Social media marketing is becoming the most important element for all businesses – every brand, every company has its own Facebook, Instagram & Twitter accounts withrevenue potential. But not all of them understand how to unlock that potential. The thing about potential is, without action, ‘potential’ is just a word. Many great brands have fallen victim to the potential of social platforms, spending money and time on programs and strategies that have never actually led to any results.
While social media can be a bit intimidating – social media is, after all, gamified by design, enticing you to try and ‘win’ by having more likes, followers, etc. Marketers need a goal and strategy to ensure you’re progressing towards actual business goals.
In order to do this, there are social media marketing foundations you need to consider in your social media strategy. These will help define your efforts while working towards building your brand with every post and every interaction, every day.
Overview of Social Media
Let’s start with the basics, what is social media marketing?
According to LinkedIn Learning, it is the process of using social media channels to reach a target audience with relevant information and promotion building trust, interaction, and sales.
But it is much more than that!
Businesses are investing in social media because of the following reasons:
- It provides access to your target audience
- Data, data, and more data
- It’s cost-effectiveness
- Coordination with other marketing approaches
- Can have an insight into the competition
- Offers results when you’re purpose-driven with its use.
For example, if a certain business is concerned about what people are saying about its brand, it could monitor social media conversations and respond to relevant mentions — Social Media Listing and Engagement. A business that wants to understand how it is performing on social media would analyze its reach, engagement, and sales on social media with an analytics tool — Social Media Analytics. A business that wants to reach a specific set of audience at scale would run highly-targeted social media ads — Social Media Advertising.
Develop A Documented Strategy
- Build a purpose-driven strategy
Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, you have to consider your business’ goals. Creating a social media marketing campaign without a strategy is like wandering around a forest without a map. You might have fun, but you’ll probably get lost.
A Social Media Strategy is a written document that maps how an organization plans to use certain social networks on a regular basis to achieve results. This includes:
- Customer identity
- Publishing frequency
- Needed resources
- Target channels
- Content types
- Paid advertising approach
- Customer service processes
- Define your audience
Start out your Social Media Strategy by defining your audience and decide what platforms they’re most likely to use. A mature strategy can be adapted to suit multiple platforms but in the beginning, it’s sensible to stay focused. A clear focus allows you to prioritize channels, topics, and content types.
Here’s how you’ll define your audience:
- Who is it for? – Identify what they want, and how you can serve them.
- Create a customer persona – Profile of your customers plus details based on their:
- Demographics & Behaviours
- Conduct surveys, qualitative research, or run a focus group
- Be sure to use multiple sources of data
- Create an editorial calendar
Here’s why you need to have an editorial calendar:
- It keeps social media efforts goal-focused and organized.
- It facilitates team collaboration
- You will be able to properly research your blog posts and the keywords you use
- You can plan your content to support your campaigns
- You can maintain a consistent posting schedule
Editorial calendar is a document on a spreadsheet or within marketing software that organizes what you share on social media, on which channels, and when. But how do you plan it? We’ve listed down 3 easy steps to plan your calendar.
Step #1: Select a tool. It could be:
- Google sheets
- Asana (This is what our agency uses)
Choose a tool that best suits the number of contributors you need to collaborate on a calendar, what functionality you’re looking for, and how complex your calendar is going to be. Once you’ve selected the perfect tool for you, it is important that you will be able to look at your calendar and easily understand what social posts are scheduled on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This way you can jump between looking at the daily details and the larger picture.
Step #2: Define how you’ll differentiate the message you plan to send from different channels
For some businesses, they label their upcoming social media posts like Facebook posts in blue and their Instagram posts in pink to make the difference clear to all contributors. When mapping out what content will be shared, some businesses like to include the exact copy and media they plan to post on the calendar itself, or simply make a note of when a social media post is going to live and on which channel.
Step #3: Look for tools with a calendar functionality (optional)
These tools will allow you to schedule your social media posts directly from the calendar itself for more streamlined publishing. It could be:
Make sure your calendar is actionable and facilitates process rather than creating more questions.
Finding The Right Channels
If you ask other marketing people about a good strategy, and they answer you, “You need to be active on every social media network”,this is a myth and bad advice. The correct approach to social media is investing in a smart mix of channels. As part of our social media strategy, you want to make informed decisions about which channels make the most sense for your business to use to reach your customers.
The importance of your choosing the right channel for your business is that having an impact on a social network and driving business value from your presence requires a serious investment of time and resources. You don’t want to waste your time and resources on the wrong social networks. Instead, you should focus on selecting ones that are best suited to help you achieve your goals.
Every organization has its own unique mix of channels, these are a few keys for choosing the right social network for you:
- Research a channel’s audience – this will determine if your customers are active here.
- Review research studies – Social media has high-quality, third party sources like eMarketer, Pew Research, Social Media Examiner, and Business Insider Intelligence. These organizations provide data, trends, and analysis of how consumers and businesses use social media and the most common demographics of each of these networks
- Discover how channels are distinct – this will help your business choose the right destination for communicating with your customers.
Leading Social Media Networks
You’ll definitely succeed as a marketer if you’ll closely monitor where your customers are focusing their attention, and then adapt your efforts to reach them on those channels.
A powerful way to get your customers attention is by communicating on the most popular social networks with the largest active audiences. These are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube. These should be on your top considerations when choosing which channels are right for you because of their high number of monthly active users.
Let’s go down with these lists and define these channels by highlighting what makes them distinct for business using them to connect with their customers.
First, Facebook. Did you know that it has 2.4 billion monthly active users? It is most widely known and the largest social network! It has a wide variety of features and use. A certain business can use Facebook to share text, video, images, stories and live video, as well as use its range of advertising options to effectively target any demographic on the platform.
Next is Instagram, (owned by Facebook), the most popular social media app currently. Its main focus is sharing visual content like images, short-form and long-form videos. It is also considered as the online mall of today’s generation. According to Instagram, 60% of people say that they find new products on this platform because businesses are able to share and market their offerings visually. Check out our previous blog post, Instagram Marketing: A Trend.
The third is Twitter. It is referred to as society’s megaphone. Twitter is a social messaging service where users are limited to 280 characters of text and can be reposted by its audience. Also, twitter serves up-to-the-minute news source for the world’s current events, the platform is best used in joining trending conversations and communicating with customers one-to-one.
Another major social channel is LinkedIn, which is a professional network for users looking to connect with industry to showcase their expertise and improve their professional skills. Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is a business-focused platform for companies looking to target and recruit qualified talent and highlighting a company’s work culture.
Last but not least is YouTube, a Google-owned platform for watching videos online from consumers, businesses and influencers, covering every subject from makeup to movies. Businesses can launch a YouTube channel to share and promote their offerings with ads before, during or after a popular video is played on the platform.
Develop Your Content Series
Let’s face it, your customers don’t like promotional messaging and they really don’t like advertising disrupting their entertainment. So, you’ll need to learn why creating valuable content for social media is a more viable option.
Social media works because your audience can see what you’re sharing, and then choose whether or not to follow, and opt into receiving your messaging. This is more effective than being interrupted by a tv commercial, or being forced to watch an ad before viewing a Youtube video.
Producing valuable content on social media helps your business not only earn permission to message your customer again but build solid trust and rapport with them. This means sharing a blog, video, or another form of content that educates, entertains, or convinces your audience to take action.
Repetition helps our brain form memories. You want to build a positive memory of your business with your customer base by regular posting on social media and that’s how a content series is done. A content series is similar to a TV show because it addresses the same overall theme from the same source, but each episode tackles something different. This can be a series of articles on your blog, a photo series on Instagram, or a video series. These series will allow you to set a schedule with your audience. It sets expectations, so they’ll begin to form a memory that says, every Wednesday, you publish a new video.
Though it’s time-consuming and resource-intensive, regular sharing will surely increase your engagement. Establishing a content series can help because it sets a schedule for when the content will be published. It’ll keep your team on track.
Sharing different kinds of content with your audience on social media will make you accomplish three things:
- You’ll stand out amongst the noise
- You’ll reach a diverse mix of people
- You’ll address a wide range of customer issues.
Here are leading types of content worth sharing on social media and including in your content series:
- Foundational Content – Explains your offerings without being promotional
- Customer-Focused Content – Content created to answer questions or address issues for existing customers
- Timely Content – When your organization ties your content efforts with current events
- Repurposed Content – Published elsewhere that is being used again.
Check out our previous blog post, Introduction to Content Marketing for further discussion about your social media content.
Publishing Best Practices
- Frequency of Publishing
“When should I be posting on social media?”, “How often?” These are the common questions we get in starting your social media marketing. The answer is, you have to have to find the right balance. You don’t want to publish so frequently that your audience forgets about your content, but you don’t want to publish too often.
There isn’t a perfect formula in figuring out the appropriate frequency but there are a variety of factors that are specific to your business.
First, be data-driven. If you are already active on social media, review your existing data to determine when your content on each channel received the most engagement.
Second, how often you’re sharing is impacted by the nature of the platform you choose. For example, Twitter is a really fast-paced social network than Facebook or LinkedIn. Its content is shared much more frequently. So if you’re investing in Twitter, you might diminish the visibility of your previously shared posts.
Third, consider the content format. If you’re publishing blog posts of Youtube videos on social media, you’re not going to be able to share those as frequently as you would on images or purely text-focused updates. This is because these formats of content are more resource-intensive and require a longer production timeline.
The last thing to consider is to set expectations with your audience. You are letting your audience know when and what you are going to post. For example, you’re letting your audience know that you’ll be sharing a podcast episode every Saturday and Quotes/Tips on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This public declaration will keep you on schedule because you’re now publicly accountable.
- Choosing the right copy
In choosing the right copy, your choice of words matters. Whether you’re composing an ad orcrafting the title of a Youtube video, the copies you’re writing on social media has an impact. We’ve listed down some tips on how to write a copy for your social media to increase the effectiveness of every post you’re sharing.
- Refer to your company’s style guide – Align your social media copy with your messaging elsewhere. The goal of this style guide is to communicate with your audience from one unified perspective with the same tone, using the grammar style, and usage guide. This will serve as your foundation on how you should direct your social media copywriting efforts.
- Content series informs copy – Each content series should inform what copy you’ll need to update on each network. For example, Facebook and Twitter. For twitter, since tweets are short, it’s easier to compose a copy in short and snappy sentences that present your brand’s expertise, alongside a distinct personality. For Facebook, posts are usually photos of a particular item paired with a few paragraphs of text. Facebook is a more ideal platform to share a longer copy. For every content series and channel you’re active on, adapt the copy you’re including accordingly, whether you’ll alter the length of the copy or its tone.
- One post, one goal – Is the copy included meant to encourage clicking on a link? Does it provide context for a photo you’re sharing? Do you want them to purchase a product? Or do you want to increase awareness? The goal of every post you’re sharing on social media should direct what copy you’re including, so you’ve got to prioritize one goal per post.
- Think like your audience – Write what will delight and motivate your audience for them to take action. This could be in a highly professional tone, a conversational exchange, or humorous quips. Always remember that every post is just one piece of a larger picture.
- Using visual media
Did you know our brains can process an image in 13 milliseconds? Much more quickly than when we comprehend text. That is why most brands use images to approach their audience. They can get the message across to your audience at a great speed when you use an image. Also, visuals insight emotions will make the message easy to remember later on.
In creating your images for social media, there are few things in mind:
- Ensure correct size – Make sure that the size of your visual is according to the dimensions of a certain social network. You can get the sizing specifics for each social network, look up Sprout Social’s Free and Always Up-To-Date Guide on the proper dimensions.
- Be consistent across your campaign – Make everything a recognizable part of your company’s messaging. Establish guidelines as to which fonts, logos, colour palettes, and the types of images are allowed to be used in social media to foster consistency.
- Aim for simplicity – Do not complicate your visual. Consider the clarity and contrast of your visuals. No area of your image should draw so much attention that it cannot see it’s other and important aspects.
- Prioritize quality – Whether you’re designing your own image or sourcing it from elsewhere, never share a blurry, poorly designed image.
- Use tools and create templates – Tools like Photoshop, Adobe Spark, and Canva can be a great help in developing captivating images for sharing on social media without the help of a designer. If you want to develop your own visual, you can pull images from stock photo libraries and use them as is or edit them according to your branding. You can find a variety of copyright-free and quality images: Unsplash, Death to Stock Photo, and New Old Stock. Invest in the right ones for social media to convey your brand’s method, vision, and mission concisely.
- Encouraging User-Generated Content
Supplying your social channels is always never enough, you’ll always need more content. One way of solving this is to use content created by your audience. User-Generated Content of UGC is best defined as images, articles, tweets and any other content created by your audience. For example, if a person shares an image of their favourite makeup products displayed on their dresser, and tags the brand, this is UGC. This is an effective endorsement for your brand because people nowadays trust others in their network more than the brand.
Sharing UGC from your social media account saves time and resources that you can allocate elsewhere. Start by searching for mentions and hashtags related to your brand on social media. Make sure to provide credit to the author and let them know you’ve been featured which is often very exciting for your audience. When you feature content from a customer on your social accounts, they’re often thrilled at the opportunity and excited to see that you’re paying attention.
Identify your brand’s hashtag so that it’ll be easy for your audience to share content about your brand.
- Republish Past Content
Not everything you’re sharing/posting on social media has to be new. Re-sharing your content from the past is beneficial for keeping your social accounts updated with useful, and relevant information. Republishing content is the act of sharing something that you’ve shared before. This doesn’t mean to use the same material, it means mixing it with your other and current content. Content that is worth republishing must be evergreen in order to make sense to share again,meaning it isn’t timely and doesn’t expire.
Republishing content is beneficial because it drives more traffic to what you’re sharing. It also keeps the interest of your audience, stretches your limited resources, and drives more awareness to your content. For content creations, check out our previous blog post, 4 tips on choosing the best content to share on social media
Think of this article as the foundational rules you should follow. Once you have mastered these basics, you can already bend or ignore this in a creative way to enhance your brand. Innovation is essential. Though it’s a trial and error process, sometimes you’ll do something on social media that’s original, impactful, and well-received. But there will be times it’ll be radio silence.
Go beyond best practices! Continue to test new ways of communication on social media to see what will help your brand to stand out.
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