Social Media: One of the most popular buzzwords in day-to-day marketing conversation - but why?
The fact is, if your business is not on social media, you're already behind. Likewise, if you're on social media, but don't have a plan in place to achieve measurable results, there's a lot of room for improvement!
Luckily, this article will bring your business up to speed on industry best practices and how to approach social media marketing.
1) Do Your Research
First and foremost, you can't dive into posting engaging social media content before being well familiarized with your online micro-environment.
To discover your micro-environment, identify your 3 C's:
1. Who are your Competitors?
2. Who are your Customers?
3. Reflect on your Company.
By understanding what your current competitors are doing on social media, you can present something to your audience that is new, fresh, and unsaturated.
Bringing unoriginal content to an already crowded space will get lost in the mix, as it won't be valuable to your audience, and it will negatively impact your brand.
Get yourself familiarized with your competitors' social networks; this will allow you to know where there is a current gap in content, as well as identify which niche your company could target.
Second, you need to know the habits, likes, and dislikes of your current customer-base, as well as your target audience; your business may be able to effectively target them.
Familiarize yourself with these questions:
What type of content does your audience prefer?
What is your audience's preferred social networks?
What is your audience's online-behaviour?
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to create the most effective and relevant content possible for your target audience and it will allow you to keep the customers you already have. Additionally, as content is only effective if it is seen, these answers will ensure you know when and where to post your content so you can achieve as much reach as possible.
From reflecting on your competition and your target audience, make a reflection on your own company's assets and resources. Ensure your current marketing strategy makes sense in regard to the competitor and customer analysis you just made and tweak any necessary areas to your core strategy before continuing.
Review your companies mission and vision and ensure everything aligns seamlessly.
Everything you do thereafter will be tied this core marketing strategy, so make sure that it is clear and sound.
2) Decide on the Right Platforms
There are many different social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube and more; the options can be extremely overwhelming.
How you can possibly keep up with all of them?
The truth is, you're not supposed to.
As a small business, you should pick two or three platforms that make the most sense based on your micro-environmental research and focus on those.You only have so much time and resources, and as a small business, your target audience will not be actively present on every platform.
To help you out, here are some key demographic information across different social media platforms, as noted by Disruptive Advertising:
3) Make a Plan
Now that you have all your research and have decided which social platforms will best suit your business needs, it's time to make a Social Media Marketing Strategy. As previously mentioned, your social media marketing strategy should tie back to your brand's core marketing strategy and help your business achieve its mission.
Your Social Media Strategy should include:
- Social Marketing Objectives, Tactics & KPI's
- Social Marketing Budget & Financials
- Social Marketing Posting Schedule
Social Marketing Objectives, Tactics & KPI's
Your social marketing objectives should be directly based off your marketing strategy and are the benchmarks that measure whether your social marketing strategy is going according to plan.
For example, If you're a restaurant owner, and one of your marketing objectives is to increase your restaurant's brand awareness by 30% in Q1, then your social media marketing objective would be to increase brand awareness of your restaurant by X% on each of your targeted social networks in Q1.
Additionally, your social marketing tactics are the specific actions you will take to execute your social marketing strategy. Social marketing KPI's will measure the effectiveness of your tactics.
Social Marketing Budget & Financials
Your social marketing budget and financials can be specifically planned and accounted for depending on which social network platforms you choose. Your budget will help you decide how much of your social content will be sponsored (paid) , in comparison to how much will be organic (unpaid).
Your budget will be based off your CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPM (Cost per Thousand-Impressions).
For more on this topic and to decide which one better suits your business needs, see Criteo’s explanation.
Additionally, two of the most important marketing financial metrics to consider during the budgeting stage is your Customer Acquisition Cost vs. your Customer Lifetime Value. These two metrics are self-explanatory – you don’t want to be spending more money on acquiring a customer during a campaign than the lifetime monetary value that they’ll bring you.
Wondering how to calculate these?
Customer Acquisition Cost = (Marketing + Sales Costs)/Number of New Customers
Customer Lifetime Value = Average Order Size x Profit Margin x Average Yearly Order Frequency x Average Retention Time in Years
Social Marketing Posting Schedule
Finally, you will need a plan for the distribution of your social media content. It is important to stick to a schedule so your audience knows when to expect content from you. This in turn creates a heightened anticipation from your audience to receive your content, and creates higher audience engagement and all-around interest in your brand.
Daily content calendars are helpful to note a detailed schedule of every post your business will make on each of your social networks, while monthly content calendars are helpful to note when your business begins a campaign, when other marketing activities align with your social media strategy (i.e. a new blog post), or any external changes in regular scheduling (i.e. influencer takeovers).
The optimal day and time to post on each network varies; an article by Lyfe Marketing notes the best days and times to post. You can use these guidelines for your business to start, and based on your results, you can tweak posting times to match when your specific target audience is the most active.
4) Post Quality Content
You’ve made it this far – nothing would be quicker to kill your efforts than posting mediocre content just for the sake of getting something out there. Your titles, captions, media, and hashtags each play a significant part, and vary greatly depending on your choice of social network.
Although there are different rhymes and reasons across networks – one thing will always remain consistent: Hootsuite recommends that your business sticks to 40% created (your company’s) content vs. 60% curated (other businesses and users’) content.
Your best results on Facebook will be with content that produces engagement with your audience – videos, candid photos, and informative articles are great examples of these. However, engagement from your audience comes in many forms, in which case you would just need to be mindful of the specific action you’re trying to get from your audience. For example, if you want to generate a conversation and focus on comments, ending the caption with a question would be a great way to achieve this.
Additionally, although you have the ability to write longer captions, it’s recommended in Hootsuite’s Social Marketing Course that your business keeps its captions to 120 characters long. More focus should be put on the media choice – in fact, Hootsuite notes that large images (600x315 pixels) are prioritized on Facebook feeds. A few hashtags can compliment this image, but make sure to do so sparingly.
Like Facebook, your Tweets should be clear and straight-forward; this is not the place for fluff given the 120-character limit on this platform. It’s good practice to use two hashtags per tweet that are relevant to the industry your business falls in, so that it can be discoverable by new users. A neat feature on this platform is the use of unique hashtags for specific campaigns and events – you can search these unique hashtags and Twitter would then display a historical timeline of tweets mentioning the specific hashtags.
A note about retweeting: make sure that the content you retweet supports your brand’s positioning and adds value to your network – you’ll want to keep this under 20% of your posts. When you do retweet, make sure to add your own business’s take on it, and tag the author, as it may prompt them to share your message.
Finally, this is the best platform to promote your content multiple times – just keep things fresh by changing up a few words.
Remember that fluff from earlier? This would be the platform to achieve that. Longer captions that really tell a story work great on this platform, as well as a greater use of hashtags to really grow your business niche (try to use 5). Additionally, you can post multiple images in the same post if you had a collection of photos relating to each other and can also post 3-15 second videos.
Additionally, Instagram Story (posting photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours) is another feature to utilize on Instagram, since it does produce high engagement rates. This is a good way of giving a “behind the scenes” look at your business, giving “how to’s”, showcasing influencer takeovers, and announcing your company’s news. This is another good time to utilize other account mentions, location, and hashtags.
Since LinkedIn is more of a business social media channel, this would be a good time to try and position your business as an industry leader in its niche. You’ll want to make sure your posts are concise and provide value to your network – this would be an ideal platform to share industry news, company insights, recruitment and new hire announcements, your company’s blog articles, and product information. Additionally, your posts should always have a call to action (usually a link).
5) Engage with Your Audience & Monitor Brand Conversations
Now you could be producing excellent content, but unfortunately no one will care if you’re not engaging with their feedback or even their own content. Disruptive Advertising actually found that 77% of Twitter users actually appreciate a brand more when their tweets are responded to. Your audience wants to know that your business cares about the people and engaging is the best way to show it. Answering user questions and comments, as well as liking, commenting on, and sharing user content is a great way to show it.
Additionally, monitoring and responding to exterior brand conversations is vital to your business’s reputation. However, searching your brand’s name across social media platforms can get disorganized and time consuming – Sprout Social notes that 25 billion social interactions happen on Twitter alone each day. Using a tool like Hootsuite Insights or Brandwatch can help you more easily stay on top of what people are saying about your brand.
6) Look for Brand Ambassador and Influencer Opportunities
Some of the most unique opportunities for genuine company promotion and optimal reach are by keeping an eye out for brand ambassador and influencer opportunities.
Now a days, there are many social media influencers (people who have established credibility in specific industries). You get these people to speak positively about an experience they had with your product or service, and their network will be inspired to want to give it a try. Don’t believe me? Influencer Marketing Hub did a recent study that found that for every marketing dollar spent on influencers, the earned media value is $7.65. This is because 78% of consumers trust social peer recommendation, while only 14% of consumers trust advertisements, as noted by Meltwater in a study from Social Media Revolution. Based on this, it would seem that there is an upward trend of businesses making more room for this type of social media marketing in their budget; Influencer Marketing Hub identified that 67% of businesses plan on increasing their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months. This technique is evidently key for brand awareness, as it ultimately maximizes potential reach from influencer’s networks, and 55% of marketers find that they receive better customers from this tactic.
In comparison, a brand ambassador would actually be hired by your company to speak positively about the company and represent the brand in a positive light, to ultimately drive brand awareness and sales. Again, this tactic is effective because the message is generally coming from someone who embodies and champions your brand’s values, but has the human, personal touch to really meet the needs of today’s consumers.
7) Keep Monitoring, Testing, and Learning!
Just because you made a plan doesn’t mean you can’t change it accordingly. Always be monitoring your KPI’s and ensuring that you’re on track to meeting your business objectives – sometimes it usually takes a while off the get-go to see tangible results, and you often need to tweak what you have based on real results indicated from your analytic tools. Make efficient use of Google Analytics , Facebook Audience Insights, and Twitter Analytics to actually gauge what’s working well and what isn’t.
Additionally, as the technological world is constantly evolving, this means that the social media space is as well. Always stay up to date with changes to social media platforms and bring yourself up to speed periodically with industry best practices. Following industry leading blogs and social media accounts are extremely helpful assets to quickly and frequently stay on top of industry best practices when you simply don’t have the time to just search them up.
Keep Up to Date with Transpera
As a digital marketing agency, we’re always monitoring and keeping up to date with the latest in the digital space.
Did you know about the recent change made to Google Ads (yup, not AdWords) – we did. Get the full scoop here.
Need help getting a grasp on Google Ads? We got you covered.
Need some SEO tips for your blog? We’ll help you out.