Social media marketing or SMM is the process of using social media platforms to connect with prospective and current customers through providing valuable content. The social media platforms are social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others.
SMM is the process of broadcasting marketing messages, listening and engaging past, present and future clients. Through SMM you can increase brand awareness, boot leads and sales.
SMM is the next marketing frontier as with having nearly half of the world’s population hooked up to one or the other social networking platforms. In addition, the people who are logged on hardly ever log off this creates an audience that is always looking for great content.
The people moved from being addicted to Television by spending 5 hours a day on it to social media networks. Facebook for example says that users spend at least 6 hours a day on the platform. This provided a huge opportunity for digital marketers and businesses to take advantage of.
Social media marketing allows the marketer to either choose a broad audience or narrow it down to a small segment making the most of the marketing dollars.
Social Media Strategy
Social media strategies are only successful if the content that is created is shared amongst the users on the platform. The content, videos, posts, and images. Should be “sticky” in that it encourages users to either share the content within their communities or convert. Conversion is any desired action by the marketing campaign.
Most social networks changed their algorithms and encourage sticky content that is shareable. Even if they are paid campaigns. If one or two users like a “post” then the post is further shared to more people. If the other people like the same post it is further spread to more people.
The benefit of shared content is that it carries an implicit endorsement from people who are trusted. Here are some tips to create a social media strategy that will create sticky content:
Any social media strategy begins with a goal. There must be something that the business wants to achieve at the end of a set period. The major goals that social media can help attain are
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating leads
- Getting sales
- Growing the business’ audience
- Increasing web traffic
- Increasing community engagement
The goals should be S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound.
If the business is planning to use different social networks, then each network can be used to target a different goal. For example, the size of Facebook can be used to get sales and leads while twitter can be used to increase brand awareness.
When tracking these goals, digital marketers should avoid vanity metrics like “likes”, and number of followers but they should look at things like engagement, click through rates and conversion rates. These helps make better actionable decisions.
2. Audience Research
Social media platforms provide a wealth of information about the people who are on them. For example, on Facebook you can find out this information:
- average income
- Typical job title or industry
For the social media strategy to be successful, it will have to address the buyer personas and the audiences to meet their needs. If the audience is properly defined, then content can be created that will pique their interests. This will lead to the content being easily shared, engaged and more conversions.
The buyer personas and audience definitions can be easily gotten by interviewing current fans or followers to see why they joined the community and what they would like to see in the future.
3. Knowing which social network to use
Almost a century ago, there was a bank robber named John Dillinger. He was asked a simple question: why do you rob banks? His answer: that is where the money is.
Using john Dillinger’s logic, when choosing a social network to use, the digital marketer would choose one where his clients are.
Facebook is sometimes misleading having the biggest user base but at the same time its not the best platform for everything. For example, if fashion items are being sold to millennials and Gen Zs the best platform to use is Instagram. This is because the millennial audience is bigger over there and they respond favorably to images, videos, and stories.
There is no right or wrong social network to use but there is one that would lead to more conversion than the others.
4. Quality content
User attention right now is more valuable than any stock on any market. Social media giants like Facebook and YouTube try to do everything to ensure that they can keep user attention. It is so important to them that they have changed their algorithms so often to maximize user attention.
As these two do not have their own content they rely on content creators. They will try and find engaging content to push to their users. When a post or video gets traction, they push it to the wider community hoping to get more of the attention.
There is a lot of content out there as we speak but none of it is worth being viral. As a digital marketer it is your job to create quality content that the social media networks will push on your behalf. To ensure that your content is better than most people you would need to see what your competition is doing. Not to copy them but to improve on how well you can tell your story.
It is difficult to come up with good content on the regular. Even if you have great content creators, at some point they will be burnt out. One way of engaging the creatives is to come up with content themes. Like the name says content themes, creates content from themes. Various themes could include videos, photos, inspirational posts, education posts and entertaining posts.
User generated content
User-generated content is content created by the fans or followers in your community. This involves using the content they have come with, with their consent, to push your marketing message. You can do this by asking them to use hashtags tagging your business or activity they are doing.
The user content is authentic and helps to push the marketing message.
Social media platforms like Snapchats realized they can make the most of fear of missing out (FOMO). They do this by having content only available for a short while then it is deleted forever. This became so popular that Instagram and Facebook have adopted it into their systems. They have new names like Instagram stories.
The benefit of these short clips is that they keep the content fresh and keeps people glued to their devices because they do not want to miss out on anything. As a marketer, it would be wise to tap on these contents to keep your audience always engaged.
YouTube and mobile devices have ruled this revolution. Many people would prefer to learn by watching engaging videos rather than reading lengthy contents. Video has become so important that only recently that LinkedIn has introduced LinkedIn videos.
Brands should take advantage of this opportunity to make videos that provide value to their communities.
5. Scheduling posts
Once you have come up with great content the next thing is to think about posting the content consistently. Businesses should figure out what time is the best time to post their content. Once the audience gets used to the posts coming out on a certain day and a particular time they will be looking out for the new information.
Scheduling posts way early in advances frees up time to do other things like see how well the content is doing, respond to various queries and comments and adequately plan for the next posts.
There are many paid options for scheduling posts but a simple excel or google docs sheet would go a long way to help with this. This would be your social media content calendar.
Having a posting schedule gives you the opportunity to carefully plan the kind of content you will have going up in the week or month.
Content can be divided into the following:
- 50% for driving traffic
- 20% to drive conversions (newsletter, sign ups, eBooks and downloads)
- 25% from other curated sources
- 5% will be about company culture.
6. Tracking results
Tracking metrics are important to see what is and isn’t working. Through the data, we can make decisions that will help improve the performance of the social media campaigns. Tracking this information is so important that all major social media platforms have their own ways of doing it. There are Facebook and Twitter analytics.
In addition, you would also want to track the people who come to your site through Google analytics. Not all the metrics are important but here are some that should be kept on the fore ground:
- Reach: this refers to the number of users who get to see your post.
- Clicks: the number of people who clicked on any of your content, logo or company name. the clicks are important because they tell you the number of people who clicked which part of the post and gives you an idea how any people have moved down the marketing funnel.
- Impressions: this the number of times your post could have been seen by your audience.
- Engagement: this is the number of people who interacted with your posts divided by the number of impressions. The engagement includes clicks, likes, comments, shares, replies and messages on any of the posts. A high engagement ratio means that the post was a good one.
- Hashtags or tags: these are keywords that have been added the pound symbol – #. This measures how many people are interacting the message you are pushing. Its mostly associated with twitter.
- Mentions: this is the number of times one of the people in your audience has mentioned you in any posts
- Shares: this is when your audience takes your content and shares it with their community
7. Researching your competition
Unless you are selling something incredibly unique or niche specific there is an exceptionally good chance that you are competing against other companies. And after you are successful in selling your unique product you are bound to face some competition.
Luckily through social media you can spy on your competition. This does not involve copying what they are doing but by looking at how they are achieving success. Followed by coming up with your own strategy that would bring better results. There will not be a need to reinvent the wheel.
Looking at your competition you will find that they have invested heavily on one channel and from there you can pick the channels they are not on. Once you corner this side of the market it would take them a while to catch up to you.
Social listening is an option for you to look at what your competitors are doing. You would research, their names, industry, and keywords. This should show you what they are sharing and what people in general are saying about them.
8. Timely responses
Many people expect companies to respond to their inquiries as soon as possible. Gone are the days where the customer would wait on the line to get to speak to a customer service representative. Knowing that they will be put on hold or asked to talk to a machine.
These days people know the best way to get a company’s attention is to tag them in any one of their social platforms and they will respond. This is more of social customer care. Quick and timely responses leave customers with a good feeling and they end up trusting the company they work with.
9. Social media audit
Social media audits can be done at the beginning of the year or after a period of three to six months. This would be to assess if the goals that were targeted have been reached and if they haven’t how much has the marked been reached.
These are the kind of questions that would need to be answered:
- What is or is not working?
- Who is engaging with our content?
- Is our target audience in this platform?
- How well are we doing as opposed to our competition?
After looking at the audit, better decisions can be made to improve the general performance.
When a page or social media profile becomes increasingly successful, people out there create imposter accounts to build their own following. There have been several cases where one increasingly successful content creator has been badly copied. This ends up diluting the power of the brand and is harmful to it.
Social media Networks
As of this writing Facebook is the biggest social network with a quarter of the earth’s population being on it. The social media platform takes its users seriously by providing a host options in which they can post their content. Content can be in the form of posts, videos, pictures, and gifs. Facebook discourages users to leave its platform and wants people to post as much as they can on it.
Facebook has been around for so long that people do not have to learn to use the product. They naturally revolve around it. Also, Facebook is very protective of their number one position that they acquire any other social network that is growing. Instagram and whatsapp were bought as soon as they started having large number of users.
Of all the social networks, none can rival fakebook’s targeting options. You can target people according to demographics, interests, behavior, past activity and many more. When it comes to lead generation, it has the lowest cost per lead at roughly $1.
The Cost per click or the cost per mille prices vary depending on how broad or narrow the targeting is. As a rule, Facebook’s algorithms work more efficiently when more money is spent over a period.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, is in an incredibly unique position. It does not have the most active users, but it has something that other social networks done have – engagement. Instagram has the highest engagement rate of all social media platforms. The engagement rate on Instagram are 58% than that of Facebook and 2000% more than twitter.
Instagram’s audience is also unique in that it is mostly female, and the age ranges are between 18 to 29 years.
Instagram initially started as a social network for posting photos, but they have pivoted to having videos as well. They have even gone further to let users host events on Instagram.
As the content is highly visual, any product that depends on this feature does well on the platform. Posts that do well on Instagram are:
- Inspirational quotes
- Questions that engage followers
- Luxury brand photos
Influence marketing is biggest on Instagram with many celebrities having profiles over there. It is easier to have an influencer status on Instagram because of the visual component.
Twitter is the more unique social media channel in that you do not have to know your followers or have a prior connection. It boasts having 0.3 billion monthly active users.
Twitter was a small social network and what brought it out to the fore front was people were able to talk about breaking news. As such it changed the way people get breaking news. In the recent past, there was an attack in France and most of the news that was available was gotten from the social media site.
Twitter has a unique audience in that users are 6.9 times more likely to buy online. The audience is more mature and tend to have better conversations.
Twitter is mostly used for brand awareness, promotion of certain products and lastly for directing conversations.
This social media site is visual based like Instagram but is more targeted to women. The user base consists 81% women.
It is especially useful as it has high engagement, and high intention to purchase.
For B2B marketers, LinkedIn is the best way to go. the main audience is professionals who are aged 30 – 64 years, even split between men and women and earn $50,000 and above per year.
LinkedIn isn’t suitable for all industries but works well with marketing, recruiting and high end B2B products and services.
YouTube has the most users in terms of social media platforms. Its traffic is only rivaled by Google itself. Many people these days prefer to look for items on YouTube as opposed to Google because it is easier to follow a video rather than reading an article.
It is best suited for long form content, this being videos that are 10 minutes more and above.