Social Media Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

What is Social Media Marketing? 

Social media marketing is a commonly used term, but the exact meaning is sometimes unclear. Simply put, social media marketing is defined as the process of creating content to promote your products and services on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. in order to: 

  • Build your brand 
  • Drive traffic to your website/app 
  • Increase sales

In this guide, we will outline the importance of social media marketing, how to create your own social media marketing plan, and some helpful social media marketing tips to help you get started! 

Why is Social Media Marketing Important? 

When Facebook first started inside a college dorm in 2004, not many people anticipated the social revolution it would bring about in the world. Now, after more than 15 years, it is estimated that about 50% of the world’s population is on some form of social media, with users spending an average of 2.5 hours daily on social platforms. 

Today, social media marketing is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. Brands can use social media to create and distribute content that not only defines them but also helps customers form an emotional connection with them. They can:

  • Increase their brand awareness by reaching their target audience directly
  • Create credibility and trust in the brand
  • Enhance brand’s SEO rankings 
  • Increase website traffic by creating an interest in the brand through social media
  • Improve customer experience by engaging with them through social channels

These are just some of the few advantages of social media marketing. In the next section, we’ll break down some of the top social media networks available to marketers today. 

Top platforms

According to Wikipedia, there are around 200 social media platforms today. Your aim should not be to maintain a presence on all of them. We’ve broken down the top platforms, along with their key demographics, and top-performing content. 

Platform# of UsersAudienceContent Type
Facebook2.5 billion25-49Sharing relevant information/ newsBrand awareness, advertising
Instagram1 billion18-24Visual representation of brand identity,
Influencer marketing
YouTube2 billion18-30 Product reviews,
How-to videos
Twitter336 millionMostly 35-65Real-time customer engagement
Pinterest

335 million25-54, mostly femaleDIY-content
Product reviews,
How-to videos
Linkedin660 million25-54Sharing industry-specific news,
Attracting quality leads,
Share your brand’s story
TikTok800 million16-24Branded hashtag challenges/ branded filters/ branded songs,
Quirky, silly content,
In-feed video ads,
Influencer partnership

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

Now that you’ve got an idea of the top social platforms you have at your fingertips, your next step is to start defining your social media marketing strategy. A social media strategy is your master execution plan: it outlines what you aim to do, how you’ll do it, and how you’ll measure it. 

  1. Set your goals
  2. Define your target market
  3. Select your platforms
  4. Create content
  5. Distribute content
  6. Analyze results

How to Set Your Marketing Goals

The whole point of creating a social media strategy is to supplement your business goals. With these end goals in mind, it becomes easier to work backward to inform your social media marketing strategy. You can see the table below for how to turn business goals into actionable social media targets.

Source: Hootsuite

How to Define Your Audience

If you want your social media strategy to work, you need to reach your audience. Don’t equate your personal social media use with what your target audience does. One way to understand your audience is to develop buyer personas

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your brand’s ideal customer. When you’re creating this for your brand, consider their age, Internet behaviours, job, pain points, motivations. The more detailed you get, the more you’re able to put yourself in their shoes and get better at marketing to them. 

Below is an example of a buyer persona using Hubspot’s free template. Here, we’ve outlined everything from Sally’s highest level of education, to her preferred method of communication, to the biggest challenges she faces at work, to the tools she uses on a daily basis. Looking at this, we now know that what she needs to achieve, and what’s preventing her from doing so, and accordingly, we can build a strategy to address her specific needs.

Source: Hubspot

How to Select Your Social Media Platform

First things first, you’ll want to understand which platforms to add to your strategy. Start by asking yourself these simple questions when narrowing down your list of platforms:

  • What is your brand identity? 
    • Are you a fun brand or is your tone more serious? What do you want your brand to be known for? You must always keep this in mind when selecting your platforms
  • What is your audience, and where are they?
    • This is where your buyer persona comes in. Once you’ve created your persona, you’ll know your audience’s behaviours, and therefore, where best to reach them. 
  • What kind of content would you like to share?
    • Always think about your content strategy (hyperlink moment, what what). What kind of content are you planning to publish?

Knowing which platforms you’re using will help you plan out your content strategy. Let’s get into that next. 

How to Create Your Content

Now that you’ve selected your platforms, you can choose how you want to share your content. But the bigger question remains- how are you creating your content?

When it comes to the type of content, we have a variety of options available to us:

  • Graphic-based still content
  • Infographics
  • GIFs
  • Animated videos
  • Traditional footage-based videos
  • Blogs
  • Promotional videos 

Luckily, creating content doesn’t necessarily require a lot of fancy equipment or Softwares.

If you’re looking at creating video or audio content, today’s mobile phones are able to deliver high-resolution output.

When it comes to graphic design, beginners can use free tools like Canva can create fun and aesthetically appealing visuals, while professional creators can invest in softwares like Adobe Creative Cloud to get access to the full suite of options like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Illustrator.

Writers require knowledge of SEO-related tools, so bloggers should be familiar with tools like Google Keyword Planner so they can see common searches within their industry while integrating popular search terms for better rankings on search engines. 

No matter what you create, remember to keep these factors in mind:

  • What is your message?
  • Is it easy for people to understand?
  • Is your message appealing to your audience?
  • How can you make it easy for your audience to find? 

For more help in constructing your content marketing strategy, check out our helpful guide.

How to Distribute Your Content 

Creating the content is one thing, but actually planning and distributing it in a timely and organized manner is just as important. Something as simple as Excel or Google Sheets will help you stay organised internally, and you can use platform-specific scheduling tools, like Facebook’s tool, to schedule your content in advance. However, the downside of this is that:

  1. Not all platforms have an in-built scheduling tool, so you’ll have to post manually, and
  2. You will need to check each platform individually for analytics, which can be a little tedious

If you’re willing to invest a little money, however, here are some of our favourite social media marketing tools that come with a bunch of benefits: 

  • HootSuite
    • A great free(-ish) option, HootSuite is probably the oldest content publishing and bulk scheduling platform around, with the added benefits of scheduling WordPress and YouTube content. While its interface may be outdated, it has the widest range of functions amongst all scheduling tools
  • Buffer- free option
    • Buffer is a paid platform but it offers a 14-day trial for you to try out its features. It has tools to publish, reply, and analyze your content; while it may not have the breath of functions like Hootsuite, it is constantly updating its offerings. Along with that, its modern interface makes it easier to use, which gives it a significant advantage over Hootsuite
  • Sprout Social
    • An all-in-one posting and scheduling tool, Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial if you’re not sure about taking the plunge. It also allows for collaboration by letting you set up permissions for different levels of access across your team
  • Sendible
    • Sendible is another scheduling and posting tool with the added benefits of extra features in the form of a Canva tie-in. This feature helps optimise your visual content, while also allowing you to post on Medium, WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Sendible also has geo-targeting features, which help you reach specific sections of your audience
How to Analyse Your Results

Analyzing your results isn’t as easy as it sounds. You may be looking at all the numbers in front of you and not knowing how to start. Don’t worry, there are a variety of helpful tools that not only help you decipher what they mean, and more importantly, what they mean for you. 

Here are a few tools to help you get started: 

  • Platform-specific analytics: A lot of platforms have their own in-built analytics that give you detailed insights. These include everything from page visitors, increase/ decrease in followers, along with any actions users may have taken on your page 
    • Facebook analytics
    • Instagram analytics
    • Twitter analytics
    • Pinterest analytics
    • Linkedin analytics
    • YouTube analytics
Top Analytical Tools
  • Google Analytics
    • One of the best tools out there, Google Analytics helps you track a variety of metrics, from page sessions, to conversions, to pageviews 
  • Hootsuite- Paid
    • The oldest scheduling tool in the market, Hootsuite offers everything from content publishing, to social media reports, and custom reports. However, unlike other social media tools, Hootsuite actually provides analytics of your social networks, even if you didn’t post using the platform
  • Sprout Social- Paid
    • This is a one-stop shop for content curation, publishing, and analytical tools. While it may not be as extensive in terms of its analytics as Hootsuite, it’s the only platform that provides an ‘audience discovery’’ option, i.e. it tells you what accounts you may be interested in and which accounts are most likely spam/ fake
  • Buffer Analyze- Paid
    • This tool adds some specialised features, from Instagram Stories analytics to posting strategy recommendations. While its dashboard is cleaner than Hootsuite’s, it’s limited to analyzing only the content that you post using Buffer, so you might need to use this along with some other tools
How and What Metrics to Track, and Why

The only way for you to know if your strategy is successful is by tracking metrics. These help determine how well your social media marketing campaigns are performing, what the results mean for your business marketing goals, and ultimately, how you’re able to help your brand. We’ve outlined some key metrics and their purpose below: 

  • Engagement, or, likes, comments, shares, and clicks
    • Essentially, this metric tracks how much people are engaging/ interacting with your content. This metric may be called different things on different platforms, like Retweets or Pins, but ultimately, they’re all tracking the same thing
  • Impressions, or, how many times a post shows up in someone’s timeline
    • This metric tells you how often a user is shown your post. Impressions are defined a little differently based on the social platform, but essentially, it’s the number of times someone sees your posts/ ads. You should keep this metric in mind when determining the success of your sponsored posts
  • Reach, or, the potential unique viewers a post could have
    • Reach is the number of unique users who interact with your brand. Unique users are a mix of people already following you and people who follow similar posts by other brands. By increasing your reach, you’re able to increase followers and brand awareness
  • Followers, or, the number of people following your brand on social platforms
    • This is a valuable metric to track the increase in your brand awareness. Your follower number indicates how well your content is resonating with your audience, and on which platform
  • Reposts, Shares, Tags
    • These are a great way for monitoring how your content is resonating with your audience. The more of these, the better your strategy is performing
  • Website traffic from social media: 
    • One of the biggest measures of your strategy’s effectiveness is an increase in website traffic. You can track this through custom links created on Bit.ly, and if you’ve integrated Google Analytics on your website, you’ll be able to track your traffic and where it’s coming from 
  • Hashtag reach
    • This metric is more applicable to Instagram. While Instagram still doesn’t break down the effectiveness of each hashtag, the platform does tell you the total reach of a single post, along with how much of that is due to hashtags. It’s a valuable internal metric for seeing how your hashtags are performing. 

We hope this guide helped you out! Now, you’re in the position to make data-backed decisions for your business. Congratulations, you’re a master social strategist!

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