Effective marketing coincides with the adaptation of the latest technology in advertising and branding. For a business to thrive in the competitive digital ecosystem, staying informed about the latest trends is the key to success.
Currently, Social Media Marketing, or SMM, is playing an integral role in bridging the gap between brands and their customers. This form of marketing enables businesses to interact with their customers and keep them informed about the latest offerings from their preferred brand or service.
However, the normalised use of social media platforms has led to several companies underestimating the complexities involved in SMM. While marketing on social media platforms is perceived to be simple, the process requires businesses to employ meticulously devised strategies to ensure that all the objectives of marketing are distinctively met.
If you wish to employ a social media marketing strategy to promote your business in the digital ecosystem, take the following guidelines into consideration.
This blog provides a comprehensive outline of what social media marketing actually is, why it is necessary and what it can do for your business. It further elaborates on the ways you can run a successful social media campaign to keep your business relevant and aligned with the requirements of the contemporary market.
What is Social Media Marketing (SMM)?
Prior to kicking off your social media marketing strategy, it is essential to get a clear idea about what SMM actually is.
Social Media Marketing (SMM) refers to the marketing strategy that is exclusively designed for and implemented on various social media platforms. This form of promotion is inclusive of a diverse range of objectives, which may include advertising a blog, advertising a new product or service, or providing an update about a major event.
With that said, the marketing strategy created for different social media platforms is completely unique. For instance, the post you create for Facebook may not be applicable to Instagram or TikTok.
Additionally, social media marketing is only effective if it takes the brand’s essence into consideration. Businesses are expected to place their efforts into creating strategies for platforms that are used extensively by their target audience. For example, a younger demographic of customers would be more easily targeted using TikTok or Instagram, whereas, the older demographic may be more accustomed to reaching out on Facebook or Twitter.
Taking that into account, SMM requires research to study the behaviour and preference of the target audience. In addition to that, businesses are further required to study the activity of their target demographic to create an effective social media calendar or schedule.
Essentially, there are numerous strategies and schemes that go into effective social media marketing. The key to acquiring success is to simply stay informed about the recent developments in the industry and use it to your advantage.
Does your business need SMM?
Many businesses question whether they need to market their services on social media platforms. The answer to that question is always a ‘yes’. Businesses, regardless of their nature, are required to carry out an effective social media strategy to ensure that their online presence is relevant.
There are several advantages of social media marketing, which makes it necessary for businesses and organisations. However, companies have the choice to target their audience with free or paid advertisements. In either of the two scenarios, using social media platforms for marketing can provide your business with exposure to a larger base audience, which can be used to expand and augment your current operations.
With that said, one of the greatest disadvantages of social media marketing is that this approach may not be immediately effective for every business. An effective approach requires long-term planning and persistence, along with an understanding of the business’s requirements.
Considering this, if you are new to social media marketing, it is recommended to employ the services of a trusted and experienced social media marketing agency, which can help you proficiently achieve all your objectives.
While the cost of an agency may be high, it can help you generate more traffic and subsequently, assist you with building a larger customer base.
What Social Media Marketing can do for your business?
All businesses are unique; therefore, they require a different strategy to ensure their social media marketing campaigns are successful. Taking that into account, the result ensuing this form of marketing is dependent on the approach that is chosen.
With that said, there are several benefits of SMM that are bound to experience after trying out a certain strategy.
Swift Customer Service:
SMM facilitates ease in communication between a business and its customers. By building your presence of numerous social media platforms, you can empower your customers to get in touch with you, no matter where they are.
Platform to Promote Services/Products:
One of the primary objectives of social media marketing is to promote, market new and existing products and services that you have to offer. To do this, you must post on a consistent basis and provide detailed information about the different products that you have. This can help you increase sales, as customers would be reminded about your store as they scroll through their feed.
Creating Brand Recognition
A social media marketing strategy can assist businesses with building customer loyalty and brand recognition. Research shows that customers are more likely to buy products from a brand that they follow and relate to on social media platforms.
Use Social Media to Attract Employees
In addition to reaching out to potential customers, social media marketing can also help companies advertise their organisational culture to make their firm attractive to talented employees. Most firms use social media marketing to show the facilities that they offer their employees, which assists in recruitment.
Considering the aforementioned, it can be assumed that while social media marketing offers numerous benefits to companies, it does not provide a direct link to increasing sales. Therefore, social media marketing, combined with other marketing strategies, functions as a stepping stone to increasing sales.
How to start SMM (for-profit vs non-profit approaches)
Parallel to all other business decisions, the first step in social media marketing is creating a list of all your goals and objectives. These objectives would depend on the nature of the business.
For instance, if your company operates as a charity or non-profit organisation, the SMM approach would be vastly different from that of a for-profit organisation. The following elaborates on the differences that are evident in the two strategies.
For-profit organisations aim to use SMM to promote their products, increase sales, improve customer interaction and showcase the launch of new products. Taking that into account, their primary objective for social media marketing is to increase sales on their digital and physical stores, while simultaneously promoting their new products or services.
Considering this, the company can design its social media strategy by taking the following initiatives:
- Research the target demographic thoroughly
- Design posts related to their products to facilitate sales in stores and online
- Create a schedule of posting for the designed posts
- Publish posts at the time when the target audience is active on the specific social media platform
- Run paid campaigns to increase following and sales
- Interact with followers using custom content
- Run competitions and promotions to facilitate customer interaction
On the other hand, the goals of a non-profit organisation would be different from that of a for-profit company. Therefore, their social media marketing strategy would also be unique. For example, a non-profit organisation may want to use social media to create awareness for the issue that they are tackling. For this facility, the aim of SMM would be to promote their charity events and subsequently, encourage more people to donate to their cause.
In this scenario, they can take the following initiatives to create their SMM strategy.
- Create accounts on relevant platforms and promote them using email marketing and paid advertisements to acquire a following
- Use video content and advertisements to increase followers
- Create posts and a schedule for posting to keep the pages interactive and active
- Publish emotion-provoking content to appeal to their followers and attract more individuals to their page
Taking the two examples into account, it can be stated that the goals of an organisation would determine the SMM strategy.
Carry out a Social Audit
The subsequent stage of SMM is to analyse your current position on your social media channels. If your business does not have an account on any of the platforms, you can skip this stage and start with designing your posts.
However, if you have an account, it is essential to carry out a social audit. This audit would provide you with a basic idea of your strengths and the areas where you need to improve. The following things should be considered when you are conducting a social audit.
- What social media platforms is your business active on?
- Which accounts are performing well and which accounts are failing to perform?
- What type of posts do you currently design?
- What type of posts do you wish to design?
- Does your following match your target demographic?
- Is there any irrelevant content that needs to be removed?
Once this audit is completed, you can move onto the next stage of designing the posts.
SMM mistakes to avoid
As social media platforms can expose your business to a large demographic audience, you can also struggle with negative feedback.
Therefore, when you are designing posts for your social media, it is crucial to meticulously examine the post before publishing it online. Recently, several businesses have suffered after posting a controversial opinion, insensitive joke, or a tone-deaf advertising campaign. To avoid this, it is important to plan out your posts and make sure that they are aligned with the brand image.
There are specific rules regarding what you can post on each platform, it is important to stay socially aware of the political situations and stay away from making any humorous attempts that do not align with the objectives of your business.
While designing your content, think about your brand and what it represents. If you are relying on humour, be sure to use jokes or ‘memes’ that coincide with your brand image.
If you are partnering up with a social media agency, ask them to conduct a focus group on the posts to make sure that they are not culturally or socially insensitive to any of your target demographic. You can also create a list of all the topics that should not be discussed, under any circumstances.
Additionally, another factor that needs to be considered is the creation of your posting schedule. Avoid posting on a daily basis, as it can become overwhelming for the audience. Ideally, a couple of posts a week are recommended, however, this may vary from platform to platform and business to business.
It is further important to create a diverse range of content, which includes sales links, interactive posts, informational content, along other types of content. If your SMM strategy only includes sale-specific posts, you are bound to lose some followers. Therefore, presenting a mix of posts can be effective for social media marketing.
Understanding the requirements of the SMM platforms
As stated earlier, it is crucial to understand the requirements of each social media platform. The content, format, style, and audience for each channel are different, therefore, the posts you design for a specific channel should appeal to the type of customer who uses that specific platform.
For instance, Twitter is used by individuals of all ages, however, LinkedIn is mostly used by working professionals. Therefore, the latter platform requires content that urges the user to take any action or learn from the post.
Similarly, Instagram is used for marketing products by posting visually-enticing images, whereas YouTube and TikTok are video-based platforms. However, Facebook combines the functions of all such channels, and therefore, enables you to connect and interact with your audience effectively.
Before starting your social media marketing strategy, make sure to study the requirements and algorithms of each platform. This would enable you to stay relevant and make use of your account effectively.
With the research conducted, you can create messages that are personalised to meet the requirement of each social media platform. As a result, you can observe improved engagement, increasing traffic, and more interest from the target audience.
Focus on customer service
As stated earlier, one of the primary objectives of SMM is to facilitate better communication with the target audience. Therefore, it is imperative to interact with your customers and provide quick and responsive customer service.
Most businesses make the mistake of neglecting their customers by taking too long to respond, or by not handling the customer complaints effectively.
With social media platforms, businesses provide an additional channel for their customers to communicate with them swiftly. However, the complaints made on social media are visible to the public, including your potential customers. Therefore, if your business fails to tackle the complaint effectively, or if it does not address the problem, it can lose a lot of potential and existing customers.
Your ability to resolve customer complaints can ensure that you attract more customers to your digital and physical stores.
Build an organic following
The organic following refers to the individuals who have liked your page and are able to react, engage and share your content online. For smaller businesses, it is quite difficult to build an organic following, however, this is not impossible.
There are a few ways in which you can increase your organic following, however, it may take some time. The following steps can be taken to attract more people to your page.
- Create and publish relatable content consistently. This would ensure that your followers share the posts, which can increase your exposure to their friends and followers
- Provide useful information regarding your products or services. This content can be shared, which would make it accessible for individuals present beyond your page’s network
- Mention the handles of all your social media channels on your website, business cards, product packaging, or physical stores. This would serve as a reminder to your customers to follow your social media pages
- Share other people’s content to create relationships with other brands. This can help you gain exposure to some of their followers
- Share content that is interactive, useful, and informative for the followers.
With social media platforms, it is quite easy to share anything that you want. However, this can work to your disadvantage.
While designing your posts, it is important to consider the type of content that your audience is attracted to. You must create content that is specifically curated to intrigue or inform your followers. In the case that your post is too general, even if the content is attractive, it would drown in the pool of similar, uninteresting posts. Therefore, it is crucial to create eye-catching content, which can make you stand out. As a result, your following can automatically increase.
Once the post is created, you must consider your strengths and weaknesses. It is integral to discover your competitive edge and use it to your advantage. Consider the following questions and design posts on that basis:
- What makes your company unique?
- What are you most informed about?
- What features does your brand presents to the customers/clients that are completely unique?
- Why should the customer/client choose your company over others?
Several businesses and companies enhance their social media strategies by spending money on paid advertising. Paid advertising has a significant influence on customers. Therefore, if you have the budget for paid advertisement, it is crucial to use it to your advantage.
Paid social advertisements are quite similar to traditional advertisements. However, in this case, you can target a specific demographic of people, and create content that is specifically designed to appeal to that group of individuals. One unique factor in paid social ads is that you are able to rely on the use of social data to create a personalised audience for your advertisements. This would make the ad campaign more effective in its purpose.
While creating the advertisement, make sure to design content that specifically speaks to your target demographic. Moreover, you can study the rates and price structure for running paid social ads on different platforms, and choose the one that appeals to you.
Create a calendar and schedule posts
Creating a posting schedule is an essential component of social media marketing. Your social media calendar is created by considering the posts you have created.
For example, some businesses tend to create interactive posts and stories upload them on a daily basis. On the other hand, businesses with the same type of posts refrain from day-to-day posting, as it can become quite tedious and repetitive for the followers.
For most businesses, creating a social media calendar in advance is quite beneficial. However, even if the calendar is created, it is important to provide room for flexibility and instant posting, if the opportunity presents itself. For instance, there are several unanticipated events that may not be covered by your SMM calendar, however, you can still publish a post to stay relevant with the current trends.
It is important to stay informed and updated about the latest news, as it can significantly impact the timings at which you publish your content.
Lastly, you must create a different schedule for different platforms, based on their requirements. For instance, while you can post once a day on Facebook or Instagram, the same strategy may not work on Twitter as effectively.
Track and analyse your Social Media Marketing Results
One of the most important factors in SMM is to market your brand. You can do this by creating content that is exclusive to your company and what it represents.
Once the SMM strategy is operational, the next step is to analyse it and assess its results. This step will inform you about the effectiveness of the current strategy and allow you to make changes if they are required.
To check the results, make use of social media tracking and analysis tools, such as Facebook Insights. The tools can evaluate your performance and provide you with comprehensive data on how well your page is performing and its audience outreach. This way, you can take the right approach with your SMM strategy to ensure that it is successful.