Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is everywhere you look. From big brand names on Instagram to your favorite pizzeria’s Facebook page, more and more businesses are implementing it to market their products and services.
But where do you start with social media marketing, and how can you ensure your success when you do?
Read our ultimate guide to find out!
Table of Contents
Why Social Media Marketing is Important
Social media marketing is about more than just vanity metrics.
It’s not about the likes, the comments, or the shares, but something much deeper and useful to your company. Rather, the usefulness in social media marketing comes from the engagement it can build in your audience, and how that can make your company more profitable overall.
We talk about this in our ultimate guide to lead generation.
Because social media is so widespread, leveraging it can be a game-changer for your business. In fact, over 50 percent of people globally are on at least one platform.
Regardless of what your business is, and regardless of which industry you are in, your current and future customers are on at least one platform.
Find them and engage them with your offer, and you will become both more profitable as a business and more sustainable long-term.
Simply put, if you aren’t doing some form of marketing on social media, you are missing out.
How Social Media Marketing is Different From Other Forms of Marketing
Before you get started with social media marketing, it’s important to know what makes it different from all other marketing. There are three main factors that make social media marketing unique, and you ignore them at your own peril.
1) Larger reach.
Remember how I said that over 50 percent of people are on at least one form of social media?
Well, that has huge implications for marketing. Never before in the history of marketing has it been so easy to reach so many people. Whereas in the past, businesses have had to spend thousands of dollars just to send a newspaper ad that most people would never see, social media makes showing your marketing message to the right person both quicker and more effective.
This is all about scale. If you want to “go where your audience is”, social media is a great first choice.
2) Shorter attention span.
When engaging in social media marketing, it’s essential to recognize the phenomenon of shorter attention spans.
People pay less attention, and for much shorter lengths of time, than ever before… but why?
It’s important here to point out the difference in the modern day consumer. People have more choices than ever before. They also have more technology to make those choices instantly available, which makes your competitors just a swipe away.
In addition, your modern consumer also has a thousand demands on their attention at any given time. Nobody has time for whatever content you are throwing their way!
This is important to understand as a business marketing itself on social media because it changes the way you will approach your content. Shorter attention spans mean people will give you less time to make an impression. The result? Your social media content needs to be short, attention-grabbing, and memorable.
Of course, this is all subject to which platform you are using. While shorter attention spans apply to most platforms, each one is unique in the way you should approach it. Remember this when developing your marketing plan, and check out this valuable resource for more information.
3) Shorter life.
While social media marketing will indeed put you into closer contact with millions (and potentially billions) of people, the “life” of your marketing assets is also incredibly short.
What I mean here is that anything you do (organic or paid) is drowning in a sea of similar marketing attempts from other companies. This puts you up against more competition, and with companies that have entire social media teams, there is a lot of content being put on social media platforms!
What this means is you have to stand out. You have to be different, and you have to approach your social media marketing with the goal of getting (and keeping) your prospect’s attention.
We will talk more about this in a few sections.
The Difference Between Organic and Paid Social Media Marketing
Now that we understand why social media marketing is important and the three factors that make it different to traditional marketing, let’s dive into two different overall strategies that you will use in your business’s marketing.
When it comes to organic marketing vs paid marketing on social media, you have to make a choice: both have different tactics that work best, and both are best suited for specific kinds of business.
Organic social media marketing is what most companies already do. These are all the actions that are free on your part, actions like posting pictures to your Facebook or sharing links to content.
Paid social media marketing, meanwhile, is exactly what it sounds like. You pay money (either to the platform itself or an “influencer”) to have your content shared to more people. This is a strategy that only certain businesses can afford, and is typically the second step after a business has gotten its footing in organic marketing.
So, what is the main difference?
Besides the obvious difference in price, the amount of reach you can realistically get (again, the number of people that will see the content you post on social media) with organic is steadily going down when compared to paid.
That’s because social media platforms increasingly favor paid advertisements over organic. They are businesses themselves, after all. Sound like a problem? Check out our ultimate guide to SEO for more information on how you can win traffic to your website simply by driving people from search engines.
In addition, organic social media marketing is more long term and requires more work. While it can build a reliable base of social media followers who may or may not buy from you, it does take a while. Paid, meanwhile, gets quicker results…. for a price. You should only use this if you have the budget for it
Of course, a healthy mix of both organic and paid is often the way to go for optimal success.
Decide Which Platforms You Will Use
Here is a roundup of the various social media platforms you might use for your marketing.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these can be (when used correctly) some of your most effective options.
At the very least, you should have a Facebook Business page set up. Even with its dwindling market share, Facebook is still where a ton of your potential customers are. Plus, it lets you get involved with Facebook Ads down the line!
This platform will work best for a business that sells products or services that are visually appealing. Bright colors and different textures work well. Think flower shops, clothing companies, hip cafes, and anything else that you automatically associate with great picture opportunities.
LinkedIn can be extremely effective if your business is in the B2B space. In fact, over 80 percent of B2B leads come from the platform – a huge opportunity if you know how to use it correctly. Check out our post on cold emailing for some tips you can transfer over to LinkedIn.
Even though Twitter has been around for a while, it’s still going strong. The advantage with this platform is that anything you share only takes a few minutes.
While relatively new on the scene, Tik Tok shows no signs of slowing down. This platform favors short and witty videos, and is certainly a better match for specific kinds of businesses. TikTok is also especially popular with generation Z – something to consider if that is your main target audience.
How To Succeed at Social Media Marketing
Now that we have a solid background of social media marketing and what makes it different from other marketing activities, let’s get to the actionable tips.
This is the section you will want to come back to repeatedly, as none of these tips mean anything if you don’t actually take action.
Of course, every business (just like every business) is unique. You will have different goals to achieve, specific targets you need to hit, different products to sell, and a wide variety of resources that you can effectively use.
Because of that, it’s best to sit down with your team before devising your master plan for social media marketing. That said, here are some tips that stay consistent regardless of your unique situation:
1) Focus on value as much as possible.
You really want to make sure that you are being as helpful as possible on social media platforms.
This means providing value first and foremost. What do people get by consuming your social media content? What will they learn? How will they be entertained?
These are questions you should be able to answer with every piece of content you put on your platforms. Remember how we said at the beginning that social media is flooded with content and that your audience has an increasingly weak attention span?
The only way to combat this is by giving them as much value as quickly as you can.
2) Try to be as frequent as possible with your content.
With how much content is posted on a daily basis on social media platforms (both organic and paid), it’s simply not enough to post infrequently.
This should be weekly at a minimum, and as close to daily as possible. Social media marketing isn’t like email marketing, where you can quickly annoy your audience if you send them too much.
Check out this guide on best posting frequency for different platforms.
3) Use effective images.
Social media marketing (both organic and paid) simply doesn’t work without good creatives.
The first step is getting peoples’ attention. If that doesn’t happen then the rest of your marketing is useless. Doesn’t matter what your business is, and it doesn’t matter which platform you are using.
Check out this guide for images that are engaging enough to get people to stop scrolling.
4) Use effective targeting.
If you are going to use paid social media marketing, it’s not worth your money to go about it the wrong way.
A good example is the process of “boosting posts” on Facebook. This strategy is usually a waste of money. There is a lot of power in effective targeting (and retargeting) on social media platforms.
Use it wisely.
5) Give the people what they want.
The last tip for success at social media marketing is perhaps most important.
Every business wants to grow an audience, and every business wants to make more money. But the only way you do that is by making sure your content is aligned with what the people following you actually want.
So do some research. Find out the top problems your typical buyer is experiencing, make content helping them solve it, and then distribute it effectively on the social media platforms they spend the most time on.
This, over everything else, is how you succeed at social media marketing.
The world of marketing has changed.
Your prospects have more options than ever before and will only stick around as long as you are offering them something worth looking at.
Success at social media marketing, while not immediate, is worth every moment you put into it!