What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is the utilization of modern social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and oth...

Social media marketing is the utilization of modern social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others to gain website traffic and bring attention to your brand as well as expand your marketing communication.  There are several reasons why you may want to expand your marketing resources into social media, but to understand the significance and importance of that expansion, below are some statistics that might baffle you.

Social Media Marketing

  • There are over 2.3 billion social media user accounts on the worldwide web
  • 176 million people created new social media accounts in 2015
  • Businesses earned $8.3 million from advertising on social media platforms in 2015
  • B2B marketers are generating over half of their leads from social media
  • Over 70% of the users on Twitter that follow a brand end up making future purchases
  • It is predicted that B2B marketers will spend over $100 billion in advertising on social media by 2017
As you can see advertising and marketing have taken a turn in the last several years with the emergence of social media.  There are too many users online not to take advantage of this avenue.  The benefits of spending more on social media advertising and less on traditional advertising will maximize your marketing strategy. As people shy away from conventional advertising, be it flyers, billboards, or TV commercials, more and more companies are looking to advertise online and within social media. All you have to do to see this change is look how Netflix is bringing down cable companies, DVR boxes that allow customers to fly through TV commercials, and apps for just about everything. Bills do not have to come through the mail any longer, with online billing options for nearly every single bill you will receive. Why would anyone want to receive something paper when they can easily scroll past interesting facts, companies and promotions on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn feed?

As you plan your social media marketing strategy you need to look at all of the platforms available.  What is the popularity like, what marketing opportunities are there, what type of content will you need to create and share, and do you have the right content that will be engaging enough to generate leads and purchases? Taking advantage of every social media platform available to you may be the best option for you and your company, or it may be beneficial just to use one or two platforms.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGY

Your social media marketing strategy should clearly identify your business goals.  You need to have a clear vision of what you are working towards so that you can create objectives to attain them.  Your goals may be to increase brand awareness, retain your customers, introduce new products or services, expand to a new geographic or demographic market; etc.  Choose two or three primary goals that you believe are attainable from your list, as well as two or three secondary goals that you want to focus on in this marketing strategy.

Once you have your goals clearly defined, you can then develop specific measures to achieve those goals.  Ask yourself how you can meet those goals.  If one of your primary goals is to increase brand awareness, what can you feasibly do to meet that goal?  Utilize Facebook advertising and contests?  Generate Twitter posts on a routine basis?  Whatever the objectives are you should be able to meet the goal successfully in a timely manner.  Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.  Note:  Do not overshoot your goals.  For example, do not set a goal that you will reach over one million users on social media within the first year.  This is highly unfeasible and unrealistic.  Make sure your goals are relevant and consistent with your company’s mission.

Using social media as a marketing tool is a great way to heighten your brand awareness and tap into new users, especially the younger market. However, social media marketing is a long-term goal and takes a lot of time and effort to achieve high-standing status. Be patient with your goals and re-assess what they mean to you and your company monthly, if not weekly.

After you have you goals and objectives, you then need to identify who you need to engage.  Who are your customers?  Who will use your product or services?  You need to think about your target audience from every perspective including, but not limited to: demographics, geography, age, income, occupation, motivations, obstacles, etc.  The more specific you can breakdown your user groups, the better off you will be when it comes time to market your brand.  You will be able to target specific groups and tailor your advertising for them.

Now that you know your audience, what does your competition look like?  Take an active approach in studying your competition to understand what social media platforms they are currently using and what type of content seems to attract the most response.  You can use these notes as you decide what social media platforms you believe will be the most beneficial for you and the kind of content you need to post to be successful. The most important thing you need to remember is that engagement is your number one goal. If you are posting daily on any social media platform, or perhaps all of them, but aren’t getting any engagement, or very little, it’s time to re-think your plans. Go over your goals, see what others are doing, and re-start your social media marketing.

Once you find out what seems to be working for your competitors and you have done your research to determine what will work best for your business (remember your research should be based around your goals and objectives as well what works for your competitors), it is time to decide what social media platforms you will use.  I will tell you that most people spend at least 40% of their online time on Facebook and at least 20% of their time on Twitter.  These two platforms are almost a given for any new social media marketing campaign.

You can also use one form of social media more frequently than the other. Say, for example, you focus more energy into Facebook, and post a little less on Twitter. You’re still reaching an audience and putting your name out there, but you are focusing your efforts onto one social media platform more than you are in another. You can also increase the time and money spent on other platforms as you continue to grow and feel comfortable using social media for marketing. A simple way to even out the amount of time you are spending on your platforms is to link your accounts. For instance, you can link your Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that when you post something on one, it will automatically post to the other.

Once you have settled on your social media platforms, you need to develop your content strategy.  Content is extremely important to building relationships online.  Your new accounts will be meaningless unless you have meaningful content to connect you with new followers (either current customers or prospective customers).  Your content strategy will include what content you will post, the timing of your posts and the frequency you should be posting.  There are different types of content that can be posted: pure text, images, links, video, etc.  All of these have their own value, which will be discussed later on.

Now that the entire social media marketing strategy has been written, it is time to allocate some time and resources to this plan.  You need to decide how much money you are willing to allocate to the social media side of advertising as opposed to traditional advertising.  Many companies are pulling advertising dollars from other advertising budgets; however, many have now created a special budget for social media because of its impact on the company.  You will need to look at your return on investment to help you make these decisions and it may be something that comes alive as you generate profits.  Maybe you build the social media marketing strategy over time.  Your budget may need to be broadened the longer you market with social media and use different ways to engage your customers and future customers. Also, who will handle this new advertising burden?  Do you have a social media expert(s)?  Make sure you have a plan intact that controls who is developing the content, researching content, posting the content, and handing the management of each site traffic analytics. This may be a job for someone who can handle more responsibility, meeting with yourself to figure out your marketing plan. Or, you may need to hire an entirely new person (or promote from within and hire for their previous position) to help take over the social media platforms. Once you get going and use each one, a job that once seemed flippant and easy will take great time and care.

This entire process should be a work in process as you build your social media marketing strategy.

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Thought Leadership Zen: What is Social Media Marketing?
What is Social Media Marketing?
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