What is Social Media Marketing – The Comprehensive Guide

Social media marketing, as you can probably guess from the name, is about using social media platforms to connect with your audience, building your brand, driving traffic, and increasing sales.
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What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing, as you can probably guess from the name, is about using social media platforms to connect with your audience, building your brand, driving traffic, and increasing sales. But what is less obvious is how to go about this! The main steps include producing quality content, engaging with your followers and listening to them, as well as paying for ads. And once you’ve put this into motion, you’ll then need to analyse the results. 

Thankfully, there are loads of social media management tools you can use to help you get the most out of social media, as well as save you time. Obviously some are better than others, and you may not wish to invest too much money in them if you’re just a small business. But these sorts of tools can be invaluable when creating a social media strategy. We’ve outlined the basics of social marketing below!

Social Media Platforms

When it comes to choosing which social platforms to focus your efforts on, there are several to choose from. The main platforms currency include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat. 

You may need to experiment a little on which platforms get you the most traction, but prioritisation will also depend on your industry, and what products or services you offer. Essentially, it’s about who your target audience is. For instance, if you’re marketing to a younger audience, making fun videos to put on TikTok is probably a good idea. Or if you’re trying to appeal to arty people, advertising on Pinterest may be a good avenue to take. 

 

Why Use Social Media Marketing?

Becoming truly successful on most social platforms is not only hard work, it’s also a slow process. You’ll often need an element of luck too! So is it really worth the amount of time and effort you’d need to invest? The simple answer is yes – as with any (mostly) organic marketing strategy, once you’ve laid down solid groundwork, you’ll consistently see results for years to come. Because once people know and respect your brand, they’ll keep coming back! 

Social media marketing can also be used in a variety of ways. For example, social listening can be great for finding out what people are saying about your brand, and any improvements that may be necessary. Social media ads can be useful for reaching specific audiences, and analysing your social data can help your business gain more followers, which can in turn lead to higher website traffic and sales. 

 

Creating a Social Media Strategy

While it’s tempting to just start posting things on social media to hopefully build up your audience, it’s probably a good idea to think about your social strategy first. The initial consideration should be what your goals are. Are you trying to simply gain followers and boost your brand awareness? Are you using social media to determine what people think of your brand? Or perhaps the primary goal is to drive traffic and sales. Once you know your main goals, you can then start to consider which social platforms you can use to achieve these.

Part of this will be about considering your audience. Which platforms do they use most often? Will your target demographic use particular social platforms for different purposes? The best example of this would be LinkedIn – although many people do use this platform, it may not be the best way to reach an audience, unless you’re a recruitment agency!

In terms of your audience, you also need to think about what type of content you’re sharing, and what would appeal to them most. Videos are getting more and more popular, and you could even consider starting a podcast. And obviously images work well on most social platforms! With the content itself, try to consider the tone too – should it be funny, sweet, or educational, for example. Ask yourself what benefit your content offers to your audience.

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Consistency is Key

Once you’ve got your social media strategy in place, you need to make sure that you’re consistently posting content which will appeal to your target audience. You should post at least a few times a week on each social channel, and make sure your content stays on brand. 

Getting the timings right can be challenging if you’re just posting directly onto social media platforms, but you can make it much simpler by using tools like Buffer. With Buffer, you can schedule your posts ahead of time, so that they’re published at the right date and time.

 

Listening and Engagement

It’s important to remember that you can’t just publish things into the void, and hope to see results. You also need to engage with your audience, responding to various comments and messages. Let them know that you’re human, and not just a faceless organisation. 

When it comes to social listening, you can monitor the conversations people are having about your brand. If they’re positive comments, you can reach out and show your appreciation, maybe surprising a few lucky people with free gifts. And if you see negative comments, you can offer your support, hopefully resolving the situation before it gets any worse.

 

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Advertising on Social Media

You may not want to invest a lot of money in social media, but it really does pay off in the long run. And there are ways to run a successful social campaign on a small budget, if you really can’t afford to spend loads! With some platforms, like Facebook, it’s actually really hard to gain traction without investing money in paid advertising. Just set yourself a firm budget, and make sure you track which strategies are successful!

Most platforms will allow you to create target audiences too, based on the demographics you’re targeting, as well as their behaviours and interests. Not to mention the fact that you can reach a much wider audience on social media than a lot of other marketing platforms.

Analysing Your DatA

It’s absolutely crucial that you track the results from your social campaigns. If you don’t know how well your strategy is performing, how will you know where to make improvements? So compare monthly data, looking into things like how many people you’re reaching and how many positive mentions you’re getting. And of course factor in how much you’re spending!