9/10 businesses maintain an active social media presence, while 66% of businesses believe it's an essential strategy for their business.
Social media is now a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, with over 2 billion users worldwide. If your business chooses to ignore the potential of social media, you're missing out on direct contact with the people you want to partner with your business. We're going to show you why you should use social media as a marketing tool.
- Inbound and Social Media
- Setting Social Goals & Objectives
- The Social Platforms Explained
- Hiring a Social Team
- Social Tools
- Defining a Budget
- Creating a Social Strategy
- Start Creating Content
- Analysing Social Output
1. Inbound Marketing & Social Media
Inbound marketing is all about creating and promoting content at the customers' convenience. That’s what makes social media the perfect method to promote an inbound campaign.
After all, what could be more convenient than accessing helpful information at the touch of a button?Organic social media allows you to interact with customers and prospects whenever and wherever they are. While paid social media gives you the ability to target people based on their interests, location, or age range and puts your business in front of them.
Consider content to be the letters in the sorting office and social media to be the post van that delivers them.
Once you've created engaging content and promoted it to attract and delight boundless followers, you can engage with them. This will turn them into promoters who’ll champion your brand via the strongest marketing method — social sharing and word of mouth.
Sounds good, right? Of course it does. But if you’re not sure what you want to achieve or why your business is investing time and effort on social media, what’s the point?
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2. Set Clear Goals & Objectives
Without clear goals and objectives for your social output, you’ll be making a lot of noise, but no one will be paying attention! It’ll be haphazard and random, plus there’ll be no way of tracking if you’ve achieved anything.
That’s where an inbound social media strategy comes in. By creating a strategy, you’ll identify what the best practices are for your social output. You should consider the channels you're posting from and the content being posted on these channels.
Not only will implementing a strategy amplify your other marketing efforts, but it’ll also build a strong online brand.
That brand will make your company recognisable and give a personal touch to everything you do.
These brands had some clear goals in mind which can change depending on your industry. Here are some examples of goals and metrics you could aim for at the beginning of your company's social media campaign;
- Increase Instagram engagement by 20% — This is helpful because unlike ‘followers’ it’s not a vanity metric. For example, you could aim to increase followers by 20%. But, if you have lots of followers and nobody engaging or converting, there's nothing behind that goal.
- Increase Facebook leads by 10% — This might be the number of clicks to download content. Measuring the ROI for this with an online business is easier. If you have a shop, for example, it can be harder to tell what brought customers to your door.
These are metrics tied to a bigger overarching goal which could be something like, increase brand awareness or boost turnover by x amount. The structure looks like this:
First, the goal is created, and then it has a metric attached to it, from there the strategy is defined, and eventually, the results can be analysed. The cycle repeats each time as new goals are completed and defined.
Now we've established the basics, why don’t we take a look at each of the most popular platforms:
3. The Social Platforms Explained
Facebook — 1.59 billion users
The big dog of the social channels. Facebook may not have been the first platform to gain wide popularity; that would be MySpace. For our younger readers, ask your parents, or your older sibling.
When MySpace faded into obscurity, Facebook dominated by providing users with an experience they’d never had before. It was first created to connect people around the world, but over time has adapted to become a hub of information for both businesses and users.
There are several ways in which your business can benefit from Facebook marketing using both organic and paid advertising.
Youtube — 1 billion users
These days there's more to youtube than cat videos, and it’s changed marketing drastically.
“Did you know: 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.”
A video is one of the best ways to connect with your customers in a meaningful and engaging way. Making use of the platform and curating a channel of content means your social presence is heightened. It also allows your company's personality to shine through.
Take a look at some of the examples below to see how other companies have used video content.
This video by ASOS is simple and effective. One of the key points to note is that they have used subtitles in the video.
When sharing a video on Facebook, the autoplay feature means it will play without the user clicking on it. Having subtitles means they're more likely to stay and watch because they don't need to put the sound on to engage.
Think about how on the move audiences don't want someone's voice blaring out of their phone in the office or on the train.
Videos like this one from Hubspot are simple and easy to make, and most of the time all you need is a good quality smartphone and some editing software to make it happen.
LinkedIn — 1 billion users
Linkedin is the biggest social channel after Facebook and Youtube.
Linkedin has a strictly business-focused clientele. It’s a way for professionals and businesses to network, as well as find job candidates and join industry groups. It's the perfect promotional platform for businesses.
Benefits for a business LinkedIn include:
- Researching individuals and companies to prospect
- Find out more about a candidate for a vacancy
- Build your profile as an industry thought leader
- Network in LinkedIn groups
- Promote your business through targeted LinkedIn Ads
Instagram — 400 million
If you’re planning on upping your business's Insta game, you better be ready to get down with the kids, as 90% of Instagram users are under 35.
However, if you’re looking to push your brand and engage followers and fans with great visual content, Instagram might be the best of the lot.
Did you know?
Engagement on Instagram is 10x higher than Facebook, and a huge 84x higher than Twitter!
With Instagram, you have a better opportunity to connect with followers. It allows you to be personal and relatable by posting more behind-the-scenes images that reflect your company culture.
Other ways you can use Instagram to benefit your business are:
Paid adverts and story highlights — Instagram ads can be slotted into feeds in a way that makes them look like normal posts. This makes the click rate on these ads higher, and they also appear less intrusive than traditional advertising.
Instagram stories allow you to make quick behind-the-scenes videos and updates directly to followers, if you reach the dizzy heights of 10,000 followers, they allow you to swipe up to a linked page.
Influencer marketing — influencers create a massive amount of content on Instagram, with the top 50 of them totalling 3.1 billion followers. Companies pay influencers or give them free products to promote to their followers.
Direct shopping — you can now install a Facebook shop on your business page and then import it to Instagram. Browsers can click on items they like and be taken directly to the purchase page on the website.
Twitter — 320 million users
On average, 500 million tweets are sent out every day, along with 350,000 hours of live video.
However, due to Twitter’s strict 280 character count, you can’t wax lyrical about the various intricacies of your product. You’re going to have to sum up who you are, and what makes your product/service special in a short statement.
Twitter is a hard nut to crack when it comes to promoting your business, it helps if you have a personal presence so you can engage as an individual. Some companies use Twitter cleverly.
Showing your sense of humour can help with your brand awareness and give your tweets a human touch. Take a look at this tweet from Sainsbury's:
Before getting to grips with the plan and implementation of your strategy, it’s good to know who'll be in your team — and more importantly, what skills and experience they have.
4. Hiring A Social Team
What does your social team look like?
Social media teams are a creative and forward thinking bunch who need to have their finger on the pulse. They keep customers up-to-date with the latest information and attract new ones with helpful content and entertaining posts.
Most social media teams start as a one-man band, perhaps someone who has another main role in your business but knows a thing or two about social.
As time goes on and you start to build your empire, it’s important to think about hiring a Social Media Manager.
That person's role is to create and deliver your social content, then analyse it afterwards. You may end up with a full team of social gurus with different skills.
Think about the businesses you engage with on social media, what skills do you think it takes to create their content?
Every business is different, and the way your social team develops will be different too. Budget and time constraints will lend a hand in deciding the size of your team, but just having a social presence is definitely a start.
Another avenue to explore is a social media agency. It takes away the costs of a Social Manager's monthly salary and gives you a whole team worth of skills to utilise. Hiring an agency whose purpose is to provide quality social content means you can rest easy. Plus they already have the tools and structure in place to get the job done.
Want to learn more about social media marketing agencies? Take a look at our article on what hiring an agency can do for you.
5. Social Tools
What are the best tools for the job?
Finding the right tools for your social media marketing is the next hurdle to leap over. Luckily we have a blog detailing all of our favourite tools and how we use them to build social engagement for our clients.
However, that list isn't comprehensive, and if there isn’t something on it you think would work for you, it might be time to look at your “social tool goals”. In other words, what do you need the tools to do? Often this can include:
- Managing multiple social channels in one place
- Scheduling content
- Reposting user-generated content
- Managing multiple users who need access and publishing rights
Once you've evaluated everything you need from a social tool and checked out our article to help, you’re on course to mastering the art of social media marketing.
6. Defining A Budget
What do you need to consider when allocating spend to your social?
When forming a budget for your social media spending, you need to think about every aspect and analyse what it’ll cost. That way you don’t end up with any unexpected surprises.
The easiest way is to break down your costs into a few different chunks:
Once you've established a team, researched your tools and confirmed your budget developing a strategy should be a piece of cake, surely? Not quite.
It’s now time to put all your efforts together and create goals and deliverables you can then break down into a day to day posting strategy and finally, the work begins.
7. Creating a Social Strategy
What should your strategy look like?
The key element of any strategy is the content you'll be posting and developing; it forms the base of what you'll post each day.
Let's think of an example business and what a week in their social media might look like to give you an idea:
This is Rick, he runs a men's clothing shop.
Rick employs Sam to work part-time and manage his social media.
After doing initial research, they've decided the platforms best for marketing their business are Instagram and Facebook. This is due to the visual element of the business and the high user engagement on these two platforms. Furthermore, they have settled on Hootsuite to do their scheduling; because Sam works part-time, he can schedule content for when he isn’t in the shop.
Next, it’s time for them to generate the content, this is in the form of product photos. Sam take lots of photos of the shop layout, the new range of clothes they have for the season and uses Canva to design some social graphics.
Now it’s time for the strategy development. Rick's business is in its infancy, and he's keen to raise awareness in the local area and get people who are on social media talking. The two come up with a few structured social goals for the first month:
- Hit 100 followers on Instagram
- Hit 100 likes on Facebook
- Start to build a brand style on social media
- Become part of an engaging online community
So the goals have been set, and now it’s time to see what the day-to-day strategy would be. Here's an example of a weekly strategy for achieving those social targets:
This is a very basic strategy, but it’s a great start and gives you plenty to go at for creating one of your own.
The next steps would be to decide what times of day to post, what the captions would be, and insert relevant hashtags and links. After the first month, you can change things once you’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.
Take a look at our article on creating a social media strategy for some extra insight.
8. Start Creating Content
When creating social media content, it’s important to remember the three reasons why people use social media:
- They want to be informed
- They want to be educated
- They want to be entertained
Creating social content that achieves one or two of these is something, but content that achieves all three means you’re onto a winner!
When creating a post, think about what the purpose of the post is. Is it to inform followers of a product? Are you including a link that you want people to click onto? Or are you just looking to generate some interest and get people talking?
Think about social media like this; it’s a global conversation that’s going on all around the world, and it’s happening all the time. There’s so much out there for people to see. If you aren't clear about what you want from your followers and your content, no-one’s going to be looking at what you’re offering!
Another important aspect of your content is the tone and style. Your brand has a distinct character and culture, and your social media needs to encompass that.
Take a look at these two posts from Boots, one takes more of a sales approach, and one is more humorous but still brand related.
If you forget about the personal side of your brand and only post sales-focused content, you could lose the interest of your audience. People want to be entertained, so create posts that have humour and show your business isn’t just on social media to sell!
Did you know
4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product rather than read about it.
As today’s generation has grown accustomed to taking in information visually rather than textually, so video also needs to form part of your main content.
9. Analysing Social Media Output
You’ve been posting for a month, now it’s time to examine the impact of social media on marketing!
Social media is all about adapting to change. While it makes sense to have a strategy, if you make it too rigid you'll never find something that works for your customers.
After you've been posting for at least a month, conduct an audit of all your social content and gather metrics and analytics.
These are the key things to analyse:
- Engagement metrics — this is clicks and interactions, and how many people have liked and shared your post, as well as clicked on a link to your external content
- Publishing metrics — the amount of content you’re sending out
- Audience demographics — what kind of people are engaging with your content (age, location, background, field of work)
- Channel-specific metrics — things like retweets
From this, you’ll identify which posts are performing best, and what kind of content is gaining the most attention from followers.
You’ll also identify which content works best on which channel. Remember, each channel has a different purpose, so sending out the same post on all your channels isn't the best way to do things.
You'll need to resize images according to each platform, as well as change or delete hashtags and links.
You can analyse your efforts through native apps. Facebook and Instagram analytics will give you detailed insights into your post-performance. Plus, if you do sign up to a paid scheduling tool, they'll have their own way of analysing your content and creating downloadable reports.
What are you waiting for?
Set off on your path to social media success
Now you have all the information you need to use social media as a marketing tool, it’s time to grow your business.
Use the key points above to get you started and remember it’s all about trial and error. Not everything you make will go viral, and some things might flop completely, but that’s alright.
Don’t be afraid of putting yourself and your business out there, it’s the best way to get seen and heard by the millions of people using social channels.
Social Media Resources
Access some of our most popular resources to improve your knowledge of social media.
- Social Media Marketing Companies: What Do They Offer? [blog]
- How to Set Up Business Social Media Plans & Accounts [blog]
- The Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing [Guide]
- Create SMART Goals for Social Media [template]
- Create Buyer Personas for Social Media [template]
- How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Your Business! [blog]
- Blog: 20 LinkedIn Profile Tips for Business Owners [blog]
- Using LinkedIn for Your Business: 10 Tips [blog]
- How to Use Google Analytics for Social Media [blog]
- 4 Social Media Tools to Grow Your Business [blog]
- Power Up Your Social Media Plan With Paid Social Advertising [blog]
- Social Listening: Why it’s Important for Your Business [blog]