It seems like everybody is talking about social media marketing as part of their marketing plan. Most business owners have heard that having a solid social media presence—aimed at your target market—is a modern requirement. We’ve heard about Facebook ads, brand awareness, organic reach, and countless other buzzwords. But what does it all really mean? What does social media marketing mean?
Social media is more than Facebook
Social media is a catch-all term to describe websites that encourage social interaction. Since Facebook is used by more than two thirds of the population, it’s the one that comes to mind the most. But there are dozens of other sites out there and each has its own purpose. Here are the most popular:
Facebook: Used by more people than any other social media site, Facebook has become the first place people go for launching social media campaigns. If you don’t have any other social media platforms set up, you need to at least have Facebook. Facebook specializes in encouraging conversation among visitors, sharing photos, providing event information, and more.
Twitter: You can’t turn on the news today without hearing about Twitter. Twitter is a social media channel that is designed to let people share or broadcast short messages with followers or the public in general. While it is possible to start a conversation on Twitter, conversation pieces are limited by size.
Instagram: Instagram is owned by Facebook, but has a different user base and fills a much different purpose. Like Twitter, Instagram is designed more for broadcasting than conversations. With Instagram you can post photos and broadcast video content in small bites. Don’t try to use it for lengthy videos, though. The ideal size video for Instagram is between 15 and 30 seconds. Most often, these videos are informal rather than produced.
Pinterest: Pinterest is also an image-sharing social media platform, but it is focused on sharing content that already exists. Users can bookmark or “pin” images found on the web to their own personal pinboard. They can also share pins with others or browse popular pins from users they follow. Pinterest is ideal for planning things like weddings and remodeling projects, but it’s also a great way to collect ideas for gift giving or designing. Pinterest can be described as an online scrapbook.
YouTube: If you have high quality video content to share, how-to videos, or just need a place to host videos that can be shared from your site, YouTube is a perfect solution. While many people may not think of YouTube as a social media site in and of itself, it qualifies because it allows users to broadcast videos and start conversations about them.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social media site for business. Many businesses—especially B2B companies—have found success in gaining highly-engaged followers. LinkedIn is also useful for making connections with professionals who may not be in your social circle, but who you want to connect with.
Getting started with social media marketing
Getting started with social media marketing is a fairly straightforward process. Strong familiarity with social media platforms is recommended.
Step 1: Define a social media marketing strategy.
A social media marketing strategy is an overview or summary of goals you hope to achieve and what you plan to do with social media. Your strategy will guide your moves and help you determine your level of success. The more specific your strategy, the more effective the execution. Above all else, make sure your strategy is concise and measurable.
Step 2: Define your brand on social media.
Your brand is more than your logo. Your brand extends to the type of business you are and how you want to be seen by customers and clients.
Are you a service business like an attorney or accountant? Maybe your plan could be to let people know about recent changes in laws or tax changes. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn would fit your business and help you define your social media brand.
If you operate a jewelry store, Pinterest could help your customers keep their favorite products organized. Instagram could be used to show of the latest styles.
Remember too that people may use your social media channels to contact you directly. Having a plan for responding to messages will help your brand image in addition to helping improve your customer service.
Step 3: Create content.
Now that you know your goals and have defined your brand, the next step is creating content. Content could be anything from blog posts to pictures. Maybe you have a promotion coming up and you want to integrate your marketing efforts into your social media plan. Keeping everything uniform within your marketing campaigns is critical.
Step 4: Schedule and post content.
Research the best times to post your content and then make it happen. Don’t forget to leave room for spontaneous posts. One of the key benefits of social media marketing is the ability to respond quickly to changing conversations and trends.
Will social media marketing help my business grow?
Few (if any) marketing campaigns are guaranteed. Every marketing channel has its own range of ups and downs. But in the world of online marketing, social media marketing has shown itself to be effective in keeping people engaged in conversation. When people are having conversations about your product or service, your business will see the effects of that over time.
If you would like a free custom analysis of your current social media strategy along with some recommendations on how to make it work better for you, feel free to contact us.