Social Media Marketing: The Ultimate Guide
As I scroll through my Instagram feed every day (cough, cough…multiple times a day), I consistently notice new posts and stories by The Frye Company. I’ve always been a fan of their boots, clothing, and accessories, but I also love the content they share on their Instagram profile.
Their posts are on-brand, creative, and aesthetically pleasing. All of their photos have the same filter on them to ensure they match — this makes their Instagram profile look professional, artistic, and organized when visitors, like myself, browse their page.
Frye’s Instagram account also encourages interaction between the company and their followers by providing them with a specific hashtag to use so they can be featured on the account when they post a photo with a Frye product.
Frye’s Instagram account is a great example of successful social media marketing — it’s attractive, distinctly Frye, engages their 197K followers, and promotes their products.
But why is social media marketing so important? Why should you spend time creating social media accounts for your business? And how do you actually build a social media marketing strategy that’ll work for your specific type of business?
In this guide, we’ll cover the answers to all of these questions — but first, let’s define social media marketing.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the action of creating content to promote your business and products on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your unique content should be tailored to the specific platform it’s being shared on to help you boost conversions and increase brand awareness.
Social media marketing is all about meeting your target audience and customers where they are and as they socially interact with each other and your brand.
While social media marketing as a whole is incredibly valuable and beneficial to your business growth (as you’ll see in the following section), your strategy will differ based on which social networks your audience spends their time on.
Before we dig deeper into social media marketing, let’s segment the strategy by platform.
- Users: 2.2 billion
- Audience: Generation X and millennials
- Industry impact: B2C
- Best for: Brand awareness; advertising
- Users: 335 billion
- Audience: Primarily millennials
- Industry impact: B2B and B2C
- Best for: Public relations; customer service
- Users: One billion
- Audience: Primarily millennials
- Industry impact: B2C
- Best for: Natural-looking media, behind-the-scenes, and user-generated content; advertising
- Users: 645 million
- Audience: Baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials
- Industry impact: B2B
- Best for: B2B relationships, business development, and employment marketing
- Users: 1.9 billion
- Audience: Millennials, closely followed by Generation Z
- Industry impact: B2C
- Best for: Brand awareness; entertainment, and how-to videos
- Users: 300 million
- Audience: Primarily Generation Z
- Industry impact: B2C
- Best for: Brand awareness; advertising
- Users: 250 million
- Audience: Primarily older millennials and younger baby boomers
- Industry impact: B2C
- Best for: Visual advertising; inspiration
Now that we’ve detailed the fundamentals of each social media network, let’s discuss why social media marketing is beneficial for your business.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
There are a variety of reasons why your company should use social media marketing. We’ve created a list of the four most beneficial reasons to consider.
Let’s dive in.
1. Increase Brand Awareness
In 2018, there were over 3.2 billion people on social media globally. Due to the sheer amount of people on social media, you can see why ensuring your business is sharing content related to your products as well as details about your company via a platform or two has the potential to help you improve brand awareness.
In fact, social media has been proven to boost brand awareness by driving up engagement. Social engagement includes things like comments, likes, shares, and re-posts. Social media also helps you increase brand awareness by directing traffic straight to your site. You can do this by including direct links to your website in your profile, bio, and posts.
2. Generate Leads and Boost Conversions
Promoting and sharing your products on social media is a simple way to improve lead generation, boost conversions, and increase sales because you’re advertising to people who have opted to engage with you by following your account.
Here are some examples of ways you can use social media to generate more leads.
- Create contests for your visitors and followers to participate in on your social media profiles.
- Include links to your website and offers in the bio sections of your profiles.
- Host live videos to make announcements about products and provide updates or details about exciting news at your company.
- Implement a social media marketing campaign on one of your channels.
- Sell your products through your social profiles. For example, you can enable Facebook’s Shop Section or Instagram’s Shopping feature on your profiles. These features allow your visitors and followers to click on products you’ve shared in posts to view information such as price, material, and size. Then, visitors can easily proceed to checkout through the platform and buy the product directly from you.
3. Foster Relationships With Customers
By connecting and engaging with your social media followers, you’ll be able to build lasting relationships between them and your business. You can do this by interacting with them on your posts, responding to their questions and comments, and providing them with any help they may need.
You can also ask your followers questions about your products, their pain points, or create giveaways to help you build trust and show them how much you value their input and support.
4. Learn From Competitors
Social media is a great way to keep tabs on your competitors — whether that’s in reference to their social media tactics, the products they’re promoting, the campaigns they’re implementing, or their level of interaction with followers.
Social media allows you to get a look at what is and isn’t working for your competition, and therefore helps you decide what should or shouldn’t change in terms of your company’s approach. Lastly, reviewing the social accounts of your competitors can help you make sure your marketing stands out and is unique to your brand.
Now, let’s talk strategy — there are five steps to ensure your social media marketing plan is sustainable and positively impacts your business.
How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Research your buyer personas and audience
- Determine which social platforms you’ll market on
- Create unique and engaging content
- Organize a schedule for your posts
- Analyze your impact and results
Let’s cover these steps in more detail so you can begin applying them to your business.
1. Research your buyer personas and audience.
The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is to determine who your buyer personas and audience are so you can target their needs and interests appropriately. To do this, think about the people you’re trying to reach and why, and how you would classify them as a group. For example, if your company sells trendy leggings and joggers, you might classify your target audience as millennials who like to wear stylish athletic apparel regularly — a style known as athleisure.
By considering your buyer personas and audience, you’ll then be able to determine what content will attract the type followers and customers you hope to gain and how you can create engaging content to keep your followers interested.
2. Determine which social platforms you’ll market on.
As a social media marketer, it’s crucial you determine which platforms you’re going to share your content on. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to which social channels your business should use — it’s more about the needs of your target audience and where they tend to spend their time.
“It’s important to be where your audience of potential customers is today, and where they might be tomorrow. It’s better to be ahead of the curve than behind.” — Andrew Delaney, Social Media Marketing Manager at HubSpot
For example, if you are going for that target audience of athleisure-loving millennials, you may want to focus the majority of your social media efforts on Instagram — this is because millennials cover the largest portion of users on the platform.
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3. Create unique and engaging content.
With the billions of social media users around the globe, there’s no question that at least some of your followers — or the people browsing your profile — have also seen your competitor’s content or that of other businesses in your industry. That’s why you must have engaging social media content that stands out and provides viewers with a reason to click that “Follow” button and interact with your brand.
To help you get creative, consider the content your competitors are sharing and how you can uniquely promote your products. Also, take advantage of the features offered by the platform you’re using. For example, you can create live videos on Facebook to share the latest details about a product launch or conduct a giveaway.
Lastly, use your current customers and promoters to help you generate content. You can do this by re-posting their content or encouraging them to use a hashtag to share their own experiences and pictures with your products (similar to Frye’s Instagram hashtag that I mentioned earlier).
4. Organize a schedule for your posts.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your content is shared as planned is to use a social media management solution. These tools allow you to write captions, prepare pictures and videos, and schedule posts in advance. They also automatically share your content on schedule and monitor all post interactions and engagement for you. Social media management solutions save you time and allow you to focus on your other tasks.
There are a number of solution options available — here are a few examples.
HubSpot offers a social media tool — as part of the marketing software — to help you publish and monitor your content and create real connections with your followers. You can schedule and publish your content in advance and compare in-depth reports on your posts’ engagement to understand the performance of various platforms, types of content, and posting times.
2) Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a social media marketing and management solution designed to help your team organize and plan content creation, manage campaigns, understand engagement, and review content reports and analysis.
Hootsuite is a social media management platform for finding, scheduling, managing, and reporting on your content. You can schedule posts in advance on all of your channels at once and measure your ROI with comprehensive content analysis.
How often should you post on social media?
Now, you might be wondering how often you should post content on your social media channels.
As a rule of thumb, you should only post on social when you have quality content to share. Meaning, there’s a reason you’re posting the content. This is how you’ll strike the right balance when it comes to your posting frequency. If you post too infrequently, you’re bound to be forgotten by your followers. If you post too frequently, you’ll likely become annoying to your followers. Both situations could potentially lead to a loss in followers and a decrease in engagement.
To avoid this, there are plenty of studies and resources available explaining social media post frequency standards by industry and platform for you to follow. Every business is different, so find what works for your audience. Then, you can begin experimenting with more or fewer posts, as well as other factors such as the time of day you’re posting on social, to determine what provides the highest level of engagement.
5. Analyze your impact and results.
One of the most important aspects of social media marketing is ensuring your efforts are successful in helping you meet your goals. To determine this, you’ll need to keep track of all of your posts, on every channel. You can do this by reviewing and managing your social media metrics.
Social Media Metrics
Social media metrics are data related to the success of your posts and your impact on your audience and customers on various platforms. These metrics may include data about your level of engagement, likes, follows, shares, and all other interactions on each platform.
Here are 10 of the most important metrics for you to track:
- Engagement: This includes clicks, comments, likes, and replies on your social media posts. There are also platform-specific types of engagement such as “Saved” posts on Instagram and “Pinned” posts on Pinterest.
- Reach: The number of people who have seen any content associated with your page or profile is your reach.
- Followers: This is the number of people you have on your profile who have clicked your “Follow” button and see your content in their feeds regularly.
- Impressions: This is the number of times a post from your profile or page is seen, whether or not your audience members click on it. This is often what happens when someone is scrolling through their newsfeed, but not clicking on anything.
- Video views: On Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or any other social channel with video capabilities, this is the number of views each gets.
- Profile visits: The number of people who have opened your social media page is your number of profile visits.
- Mentions: This is the number of times your profile has been mentioned by audience members in their posts.
- Tags: This is when your audience adds the name of your company’s profile or your hashtag to another post.
- Reposts: This is when a member of your audience posts a piece of your content on their profile.
- Shares: These are the posts your followers and audience take from your profile and share with their network.
You can influence all of these metrics, increase your social following, and improve overall engagement on your profile by using the same tactics you would to generate leads and boost conversions. You can also interact with your followers more frequently by talking to them, tagging them in content, responding to their questions, liking their posts, encouraging them to use your hashtags, and share your content (and you can also repost user-generated content).
How to Measure Social Media Metrics
You can review social media metrics in a variety of ways, For example, you can use the analytics tools built into the various platforms you use. Here are a few examples:
You might also choose to use an analytics and tracking tool such as Google Analytics. This is a great option if you want to track your social media and website metrics. Lastly, many social media scheduling solutions — as we reviewed earlier — have monitoring and tracking features automatically built in. All of these metrics tracking tools will give you a better understanding of what your followers and audience respond well to and what you should consider modifying to improve engagement.
Now that we’ve reviewed the benefits of social media marketing and how to build your strategy, let’s talk about the various resources available to help you along the way.
Social Media Marketing Resources
There are a plethora of social media marketing resources you can use to build a social strategy for your company. You’re bound to feel more confident about working on your company’s social media marketing initiative with the help of the following courses, training, and books.
Social Media Marketing Courses and Training
Here are three ways to earn an education in the field of social media marketing if you feel it’s necessary for your specific business situation.
1. Earn a degree.
Although there isn’t necessarily a “social media marketing degree” for undergraduates, there are online courses offered at a number of different schools and institutions you can take to earn a certificate, MicroMaster’s or master’s degree in the field.
2. Use an online learning website.
3. Earn a certificate administered by a company.
You might choose to earn a certificate from a company — such as HubSpot’s social media certification. This free certification teaches you how to engage with your customers and improve conversions. You’ll also get a better understanding of how to develop your strategy, extend your reach, and measure your social media ROI.
Social Media Marketing Books
Reading relevant content about social media marketing is another great way to learn more about the field. Here are a few examples of some highly-regarded books on the topic.
This New York Times Bestseller covers the reasons why being likable and engaging with followers on social media is one of the most powerful ways to grow your base of customers and promoters. The book teaches you how to make impactful content for your followers to interact with and share with their networks. Author Dave Kerpen also describes why you need to ensure you’re consistently delighting your followers to avoid losing them at any point in time.
2. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
According to author Gary Vaynerchuk, the key to social media marketing success isn’t about pushing out a lot of content — it’s about pushing out specific content tailored towards your target audience and using the right platform to do so.
In his book, Vaynerchuk covers how to do this as well as connect with your followers and customers on a deeper level through social media. You’ll learn how to create memorable and unique content that stands out in comparison to competition’s content.
HubSpot’s CMO, Kipp Bodnar, writes about the ways B2B businesses can generate more leads and conversions through social media marketing. There are actionable methods you can take to increase your base of followers and drive leads as well as understand the ROI of various B2B social media marketing strategies.
Start Marketing on Social Media
Considering there are billions of people on social media today, it’s easy to see why so many businesses and marketers use the channel to promote their products and engage with customers.
Although determining your company’s social media course of action may seem daunting, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by understanding social media marketing trends and using some of the many resources available about the topic. So, start working on your business’ social media marketing strategy today to increase your number of followers, improve engagement, and boost conversions.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Oct 28, 2019 8:51:00 AM, updated October 28 2019