Social media is a great platform to reach and engage with your target audience. Social media marketing can bring remarkable benefits to your business. 45% of marketers who used a social media marketing strategy found them to be “somewhat effective,” and 29% found it “very effective.”
Social media marketing has become an integral part of digital marketing strategies for most businesses today. It involves all marketing activities on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. It includes posts in the form of text, images, videos, blogs, or paid advertisements. Marketers use these posts to drive customer attention and interaction towards their brand and to promote their products and services.
Now the question is: why is social media so important?
Here are some facts to answer that question:
1. According to a Sprout Social survey, 30% of millennials follow a brand on social media. 2. In a survey of 344 social media marketers by Smart Insights, 52% reported getting increased revenue and sales through social media marketing strategies. 3. In 2017, Facebook alone was able to garner $39.9 billion in ad revenue. 4.25 million+ businesses have an account on Instagram as of July 2017.
It is clear from the above stats that social media is an essential marketing channel for brands today. Now let’s look at some of the key advantages of social media marketing.
Advantages of Social Media Marketing for Your Business
1. Increase in Brand Awareness
Social media serves as a very large and useful platform to advertise your brand infront of your customers. To get started, you need to create your company account or business page on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
The biggest benefit of this is an increase in brand awareness. Social media has millions of active users whom you can target to raise brand awareness.
And the numbers are growing on all other social platforms. This is undoubtedly a huge network for brands to tap.
Businesses have realized the value of social media marketing and are using it for varying reasons. The CMO survey 2018 listed brand building and brand awareness as the topmost reasons for using social media.
Image via The CMO Survey 2018
2. Improvement in Brand Loyalty
Many businesses have started focusing on social media marketing for creating customer engagement and building brand loyalty. Social media is becoming popular among customers who like sharing their brand experiences online. Companies can bank on this powerful tool for building brand recognition by answering all customer questions and acknowledging their experiences.
For this, you have to actively engage with users on social media and strengthen the community of your brand loyalists. As a company, you have to promptly respond to your customers. According to Social Habit research, 42% of customers want a direct response within an hour.
It is not easy to meet these expectations by looking at the huge number of questions businesses receive every day. However, as a forward-thinking business, you have to understand the value of building a positive image on social media. Put your best foot forward by answering all consumer questions, leaving positive impressions, and developing a larger community of brand loyalists.
See, for example, how JetBlue Airways leverages social media engagement to build brand loyalty.
Social media has become the new landscape for advertising. Social media marketing is far less expensive than traditional advertising. It costs nothing to create a profile on major social media sites, though some sites charge extra for premium memberships. So, as an advertising channel, social media is quite cost-effective.
However, it costs you time and effort to maintain your profile and increase engagement on it. Social media largely runs through word-of-mouth recommendations. All you need to do is post quality content regularly and share it within your network – almost at zero cost.
Remember that social media is available 24/7, and whatever you post remains there forever. So keep in mind customers’ interests and behavior while sharing any of your brand’s information.
Your content is the gateway to send out a positive brand message. Use it to your brand’s advantage.
Again, social media offers global reach. A good social media presence opens the doors to the entire world to showcase your brand and your offers. This unlimited reach also comes without any extra cost.
Is there another marketing campaign that gives you free access to customers around the world? Or can you name any other 24/7 channel to promote your message for free?
I assume you answered “no” to both questions.
Now you can understand why businesses are shifting from expensive traditional advertising methods to a cost-effective social media marketing strategy.
4. Increase in Engagement Rate
Growing the number of loyal customers and brand advocates is a proven method of building your brand. One new customer or fan can potentially lead to many new customers by sharing your content or products within their network.
This is the most beneficial aspect of social media over other marketing channels - the scope of virality. Take full advantage of this possibility to drive more engagement for your brand.
5. Boost in Traffic
Social media can bring steady traffic to your website. You can use social media to drive traffic to your website and encourage purchases. People rely on others’ recommendations for making any purchase and social media is the channel for finding such recommendations.
So, create and share great content around your brand and get as many positive reviews as you can. Capitalize on the referral traffic that comes through social media.
6. Improvement in SEO Ranking
You already know how social media increases brand awareness. This increase in brand visibility can also help you drive more conversions.
Social media marketing boosts your SEO. It helps people find your business on the search engines. Social media marketing gives your business a human voice as you can advocate your brand through your employees and existing customers.
If you want your business to rank higher, integrate targeted keywords into your social media content. Complement your content with infographics, product information, market statistics, user videos, and employee photos.
You can also collaborate with influencers in your industry to share your content with their audiences. This could lead to more shares, which results in better social signals that improve your SEO rankings.
Social media marketing can be a helping hand to fulfill your brand’s objectives. Whether you want to grow website traffic, increase brand awareness and loyalty, improve SEO, or drive sales. The above benefits of social media marketing make it clear why you should use social media for your business.
Now let’s take a look at how to build a perfect social media marketing strategy for your business.
13 Steps for a Perfect Social Media Marketing Strategy
1. Define Your Goals
Creating a successful social media strategy depends on what goals you want to achieve. Analyze your business requirements and decide the purpose of your company presence on social media.
Your business objectives may be increasing brand awareness, creating brand loyalty, customers, driving traffic, getting more sales, creating a positive brand image, or something else.
Once you set your goals, it will be easier to devise a social media marketing strategy directed towards attaining those goals.
2. Define Your Target Audiences
The next step of a perfect social media marketing strategy is identifying who your target audience is. You might have amazing content to share, but it won’t work unless targeted to the right audiences. It’s easy to target audiences once you know their age, interests, income, pain points, behavior, location, etc.
Research your target audience, find out the subjects of their conversations, and what they would like to see on social media.
Keep abreast of trending topics in your niche. Use popular hashtags in your content. Find key influencers in your niche, and see what content is popular among them.
Use all of this information to create buyer personas that will help you target the right people in the right place with the right message.
3. Choose Suitable Social Media Platforms
Once you have identified your target audience, select the social media platforms that work for your business. If your customers spend most of their time on any specific social networks, use those as your primary platforms.
Depending on the popularity of each platform among your audience, direct your content on each. Your marketing strategy for each social platform should be based on your goals as well as the purpose that each platform is designed for.
For example, if you want to grow leads and your target audience is on Facebook, invest in Facebook ads.
Social media has no power without good content. You need to build a diverse content strategy to reach and convert your potential customers.
There are two major components that define the type of content you post on social media - form, and context. Your content can be in form of texts, videos, images, interesting podcasts, links, etc.
Your brand voice and channel trends will drive the context of your content posts. Depending on that, you can post informative or educational content or engage your audience with fun videos and quality images.
More important considerations in your social media content strategy are the content type, posting timing, and posting frequency. You need to post the right content at the right time and with the right frequency.
5. Use Video Marketing
Video marketing is currently trending among digital marketers. While you will get good responses to posts with quality images and interesting stories, videos can give you remarkable success.
Another survey found that 85% of businesses want to include more videos in their social media marketing strategy 2018.
These numbers show that videos are becoming increasingly important to market brands and products. But what kind of videos should you create? How-to-videos, fun videos, tutorial videos, storytelling videos, brand films, etc. are some great options.
Here’s a great video marketing example from Amazon.
Storytelling is an art, and the more creative and lively it is, the greater the impact it will create. Share your brand’s story with real-time videos. Go live on Facebook and Instagram using their live streaming features.
Live videos and stories help in:
Transforming your transactional social media relationship into something more personal
Inspiring and engaging with your customers
Creating viral content
The growing popularity of Facebook Live and Instagram stories reveal why live videos are essential in your social media marketing mix.
Facebook Live has transformed the way brands interact with their customers. You may be surprised to learn that Facebook Live videos are watched 3 times longer than videos that aren’t live.
Here’s an example of how using Facebook Live can prove to be a powerful social media marketing strategy.
The average time users spend on Instagram Stories daily is around 28 minutes. You may be surprised to learn that 25 million plus businesses are using Instagram to tell their brand stories.
For example, take a look at how Renault used Instagram Stories as a social media strategy for the promotion of Twingo Midnight, their new model.
Image via Instagram
8. Focus on Retargeting
Retargeting consumers on social media can convert them into actual customers.
Use social media analytics to get information about people who visited your site or clicked on your ads but made an exit without making a purchase. Track prospects who abandoned their shopping carts. And then use social media advertising tools to retarget them and attract them back to your site.
Start with Facebook ads by spending a small amount just to experiment. With Facebook ads, you can target a specific category of people with your product ads in their news feed. And then you can expand your advertising mix as you go.
You may be surprised to learn that mobile ads on Facebook have a 9.1x greater click-through rate than web advertisements, and 8.1x more on a desktop. Use Facebook Ads Manager to easily create your ads in just a few simple steps. It lets you choose your target customers, pause and restart your ads, and measure their impact.
MyFix Cycles, for instance, was able to generate $15 for each dollar they spent on a Facebook retargeting campaign.
Image via Webrunner Media
9. Use Employees As Brand Advocates
Your employees can be your best brand advocates as they know your business in and out. Implementing an employee advocacy program is also important for a perfect social media marketing strategy. A Cisco study says that employee posts create eight times greater engagement than posts from a brand handle.
Let your employees contribute to social media marketing by sharing your brand’s story. Provide them with social media guidelines that they can follow. Educate your employees about the best practices to engage their followers on social media platforms.
Here’s an example of GE’s employee advocacy on social media.
Chatbots are an efficient social media marketing tool to connect with your customers and resolve their questions. They rule out any need for human interruption.
Their usability as a social media marketing tool is because of the following reasons:
They do not need any coding knowledge.
They have the ability to resolve customer problems.
They can take a direct order from Facebook Messenger and consumer comments.
They can be integrated with almost all payment systems.
11. Monitor Your Competitors
Following competitor activity on major social platforms keeps you informed of latest tactics and what’s working. Here, a social media monitoring tool will be of great help. With this, you can track trending hashtags, ideal posts with high engagement, and influencers used by your competitors.
You can use this data to post content that your audience will find engaging. Measuring competitor performance will help you set your benchmarks.
12. Collaborate with Influencers
A social media campaign without an influencer is no longer viable these days. Influencers are the link to a successful social media marketing campaign as they can influence your target customers’ purchase decisions. Social media is full of influencers who may be bloggers, industry experts, celebrities, TV stars, journalists, or any reliable source of information.
Influencers have a large network of followers and they can give wide exposure to your brand on social media. Extend your reach by having influencers share your content.
Allow influencers to post on your social media accounts for an agreed span of time. This is more helpful when you are targeting a particular audience with your brand’s campaigns. Influencers create and post regular content on your business pages, adding a personal touch.
This is kind of a cross-promotion where the influencers promote the takeover of your social account with their followers. Those who are interested in the influencer’s content may follow the campaign closely and even start following your brand. It is a smart way to garner additional engagement and gain new followers for your brand.
The post below is a perfect example of an influencer takeover as an effective social media marketing strategy.
You can use the support of influencers to organize contests and giveaways to market your products.
This can build brand awareness on social media and generate leads. Such contests are like fun activities and help in engaging potential customers with your brand and its offerings.
For instance, take a look at how Gillette has partnered with male lifestyle influencer Justin Livingston to promote their products through a giveaway contest.
3. Product Reviews
Social media is all about word-of-mouth marketing and that’s why influencers play an important role here. They have immense power to influence other people’s decisions. 40% of Twitter users have reportedly bought a product as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.
Ask your influencers to post reviews about your product on social media. Their recommendations will generate more leads and encourage potential customers to visit your site and make a purchase.
Here’s a perfect example of social media marketing through product reviews by an Instagram influencer.
Foodie influencer Jess Vuong helped promote YouFoodz by giving an honest and enthusiastic review of their menu.
4. Product Launches
Another brilliant way for you to leverage influencers is to involve them in your product launch events. As a social media marketing strategy, you can partner with influencers to launch your new products and features on social media.
It could be a simple shoutout on social media, an unboxing video, or involving them in the creation process. Social media giveaways and social media contests also work well to create buzz about your new products.
Incorporating a storytelling element in your product launch campaign can also be very effective. Give influencers the creative freedom to generate fun, interactive, and unique content that your target audience will not be able to ignore.
Just look at what Lele Ponds did for the Walking Dead game for the Next Games company. The comedic skit raked in engagement for the company and led to a lot of game downloads. The giveaway certainly incentivized more people to do the same.
This is the most vital step towards a perfect social media marketing strategy. Tracking and measuring your performance will help you improve your results.
There are many social media monitoring tools that will help you evaluate each step of your social media marketing strategy. Use the analytics data to tweak your strategy. Measuring your results will give you ideas for other effective ways to market your brand and communicate with your customers on social media.
14. Conduct a Social Media Audit
In the words of Beth Comstock, “Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.”
Now, I’m fairly certain she wasn’t talking about social media strategies. But that doesn’t mean her words aren’t applicable in this context. Without knowing who you are or how deep in the water you are, you can’t develop an effective social media marketing strategy.
Typically, a social media audit is one of the first steps that brands take when they’re considering a new social media marketing campaign. The process will help you realize and understand what’s working out for you and what’s not.
That’s an important component of developing a social media marketing campaign. After all, how will you fix or improve something without knowing why or how it’s broken?
But how can you run a social media audit? Before you start brainstorming and coming up with a social media marketing strategy, try asking yourself these questions:
What social media networks do you have a presence on currently?
What are your numbers like on each of these platforms? (Followers, engagement rates, etc.)
Is your presence on them optimized? (Photos, bios, URLs, contact information, etc.)
What kind of content are you posting on each of them?
What kind of content has been most successful on each network?
How does your company profile stack up against those of your competitors?
A perfect social media strategy is never static. It should continuously evolve, picking up the latest trends and tactics and implementing them for a greater impact. So venture out. Develop a strategy using the above tactics and start banking on the multitude of advantages social media marketing has to offer.
Brian Mechem is COO and Co-Founder of Grin, a software solution for companies who run influencer marketing programs. Grin's software powers some of the best influencer programs in the world, providing insights on ROI and adding efficiency to the influencer marketing process.