What is Social Media Marketing?
In 1997, SixDegrees was arguably the first notable social media site. Since then, social media has gone from the niche to the mainstream with billions of users on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitch and YouTube.
This has resulted in millions of organisations vying for the attention of those who use the social media platforms. Not so long ago, you could haphazardly publish posts without a true strategy or focus. But now it requires thought to engage your customers to help achieve not just likes and shares, but also to use it help achieve your commercial goals.
In this post, we’ll explain what social media marketing is and the five key elements that underpin it.
So… What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is simply using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok or YouTube to connect with your intended audience to build recognition of your brand, drive traffic to your website and increase sales.
Of course, you can’t just mindlessly post anything. The content you publish must be something your followers and intended audience would like enough not just to look at, but also to hit like and then hopefully even share your content with their own followers or friends.
Social media marketing differs widely, but it can be brought down to the following:
How are people discussing about a brand? – Brands often listen to conversations to see how they’re perceived, especially when those talking about it have a lot of followers.
Engaging social media users – Many brands respond to queries of their followers and other users or even step in when they have something meaningful to say on a subject.
Analyse social media performance – Using social media analytics, find out how many people are reached, links clicked, engagement on posts and even how many sales originated from social media.
Social media advertising – When you want to reach users on a large scale, you can run highly targeted social media advertisements.
Five Key Elements of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can be summarised into five key elements of strategy, plan and publish, listen and engage, analyse and advertising.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to sustainably get more followers and convert them into sales without a strategy. But it gives you an opportunity to look at the bigger picture and helps you work out what you want to say, when to say it and to whom.
Strategy can be drilled down to three points.
You may want to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your brand’s website or get more sales. Generating more engagement with social media users about your brand, creating an online community and support customers are all good uses of social media, depending on your needs of your users and your brand.
Choosing Social Media Platforms
Today there are a lot of social media platforms. Any combination of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, Anchor, TikTok and Clubhouse can be used among other less popular social media sites to help you achieve your brand’s commercial goals.
That doesn’t mean you need to be on all of them. It’s always better to be delivering good quality content on a few social networks rather than delivering sub-standard content on all platforms.
When choosing social media networks, think carefully who uses platforms. Facebook tends to have older users, while Instagram and TikTok are used much more extensively by younger people. LinkedIn is ideal if your brand is in the business-to-business (B2B) marketplace.
Type of Content to Share
The type of content you share will depend on the social media sites you’ve decided to use, the nature of your brand and who you are trying to target. You’ll want to decide whether you want to educate or entertain.
Make sure the content you intend to share suits the platform. For instance, sharing blog posts on TikTok or Instagram wouldn’t do to well, whereas videos would see much better results.
Creating personas of the audience you are trying to engage with provides a great starting point for you to build from.
You can use analytical tools to learn if your strategy is working. But if it isn’t, change it!
Don’t be anxious to change things just because it was part of the original plan. Always allow yourself to change things if you don’t feel like they’re working. But it’s also important to rationalise those changes rather than just enacting random changes for the sake of it.
Plan and Publish
If you’re a smaller brand, you’ll most likely want to start with creating a presence that is dependable on social media first. While you shouldn’t expect great results overnight, it does offer your customers a way to stay in touch with your brand.
Publishing posts could be a link to a blog post, an image or video. It pays to plan posts in advance ahead of time and use social media tools that schedule your posts to be published at a specified time. This means you can publish the content at the right time even when you’re not there to publish it manually.
Listen and Engage
As your social media presence builds and your number of followers grows, chances are people will talk about your brand, comment on your posts or even send you a direct message.
Not everyone will tag your brand, however. You may want to find out what is being said and then either thank to delight them or if it’s negative, help them to resolve the situation before it worsens.
Since manually checking notifications isn’t efficient with a good following, you can use social media listening and engagement tools to help you track and engage in these conversations more easily.
You can use social media analytical tools to give you insights on your social media presence. It can tell you how many new followers you have, how many likes, retweets you’ve gained and how many of your followers clicked a specific link, among many metrics.
This will help you ascertain whether your strategy is working. It will help you learn what is working and what isn’t.
Analytical tools on social media platforms can deliver valuable information, but they usually provide just a basic level of data. There are a wide range of social media analytics tools that can provide you with much deeper insights and give your recommendations.
If you have the budget, your brand can utilise paid advertising to reach a wider audience than the number of followers you have.
Social media sites can offer incredibly powerful tools that allow you to target audiences with specific demographics, interests and even behaviours.
Platforms can also offer automated tools to make bulk changes, automate certain processes and optimise your ads so they are cost-effective. This is handy if you have multiple targeted adverts that target different audiences at the same time.
Need a Hand With Social Media Marketing?
XHost UK are a web design and marketing agency. We can help you with strategy, planning and publishing social media posts and social media advertising. See our Social Media Marketing service page for further information or fill in our contact form and we’ll call you back.