Do you want more search traffic?
Do you want to get the upper hand over your competitors when it comes to marketing?
Social Media Marketing could be your answer.
Such has been the upward trend in the widespread use and popularity of social media in the last decade or so that not utilizing social media for marketing could be detrimental to your business in the long run.
Before moving on to social media marketing though, let’s take a brief look at the advent of social media.
Social Media and its Rise
Unless someone has been living under a rock for the last ten years, finding a person who hasn’t a clue about social media could be as strenuous as finding a needle in a haystack.
But still for any newbies out there having any confusion regarding social media, here is what social media implies to in simple terms:
“Social media is a means by which people interact and share content with each other on the internet.”
To elaborate further, social media is a blanket term for social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. which facilitate communication and connect people around the world in a social context.
The rate at which social media has grown in the past decade has been nothing short of astonishing.
And as for now, it shows no signs of stopping.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Whether you are running a multinational corporation or a small business near your home, you will need that extra something which will give you an edge over your competitors.
Social media marketing, if done correctly, could prove to be that spark for you and your business’s growth.
Here is how Wikipedia defines SMM :
Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service.
Presumably, this is the most basic definition of SMM you will find anywhere on the internet.
You will acquire a much more accurate perception of SMM as we advance through this blog post.
Why SMM is the real deal
We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it. -Erik Qualman
As reported by Social Media Examiner, 92% of marketers in 2015 pronounced that social media marketing was significant for their business.
Another 66% claimed to have seen lead generation benefits with social media by spending as little as six hours per week.
These are just a couple of stats showcasing the incredible power and reach of social media marketing.
We will have a look at some of the amazing success stories of brands fueled by SMM later in this blog post.
For now, let’s check out some of the major perks that SMM entails:
Upsurge in website traffic
Improvement in search engine rankings
Enhanced brand loyalty
Higher conversion rates
Greater customer satisfaction
Direct communication with key audiences
Escalation in business’ visibility
Creation of a brand identity
Rise in brand recognition
Increase in sales and enhanced ROI
Quite a lot, aren’t they?
Well, if you manage to get proficient in SMM, then the sky is the limit for you.
You can open a host of whole new avenues for your business bringing in bagful of profits en route.
Now that we have an idea regarding the huge potential of Social Media Marketing, it’s time to get to know the elite list of sites dominating the social networking picture in terms of popularity and traffic.
Starting with the undisputed king... Facebook.
When we hear the word ‘social media’, the first thing that comes to our mind is that of Facebook.
Such has been the utter dominance of Facebook on the social media landscape, that it made the majority of its contemporaries (Orkut, Friendster) shut shop while some others (Google+, Myspace) are living off scraps.
Over time, Facebook has become more than just a social networking app for people.
It has become an integral part of their life which they can’t stay away from and keep on indulging in it, whenever they get time.
Facebook for Marketing
Given the fact that Facebook has 1.8 billion daily active users, there is undoubtedly an enormous amount of marketing potential waiting to be tapped in this network.
So it is mandatory that you have a separate Facebook page catering to your business needs.
You can get one for your business using the Facebook Business Page option.
This page is attached to your personal page, but it is totally distinct from it and consists of an array of business-oriented features like analytics, post scheduling, and advertising.
Once you have set up a page, it’s time to move on to the content you can post.
Facebook affords a lot of flexibility in this respect with images(still & gifs), videos(normal & live) and text posts as alternatives.
Out of these, which type of content you should post entirely depends on your business needs, but images and videos are certainly your best bet as they have been proven to be more effective than text posts.
If there is arguably a better advertising platform than Google Adwords on the web, then it has to be Facebook Ads.
Such has been the evolution of the Facebook Ads feature in the last few years that it has become highly effective and simple to use.
Most notably, the specificity with which you can target your audience is simply remarkable.
If used wisely, Facebook Ads can be an extremely profitable advertising medium for small as well as large businesses.
Facebook Business Manager Tool
If you're contemplating using Facebook advertising, then you need to get accustomed to this tool.
This tool will sort out everything for you related to marketing on Facebook, be it managing ads, pages or people.
It’s free of cost and easy to use.
Just visit the Facebook Business Manager page and create an account.
If you want to know the latest breaking news, what’s going on in the life of your favorite celebrity, live updates from a mega event or just some motivational quotes to boost your mood, Twitter is the perfect place for you.
With news from one end of the world reaching the other end in real time, Twitter has transformed the news and reporting industry with its small-sized updates.
Founded in March 2006, Twitter’s character limit was doubled from 140 to 280 on November 7, 2017.
Twitter for Marketing
If you are aiming to use Twitter for marketing, then there are some unsaid rules that you need to be aware of, and follow religiously to be successful in your efforts.
Post 7-20 times every-day, the more the better.
Avoid posting a tweet without a visual(images, gifs, videos).
Use relevant hashtags along with a standard one denoting your brand.
Engage with your audience(comment, share, like, reply) as much as possible.
Build meaningful relationships and provide value to your customers rather than just promoting your content(applicable to other networks as well).
Before doing all this, you need to create and set up a business page on Twitter and start promoting it on your website and other social channels.
Twitter advertising can also prove to be handy in boosting your marketing efforts if used wisely.
For more info on Twitter ads, you can visit the official Twitter Ads help page.
The go-to network for watching and sharing videos, Youtube has come a long way since its acquisition by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion.
Currently, Youtube sees over one billion unique visits each month with over 6 billion hours of videos watched in the same timeframe.
At the time of the acquisition, Youtube was essentially a combination of funny videos and illegal clips.
But soon enough, Google started implementing some shrewd tactics for its expansion like splitting ad revenue with the video creators, thus stimulating the creation of higher-quality content.
With the influx of superior content came immense popularity and increased traffic, especially amongst the younger generation whose clicks are the cornerstone on which Youtube and everyone else related to Youtube earns money.
YouTube for Marketing
If there is one thing the avid Youtube user would like to change about Youtube, then it most certainly will be the annoying ads that show up at the beginning of videos, taking up 5 seconds and sometimes even 30 seconds to subside before the original video starts.
Now if you wish to do marketing for your business on Youtube and I think you should, then you will be doing the same annoying thing(Youtube advertising) alongside other things.
But if you are not ready to invest in Youtube ads and want to just promote your brand organically, then you should still go for it as marketing on Youtube in any manner can be extremely beneficial in expanding the reach of your business and acquiring new customers.
See these facts for example :
YouTube has over a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet.
3.25 billion hours of video are watched each month on Youtube.
Youtube reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any broadcast or cable network on mobile.
59% of executives prefer watching a video over reading text.
So, now that we are apprised of the vast marketing scope available on Youtube, it’s time to create a business channel.
Visit the youtube website and sign in using your personal Google account or create a new one(if you want a separate one for your business).
Click on the ‘My channel’ option. A dialog box will come up on your screen.
Click on the ‘Use a business or other name’ option rather than the ‘Create channel’ one.
Fill in the required details and create & set up(add channel icon, art, description & trailer if possible) your channel.
You will be good to go now and can start uploading videos and promoting your business on the channel.
Founded in 2002, the largest professional social network in the world, Linkedin has blossomed to over 467 million members in a slow but steady manner in the last 15 years.
Purely business-oriented, Linkedin is the go-to site for companies, recruiters, job seekers and business professionals alike.
You can create your own profile, join relevant groups, connect with other professionals, develop your resume and professional background along with a host of other features.
Linkedin for Marketing
If your company falls in the B2B business bracket, then you should look no further than Linkedin for marketing your brand.
For Linkedin has been proven to be the most effective social media platform for B2B marketers. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
As you can see in the infographic below, a whopping 92% of B2B marketers trust Linkedin for their social media marketing efforts.
The lead generation stats as well are impressive enough to further reassure the status of Linkedin as the best bet for B2B marketers.
When it comes to advertising, Linkedin has a mechanism in place that can help you deliver highly targeted ads to other professionals and businesses on Linkedin.
The cost-per-click(CPC) is expensive than any other popular social media platform but it is worth the money considering the fact that you can focus these ads on very distinct people.
This can be especially instrumental in acquiring high-value clients for your company.
The Linkedin advertising platform is comfortably easy to use and with the existence of a plethora of minutely detailed user profiles provides you with amazingly detailed targeting choices.
No other social network divides opinion as much as Google+ does.
Launched in 2011 amid much fanfare by Google, Google+ never really managed to hit the heights everyone(especially Google) was expecting it to.
Now after more than six years, some claim it to be already dead while others claim that it wasn’t meant to be a social network after all - just a social layer to connect all of Google’s services.
Whatever the truth may be, Google+ with its numerous features,111 million active users and the massive advantage of having Google as its parent company has evolved into a social network you can’t ignore anymore.
Google+ for Marketing
Regardless of whatever your perception of Google+ may be, it is absolutely essential that you have a Google+ account set up for marketing your business.
Here are the reasons why(including Google+ features):
Google+ content gets indexed right away and shows up in search results
Many people have experienced the fact that content posted to Google+ shows up in search results more quickly as compared to other social networks.
It may be because Google ranks its own network higher than any other social network, hence crawling and indexing content posted on it instantly.
Google+ helps your SEO
If you manage to keep an active Google+ presence(updated profile, consistent content sharing, building a sizable network using Google circles), it is very likely that you will see a climb in Google search results, increasing your audience exposure.
Communities on Google+ are groups where people having common interests(sports, music, latest technology, etc.) communicate with each other and share content.
These communities can be very effective in building your online presence and authority in your field.
Another one of Google’s innovative features, Circles aid in segmenting your followers and the people you are following depending on your needs.
With this, you can send out specific messages(or offers) to a chosen bunch of people, for eg. potential clients, existing ones and new ones.
Similar to the Facebook Events feature, Google+ Events assists in advertising upcoming business events and setting up calendar reminders for your followers.
You can select your invitees from your various circles and put up all the specific information regarding the event along with the option of adding a thematic photo.
Connecting with your fans & customers and getting to know them better has become requisite for businesses to be successful.
Google Hangouts helps you do just that. With Hangouts, you can connect face-to-face with your customers, provide them with info about your new product, know and solve their grievances with a Q&A session or do whatever else your customers wish for on Hangouts.
As of now, Hangouts is limited to 10 people.
Select which networks to use
As far as building your SMM strategy is concerned, the first thing that needs to be ticked off the list is selecting the networks to be active on.
Starting your channel on every popular network you find on the internet could lead to you getting overwhelmed by the sheer work and time required to get any results.
If you think that SMM is as easy as opening an account in a network and straightaway start promoting your brand in it, then you are living in a bubble of your own.
As renowned American author and former dot-com business executive, Seth Godin puts it :
“Build it, and they will come” only works in the movies. Social media is a “Build it, Nurture it, Engage them and they may come and stay.”
It will take a considerable amount of time, effort and continuous nurturing to get any meaningful results out of each network.
So you are better off focusing on a few networks where the majority of your audience are concentrated rather than trying to crack all of them.
Assuming that you are already active on a few most popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc., here’s how to find which networks to target :
Check out where your website traffic is coming from (Website is the place where you earn your bucks).
Check out which channel is perfect for your organization (Based on your target audience).
Compare the engagement rate(likes, comments, shares, etc.) of your target audience in different networks.
Determine your audience
Earlier in this blog post, we had a brief overview of all the major social networks and their diverse marketing potential.
Now it’s time to figure out who your target audience is and what content will be the most effective in connecting with them - a very crucial step in your SMM strategy.
If you just keep on publishing content after content without keeping your target audience in mind, then all your hard work and effort will go in vain.
So it is an absolute must to create an audience persona for your business.
The easiest way to get an idea of your audience personas is to just check out your Facebook and Twitter professional accounts.
Now that you have a concise interpretation of your target audience owing to these tools, it’s time to understand what your company does for them.
Figuring out the audience’s problem that your company solves is a pivotal step in getting a much deeper perspective of your audience so that you can tailor your content according to their needs.
If you are not acquainted with this beforehand, you can always reach out to senior executives of your organization and get all the info you need.
One of the most influential things in your strategy, the amount of money you are willing to spend on SMM will be the difference between what you can carry out on social networks and what your limitations are.
Though there are ways to get results without investing in ads, they won’t provide you with the instant reach and massive exposure that paid ads and videos give.
Aside from ads and videos, you will also have to reserve a portion of your budget for essential tools your SMM team may need.
In today’s world, everybody wants quick results.
People want water to seep in, the moment they hit the first pickaxe in the ground for digging a well.
Though this is not always possible, there are times when you can speed up your quest for results by using certain ways.
One such method in SMM is to research your top competitors and see how and why they are drawing in customers through social media.
Always remember that you are contesting for the same audience as your competitors.
So, how are you going to do this?
First off, if you have no idea as to who your top competitors are, then you need to do some manual search on each social network you are on by using some relevant keyword in your industry.
For example, let’s consider that I am the owner of a donut shop in Los Angeles. My keyword would be “donut shop in Los Angeles”.
Depending on whether you are a local or national brand, you need to look for local donut shops or national donut shops respectively.
Once you have a list of five of your top competitors, you need to start looking at their profiles on various social networks.
This will help you get an outlook on some things about them like their popularity, brand voice, activity rate, etc.
Next, you need to analyze what exactly works for your competitors by monitoring their social posts and the subsequent engagement(likes, comments, shares) rates.
By doing this, you will be able to ascertain which types of content resonates with your audience :
Videos, images, text posts or live videos.
Types of messages(funny, professional, positive, cynical) which perform best.
Whether motivational quotes, questions or jokes work.
Doing all this will give you an extensive idea of what works and what doesn’t with your audience, thus enabling you to develop your content according to your audience’s taste.
This will set you up for massive success in the long run.
Create a strategy
You want massive results, right? Everybody wants them.
Whether it is a student approaching his matriculate exams or someone like you looking to crack SMM, everyone wants to achieve tremendous success in what they are doing.
But the ones who manage to succeed are always those few who had planned for that success and then executed their plan to perfection.
As Alan Lakein, the renowned author on time management says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.
So in this section, probably the most important one of this blog post, we will emphasize on three of the most crucial factors which will decide the fate of your social media endeavor.
Determining the content types that you will publish
Do you follow well-known brands on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network?
If yes, then you may have come across their posts several times while scrolling down your news feed.
If you see these posts carefully, and I think many of you may have noticed it, is that each one of them has their own distinct voice and tone.
Their posts, the way they interact with their fans seems to be from a single mold.
This definite voice and tone is vital in establishing the brand’s presence on the social scene.
For more info on this, click here.
Before moving ahead, let's recap a few things:
Information on Top Social Networks ✔
Determining your audience ✔
Researching competition ✔
Establishing voice and tone ✔
So we have gone through the four prerequisites for deciding what content types to create and share along with the way in which to present them to the audience, in various sections of this blog post.
Now I think you are well equipped to reach a conjecture on which content types to post and on which channel.
Let’s cast an eye on the alternatives that you have :
Videos (normal and live)
Curated content from other sources
You can zero in on the content types you would post on your channels from this list, but always remember to keep in mind the nature of each social network before posting any content.
For example, Blog posts and Curated content from other sources will be ideal for Linkedin than Twitter.
While you will find Facebook to be a much more all-inclusive network in regards to content.
Finding & Selecting curated content to publish
Once you are on a network and you have started engaging with your audience, it is a must that you keep posting on a consistent basis. (more on this in the next section)
Doing it regularly, especially on sites like Twitter where the average life-span of a post(tweet) is just 18 mins can turn out to be hectic.
So there will be times when you will be short of content and will be anxious as to what to do.
Curated content from other sources will be your saviour in such situations.
Aside from aiding you in tricky times, this curated content will also assist in increasing your authority on a particular subject in the eyes of your audience.
For this content, you need to select sources which are reputable(high-authority on a topic), have accurate data and are up to date with their info.
You can find such sources with the help of tools like Inoreader.
Deciding the frequency of your posts
Your next task when creating your strategy will be setting up your posting schedule.
The consistency with which you will post on each social network will depend on the traits of that particular network.
Always remember that whatever the circumstances, it is always better to post high-quality content fewer times than posting satisfactory content more frequently.
For info on the ideal frequency for each network, click here.
Tools & Analytics
Without a clear strategy in place, tools won’t make any difference to you. -Ian Cleary
If you have not yet prepared a definite SMM strategy for your brand as described in the last section, then there is no sense in moving on to this one until you accomplish that.
Assuming that you have done the needful and created an SMM strategy for your business, we move forward to the kinds of social media tools that you may require in your journey for the perfect planning, execution and the subsequent measurement of the impact of your SMM strategy.
There are three kinds of them, which tools you should use solely depends on your organization’s needs.
Planning tools: These tools essentially help you to stay organized and manage your whole SMM campaign efficiently. Tools like Asana, Wrike, Clarizen and Zoho Projects fall under this category of tools.
Execution tools: Tools which assist you in the scheduling and execution of posts and campaigns. This includes tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, Zoho Social, and Agorapulse.
Reporting and Statistics tool: These tools help to measure the success of your SMM strategy. This consists of tools like Simply Measured, Keyhole, SumAll, and Socialbakers.
For every two brands who have found success with SMM, there are ten others who messed up along the way courtesy of their lack of knowledge on how SMM works.
Here are some of the popular ones:
You may have heard of Blackberry, right?
They were one of the top smartphone vendors in their prime, with their own OS and app store decked up with all the popular apps like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
So naturally, one would be totally justified to expect the company’s representatives to be using their own devices for everything, especially while using social media.
But, you’d be wrong.
For a tweet from the official Blackberry account was sent via an iPhone.
The ultimate blunder, if there ever was one.
Though this wouldn’t be seen in the traditional Twitter app, it was clearly visible in Tweetdeck, Tweetbot, Twitterrific and other clients.
Embarrassing, to say the least.
Another twitter gaffe, this time by KitchenAid, the home appliances brand based in the States.
We all know Twitter as a place where people rant their personal opinions about specific issues in an often insensitive and abusive manner.
But, as long as this tweets don’t come from the corporate accounts of brands, they’re perfectly ignorable.
As you can see, one (ex) Kitchenaid employee chose to crack a joke on the president and the death of his mother through the company’s official Twitter handle.
What followed (apart from the sacking of the employee) were a series of tweets acknowledging the error and apologizing to the President and his family.
Needless to say, the damage was already done.
Certainly, not the best way to promote your brand on Twitter.
As you may know by now, SMM requires a ton of patience and can be a hard nut to crack for newbies, but once you get the hang of it, it could be your single most effective marketing weapon.
Here are some of the brands who have successfully decoded the SMM puzzle and got their deserved rewards in return.
Castle Chevrolet & Castle Buick GMC
Castle, the car dealers based in Illinois, have their Chevrolet & Buick GMC showrooms based in one of the most competitive regions in the US.
They wanted to draw the attention of potential customers towards their dealerships and amazing aftercare programmes, which consists of free tires and free oil throughout the lifespan of each customer’s car.
To get a lead over their adversaries, they opted to use Facebook Adwords, targeting the campaign to Facebook users residing within a few miles of their showrooms along with those that lived near their top competitors.
The ads featured a map showing the exact distance between Castle’s dealerships to that of the audience.
The outcome that followed was simply astounding, to say the least.
The three-month campaign generated 2,212 unique visits to their website at a cost of $0.98/click.
Sales of 23 vehicles were traced back to the campaign, bringing about a 23x return of advertising spend.
If there ever was a success story, this is it.
Philips desired to enhance their image as a leader in innovation in the healthcare scene, in the eyes of top professionals.
To increase the trustworthiness of their products among them, they elected to invest in a string of Linkedin groups and sub-groups.
They hosted and curated high-quality debates, along with utilizing polls and other Linkedin built-in features.
What followed was an influx of 73,000 followers to their group, leading to more than 4,400 discussions since its inception.
Such was the enormous response that it lead to the formation of four more well-received subgroups for the purpose of serving in-depth discussions on niche issues in healthcare.
By consistently overseeing and promoting their LinkedIn official page, they have also succeeded in luring over 250,000 company subscribers.
To this date, they keep on posting regular updates to maintain a continuous flow of engagement and earn fresh subscribers.
So that’s it, then.
We have reached the end of this extensive blog post, but for the most of you, your SMM journey begins now.
And with the dearth of knowledge you have attained in the last quarter of an hour, I am quite sure that it is just a matter of time before you start seeing results and your journey turns out to be a successful one.
Feel free to share any doubts or comments.
Do share on your preferred social network if you find this blog post useful.