Times are changing. There’s more to social media marketing than posting on Facebook and Twitter a few times a day. If you want to build your brand, engage your prospects, and increase sales, it takes time and work.
You need to stand out from a plethora of competitors, social media noise, and even compete with influencers, celebrities, and other big names.
You need a brilliant social media strategy.
Often, like with any innovative marketing, you’ll find that you have to step away from traditional social media platforms—and continuously find new ways of reaching your target customers.
The popularity of TikTok highlights the importance of keeping up-to-date with the ever-changing digital world, as to not miss out on key opportunities.
Social Media Marketing Guide Definitions
Here are some common terms you need to know when developing your social media marketing strategy.
Content is whatever you post on social media. It can be a Facebook status update, a video on Instagram, a Tweet, and so on.
Content comes in many different forms, and you need to tailor it to each platform. What’s even more important than content, though, is context.
Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Content is king, but context is God.”
For instance, you might have a great joke, but if you place it somewhere inside a 3,000-word blog post, very few people are likely to see it. On Twitter, however, that same joke as a tweet might crush it.
Plus, anyone can get in on the fun. When looking at the most retweeted, funniest Tweets ever, we can see even the CIA sees the value in using social media to create some positive buzz.
The opposite is also true. Packaging your entire blog post into one tweet is hardly possible, so try a good call to action with some relevant hashtags instead. And that brings us to hashtags.
By now, you probably know that hashtags are a very common tool that people use to add meta information on almost all social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all use hashtags to let you describe the topic of your content or mark it as part of current trends.
They make your content easy for users to discover and therefore more likely that they’ll share it.
Shares are the currency of the social media world.
When people engage and interact with your content, that’s good. But when they share it, that is the time to celebrate.
A great social media tool to measure shares and the overall impact of content is BuzzSumo.
The more shares, the more people love your content. Shares are the best form of engagement that people can have.
This is a general term referring to how people interact with the content that you produce. It can be a like, a reaction, a comment, or a share. All of these are good, but the shares are where it’s at.
Now that we’ve covered some social media definitions, let’s take a look at the core pillars of social media.
Core Pillars of Social Media Marketing
There’s no doubt about it: these days, your business needs to be on social media, and you should concentrate at least some of your marketing efforts (and budget) on your social media strategy.
With 4.48 billion people owning social media accounts, there’s a whole world of potential customers that any business can access, simply by logging in and creating brilliant content.
Brands like BooHoo, Depop, and Chipotle excel at social media, and there’s one simple reason: they integrate the core pillars of social media marketing.
There are five main pillars. Let’s talk through them one by one.
A sound social media marketing strategy is the backbone of your social media presence. Without a strategy, you’re wasting time, unlikely to achieve your goals, and will most likely struggle to reach your target audience.
In case you’re not sure, a content strategy consists of getting the “Right content, to the right people, at the right time.”
In its most basic terms, a content strategy helps you achieve your business goals by enabling you to:
- create valuable content
- drive engagement
- increase conversions
A good social media marketing strategy has clear goals, specific plans to reach those goals, and must be measurable.
Finally, you need to set benchmarks to see how things are going and whether you need to change your approach.
2. Planning and Publish
Social media is a powerful tool, but you can’t just go out there and start publishing content without a plan behind it.
When you’re planning content make sure that you:
- Know your audience: You need to know the demographic of your audience in order to connect with them.
- Focus on quality: The quality of content is just as important as the quantity.
- Consider your brand: Keeping in line with your brand values is crucial.
When it comes to publishing, there is one golden rule: consistency. A regular publishing schedule keeps people coming back for more.
3. Listening and Engagement
Plan your content and above all, actually engage with your audience.
Your feedback might not always be positive; but, if you don’t make changes, neither will the tone of your responses.
Listening and engagement are all part of a successful digital transformation, especially if you’re going to enhance the overall customer experience.
It’s also worth mentioning that social listening isn’t just about customer experience. It can allow you to:
- pick up on new trends
- identify new streams of income
- gain industry insights
- find influencers in your niche
Need some assistance to get started with social listening? Hootsuite has a free introductory tool for measuring key terms and hashtags.
The success of any social media marketing campaign depends on analytics for tracking and collecting data. Without this information, you can’t:
- understand user behavior
- refine your strategy
- find which platform works best for your brand
- discover the best times to post
- analyze your competitors
Once you have all this, you’ll know with certainty what works and what doesn’t. That way you can spend more time on what does, and waste less. In turn, analytics will inform the decisions that you make for future campaigns—and highly influence the success rate.
Similarly, A/B testing is great for determining what content, design, CTA, etc. work best.
If you’ve been noticing certain types of content receiving double the engagement than other posts, play on that.
For example, if you’re a small business, your followers are most likely going to be family and friends who will love the personal insight and celebratory posts because they care about you and your successes.
Producing high-quality content that your audience isn’t interested in will mean that engagement levels tank. You need to work on making sure your posts appear in people’s feeds before you start feeding through those insightful industry blogs.
For anyone looking for an audience, social media advertising is worth exploring. With approximately 2.89 billion active monthly users on Facebook alone, that’s an incredible amount of prospects.
The three main types of social media advertising are:
- Organic: Content that picks up views naturally and you don’t pay for.
- Paid: Content that an organization sponsors and therefore costs money to post.
- Earned: Content that has been given freely in the form of shares, likes, and comments.
There are several ways you can advertise on social media. For example, you can:
- Create content: This includes posts and videos.
- Promote content: Create posts that are promoted/sponsored.
- Engage with people: Get active in groups related to your industry, interact with influencers in your industry, etc.
- Grow a following: Get people in your industry to follow your brand by creating and sharing content that appeals to them.
- Get downloads: Offer PDFs, white papers, PowerPoints, videos, podcasts, etc. on your social channels and profiles.
Additionally, if you aim to enhance your brand recognition, build loyalty, and increase conversion rates, advertising could be the way to go.
Aside from these main pillars, you should also:
- ensure you focus your content on a specific niche or demographic
- build quality connections with influencers, brands, and customers you can build relationships with
- add value with your content and comments
Finally, ensure you’re accessible on social media so your customers know they can reach out to you. Don’t just wait for feedback. Invite it!
Different Types of Social Media Marketing
Aside from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media marketing takes many different forms, such as:
- content marketing/content creating
- influencer marketing
- social media management/community management
- paid media
- building your following
- contributing to forums
If you’re serious about growing your brand, don’t just focus on the large sites with a vast audience. Although they’re an obvious place to start, look for different, more creative ways to engage your prospects and develop leads.
Also, while you’re exploring some of these other methods, find which content works best for each channel to optimize your results.
Social Media Marketing Trends to Pay Attention To
The social media world changes faster than any other online space.
Keeping up with it isn’t an easy task.
So here are a few trends you’ll want to keep in mind. Most likely, these trends will impact not just this year, but also the future.
Here’s what they are.
Organic Reach is Down
Once upon a time, a social media user could post compelling content and easily grow their social media following.
After a few months, they’d receive loads of friend requests, comments, shares, and “likes,” all because of their amazing content.
Today, that’s the case. In fact, most social media platforms are making it increasingly difficult to build an organic following.
It’s not unintentional.
Here’s why. As the ability for organic superstars to shine goes down, something else goes up.
You guessed it: Ad spend.
They make it more difficult for users to grow organically so businesses have to spend more money on advertisements.
In fact, one change that Facebook made caused a 52 percent drop in organic reach per post in just a few months.
Remember: At the end of the day, social media platforms are businesses.
Social Is Becoming “Pay to Play”
As organic reach becomes more difficult, businesses have to pay to play.
That’s not very surprising, really. Social media companies make practically all of their money from advertisements.
In other words, social media is only free for users because advertisers are paying loads of money to reach those users.
The user is the product.
But to reach them, you have to pay.
The good news is the investment is often worth it.
Most social media sites still have very reasonable advertising costs, and with so many people using social media, you reach audiences you may not be able to tap into otherwise.
Channels Are Merging
As entrepreneurs create social media websites, the possibilities become increasingly endless.
And that trend isn’t slowing down. As new ways of communicating, reaching customers, and pulling leads develop, so do strategies that are equally innovative.
Take, for instance, cart abandonment emails.
Once, the only place to send and receive cart abandonment messages was through email.
Now, however, Facebook Messenger and a swath of other messaging platforms are equally viable.
For instance, Recart lets you send Facebook messages about abandoned Shopify carts:
So, what’s the point of all this?
Channels are changing, and the way marketers use them is changing even more.
As more and more social media sites find their footing, expect the merging of different marketing channels to happen even more than it already has.
Tools Are Merging
But it’s not just the channels that are merging. The social media tools we use are also merging.
How many times this week, for example, have you logged in to a SaaS product with Google or Facebook instead of creating new login credentials?
As more tools flood the Internet, all of it becomes cluttered for the users of those tools.
Fortunately, marketing tools all around the Internet are working to integrate seamlessly with the giants of advertising.
Take MailChimp, for example.
With MailChimp, an email marketing software, users can create Facebook and Instagram Ads natively from their MailChimp accounts. They can then preview their ads and post them to their chosen platform.
The more that this happens between social media platforms and SaaS companies, the easier time you’ll have marketing to your target audience.
With these trends in mind, it’s time to look at the most popular platforms (and some that are up and coming).
We’ll start with the biggest beast of all: Facebook.
Facebook is the biggest social media platform. It offers marketers some of the robust most data and the most precisely targeted ads.
Facebook Ads walks you through the process, so even the newest social media marketers may be able to succeed on the platform.
Facebook Business Manager
If you want to advertise on Facebook, the first thing you need to know about is the Facebook Business Suite tool.
You can think of this as a hub for managing your advertisements, pages, inboxes, and people.
It’s free and quite simple to use.
Simply go to the landing page for the Facebook Business and create an account. You need to already have a Facebook account for it to let you in.
Once you log in you’ll see your Business Suite dashboard.
This tool is an absolute must for anyone who’s serious about advertising and marketing on Facebook. It will give you a single place to worry about your marketing performance rather than having to jump from tab to tab.
Facebook Advertising Options
The first thing you’ll get to choose when creating a Facebook advertising campaign is the goal of your campaign.
Do you want to drive traffic to your website, drive conversions, promote your Facebook Page, get engagement on your post, or something else?
Just select the one you want.
You can fully customize your audience via the ad manager link in the target audience popup (which shows up when you’ve chosen your goal), or you can use their simple suggestions:
Finally, you’ll be able to select the devices you want to target and where you want your ads to show up.
Facebook recommends using auto ad placement, but if you disagree, you can just as easily decide where you want your ads to go and what device you want them to target.
Many social media platforms make all these decisions for you. But Facebook puts you in the driver’s seat because they know you’ll likely do the best job of finding your ideal customers.
You, after all, know your target market best.
Want to make the most of Facebook’s marketing features? Here’s a quick rundown on how to dominate Facebook marketing.
Understanding Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences
Facebook allows you to create lookalike audiences or smart audiences. They use the data from people who have previously engaged with your ads or page and create an audience they think is best.
That means that if you have an audience that is performing remarkably, you can create a similar audience that should also perform well.
Did you know that when you create an ad on Facebook, you can also run that ad on Instagram by clicking a single button?
That’s right. It takes you no extra work.
You can click the Instagram ad placement button and select “Feed,” “Stories,” or both.
If your ad is highly visual, you might want to consider using this automatic integration. It will expand your reach with no extra work.
People love Facebook live.
There’s just something about live video that makes it more appealing.
Maybe it’s the chance that people will mess up. Maybe it’s the transparency. Maybe it makes us feel more connected.
Whatever the reasons, the fact is the same: People enjoy live video at least as much as they do traditional videos.
Users watch live videos for 27 percent longer than they do pre-recorded ones.
In other words, live video might be well worth your marketing time and money on Facebook. Here are Facebook’s instructions on how to go live.
Facebook Marketing Resources
- Facebook for Media
- Facebook Marketing: A Complete Video Guide
- The Facebook Marketing Ninja Podcast
Instagram is and was always about pictures, and its video function is pretty popular too. Out of all of the big networks, Instagram has the highest engagement rate.
You can also release short or long-form videos and share Instagram stories. Both formats do well for brands.
Tools like InVideo can help you create and edit professional videos that increase engagement and reach more people.
But, if I were to start a new Instagram account from scratch, I’d focus mostly on pictures. Here are a few categories that work well:
- inspiring quotes
- questions in text form to they engage your followers
- well-done product photos
Of course, you must also make use of hashtags, give a call-to-action with each photo, and make sure that you’re using your bio is properly optimized.
You can also focus on Instagram influencer marketing.
Influencer Marketing on Instagram
If there is one social media platform that represents the pinnacle of influencer marketing, it’s Instagram.
The reason for that is difficult to understand.
Perhaps it’s because the platform is so visual. Or perhaps it’s because advertisement overloads haven’t yet annoyed the userbase.
Or perhaps the influencers enjoy sporting their content more on Instagram than on Facebook, Twitter, or the like.
Whatever the case, Instagram is winning big.
It’s no surprise, then, that 65 percent of brands participate in influencer marketing.
You might want to consider joining them.
Instagram Stories are Stealing Users From Snapchat
Instagram Stories is a feature that lets users create a coherent series of pictures, videos, or gifs.
The feature exploded the moment that Instagram created it.
In fact, in 2017, the number of people using Instagram Stories passed the number of users on Snapchat, which is a similar platform.
In other words, if you’re going to use Instagram, then you should probably create a Story of your own.
Perhaps you should create a Story that shows users behind the scenes of your business or offers special deals.
How Brands Are Using Instagram Today
Instagram is one of the top best social media platforms for user engagement.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t sell on the platform and market your products as well, especially now that there are features like product tags and links in Stories.
Pushing for audience engagement first, before you try to sell, is your best bet. Then, once people learn to love your brand, they’ll buy from you.
Additional Instagram Marketing Resources
- Instagram Marketing Cheat Sheet
- Best Instagram Marketing Tips
- Instagram Advertising Guide
This social network has changed the way we consume video since it has made it easy (streaming is super fast) and free, and it gives us a way to express our opinions instantly (thanks to comments).
Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.
YouTube has spawned entire industries and kickstarted thousands of careers.
For marketers, it’s a great way to share long-form content with your audience, especially if they’re not avid readers. For example, you could turn your blog posts into video tutorials.
Pro tip: Use other social media channels to drive your followers to YouTube by giving excerpts, snippets, and previews of your videos. The little, bite-sized teasers will spark curiosity and make people want to see the whole thing.
There is no limit to how long your videos can be, and people have published entire courses in the form of a single, three-hour video.
If you’re trying to be funny, you should be funny on all channels. It doesn’t make sense for your brand with a blog about PPC advertising to suddenly make animal jokes on YouTube. You’d be better off teaching some of your strategies on video.
Don’t overcomplicate this. You don’t need high-quality recording equipment or fancy editing. The chances are good that you are a few steps ahead of most people in your niche, so just get in front of your webcam and start teaching.
As Nathan Barry says:
Teach everything you know.
The Rise of DIY Video Filming
With social media, anyone can become a star, and YouTube is no different.
Sure, since YouTube is video-based, it requires a bit of videography knowledge and a bit of the right equipment. With decent light, a microphone, and a camera, your business can start using YouTube to drive traffic and generate leads.
Even your iPhone will do.
Post-Production and Editing
It’s not just video filming that the DIYers are taking over. It’s also post-production and editing.
In fact, every year it seems, new tools come out that allow people like you to edit your video content with ease.
For editing your own video content for YouTube, consider wevideo. It is free and easy to use.
You can use it to layer content, cut content, and even add new graphics.
What’s not to like? Plus, it’s free.
YouTube Video Ads
Finally, you might want to consider using video ads on YouTube.
Currently, there are several types of YouTube ads.
Depending on the type of ad you choose to use, viewers will either be able to skip your ad after a few seconds or YouTube will make them watch the entire thing.
Naturally, different strategies will work for different businesses.
Don’t be afraid to try different things. A/B test to see what works best and what doesn’t work at all.
In the end, your advertisement on YouTube will only be as good as your determination to find out what works.
Spend the extra time and money to do so.
You won’t regret it.
LinkedIn’s growth never exploded as much as Facebook’s, but they’ve been around for 18 years and have grown to over 774+ million members.
On LinkedIn, it’s all about being professional. The casual writing style that’s used on some blogs doesn’t work as well on LinkedIn. People are there for one thing only: business.
They want to learn about what’s new in their industries, who’s hiring, who’s firing, and how to optimize their performance at work.
A SlideShare about baking muffins won’t do nearly as well as an in-depth company presentation from a tech conference.
If your content helps people expand their networks or conduct business in a better way, it has a place on LinkedIn. If not, you might want to focus on other channels first.
If you’re familiar with Facebook Groups, then LinkedIn Groups shouldn’t be difficult to understand and navigate.
Just think of Facebook Groups but for business people.
Basically, LinkedIn Groups are a place for like-minded professionals to gather and discuss topics of interest or establish their expertise.
You might want to consider joining one to establish your business as an expert on certain topics.
After all, the more people that believe your business knows what it’s talking about, the more people who will work with you in the future.
It’s an easy strategy for making connections and growing your content marketing audience.
As with all social media platforms, you can also use LinkedIn to run your advertisements.
And if your business falls into the B2B category, LinkedIn might just be the best place for your advertisements.
In fact, LinkedIn is one of the most effective social media platforms for B2B companies. LinkedIn is also one of the top platforms for lead generation.
Evidently, since people on LinkedIn are there to talk business, they also don’t mind interacting with businesses.
That means that your business can get some serious attention on the platform if you play your cards right.
Advertisements might just be the way you choose to do that.
Additional LinkedIn Resources
- How to Advertise on LinkedIn
- LinkedIn Marketing Guide
- Social Media Marketing Podcast – LinkedIn Marketing
Reddit’s slogan claims that they are the “front page of the Internet,” and they aren’t very far off. With 1.5 billion visits from May 2019 to May 2020, Reddit might just live up to its description.
Reddit is another college-originated social media site, and it’s a very special one at that. It focuses entirely on community benefit. In fact, Reddit’s users will ferociously attack you for spamming link bait or dumping promotional links on their boards (or subreddits).
If Redditors like what they see, they can easily drive enough traffic to your site to crash it. You shouldn’t take a Reddit traffic storm lightly.
Two key factors that helped Reddit grow to such a massive platform are AMAs (Ask Me Anything) and their voting feature.
Users can upvote and downvote entries, links, and comments. The most popular and helpful submissions always show up on top.
Reddit rewards (or punishes) accounts with karma, which they display separately for links and text posts.
This way, users don’t have to dig through tons of content before finding what’s good. They can see what’s popular right at their first glimpse.
The platform took off when celebrities started doing AMAs. During AMAs, Celebrities hang around on the platform for a while and answer user questions live.
People who have done AMA’s include Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Ferriss, David Copperfield, and even Bill Gates.
Reddit requires people to post proof that they’re doing an AMA.
Reddit is tough to crack. You can’t use it as another distribution channel and just submit a link every time you publish something on your blog.
You have to be present, communicate, and provide value to fellow Redditors without asking for anything first.
Submit funny and helpful links for a while just to build up your karma, and then refer back to your content. But only do so where it’s appropriate. And be sure to make the links a side note rather than the entire content of the post.
Reddit Marketing Fails to Avoid
Reddit mostly hates marketers. It’s not necessarily the fault of marketers, though. Reddit is just a unique community.
They don’t like people who are too blatant in their marketing, and they don’t like businesses trying to be pushy.
For that reason, even some of the top businesses have made massive mistakes on Reddit.
The CEO of a large outdoor gear retail chain started an AMA on Reddit, hoping to generate brand awareness.
Here’s what he got instead.
That’s a bit of a Reddit disaster, huh?
Take some time to understand the audience before you start using the platform to advertise and market. Once you do understand Redditors, though, the platform represents a well of marketing potential you won’t be able to pass up.
If you don’t want to try and grow an organic following on Reddit, then you can consider simply posting ads on the platform.
First, though, you’ll need to determine if Reddit is the right place for your advertisements.
As we already discussed, advertising gone wrong can hurt instead of help your business on Reddit, so make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into first.
The platform consists primarily of males under the age of thirty (though other demographics are growing on the site), so if that isn’t your target audience, you might want to advertise elsewhere.
If you’re going to run ads on the platform, then be ready to respond to some serious heat. But if you live through the heat, you could harness some serious potential.
Snapchat has 293 million daily active users. While the majority of those are women (about 61 percent), men on the platform have one thing in common: they’re young. In fact, 69 percent of teens use Snapchat.
Since all images and videos disappear after 10 seconds max, content on the platform is fleeting and short-lived.
Naturally, it makes sense to provide content around that same theme.
For example, you could give your audience access to a live event. If you’re giving a talk at a conference, take a few snaps when you’re on stage and share them with your followers.
Let your audience behind the scenes. Show them the happy hour on Friday at the office, the IPO party, and even how you act when you’re alone at home.
You could show them your practice run of the speech, how you screwed up your makeup, or what a cool car picked you up from the airport.
Snapchat marketing is all about sharing those precious moments that we all have so few of in life, so make sure that you use it for just that.
B2B Marketing on Snapchat
Can you market your B2B company on Snapchat?
Some people think you can’t.
After all, a large portion of the current Snapchat user base consists of those who are teenagers or younger.
Don’t let that young audience deceive you. As the platform finds its footing in the digital world, older populations are flocking to the platform as well.
In fact, one entrepreneur uses the platform to offer regular advice to other entrepreneurs.
HubSpot uses it to increase and establish its brand’s personality.[“source=neilpatel”]