It’s time to get social: Why you need a social media marketing strategy
Struggling with social media? You’re not alone. Most businesses today know the inherent value of using social media platforms in their branding and marketing plans, yet they fail to get the right results from their efforts because they don’t have the correct strategy in place.
As with most things in business, your social media solution can become instantly more effective, with the help of a little planning and focus. A social media marketing strategy can help you to take advantage of an active, and engaged network of potential clients and customers. After all, of the 7.2 billion people around the world, 3 billion have Internet access, and 2.1 billion are active on social media.
So, why do you need to use a social media marketing strategy at all? Why not just jump head-first into Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
A lot of companies find that although the content they create is incredible, and they’re sharing links through social media, audience engagement doesn’t seem to improve. You might get a couple of likes and the odd share – but that’s it. As a result, businesses are left scratching their heads – or worse, throwing their social media plan in the trash.
The truth is that there’s more to a social media marketing strategy than posting content on a platform and waiting for the results to roll in. You need to consider your audience, whether you’re using the right platform, how you’re representing your brand, and whether your tone matches the audience. You need to consider consistency, schedule, and the combination of value-oriented and branded content.
Whether you’re tackling your social media marketing strategy solo, or outsourcing your needs to a communications agency like Fabrik, we’re going to help you understand what social media marketing is all about, and how you can really make it work for your business.
The benefits of a social media marketing strategy
Most of you will already know the benefits of social media marketing. It leads to better connections with your target audience, more engagement, and extra traffic. But what are the advantages of a social media marketing strategy?
In simple terms, a social media marketing strategy identifies how your organisation should use social media to achieve its goals for external communication. Your plan will outline the platforms you need to use, the objectives you’re aiming for, and the techniques you want to address. When done correctly, a social media marketing strategy can:
1. Drive crucial traffic
Traffic creates leads, leads create conversions, and conversions create profits.
To get traffic, you need to reach out and communicate with your target audience. Part of this will involve you regularly updating your website, but you might not be able to post multiple times a day. That’s where social media comes in, keeping your customers updated on what’s happening within your business, establishing brand personality, and improving brand recognition. You can use your social media marketing strategy to link back to your website with social media posts to boost traffic.
2. Help you build the right relationships
We mentioned above that social media can help you build relationships. However, a social media marketing strategy can help you build the right relationships, by making sure that you’re finding the right followers, on the right platforms for your business. This means less time and budget wasted on potential leads who might not be beneficial or profitable to your company.
3. Maintain brand image
Being active on social media will help you to classify yourself as a trusted and authoritative entity online. However, if you’re working across multiple platforms with multiple people posting, it can be easy to lose track of your brand voice. Because maintaining brand image is crucial, a social media marketing strategy can help to ensure that your image remains strong from one location to the next.
4. Outshine your competitors
Communicating with your customers on social media is a great way to get ahead of the competition. With a social media marketing strategy, you can take that to the next level by evaluating what your competitors are doing, and identifying gaps that you can take advantage of. You can figure out exactly which groups you need to speak to to gain more traffic, and what you need to do better than your competitors to steal their customers.
5. Improve ROI
Finally, posting on social media is great, but it’s hard to support your efforts when you’re not seeing any real ROI. A social media marketing strategy can help you identify which aspects you need to measure in your social platforms to determine success. If you’re not reaching your goals, then you can also build on, or adapt parts of your strategy accordingly to improve your results.
Key steps to a social media marketing strategy
So, you know why building a social media marketing strategy is important. Now you need to figure out how you can design the right plan for your business.
As with most things in the world of marketing, you’ll find that your social media marketing strategy begins with a good understanding of your goals and objectives. These objectives will help you to measure the outcome of your social strategies, and improve ROI. Make sure that your goals align with your broader marketing strategy, so that your social media behaviour drives your business closer to its overall definition of success.
Other key steps to follow when building a social media marketing strategy include:
1. Characterising your customers
Social media marketing strategies will give you an idea of where you’re going, while an understanding of your customers will show you how to get there. Using user personas to characterise your ideal customers will help you to determine which platforms you need to post on, and what kind of voice you need to adopt to appeal to the right audience. Think about what motivates your customers, clients, employees and stakeholders, who they are, and what they like or dislike.
For instance, if you’re a company responsible for selling houses, you’d want to create a range of free real estate social media posts for various channels where people might be looking for new homes, like Facebook and Instagram.
2. Considering the competition
When it comes to building an effective social media marketing strategy, your competition can tell you a great deal about what’s effective in your industry. After all, these people are targeting the same people as you. Pick some of your top competitors and look at what they’re doing on social media. Remember, while you might want to adopt some of their strategies, your approach should still be unique to your brand voice.
3. Developing your message
Once you have a better understanding of your competition, and your customers, you can start formulating and creating your messages. In other words, think about the key messages that you want to come across in most of your posts, to resonate with your audiences based on the personas you’ve created.
4. Choosing channels
Not all social media platforms are created equally – at least as far as your brand is concerned. It’s important to make sure that you choose the right platforms for the industry you’re in, the audience you want to appeal to, and the products you’re selling. For instance, LinkedIn is great for b2b social media marketing strategy, while Pinterest is better for visual companies.
The channel you pick may be influenced by a number of factors, and evolves constantly. For instance, a brand reaching out to the young under-25 crowd a few years back would have used Instagram or Snapchat. Today, platforms like TikTok are more popular among this target group. Similarly, a video-based campaign would have targeted YouTube a few years back. Today, you have alternatives like Instagram that are more effective for this marketing medium.
5. Creating a calendar
Having a calendar that tells you when and how to share content is a great way to ensure you’re successful on social media. After all, when it comes to making your brand shine online – consistency is key. Your content marketing calendar should help you to define what types of content you’re going to post on social media, and how often you’re going to post.
6. Testing and improving your social media marketing plan
As with anything else in marketing, your social media marketing plan can (and should) constantly evolve and improve. The more you learn about your customers, and which techniques they respond to best, the more you can adapt your strategy to meet their needs. Of course, in order to improve your plan, you’ll need to track the right metrics, including:
Likes and follows.
Engagement through messages and comments.
Click-through from social media to your website.
The social media marketing strategy contenders: Which is right for you?
Now we come to the toughest part of any social media marketing strategy – choosing the platforms that are right for you.
We mentioned above that all social media platforms aren’t the same, and now we’re going to show you how deep that fact really goes. Since social media drives about 31% of all the referral traffic online, it’s crucial to make sure that you choose the right platform for your audience.
After all, if you’re posting fantastic content in place that your customers don’t visit – you’re not going to see great results.
Let’s take a look at some of the main contenders, and what they can offer your brand.
There are 100 million daily users on Snapchat, and 60% of those users are under the age of 24. In other words, Snapchat is a goldmine for businesses that are targeting younger users and millennials. Though Snapchat is only a temporary place to share marketing messages, it’s fleeting approach to sharing content has been hugely successful.
Besides its appealing demographics, there are a few key reasons that businesses love to use Snapchat for their social media marketing strategy:
It’s the best mobile video platform – focusing on vertical, rather than horizontal video.
Snapchat audience members are passionate, engaged, and ready to respond to messages.
Snapchat offers the chance to take advantage of curated content in your social media plan, leading to greater intimacy between brands and customers.
The audience on Facebook is pretty varied. As of 2016, the company had more than 1.79 billion active users every month, and 1 billion users each day. Overall, the largest demographic for Facebook is people between the ages of 18 and 29, and there are slightly more female users than male.
Today, Facebook is more of a powerful business tool for those adapting their social media marketing strategy than ever before, pushing new e-commerce features like a revamped video strategy, buy button, and other options that make it more accessible to the masses.
While there are plenty of ways you can use Facebook in your marketing strategy, some of the key areas include:
Boosting online sales.
Improving local sales.
Increasing brand awareness.
Offering customer service.
With approximately 500 million users on Instagram right now, and 59% of those checking the app daily, it’s clear to see that Instagram has is great for your social media marketing strategy. At Fabrik, we know better than most that visuals can add an extra-special dimension to your content that words sometimes can’t grasp.
Over a short period of time, Instagram has emerged as a crucial place for marketers to effectively display their brand to the world through video, images, and more. If you’re considering a visual social platform, then Instagram offers:
An image-focus: If your brand is visually focused, then Instagram allows the visual identity of your company to take centre stage.
Creative contexts: Users visit Instagram to make the most of interesting and beautiful images. Placing your content here means that you’re connecting with a creative and image-focused audience.
Passionate community: Instagram’s 500 million global users are generally active, engaged, and devoted to the brands they follow.
If that wasn’t enough, a lot of bloggers claim that Pinterest is actually one of the biggest drivers of traffic to their website. Whether you use it to show off demos and uses for your products, pin your images, or simply share relevant content, Pinterest is a platform that all brands should seriously consider using.
If your products include a lot of home décor, fashion, art, or anything else that you can create beautiful images with, then Pinterest is an obvious choice for you. Plus, with the “buy” button, you can make purchasing simple too.
The value of Twitter lies in the ability for your posts to go viral. The more people share your posts and retweet them, the more followers you will obtain. You can post recent news, articles, and updates, and keep in mind that hashtags make a big difference for your business too.
When it comes to your social media marketing strategy:
Twitter allows companies to give their customers an insight into the minds of industry leaders, which helps to build trust.
Listening to conversations on Twitter can help you to discover what’s happening in your industry right now, when it comes to things like your customers, community, or even your competitors.
LinkedIn has over 35 million monthly users. The interesting thing to note about LinkedIn, is where some platforms have overlap in their users, around 59% of LinkedIn users don’t use Twitter, while 13% avoid Facebook. This means you could be losing out on a serious portion of your audience.
If you’re running a B2B company, then LinkedIn might be the perfect social media network for you to concentrate on. It’s incredibly easy to connect with other business professionals on this network, as you can target people by job title, and industry.
However, while a lot of people think of LinkedIn exclusively as a professional networking site, it’s actually much more than this for many brands. As a hub for sharing information, LinkedIn allows like-minded people to connect with each other.
When it comes to your social media marketing strategy, LinkedIn says that the most successful brands:
Constantly keep followers updated on industry news.
Release new and engaging content that has been designed for their audience.
Add their voice into relevant industry conversations.
Last, but not least, YouTube has over a billion users. That’s more than a third of all the people on the internet. Besides being the second largest search engine around, YouTube belongs to Google. That means that when you’re focusing on Search Engine Optimisation, your YouTube videos will be better ranked than videos on other websites.
As today’s generations become more focused on looking for videos to get answers to their questions, it’s easy for brands to become a go-to expert for their target market with the right content. Combining written content and video content can create a powerful social media marketing strategy.
Using social media for cross-channel marketing
Okay, now you know which social media platforms you should be using (hopefully). The chances are that you’re going to want to know how to use your social media marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website.
While social media platforms have the potential to be one of your biggest sources of traffic, they also require a great deal of time and effort to maintain, which is why so many people turn to outsourcing professionals.
This might seem like obvious advice, but it’s often forgotten. Use a CTA in your social media post and a link that encourages people back to your website. No matter how much someone loves your brand, if you don’t make visiting your website easy, then they probably won’t bother. Make sure that your social media posts are a teaser for the bigger picture on your website.
2. Always use images
You might think that visuals are restricted to posts on Pinterest, Snapchat, or Instagram – but that’s not the case. If you’re sharing content that you want to have a real impact, then it’s important to include an image. Images are eye-catching and help you to attract more attention. What’s more, the right image can even make your posts more “shareable”.
On Facebook, posts with images get 39% more engagement, including images on Twitter increases engagement by up to 200%, while posts with images on LinkedIn get 98% more comments!
3. Add social sharing buttons to your website
It’s great when your social media marketing strategy begins to drive a lot of traffic to your website, but it’s even better when your followers can push that traffic for you. If your website doesn’t already have social sharing buttons, you might be missing out on some crucial traffic generated from people who already read your posts.
Social sharing buttons offer convenience to your buyers, and act as a gentle way to push customers into helping you advertise your business and improve brand awareness.
4. Try sponsored or promotional content
Although it might not be the best thing for your budget, one of the quickest ways to drive more traffic from your social media marketing strategy is to use paid promotion. When you’re executing a good social media strategy to begin with, paid or sponsored content can help to rev up the experience.
You can experiment with different options for targeting the right audience, looking at things like gender, location, industry, and more, so you can expose your content to new people and deliver new traffic.
5. Be engaged and active
A lot of companies on social media are guilty of failing to update their social media pages often enough. While it can be difficult to stay on track without the help of a professional, the only way you can keep your audience engaged is to interact with people regularly.
Remember, social media can be more than a one-way conversation too. Engaging with your audience doesn’t just mean posting regular updates. You can also connect by responding to their comments, retweeting their posts, or getting back to them through private messages.
6. Be consistent
Finally, if you took the time to look at some companies who have a killer social media marketing strategy, you’d find that the best ones are always consistent with their activity. Regularly posting plenty of interesting, and high-quality content, while responding to comments, keeps your page lively.
Make sure that you’re consistent not just with your schedule, but with your brand image and voice too. People should know that they’re talking to you.
Designing your social media marketing strategy
Social media has quickly emerged as one of the most important aspect of any brand’s online marketing strategy. Without the right social media presence, it can be difficult to build the relationship that the modern customer needs to feel loyalty to your company, and trust you to deliver an exceptional experience.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply jump into social media head-first with no idea of what you’re doing. As difficult it as it might be to find the time to write down a solid social media marketing strategy, this plan can help to ensure that you stay on track throughout your entire campaign. Besides maintaining the consistency of your brand voice, and offering a strong schedule, social media marketing strategies can make sure that you’re communicating with the right people, at the right time, in the right place.
With a good social media marketing strategy, you can improve your traffic, build stronger customer connections, and skyrocket your sales.
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