions or giveaways?
- Push your recruiting efforts?
- Increase your email list?
- Improve your customer response time?
Here are three possible target goals to start off with:
1. Attract customers:
- Attract more visitors to my website or store
- Introduce my product to users
- Promote my offers
2. Build a community:
- Create a lively conversation with friends and followers
- Strengthen relationships with the brand and contacts
- Share a common passion
3. Be informative:
- Provide a service for questions
- Give current information (new opening hours, for example)
- Help people get started
These three goals don’t need to be strictly defined. Pick and choose what works best for you. These examples are just designed to help you define your objectives.
5. Social media content ideas to get you started
If you are stuck for ideas about where to start when it comes to producing content, here are a few suggestions to help put your social media marketing plan into practice:
- Add all the important dates for your industry in the content calendar. For example, if you sell flowers then Valentine’s Day is a must.
- Pencil in all the general holidays and bank holidays, so you remember to create a “Happy New Year” post, or an “Out of Office” post to let your customers know you’re unavailable.
- Research funny days of the year and mix them in with your more serious content.
- If you know you have important company updates, discount sales or a new product release coming, don’t forget to add them in.
- Use recurring hashtags to reach a wider audience. For example, a hashtag like #TuesdayTip is something that any business can use.
6. How often should I post on social media?
How often you post depends on which social media platform you are using, how you want to engage with your audience, and of course how much time you have. However, it’s important to remember that you should only post high-quality content.
For Twitter, it’s best to post a couple times at different points throughout the day to get the greatest reach. People have a lot of content in their Twitter feeds, so multiple posts help ensure they see you. For Facebook or Instagram, just once a day can be enough.
In general, it’s good to start by preparing all the posts for the next month in a content calendar. This will free you up from last minute “what do I post today?” anxiety. If something comes up, you can always add in a spontaneous post depending on trending news or hashtags.
7. How to find more social media followers
Once you have created your accounts and put a strategy in place, you should start to build a circle of friends and followers to establish your social media presence and build your brand. Here’s how you can do this:
- Tell your friends about your new page and asking them to “follow” you
- “Like” Facebook pages of friends and invite them to “like” your page
- “Follow” people and pages that explore similar topics to yours, or are considered “influencers” in your area
- Add social media buttons to your website
- If you have a store, you can integrate it with Facebook for Business
- Add your social media handles to any promotional brochures, flyers or in your newsletter and invite people to “follow” you
Don’t stress: It can take some time to establish a sizable reach and follower base on social media. That’s normal. “Organic growth” isn’t instantaneous.
What are the right tools for social media marketing?
Managing your social media marketing is a fluid and busy process and there are a number of useful resources out there to help you from becoming overwhelmed. These tools can organize and schedule your posts across multiple platforms. Many of them are free. With premium features, you have the benefit of measuring your performance and seeing what kinds of topics your audience engages with. This can be important for learning about potential customers or discovering new followers who might be interested in your industry.
Here are a few of the most helpful tools for managing your social media marketing:
- The most popular social media management platform
- Easy to use, can manage all your accounts on one dashboard
- Premium plans included detailed analytics so you can track who is following you, which posts perform best, and more
- Geared toward scheduling posts
- Easy and intuitive
- A comprehensive marketing tool helpful for professionals
- Features include detailed metrics and customer experience management
- Helpful for coming up with content ideas
- Calendar feature helps you schedule your posts
The best way to find the right social media strategy for you is to test different content and tools, then measure the results. That’s how you learn what’s most effective for your business. Try to focus on one or two areas you can improve then just get started!
How to create social media visuals
Visual content is often the most popular and easily digestible content on social media. If you’re worried about how to create visuals for your posts there are some easy solutions to help you get started.
- Use Stencil to create a customized post that fits the dimension of your chosen social media platform
- Browse free free stock photo platforms and just add your own text
- Use a free graphic design platform like Canva
How do I measure my social media marketing success?
Management tools will help you collect the information you need regarding your social media content performance, but sometimes it’s hard to know which numbers to pay attention to. Here are some key metrics you should track:
- Engagement: Clicks, likes, replies, shares
- Reach: The number of people who have seen your content
- Followers: The number of people who have chosen to regularly receive your content in their feeds
- Impressions: The number of times one of your posts has been seen, regardless of if it was clicked or not. For example, you might post a link to your store on Facebook, and if it appears in one of your follower’s feeds, that counts as an impression
- Video or story views: This shows how many people viewed the visual content you posted
- Profile visits: The number of people who viewed your social media page
- Mentions: The number of times your account has been mentioned by other users on a given social media platform
- Tags: Whenever another user adds the name of your account or your hashtag to another post
Don’t forget to review your content calendar. This not only helps you plan your posts, it makes it easy to get an overview of your output. This way, you can make sure you’re not posting too often or forgetting important topics.
Good to know: If one of your posts gets exceptionally high traffic and engagement on Facebook, for example, you can then promote the post as an ad with a small budget to push it to a wider audience.
Remember, successful social media marketing doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t feel under pressure to generate as much content or as many followers as possible. The key is to build a solid fanbase. The rest will come naturally. Just try to post regularly and remember to have fun with it!