Getting Started with Social Media Marketing in 5 Easy Steps
Social media marketing (SMM) is one of the most cost-effective, engaging ways to spread the word about your business. That said, it can be daunting when you don't know where to begin. Don't worry - that's why I'm here! My 5-step guide will help you get going TODAY on the SMM strategy of your dreams.
In today's fast-paced online world, social media marketing is quickly developing into one of the most cost-effective means for marketing your business. In fact, a lot of it can be done for little to no cost at all, beyond your careful time and preparation.
If you're not already engaged in social media marketing, knowing where to begin can be daunting. Don't worry, you're not alone! The fact that you're researching how to do social media marketing means you're already aware of its power. Also, I'm here to make this easier for you with 5 simple steps.
Before we dive into these actionable steps, let's address what you may be thinking: yes, yes, I know I should do social media marketing ... but why is it so important?
Social media marketing will continue to be one of the top digital marketing trends this year and in years to come. Here's the skinny on why it's so important.
Why Social Media Marketing Is Important:
Maybe you need evidence to support upper management buy-in on you creating and executing a social media marketing strategy. Or, perhaps you just need more convincing of why it's so important!
Social media marketing matters because...
- An active presence on social media helps drive targeted traffic and leads. For example, if you work tirelessly on creating a new piece of content on your website (from a single blog post to an ebook or whitepaper), it takes time for Google to index and build traffic to that page. By sharing a link to your new content on social, and letting your followers know about it, you're giving your traffic a great head start.
- It helps to increase your overall brand awareness. There are billions of users on social media today. Not having social media presence is a huge missed opportunity in building your brand! It's a perfect tool to tell people more about you and the story behind your business. When they continually see your brand online, they're going to be building up awareness as to who you are and what you do.
- Social media marketing can also drive higher conversion rates, with some studies proving social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing tactics!
- Social media is also a great way to lend support to your clients. It provides your clients with another means of engaging with your company, and to ask you questions about your products or services. I've Tweeted to brands whose products I use to ask questions. When I get a helpful and satisfying response, it truly does boost my confidence and trust with the brand.
These are just a few of the many benefits that businesses can enjoy by getting on social media. Now, let's get into my 5 steps for getting your own social media marketing started!
Step 1: Research & Assess
Get Yourself Up To Speed:
Before you even start to develop a plan for your social media marketing strategy, you need to do some research. Begin researching social media in general if need be. Here are some excellent resources:
Assess the Competition:
Next, take a look at what your competitors are doing on social media. What is their brand voice? What types of content do they share? Which social media channels are they using? Also, look at the social media profiles of companies that inspire you, and for whom you aspire your brand to become. Think of brands that you personally love. Now, look at how they tell that brand story on social media. Start developing an idea of the ideal social media page for your business, based on these examples.
Explore Various Social Media Channels:
Next, get the low-down on each social media channel and familiarize yourself with its functions. You'll want to begin to form an idea of which channels make the most sense for your business. To do so, consider your target audience and then assess each channel's demographics. According to Hubspot, these are the demographics for each platform:
Assess Your Own Resources:
Finally, before you start planning content to share on social media, you'll need to assess your current resources. Consider the following:
Ultimately, you'll want to have a clear direction before you begin distributing content over social, and having a clear idea of who will do what will help you get there.
Step 2: Plan
Define Goals and Objectives:
In the planning phase, I urge you to begin with objectives. What are you hoping to get out of your social media plan? Do you want to increase sales? Drive traffic to your website? Build brand awareness? All of these are valid objectives, and your plan could contain several. Just make sure your objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).
If SMART objectives are new to you, take a look at this overview.
Perform Hashtag Research:
As you would perform keyword research in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts, you'll want to perform Hashtag research. Hashtags are a great way to ensure people are seeing the content you share on social media. A tool like Hashtagify helps you with this. Enter a key term that your post is about, and the tool will generate related hashtags. For example, if you type in 'Monday,' the tool may suggest the following hashtags such as 'GoodMorning' or 'MondayBlues.' Think of your individual business and what you offer, and try to come up with a list of hashtags to have on hand that pertain to what you do. That way, you'll have something to work with as you begin planning content. You'll want to save room to include a few topical hashtags to the content, that relate more to the specific post.
I go more into hashtag research in my 10-step guide for boosting efficiency on social media.
Consider the 80/20 Rule:
As you start to plan your content strategy, think of the 80/20 rule. This is a general rule of thumb for planning social media content, that suggests having 80% of your content be from other resources, and 20% be your own unique content. While it's called a 'rule,' this is not a true rule, but more of a guideline. Why? Because especially at the beginning of developing a social media marketing strategy, you're not going to be able to develop the presence you want on just your brand's content alone. To do so would require much more of a time commitment than you're likely prepared to, or able to, make. Sharing external content (with the proper credits to the original source) is a great way to get more content up on your pages. This could include a relevant quote you found, or perhaps a great article.
Plan Content Ahead of Time:
To start mapping out your content, develop a content calendar. No idea what that is? Loop back to my earlier post on maximizing social media effectiveness. A content calendar will help you plan out what to post and when, and gives you the chance to prepare all your content at once. This really boosts efficiency, especially for small teams, as you could prepare your whole month of content in a way that balances out well and thoughtfully, so you're not sharing similar content too close together. It also allows you to stay topical, as you can look up posting events to include ahead of time. Say you own a burger restaurant chain. By looking up ahead of time, you can plan content for big events like National Burger Day!
Step 3: Find & Use The Right Tools
You're probably daunted over the amount of time you envision your new social media plan to require... but don't worry there are so many tools on the market that will help you have the strategy of your dreams.
For Creating Beautiful Content:
As I mentioned before, the best thing to do for your own efficiency and sanity is to prepare your content ahead of time... especially when you consider all the supporting images or graphics you'll want to create for the posts! It's much easier to plan out your month on a calendar, then to build and create all the images to support that content every single day. If you can afford it or it makes sense for your business, I really recommend Photoshop for your photo editing and graphics needs. However, if that is too technical or out of budget for you, Canva is a very good option!
Auto-schedule Your Posts:
This is another point I cannot stress enough. After you build out your content calendar for the month ahead, use a tool to automate the posting of these updates. This will allow you to program dozens of posts ahead of time, and optimize the posting time for when your most followers will see the updates. I personally love Hootsuite, but there are many more automation tools on the market that can help you with this.
Step 4: Analyze & Keep Reports
All of your efforts thus far are going to lose a lot of value if you are not properly tracking them and their performance! Set up a system that works for you to keep up with the reporting and analysis of your social media efforts. For me, this looks like a brief report each week, and a more extensive one monthly. The metrics you will want to track will depend on those SMART objectives that you defined earlier on in your process. Here are a few of the metrics I track weekly for each of my social media channels:
- Growth/ Loss of Followers
- Total Reach
- Total Impressions
- Engagement Rate
You may also want to include a spot for the top-performing post you had for each channel that week. That way, you can see what is resonating with your followers. At the end of the day, reporting is key to measuring what is working and what isn't, while proving to upper management that your efforts are generating enough traction for your business to be worth continuing!
Step 5: Be Patient, Yet Agile
Please please please be patient! Social media growth takes extensive time - it won't happen overnight! You need to put in a significant time investment to see the results, by building and engaging with your audience over several months or even years. This can be frustrating, I know, but patience is key.
An additional frustration is that how social media channels change up their algorithms very frequently, impacting what content appears in feeds. Trust me, it's very frustrating as a marketer to keep up! Just know that your first trial strategy may not completely hit the mark. Please don't give up - just keep revising and adapting.
Remaining agile will give you the edge. Be prepared to always evolve with what you are seeing online. Don't get stuck in your ways. If a certain post series is really not resonating with followers, adapt and try, try again!
Hopefully, by now you see how important social media marketing is to your business, and that you now feel empowered to get started. Remember, none of this happens overnight, so take the time to research and plan your strategy in a thoughtful way before diving right in.
In the meantime, good luck getting started with your social media marketing! I'd love to hear how you're doing with your plans, so connect with me on social to let me know!
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