A Guide To Social Media Marketing

Everything you need to get started

Social media; an overview.

Over the past decade social media has completely changed the way we live our lives. It’s become so integrated with our day-to-day activities that it’s hard to think of a world without it. Not only does it provide us with a platform to connect with people from all over the world, it’s also become a primary source for real-time news, industry-leading information, gaming, webinars, online collaborations, and even shopping.

With so many people already connected and social platforms constantly increasing and improving their offerings, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away any time soon.
Read on to find out how you can utilise the power of social media to boost your brand awareness, customer relations and online presence.

What is social media marketing?

Have you ever “followed” a brand on Instagram and found yourself marvelling at how consistent their page looks? That’s not a coincidence.  Social Media Marketing is using the power of various, individual social platforms to get your audience and would-be customers to engage with your brand.

A lot of businesses meticulously plan and curate their online content to appeal to their target audience. Whether that’s taking and editing photos to create a seamless Instagram page, or posting big giveaways on their Facebook. It’s very rare that successful businesses do their social media on a whim.

Colour palettes, branding and “tone of voice” are all things that should be considered when posting from a business account.

Circular image of a couple sat in a cafe, scrolling through an app on a shared mobile phone

What are the benefits of using social media marketing for my business?

Smart businesses know just how valuable good social media marketing is. Over the past few years social media has really impacted the way we market our businesses.

It allows your brand to communicate directly with customers and build long-term trust and community online. Not only can you attract new customers and gain new followers, you can appeal to existing customers too and create repeat business.

It’s also important to maintain and update your social media accounts as your competitors will also be online trying to win these customers too. As most social media platforms are free to use, it seems like a no-brainer to be using them to your advantage.


Use Social Media To Build Your Online Presence

Social media is a great way to get your business seen online. By creating accurate profiles and using the right hashtags you can gain followers and see a rise in likes, shares and comments. Not only will this help you attract a wider audience, you should also see an increase in your website traffic from the links you’ve provided in social posts and in the ‘bio’ part of your respective online profiles.

Generate awareness and new leads for your business

Competitions are a great way to attract new people to your social media page. There are numerous ways of running competitions online and you might choose to run the same competition across all your social media channels or create a different prize for each platform you use.

For instance, if you were a restaurant, you may choose to run a competition to win a meal for two and ask followers to enter the competition by leaving a comment on the post tagging in who they’d bring. This means followers may tag in people who don’t necessarily follow you, exposing your business to a new audience.

Go live on social media channels. You could run a giveaway, host a Q&A or do a “how to” video. Be sure to promote the event before it happens so people know when to tune in. Instagram offers the opportunity for two accounts to go live together, this could be a great way of teaming up with another business to “share” followers.

Some businesses even run combined giveaways, where each business donates a prize and customers get entered into the competition by following each account and commenting on the prize post/sharing it to their stories.

Add website links on your social posts. If you’re posting about your business, it’s always a good idea to include your website link (linking to a relevant page is even better). This boosts your site traffic and also gives you another way of seeing what your followers are engaging with online.

 

Is there a difference between personal and business social media accounts?

When you’re creating posts for your business the content should be a little more refined than it would be on a personal account.

You may have a relaxed approach to spelling and punctuation on your personal accounts, you may post pictures from nights out and family holidays, and share your personal opinions and ideas with your followers.

When it comes to your business account you should be a bit more disciplined. Spelling and punctuation should be the best they can possibly be; if this isn’t a strength of yours try asking a colleague or family member to double-check it for you.

“I want you to know how much we value the SEO work which your team are undertaking for us. Your energy and experience has been so helpful as we position ourselves as the trusted legal advisors during this crisis in the region.”

Peter Taylor – Managing Partner

Paris Smith Law Firm

You should also strive to keep the content and style of your business accounts more professional. Selfies, offensive memes and long rants are probably all things you’ll want to steer clear of.

However, that’s not to say business accounts have to be serious and monotonous, you’ll just need to work on developing both your brand voice and tone. These form a major part of your online presence. Essentially your voice is the consistent message and attitude that you want to communicate online and the tone is how you’ll go about doing it. The tone you use online will vary from platform to platform, as you’ll be speaking to different audiences with different preferences for consuming content.

If more than one person will be posting from your social media accounts, be sure to agree on a set of “do’s and don’ts” to keep your voice and tone consistent, regardless of who’s posting.

Once you start posting you’ll begin to realise that social media is constantly evolving and the way that you communicate will evolve too. Above all, have a bit of fun with your content, introduce staff members (if they’re comfortable with it), showcase your office/work space, and share your products and knowledge.

Decide what social platforms will be worthwhile for your business

With so many social media platforms available it may seem like an impossible task to create enough content to cover them all.

It’s important to identify which social media channels are right for your business.

Your buyer personas can also help you decide which platforms are best for you. Consider what social media websites your target audience are most likely to be using and make those your priority.

You may think that the more places your brand is visible, the more likely you are to be seen, but if your brand isn’t relevant to the audience your speaking to then you’re not going to see the results from your efforts.

Here’s an overview of the top social media channels you should consider:

Facebook

Users: over 2.6 billion monthly active users ( Statista, 2020

What is it? Currently the most popular social media platform. It’s a fantastic platform to showcase all the important information on your business.

Pros: Great for building brand awareness. Posts can include images, video text and links. It’s also introduced a feature that supports eCommerce.

Cons: Not widely trusted by users.

Twitter

Users: 166 million daily active users (Statista, 2020)

What is it? Ultimately it’s a micro-blogging platform that is a great way of

live-tracking current events.

Pros: Great for sharing news and content, perfect for brands that blog a lot. Good for customer relations.

Cons: Posts have limited character availability, limited to four photos per tweet.

Instagram

Users: 1 billion monthly active users (Statista 2018)

What is it? A photo-sharing app that has people posting perfectly curated moments. From flat whites to flat lays, it’s a platform for the visually inclined.

Pros:
Has the option to add “shoppable” posts, Instagram stories are a good way of interacting with followers.

Cons: You can’t add links to regular posts, so it’s not the best for driving traffic to your website.

LinkedIn

Users:  260 million+ monthly active users.(Kinsta, 2020)

What is it? It’s a social media platform centred around professional networking and career development. It provides opportunity to interact with other businesses in your industry and reach out to those who may require your services.

Pros:
Great for industry-related news. Useful for prospecting and recruiting.

Cons:
You’re unlikely to build up a following of potential customers here.

Youtube

Users: 2 million monthly active users. (Statista 2019)

What is it? A video-centric platform. Users can upload/watch videos and interact by commenting, liking and sharing.

Pros: Great for creatively showcasing/reviewing products, or creating demonstrations and “how to’s”. Followers are more likely to engage with video content.

Cons: Can be resource intensive, so sometimes it’s not an ideal use of time for small businesses.

Snapchat

Users: 360 million monthly active users (WeAreSocial, 2019)

What is it? A multimedia messaging app. Users can send “snaps” (a picture or a short video) which ultimately self-destruct after they are viewed. Or upload to their story feed.

Pros: Less advertising competition so you’re more likely to be seen. The option to create a geo-filter is great for site-specific events.

Cons: Snapchat is used for showcasing stories and behind the scenes content so It’s not a platform that will benefit every business.

Tiktok

Users: 800 million monthly active users (Hootsuite, 2020)

What is it? An app designed for creating and sharing short videos. Users often participate in viral challenges, such as dances or miming to songs. It is particularly popular with Gen-Z users.

Pros: It was the most downloaded app of Q1 2020, participating in challenges can be a way to showcase a fun side to your business.

Cons: It’s an app where camera-phone footage is the preferred format. It requires a fair bit of time and effort to complete “challenges”, so it may be seen as too time consuming to be of any benefit.

Pinterest

Users: 367 million monthly active users (as of 2020 Q1)

What is it? A website/app which acts as an online “pinboard”. Users can create separate pinboards for different topics (e.g “recipes” or “DIY”) and then create “pins” which contain images and links relative to that topic.

Pros: Has the option to create “buyable” pins. Great for visual brands. “pins” have a longer lifespan than posts on other social media sites.

Cons: High level of duplicated/low quality content may mean your posts get lost amongst it.

Learn how to use hashtags to boost your online presence

Hashtags are essential if you’re looking to boost brand awareness. They allow you to become part of larger conversations online as well as making your content more widely available.

Including a few hashtags at the end of your social posts allows non-followers to find and engage with your content too. It’s worth doing a little research on popular hashtags and learning how to use the right ones .

For instance, there are tags that are used on specific days of the week, like #MondayMotivation and #ThrowbackThursday, you could set up a schedule to incorporate these and centre them around your business.

It’s also worth checking to see if there are any hashtags that are used specifically for your town/city.

Keeping an eye on relevant hashtags can help you stay current and create content that potential customers are looking for. It also allows you to see what other businesses in your industry are doing.

You can even create a hashtag specifically for your brand and ask customers to share their purchases/experiences of your business using the hashtag.

Create strong content that is valuable to your audience

Don’t give into the temptation to post the same post multiple times. Let’s say you’ve got a new product and you want as many people to see it as possible; you might feel that posting the same thing multiple times a day, several days a week would be the best way to do this. Unfortunately, you run the risk of “spamming” people’s social feeds and, ultimately, losing followers (and also falling victim to the dreaded algorithms).

Rather than posting identical posts, come up with a few different posts based on the same product. Focus on keeping the text of your post snappy and concise and choose a few separate images or a video to enhance each post.

You’ll want to curate a good mix of content across your social media channels. Not every post has to be specifically about your products and services; posting about industry news or ideas can be just as engaging.

Utilise your followers to help you generate content. If you’ve created a hashtag for customers to use, be sure to check that hashtag regularly and engage with/re-post the content to your page.

Use a schedule to structure your social media strategy

Maintaining a good presence on social media may seem time consuming, but if you come up with a schedule it’ll be a whole lot easier.

There’s no magic number when it comes to how many times a week you should be posting, but you’ll need to post often enough that your followers don’t forget about you, but also not so often that your followers tire of seeing your posts and become unresponsive to them.

Consider downloading a weekly/monthly content planner so you can think ahead about what content needs to be created. Making a schedule and planning your social media marketing will help keep your posts at a higher quality (you won’t just be posting for the sake of posting) and should also make it slightly less time consuming.

There are several platforms available that allow you to “schedule” posts in advance. So you may want to spend one morning a week researching and creating some core posts for the week ahead. You can then create additional posts throughout the week if you feel they’re needed.

Whilst these tools are great, be mindful that they shouldn’t be seen as a way to relax and forget about social media. You’ll need to be checking your accounts regularly to monitor comments from your followers and reply to any queries.

How Do I Advertise On Social Media?

If you want to reach even more people with your social media marketing, then you should consider investing in social media advertising.

Social media ads give you the ability to reach an audience beyond your current set of followers. Often these platforms will allow you to create a target audience based on demographics, interests etc, this is great for ensuring your adverts are relevant to the people viewing them.

These adverts are served or “promoted” on social feeds, often sandwiched between posts of other accounts you follow.

Here are some things to consider when running a social media advertising campaign:

Budget It’s important to set a social media advertising budget, if you’re using Facebook you can set this budget and Facebook will work out a daily spend that’s optimal for your budget.

Decide what adverts to run on different platforms You’ll need to decide who you’re targeting and what your adverts should look like for that customer. This may mean creating multiple visuals and messaging If you’re running a multi-platform campaign. For instance, Facebook has the widest range of ages amongst social media sites –from teens to seniors, so you may want to go with something clean and easy to read. Whereas Instagram and snapchat have younger audiences where you may choose to use something more visual and interactive.


Advert design and copy
Social media users tend to respond better to visual content. According to Buzzsumo Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. Here are some components worth considering when putting your advert together:

  • The messaging (keep it concise and engaging)
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Font style used
  • Colours
  • The ‘Call to Action’

It’s worth remembering that less is more when it comes to adverts. Your audience may switch off or scroll past your advert completely if it’s over-run with text and too many offers.

 

Build a set of tools and resources to improve your Social Media Marketing

There are many tools and apps out there that can help you conduct your social media marketing more efficiently. As you develop your strategy you’ll build a set of tools that work for your business. Here are some popular ones to get you started.

Hootsuite: Allows you to conveniently manage your social media accounts in one place and schedule posts.

Tweetdeck: Twitter-specific platform to schedule tweets, monitor hashtags and responses to your content.

HubSpot’s National Holiday Guide: A guide to the national and international holidays. Great for creating content for your schedule.

UnSplash: Free, quality stock images to enhance your social posts.

 

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