Asena Atilla Saunders
Asena Atilla Saunders 6 October 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

Learn how to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, boost conversions or increase sales with a strong social media presence.

Social media marketing is a form of growth marketing in which brands curate and distribute content in order to develop an always-on relationship with their audience. Social media has evolved from delivering posts on major platforms to both listening and interacting with target persona(s). 

Do Social Marketing Statistics Prove That it’s Effective and Necessary?

Whether you are aiming to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, boost conversions or increase sales, your social media presence should be established upon 3 phases:

1. Social Media Marketing Strategy

This phase is the foundation of creating a brand voice and tone. And it starts with an internal checkup and competitor research. During the internal checkup, you should define:

  • Target persona: Who do you believe wants to use your product or service? You can have multiple segments of customers based on differences defined by demographics and psychographics
  • Customer problem: What are the problems your target personas have?
  • Your solution: What is your solution to their problems? How does it solve their problems?
  • Unique selling proposition: Why would consumers choose your solution over competitors?

While analyzing your competitors, you should evaluate their position statement and marketing messages, and how they’re communicating with their audience through their social media channels. It can provide inspiration or be an example of what you don’t want to do.

By now, you have identified who your audience is. You’ve figured out their needs and desires, their goals, the challenges they face as well as what social networks they belong to. You have researched your competitor and their brand promise. The next step is to describe your own brand’s unique selling proposition for each persona, building upon the insights you gained. This will lead you to craft your brand’s key marketing message that you want your target audience to hear and remember. Well-defined key messages will make your social media marketing communication easier to manage and more successful.

Your social media strategy should also include your business objectives and what you want to achieve with social media marketing. There are three major ways social media marketing drives success:

  1. Build brand awareness and grow your reach: Through social media marketing, you can gain website traffic or grab the attention of your target audience.
  2. Drive audience engagement and increase your engaged audience: Carefully crafted social media marketing enables brands to connect with their followers and starts an ongoing conversation.
  3. Boost Conversion and drive sales: An effective social media strategy increases leads and conversions.

This set of steps will eventually guide you to discover your brand’s tone of voice. Do you need to be formal or can you have a witty style? Take that tone of voice and apply it to your key marketing messages. 

Now it’s time to decide which social media platform best presents your goals and fits your brand. Here are the social media channels and their current stats in a nutshell:

  • Facebook

Users: 2.32 billion 

Audience: Generation X and millennials

Used for: Discovery of what’s new, entertainment

Industry: B2C

Best for: Brand awareness and brand marketing efforts

  • YouTube

Users: 2 billion

Audience: Millennials, Generation Z

Used for: Entertainment, helpful videos that inform and inspire, video content creation

Industry: B2C

Best for: Brand awareness, brand engagement

  • Instagram

Users: 1 billion

Audience: Millennials and Generation Z

Used for: Entertainment, Content creation, personal brand building

Industry: B2C 

Best for: Brand engagement, influencer marketing, brand marketing efforts

  • LinkedIn

Users: 660 million

Audience: Baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials

Used for: Networking, HR purposes

Industry: B2B

Best for: Lead generation, customer acquisition, content marketing

  • Twitter

Users: 330 million 

Audience: Millennials

Used for: Micro blogging, discovery

Industry: B2B and B2C

Best for: Brand engagement, public relations

  • Pinterest

Users: 300 million

Audience: Millennials and younger baby boomers

Used for: Inspiration, discovery

Industry: B2C

Best for: Brand awareness, product promotion

2. Social Media Marketing Planning and Publishing

You know who you are going to talk to and through which social media platform. You’ve set your goals. Now, you are ready to start your social media planning accordingly. While working on the key elements of social media planning, make sure to always keep these points in mind:

  • Each social network has different dynamics: Instagram is all about high-quality photos and videos. Twitter is about short snippets of information, hashtags, and mentions. Take advantage of each platform’s strongest traits. You may also have to revise the messages slightly, depending on the audience demographic of each platform. But keep the same overall tone of voice.
  • Always think about persona(s): Provide valuable information that your target customers will find helpful and interesting. 
  • Goal-oriented posts (promotion, brand building, etc): Everything on social media is promotional one way or another. It is either self-promotion like blog articles or direct promotion such as paid social advertising.
  • Listen in each step – social media strategy, plan and management: Track social media conversations about your brand. And keep checking what your competitors are doing and monitor what’s working for them or not.
  • Manage interactions carefully: Whether it’s a positive or negative comment, respond to social conversations happening on your social media accounts in a timely manner. Have a worst-case scenario plan in place for a social media crisis. 

Decide on Social Media Context

Create a social media context that guides your social media planning in the long run. And make sure that the context is consistent with your overall digital marketing strategy. Think about the topics you want to engage in and provide a perspective on. Topics you explore and share on your social media networks can include blog posts, videos, infographics, brand announcements, employee branding, and more. Your social media context may look like this:

Employee branding: Information about current employees, new employee announcements, team achievements, etc.

Events and workshops: Events and workshops that your company participates in or organizes. Share pre / live and post-event posts in terms of the importance of these events. Leave your audience with key takeaways. 

Brand announcements: New projects and new brand collaborations. 

Blog Posts: Your social media both supports and amplifies your content marketing efforts. Whenever you publish a new piece of content, you can make sure that your audience reads new content by delivering your blog posts through social media. It’ll also help with building up loyal followers on social media by positioning your brand as a thought leader in the sector. 

Branding: Posts directed to related product/service landing pages.

Industry reports & news: Industry reports and data with brand comments.

In order to develop innovative social media content, you can keep an eye on social media trends. With the all-around research tool Buzzsumo, you can access viral trends for any topic, discover the most shared content on Twitter and Pinterest, and see the most engaging content on Facebook. Therefore, you will have a steady flow of fresh content along with evergreen contents.

Once you’ve defined the topics, consider social media channels to deliver this content. While blog posts and infographics fit with Linkedin and Facebook, images, videos, and gifs work better at Instagram. 

Use an Editorial Calendar

Create a monthly social media calendar and decide on how often to post on social media. Every study comes up with a different optimal posting frequency on social media networks. Yet, there is no one-fits-for-all formula for the posting frequency. It varies according to the sector, location, timezone, and social media platform. Something that works for one brand does not work for another. So, instead, aim for publishing on a regular basis rather than frequency. 

In your calendar, some elements to consider for each piece of content could be:

  • Social media channel
  • Target persona
  • Objective
  • CTAs
  • Evergreen or viral content
  • Taglines for Images
  • Hashtags
  • KPI to measure success

Another thing to consider while creating your monthly social media schedule is the right mix of different kinds of content topics. The 80/20 Rule, once the golden rule of successful social media marketing, claims that you should dedicate 80% of your social media posts to informative, interesting, and entertaining content that engages your audience. Only 20% should directly promote your brand. Although there is again no magic formula, the 80/20 Rule in principle points us in the right direction. You take advantage of social media platforms for building awareness for key brand moments and driving traffic, and direct sales. But, you should not focus too much on your brand. Your audience will instantly realize and take a step back. They are using social media for their own good – to discover what’s going on around the world, find entertaining content, fill up spare time and such.

In short, you have to create value for your followers too. Identify what your audience is doing across different platforms and how they are reacting to and engaging with the latest social media trends – IGTV, stories, and etc. Mobilize your brand’s story in innovative ways to inspire your followers to share their own experience and forge more meaningful relationships. Then you will be able to maintain a consistent and engaging social media presence.

Bonus: A Useful Tool and a Guide for an Effective Social Media Planning

In order for you to plan and track your social media activities easily, take a look at our Social Media Marketing Planning Guide and learn how to create a social media marketing plan, the characteristics of the main social media channels and some tactics for you to use in your social media marketing activities. Moreover, here’s our tool for Social Media Marketing Plans for you to practice and exercise on how to create new plans and track them.

Maintain a Consistent Brand Image Across Social Media

Each social media platform has its own prominent visual codes. So, it can be challenging to create visually stunning images for different platforms while staying true to your brand identity. Start establishing a unified brand image with your profile image. Using the same placement and choice of fonts and colours you use for your profile and cover images will play an essential role in creating a consistent brand image. Then, you should also create a style guide for each piece of social media content – blog posts, infographics and such – and apply them consistently.

You can make small adjustments for different social media channels while sticking to a consistent brand image. Better to limit your font selection to a few that reflect your brand identity. You can apply the same colour palette across graphic elements such as text, icons, and backgrounds. You can also use your logo over images. You can place alternate versions (black, white, colour) considering the background image. But, the position and size of your logo should be the same across different social media posts. 

If managing brand image consistency becomes a problem with your social media marketing strategy, then consider social media management tools to form a media library. In addition, seeing all your scheduled posts in a single place will help you create a consistent brand image. At the end of the day, developing a strong visual strategy will help your brand stand out and help to reinforce brand recognition.

Promote Top-Performing Social Media Posts

Social media revolves around content. You always need to focus on posting high-quality content since quality trumps quantity. And when you come up with a great piece of content, maximise its reach with social media advertising. You can expand your brand’s reach and attract a wider audience. Social media platforms like Facebook allow you to target audiences based on characteristics such as age, location, interests, and behaviours. You can also use your existing customers’ information to find lookalike audiences on Facebook. Twitter ads allow language, gender, interest, follower, device, behaviour, keyword, geography, and tailored audiences targeting.

Moreover, such evergreen content will help your brand convert leads. Publish evergreen content as gated content, with an online form that people must fill out, usually with their name and email address, in order to access the content.

3. Social Media Reporting

Along the way, step back a minute and monitor how your social media marketing is performing. Are you able to increase your reach? How many new followers have you gained over the last 30 days? What are the most engaging social media posts? Major social media platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer insights and give this kind of basic statistics. If you want to dive deeper into your social media data, then you can measure success with Google Analytics. It will help you track the volume and value of website traffic social media channels are generating. 

Measure Social Media Metrics

The most important social media metrics to measure the success of your posts are:

Impressions: This is the number of times your social media post is displayed on people’s timelines, whether or not they click.

Reach: This is the total number of unique people who see your post. It contains both your followers and potential audience – followers of the account that reshared, liked or commented on your posts.

Total Followers: These are the all-time followers of your social channel page since it was created. It excludes people who have unfollowed your page.

Audience demographics: This is about gender, ethnicity, income, age, education, geography, and such. 

Profile visits: This is the number of people who have looked at your social media page.

Engagement Rate: This includes likes, comments, clicks, shares, and retweets. “Saved” posts on Instagram and “Pinned” posts on Pinterest are platform-specific types of engagement.

Click-Through Rate (CTR): This is the percentage of clicks relative to impressions. This metric shows how engaging your social media posts are.

Conversion: This is the total number of times people take the desired action (download content, subscribe to a monthly newsletter, close a sale, etc.) after clicking on or seeing an ad.

Leads: The number of potential customers collected through social media campaigns.

Optimise Your Social Media Planning

Social media management is a never-ending endeavour. So, it’s crucial to understand what’s working and what’s not working for your brand on this frontier because it will affect all of your digital marketing efforts. Social media moves fast and effective social media outreach is the need to be always on. You have to regularly analyze your efforts and adapt accordingly as you go forward with your strategy. This means cutting out poorly performed content, fine-tuning your average content and polish your top-performing evergreen content. Only such a dynamic and flexible approach can bring solid success in ever-evolving social media. 

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