A Step-by-Step Guide to Social Media Marketing
When the phrase ‘social media marketing’ gets used, we often think of the big three: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. However, the world of social media has expanded exponentially in recent years. For businesses especially, it’s possible to reach out to a target market on:
As well as exploring what ‘social media marketing’ actually means, we’ll explain some of the 2019 trends. Finally, we’ll offer a short introduction to all of the platforms mentioned so you have a starting point this year.
What’s Social Media Marketing?
There are hundreds of different definitions of social media marketing. In essence, social media marketing involves creating tailored content for specific social media platforms with a goal to boost engagement and increase exposure.
In recent years, it has become more and more obvious that each social media platform requires unique content. While pictures and videos excel on Instagram, the likes of LinkedIn lend themselves to blog posts and textual content. This difference is just one reason why we’re delving into them individually in the second half of this guide.
Within a social media marketing strategy, you need to consider how your brand can gain maximum exposure and engagement on each platform. We aren’t saying you need to be active on a dozen platforms, but you should at least be active on the platforms that house a good percentage of your audience.
Current Social Media Trends
What seems to be happening in the social media space right now? Let’s take a look.
Organic Growth is Difficult — As the saying once went, ‘create great content and the people will come’. Sadly, this is no longer the case and you won’t necessarily be inundated with likes and comments after a particularly good blog post.
Why has this changed? In a word, ads. Though Facebook is known for ads, it’s a trend affecting all social media platforms and it means that organic reach is much harder to obtain. Over the course of a few months, organic reach actually decreased by 50% on Facebook. Although this can be frustrating, we also have to remember that social media platforms are free services trying to make money.
Merging Channels and Tools — Every month, more platforms and tools are merging, and this will be important in the future. For example, remember when cart abandonment messages were restricted to emails? Now, we can receive similar messages through Facebook Messenger.
What’s more, it’s possible to log into all sorts of tools by simply logging into our Google or Facebook accounts. MailChimp even allows users to create Facebook Ads from their own platform. As time goes on, more examples will be found, and we think this makes social media marketing easier than ever before.
Pay for Exposure — As we’ve already seen, organic reach is down, and this suggests an end to the free word of mouth era on social media. Now, the algorithms on social media prioritize paid ads.
As long as you’re confident your audience can be found on a specific platform, we don’t see why this investment should be a problem. With billions of people on these websites, it should be a focal point of the strategy anyway.
Introduction to the Major Social Media Platforms
In the second half of this guide, we’re going to provide a simple introduction to each of these platforms. We’ll briefly explain the tools they offer and why you might consider them in your own social media marketing strategy!
Facebook — Why start elsewhere when we can lead with a platform that has nearly two billion active users? Facebook is instantly recognizable, and it offers endless data and the most targeted ads. When defining a customer for a campaign, you can be incredibly specific. What’s more, you can share links to blog posts, YouTube videos, and wherever else you want your audience to go.
Facebook also offers Business Manager and Lookalike Audiences. While the former is a brilliant hub for managing all pages, people, and advertisements, Lookalike Audiences helps you generate leads based on the characteristics of existing customers. Finally, you also have options to integrate Instagram so that ads on Facebook can also run on Instagram.
Let’s not forget, you also have Facebook Live to connect with your followers and allow them an insight into your brand.
Read More: How to Use Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences
Instagram — Did you know that Instagram had over one million downloads within just three months of being released in the App Store? In just weeks, the app had captured the imagination of the public all over the world. At the time, the iPhone 4 had just been released and suddenly pictures ruled the world.
Today, the platform has grown and there are now over one billion active accounts on Instagram. As a business, this is great news because it happens to be the platform with the highest engagement rate. Since liking can be achieved with a simple double tap, it seems customers are happier to do this on Instagram than on other platforms.
As well as inspirational quotes, questions to followers, and insights into the business, there are two other areas that get engagement; Instagram Stories and influencer marketing. If you want to see success, we advise against constantly advertising and trying to sell. Instead, tell a story, engage with customers, and produce interesting and unique content.
LinkedIn — Unlike Instagram, LinkedIn actually got off to a slow start. However, it now has hundreds of millions of users per month. If you want to use this professional platform, we recommend joining Groups and providing professional blog posts. You can also run ads which has proven to be extremely beneficial — especially B2B services.
YouTube — We’ve seen a picture-based platform, now we have the world’s largest video-based platform and one that provides businesses with an opportunity to provide insights into a business, record product tutorials and product comparisons, and also upload fun videos to show off the personality of the brand.
Often, people look elsewhere instantly because they think they need expensive equipment, but this simply isn’t the case. Instead, all you really need is a light, camera, and microphone. For some, they even start with an iPhone. Elsewhere, there’s lots of free editing software to utilize.
Although this might not surprise you, we also recommend taking advantage of the ad platform while including a CTA at the end of your video, so viewers know what to do next.
Read More: YouTube Marketing 101
What About the Smaller Platforms?
As well as the big names, there are a few other platforms that deserve your attention.
Reddit — Although it perhaps shouldn’t be considered ‘small’ with hundreds of millions of users, it isn’t always considered for marketing which can be a real shame. As a brand, you can do an AMA (ask me anything) for customers, communicate with individuals, and place ads on the platform.
Read More: How to Use Reddit in Your Marketing Strategy
Pinterest — Four out of five users on Pinterest are female, which makes this a great platform for businesses with a mostly female audience. Get people sharing your images and pinning them on their boards, as well as contacting influencers on the platform. If you don’t like the organic approach, you can also pay for ads and buyable pins.
Read More: The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Pinterest Ads
Snapchat — What better way to provide your audience with office videos and make the brand more personable than with Snapchat? You can also tease product launches, team up with influencers, and utilize the temporary nature of the app.
Tumblr, Medium, Periscope, and Quora — Finally, we want to finish on four platforms that don’t get enough attention from businesses. Periscope helps you live stream events, you can show expertise and engage with industry questions on Quora, Medium allows an audience to be built even without a website, and Tumblr is a combination of Twitter, a blog, and Instagram.
Read More: Adding Quora to Your Marketing Strategy
Social media marketing continues to grow and have a huge impact on the success or failure of business’ marketing strategies. As you dive into social media marketing, be sure to pay attention to your engagement rates on the platforms and continuously analyze which ones are the best place for your business to put your resources.