Social media marketing is one of the most powerful aspects of your digital marketing strategy.
It brings unique strengths that few other digital assets can match:
- It communicates your brand quickly, effectively, and in an especially personable way
- It enables you to participate in and create conversations, building your community
- Its real-time nature lets it integrate easily into your customer service architecture
When you’re first getting started, however, social media marketing can look like a formidable challenge.
Unlike some other options, social media is fragmented over dozens of platforms. Six different social platforms now claim one billion monthly active users. Even a small slice of that pie is enough to drive any business, but social networks have an incentive to make increasing your reach more effort-intensive.
Luckily, good social media marketing delivers real results when it comes to lead generation.
And although it might seem like a big mountain to climb, most of the work is in the initial setup.
Once you’re situated, an occasional social media marketing audit will keep you on the right track.
The unspoken secret about social media is that you don’t need to be doing everything right all the time. Think of it like steering a ship. As long as you’re heading in the right direction, occasional course corrections will get you where you’re going. You just need to be familiar with all the navigation instruments at your disposal.
“Where you’re going” in this case is a flourishing online community that supports your goals in three ways:
1. Continuous Lead Generation
Lead generation is the basic goal that ties your digital marketing strategy together. Social media is a great way to share content for all the phases of the buyer journey. Decision-makers flow from your social media through to your website, where they can become email subscribers, get qualified, and ultimately become customers.
2. Long-Term Customer Retention
Social media is ideal for customer retention. By building a following, you simultaneously create opportunities for the community around your best customers. Providing perks and special offers to this audience will motivate them to generate referral business on your behalf and make them much less likely to switch to competitors.
3. Lifetime Customer Value
Experts estimate it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. The best approach for your bottom line successfully blends new and existing business. Social media grabs customers’ attention when and where you want it. It can work in tandem with an email to control the tempo of your sales.
Social media marketing is a machine with many moving parts. Individually, none of them can ensure your success. But if you review and refine your methods on a regular basis, you’ll achieve more. Every post, every photo, every video, and every hashtag can contribute that much more until you breakthrough.
In the social media ecosystem, “breaking through” means having an audience that:
- Is big enough to make a dent in the overall social conversation and pull in more leads
- Is responsive enough to your social media initiatives to create measurable and reliable results
At this level, your social media presence becomes self-sustaining. While it still requires time and attention on an ongoing basis, the momentum shifts. It’s no longer principally about what your brand publishes. Instead, it’s about harnessing momentum and reaping rewards from the energetic response of your followers.
Start By Laying A Solid Foundation For Social Media Success
Social media marketing starts with three deceptively simple elements:
- The right platform
- The right audience
- The right content
If you provide the right content to the right audience on the right platform, you will see benefits.
There are millions of articles out there about setting up your social media profile, the right dimensions for your Facebook header image, and all the rest. But the details are nothing but chores unless you are aligned to hit the target in these three ways. Without them, social media marketing is like yelling into the void.
Before we jump into fine-tuning, let’s shed some light on these critical elements.
Choosing The Right Social Media Platform
The best social media platform for business used to be obvious: Facebook was #1, followed by Twitter.
Many brands would engineer their social media content for Facebook, then cross-post it onto Twitter without thinking too much about it. This was enough to get by, but not enough to squeeze every drop of potential out of either platform. No matter how similar the two networks seem, they will always differ in some key ways.
These days, the equation is a lot more complicated.
Of course, there are some possibilities you can rule out right away.
99.9% of small local businesses have no reason to be on Weibo, China’s largest social media network, even though it hosts more than 500 million active users every month. Likewise, there’s little commercial value to be found on Tumblr or Tiktok even if you’re set up to create the right kind of content for these audiences.
The family of business-friendly social media networks is expanding, but it’s still manageable:
- Facebook: Facebook’s ad platform is versatile and its Page format is ideal for current customers
- Twitter: Twitter is gaining ground in ads. Its chronological layout helps increase content’s reach
- Instagram: Instagram is the most visual platform, making it perfect for breathtaking photographs
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn’s power users tend to be career-minded, with thought leadership aspirations
With this in mind, Facebook is the best choice for most companies large and small. Its audience is enormous, but its ad targeting system is precise enough to target your message to those within your service area. Twitter is second: Local targeting is harder, but the algorithm is much friendlier to general brand awareness content.
Instagram is the right pick for certain industries and niches – it is most popular among real estate agents. You’ll find it very easy to use if you’re already established on Facebook, which owns it. There’s significant similarity in key features and even some cross-compatibility to make administration easier.
Last in the lineup is LinkedIn. Bought up by Microsoft as a means of selling subscription services to executive recruiting firms, it fits when you need to target high-end services to professionals with disposable income. Its advertising interface is lackluster, but LinkedIn Groups can be powerful for B2B brands.
Naturally, there’s nothing stopping you from using multiple platforms. To prevent overwhelm, though, it’s a wise idea to have repeatable processes in place before you branch out from one platform to another. And unless you can clearly identify that the right audience is present on a given platform, it is not worth your time.
Finding The Right Audience
Before you can uncover your audience “out there,” you need to define their characteristics in-house.
That requires two things:
- Authoring buyer personas to identify your ideal customers
- Knowing the different use cases for products and services
Some small business owners jump into social media marketing with only a general idea of what audience they want to reach. Facebook encourages this behavior by sending out coupons to new businesses when they file incorporation paperwork in their state. That “savings” can turn into hundreds of dollars in waste!
Luckily, odds are good your understanding of your customers is already sound enough to get started.
One way to know whether you are on the right track is to take your existing buyer personas and compare them to Facebook’s ad targeting interface. You can access all elements of ad targeting without starting a campaign or paying a cent. Location targeting is especially helpful for local firms with a designated service area.
Once you can match your ideal audience to Facebook, you are on your way.
Other interesting targeting mechanisms include:
- Demographics: Age, gender, education level, the field of study, and many more
- Home Status: Veteran in home, working women, young adults, and “young & hip”
- Relationship & Parenting Status: Relationship types and ages of current children
- Interests: Well over 100 main selections in a wide variety of categories
Other platforms have their own eccentricities when it comes to ad targeting. For example, LinkedIn captures the most data on a user’s job history and the firmographics of each user’s employer. If these details are relevant to you, take the time to see what insights LinkedIn ad targeting can provide before you decide where to start.
Planning And Publishing The Right Content
Publishing high-quality content in your niche is the driving force of digital marketing success.
Called content marketing, the importance of this tactic goes beyond social media. The more excellent content you produce for your customers, the more likely your website will be highly visible in search results relevant to your business. This content also serves as the fuel that makes following your social accounts worthwhile.
After all, to participate in the social media conversation, you need to have something to say!
The most basic form of online content is the blog post. No matter your industry, it’s crucial to embrace your role as a publisher and aim for at least one blog post a week. As production ramps up, you can develop repeatable approaches for promoting these posts on social media.
Planning your online content requires you to take your audience’s knowledge and operationalize it. What burning questions do your followers have? What problems keep them awake at night? Strive to give them actionable advice they can put into practice right away. The more useful your content, the more likely they are to share it.
An 8-Point Audit To Improve Your Social Media Results Every Month
No one goes onto social media for the first time and hits a home run. Like so much of digital marketing as a whole, social media marketing is iterative. It requires having the right processes in place, following them, and tinkering with them to improve output. Small gains can quickly compound into major competitive advantages.
Let’s look at eight questions you should be asking about your social media every month:
1. Is The Right Person Accountable For Social Media?
If you are managing social media yourself, you are missing out on time you could spend doing the things that only you can do for your business. Delegation is indispensable, but be sure you are delegating to the right people. Gone are the days of entrusting an intern as social media lead. A digital marketing agency brings you the right skills and reliable processes.
2. Is There A Clear Calendar For Content Production And Social Media Promotion?
Since social media marketing and content production are intertwined, it’s vital to establish guidelines for your content. Starting with one blog weekly is fine; advancing to three is a good benchmark of progress. Each time a new piece of content is ready, there should be clear steps for amplifying it on all relevant platforms.
3. Are LTOs, Contests, And Other Digital Events Being Used Effectively?
“Social” is the keyword in social media. To turn a business relationship into a more social one, you’ll need to spark some fun and excitement. One major promotion a month is a terrific way for an inside social media team to cut their teeth on the basic skills of building buzz and soliciting user-generated content.
4. Does Visual Content Make Up 20%-50% Of Your Social Media Feed?
Social feeds scroll by quickly. Users are prone to tune out plain text content, especially when they’re thumbing past at high speed on a mobile device. While the idea is to include a photo or illustration with every post, a starting goal of 20% will help you catch attention and get more engagement.
5. Are You Adding Value With At Least 75% Of Your Social Media Content?
This rule comes to us by way of email marketing, which has a much longer history than social media and offers time-tested wisdom. For every promotional post, you should deliver three that focus solely on followers’ interests. If people feel they’re constantly being sold to, they unfollow without hesitation.
6. Are Your Social Media Posts Targeted And Being Released At The Optimal Time?
Timing your social media posts depends on a number of factors. By taking into account the patterns that affect your followers’ lives, you can release content to coincide with peak activity. It’s also essential to ensure content is discoverable – that is, easy to find within the platform – by using hashtags.
7. Are You Monitoring Discussions About Your Brand And Resolving Complaints?
Customers will often bring their complaints about your brand to social media. They may do this when calling is too inconvenient or emailing does not produce a response. They may also do it simply to vent, expecting no response at all. Watch hashtags related to your brand and jump in when your assistance could win the day.
Remember, your professionalism can make a positive impression on leads you haven’t even met yet.
8. Are You Using Social Media Analytics To Guide Your Content Production?
Last, but certainly not least, comes your use of data. Every social media post has the chance to generate a flood of valuable data that discloses even more details about your followers’ habits. Analytics software collects this in one place so you can evaluate which social media content resonates with your audience and plan accordingly.
A Central Florida Marketing Agency Simplifies Your Path To Social Media Influence
Social media is easy to use but difficult to master. Unless you’re passionate about it, leave it to the experts!
New York Ave is the DeLand, FL digital marketing agency that makes it easy to reap the rewards of social media while staying focused on what you do best. With a world-class team of content marketing experts based right in your own neighborhood, we will build you a digital marketing strategy that gets you noticed by your customers.
With years of experience and a record of stellar service, New York Ave leads Central Florida digital marketing firms in customer care. We demystify the process of turning your website into the business asset you know it can be, getting your content to the people who can grow your business.
Contact us today to find out more or get started. We look forward to meeting you soon.