Social media may be the most efficient way for today’s marketers to capture the attention of consumers. With social media, brands can tap into an instant and worldwide distribution channel with active and engaged participants. However, with the seemingly endless volume of content that is generated online daily, a thoughtful and carefully implemented social media marketing strategy is necessary if you want to stand out.
What is Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing (SMM) is the use of social media platforms to broaden brand awareness, drive site traffic, promote a product or service, and/or increase engagement. Social media marketing can be implemented as part of both organic and paid advertising campaigns, but most companies blend the two strategies together.
With over 45% of the world’s population now on social media, it’s vitally important for businesses to meet their customers on these platforms, where they’re already spending a significant portion of their time. However, social media marketing isn’t just about getting the most eyeballs. As these social media platforms continue to generate more insights into consumer behaviors, brands can hyper-target consumers that are most likely to engage and transact with them. This is a cost-effective way for all types of businesses to quickly distribute content to relevant consumers who are likely to respond well to the brand.
6 Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Social media allows businesses to instantaneously reach consumers around the world and drive awareness, conversions, and engagement more easily. The quickly changing landscape is a huge opportunity for brands willing to experiment and innovate, but it’s important to understand how these systems work to avoid being diluted by the sheer magnitude of online content.
1. Meeting Customers Where They Already Are
The average person spends over 2 hours per day on social media platforms. This includes scrolling through news feeds, commenting on posts, messaging friends, watching videos, and more. Because of this, consumers on these platforms are extremely active and ready to engage with content. If you can provide them with relevant and actionable content related to your brand, they’re much more likely to respond to your call to action than they would on a more passive marketing channel, like TV or radio.
2. Increasing Inbound traffic
Lucky for you, impressions on social media are cheap: CPMs on social media are around 10x cheaper than broadcast TV and 20x cheaper than direct mail. Because of this, it’s extremely efficient to get actionable content in front of people and drive traffic to your product or service. However, this isn’t just the case for paid advertising. We’ve all heard of the viral videos that have organically generated millions of views with no marketing spend. While not all brands will generate this type of virality in their marketing content, producing regular and consistent content for organic and paid campaigns can drive more views.
3. Increasing Conversions
The goal of marketing is ultimately to drive some conversion event, such as purchasing a product, downloading a gated asset, or subscribing to a service. In addition to cheap CPMs, social media can also provide a way to strategically target customers who are more likely to take some action, like purchase a product. A common strategy to drive purchases through social media marketing is to use Facebook lookalike audiences to target segments of the population that are statistically most similar to existing customers that have already purchased with you. This can dramatically decrease an ad’s cost per purchase by utilizing the wealth of data that Facebook aggregates around their users.
4. Raising Brand Recognition and Awareness
Due to the low barriers to entry and cheap distribution afforded by social media, a new brand can easily start marketing their product or service. Unfortunately, this also means consumers are overwhelmed — the average person now sees around 5,000 ads per day. A well-executed social media marketing strategy can help brands break through that noise. A sustainable social presence helps reinforce brand awareness and allows consumers to differentiate a company’s offerings from its competitors.
5. Creating a Brand Identity and Positive Brand Association
Crafting a relatable brand that speaks to customers personally is a non-negotiable. In fact, it has been shown that about 45% of consumers will unfollow a brand if they do too much self-promotion. Therefore, if marketers can craft an identity on social media that relates personally to customers and is not overly promotional, it is more likely that people will develop a positive brand association and convert to paying customers due to their consistently good impressions.
6. Tracking and Quantifying Performance
Unlike traditional media sources like TV and radio, many social media platforms can precisely track everything from views to clicks to purchases. For example, Facebook provides analytics tools and dashboards to view demographics, engagement metrics, and more. Social media platforms even allow businesses to run brand awareness surveys to try to measure the success of more subjective marketing efforts. This provides real-time insights into the efficacy of campaigns. In addition to making smarter decisions about adjusting future campaigns, it also allows for new strategies like real-time split testing and performance marketing.
Tips for Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
While the benefits of social media are indisputable, make sure that you are focused on creating a strategy that helps you stand-out among the other brands marketing to consumers on these platforms. There are a number of proven ways you can build out a successful social media marketing strategy:
1. Define your Marketing Goals
Before beginning to implement a social media marketing strategy, it’s important to define what your specific goals are and what outcomes/successes you hope to see along the way. Do you want to drive short-term conversions? Are you trying to build longer-term brand awareness? Do you want to better engage your existing customers to drive recurring sales?
A legacy brand with broad awareness might be more focused on driving immediate sales, while a startup may want to build trust and engagement with new audiences. There’s no right answer here — only you can decide what your priorities are.
2. Research and Know Your Audience
People of nearly all ages and demographics use social media platforms. Therefore, if you have a brand that is specific to certain types of consumers, you’ll want to ensure you understand how they engage online and what platforms they spend most of their time on.
For instance, As new social media trends emerge, so do opportunities to engage with different demographics. For example, the explosion of TikTok this year has provided a unique opportunity for fast-moving brands to engage with Gen-Z consumers that are not as active on Facebook and other older social media platforms.
Furthermore, different audience segments may have different views on social and political trends which can impact how they view your content and product. While it’s impossible to know exactly how consumers will respond to your campaigns with perfect foresight, doing your research and due diligence can significantly increase your chances of maintaining positive brand reception.
3. Decide on Metrics
Social media platforms provide seemingly endless data on the performance of content and ads. For businesses focused on conversion optimization for online actions like purchases, you can cross-reference your own transactional data with social media accounts through tracking systems such as the Facebook Pixel.
Say, for instance, your goal is to drive sales of a product. You can tweak your call to action and configure your social campaigns to strategically target consumers who are more likely to make a purchase. This data can also be used to determine the success of ads by analyzing the cost of driving the conversion in relation to other campaigns and customer segments.
4. Research the Competition
While you certainly want your brand and content to stand out and be original, it’s useful to understand what’s already working in the marketplace. This will help you determine which factors are important to consumers and the type of copy that drives engagement. Researching your competitors is a good starting point, as their customer base is likely similar to yours.
Pro tip: you’re not limited to looking at their public posts — you can also view any brand’s paid ads on Facebook through the Page Transparency feature. By doing so, you can not only see what types of ads your competition is running, but strategically how they’re split-testing different content types, what countries they’re running them in, and the type of consumer feedback they’re getting.
5. Audit Your Existing Social Media Content
Once you have your strategy and target audience, you’ll want to make sure your accounts tell a consistent story over time. This includes any past content that your business has produced. Curious consumers will inevitably explore your various social media channels, so it’s often wise to audit past posts to avoid keeping content that may contradict a new message and brand story.
6. Choose Social Media Platforms to Use
Common social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok. Many businesses will choose to utilize most, if not all, of these platforms to ensure that they reach as many possible consumers as possible. However, each platform is best for different demographics and types of content:
- Facebook and YouTube are the most widely used by adults.
- Instagram has strong usage across demographics but has a younger average user.
- Twitter has a diverse background with a large international presence.
- LinkedIn has a strong share of business and work-related users and content.
- TikTok and Snapchat have a strong hold on younger and more casual audiences.
7. Create Timelines for Social Media Posts
Like all other content activities, social media content should typically be planned out in advance. This ensures that you meet your business objectives, while also giving users an expectation of when content will be released. Marketing automation software can be used to automate these processes, and will also improve the efficiency, consistency, and quality of your posts.
8. Execute, Test, and Iterate
Once your systems are in place, then you can get to the action — publishing your social media content! However, keep in mind that this is an iterative and ongoing process. You should be constantly analyzing results, reviewing feedback, and testing improvements to see how they affect your KPIs. The social media landscape is constantly evolving, so you need to be diligent in understanding your customers and meeting their evolving expectations.
Jumpstart Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media has provided an extremely efficient marketing channel for brands to engage directly with their customers. Businesses need solid plans and processes in place to manage their social media marketing strategy, and Marketo provides the marketing automation solutions that help businesses run and analyze their marketing processes across all of their channels. Download the The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing to get a comprehensive review of how to implement a successful social media marketing strategy.