What is social media marketing?
Social networking is an inescapable aspect in the lives of today’s consumers. The average internet user has over 5 social media accounts, which they check almost daily. Users also spend close to 2 hours a day across their social presence.
While these social platforms were founded on the idea of making it easier to connect and share life’s moments with friends, family members, and followers, they’ve quickly become an invaluable and necessary digital marketing tool for businesses looking to reach their target market.
As AdWeek reports, 91% of retail brands utilize at least 2 social media platforms to communicate and reach their customers, using social media as part of their online marketing strategies. To help you take full advantage of these powerful social media channels, this guide will outline how to run successful campaigns with tips for small businesses on major social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
We’ll take a look at:
- Why your business needs to be on social media
- Which social platforms make the most sense for you to use
- How to create social media goals
- When to post your social media content
Why social media marketing?
If the statistics above weren’t enough to persuade you that social media is right for your small business, here are a few other benefits to consider, that go beyond connecting with your community through social media followers and influencers.
A social media presence and campaign can help you to::
- Stimulate brand awareness and discovery
- Find new leads and customers and refer them to your website to improve sales and traffic with an advertising campaign.
- Build hype for upcoming events, product releases, sales, and more through influencer marketing.
- Collect reviews and give customers an accessible way to ask questions at any time
- Enhance your reputation and power in the market with valuable, helpful content
Besides these benefits of social media, it is also important to highlight how unique it is from other digital marketing channels because the value travels in both directions, meaning you and your customers will benefit from communicating and engaging with one another. Having these multiple touchpoints in a social media site can fuel a stronger, more loyal customer base.
What social media platforms are best for my business?
There are a lot of social media networks for you to choose from. Some businesses create accounts on as many platforms as possible in the hopes that they cover all bases.
But this can make it difficult to deliver great experiences on each platform, especially for smaller businesses with a limited marketing budget.
You need to think critically about how many social media accounts your business can properly manage and maintain, then choose the right networks where your target audiences and current customers are most active. It’s one thing to manage your resources, but you also need to make sure those resources are where your potential customers spend the most time, taking into consideration your business goals and types of content, as well as the potential for organic reach and budget for paid social.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common social media platforms that businesses use
Facebook is at the top of many business owners’ lists for the best social media network to use. Not only does it have a lot of users (over 2 billion), making it great to build brand awareness, it’s also one of the most well-developed platforms for businesses.
Facebook has a number of features that allow businesses large and small to create engaging pages that share a lot of detailed information. It also offers retargeting options in advertising to boost engagement, the ability to link to a website within a post, and a messaging system that allows you to chat directly with customers.
When it comes to business-to-business (B2B) marketing, Twitter is really powerful. The platform can connect leads with resources, notify them of new products, and much more.
It’s also a great channel for consumers looking to ask questions, raise concerns, or communicate directly with their favorite brands.
If you’re looking to use the channel, being active and timely with responses is key. If you’re not able to maintain an active presence and speedily respond to customers’ tweets, it can actually be more damaging than rewarding.
To help with this, you can install the free Twitter app on your phone to receive notifications and respond right away no matter where you are.
This channel quickly emerged as a great gathering place for professionals and is a must for B2B companies.
LinkedIn users are employees and business owners interested in making new connections in their field and consuming content related to their industry. This makes it an optimal place to share blogs and other resources that offer solutions to industry-related issues.
This platform is ideal for businesses that create a lot of visual content, such as restaurants, boutiques, and retailers. It’s a compelling way to showcase exactly what your business offers through pictures and video content.
Plus, if you use Instagram stories, you can take viewers on all sorts of journeys, whether it’s a behind-the-scenes look or store update.
An alternative (or addition) to Instagram is Pinterest, which also features visual content that you can “pin” to boards you create. Some of the most common industries you’ll find on this platform are beauty, fitness, home goods, food, and retailers.
Pinterest does have fewer users than larger channels like Instagram, so you might find that it’s less competitive. This can be beneficial to your business if you feel like your messaging gets lost in users’ feeds on other platforms.
Work smarter, not harder, with SMART goals
SMART goals are objectives that follow 5 key criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Creating these goals for your social media marketing strategies can help keep your efforts focused and effective.
Here are some questions you can answer and additional information to get you started:
Specific: Why is your small business on social media? You should have a direct and specific objective in mind for your strategies and find out which channel will help you accomplish them. Some business owners simply want a place to connect with customers, while others are more focused on increasing conversions or traffic to their website.
Measurable: What data point or metric is most valuable to your business? To tell how effective your strategies are, your goals need to be measurable. Each social media network has a number of metrics for businesses to measure their efforts. There are also tools that help track engagement and conversion metrics for you, such as Google Analytics, as well as specialized social media listening tools.
Attainable: Is your goal attainable? It’s difficult to go viral or become an overnight internet sensation, so you need goals that your business can reasonably obtain.
Relevant: Are your goals relevant to the overarching objectives of your company? Also, are your strategies pertinent to your customers? If your content isn’t relevant, users will scroll right past it.
Timely: How long will you expect to reach your goal? Choosing a timeframe for social media can be tricky because you might need time to see what tactics are working. To make sure you don’t commit to an ineffective strategy for too long, quarterly goals are a good starting point. That way you can evaluate what happened in the last quarter on a regular basis.
When should I post?
Some marketers choose to evaluate the “timely” aspect of their goals and focus on specific times of the day and week when posting on social media. This is a really important—and often forgotten—aspect of winning on social media.
Because your target audience checks social media intermittently throughout the day, timing your posts to match up with their activity can yield positive results, as well as align with your content marketing calendar.
Every channel is different when it comes to the best times to post social content. For example, Tuesday is one of the worst days for Facebook content, but it’s one of the best days for LinkedIn posts. If you want to know the best times for each platform, this is a helpful resource.
Your competitors may also post at these peak times, so your content needs to really stand out. You can also look for other periods throughout the day when your audience is active and there’s less competition.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to your social posting schedule, try posting 3 different times throughout the day for a month. At the end of the month, take note of which days and times received the most engagement to form your social media calendar.
Bring it all together to form your social media strategy
Now that you know what social platforms businesses use to attain their goals, you can start planning what social channels to use to set social presence and what content to post to deliver an exceptional customer experience, building relationships with your audience while achieving your marketing goals.
It’s important to note that you should always be adapting to the latest information you’ve learned. Every time you post to social media, for instance, you learn more about your customers. These insights should be constantly shaping your tactics and pushing your efforts towards greater success.
For some businesses, success on social media takes months—even years! But if you’re committed to learning from your past experiences and applying those insights to future strategies, you’ll have no problem conquering social media marketing.
Written by Ashley Segura for Mailchimp. Ashley is an expert in social media marketing.