If you own a business, or are in charge of marketing for one, here is how to get started with social media marketing.
Social media has changed our world in ways big and small, especially for businesses. The old ways of advertising via paid ads on TV, radio, and print are dead and gone…
Okay, they’re not completely dead and gone.
However, social media marketing has given businesses new and exciting ways to increase brand awareness and communicate with current and potential customers.
And here’s the best part: it’s free!
Social Media Marketing: Getting Started
Although paid ads are always an option, your business can utilize social media completely free of charge to get the word out about your products or services. This is especially beneficial for small businesses who may not have a large marketing budget.
There are, however, some questions you need to ask yourself and your team members before getting started with your social media marketing strategy:
1. Who is your target audience?
Hopefully you have already identified your target audience as part of your overall business and marketing strategy, but if you haven’t, it may be useful to conduct some market research on this point. You may very well find that your target audience is not who you originally thought. Or your business may appeal to audiences that you never even expected.
Create customer personas. These are more in-depth examples of the types of people who are interested in what your business has to offer. They include customer characteristics, in addition to demographics. These characteristics include things like what your customer does for a living, relationship status, gender, location etc. Creating specific customer personas will help you better identify what your customers want and need from your business and will inform how you interact with them on social media.
2. Where does your target audience hang out online?
The big key to choosing which platform(s) to use for your business’ social media marketing is establishing where in the internet universe you have the best chance of finding your target audience.
Your business does not necessarily need a presence on every social media channel. Don’t get hung up on quantity; instead, focus on quality. Unless you have a team of people to manage several channels, focus on two or three that you think will give you the best chance of reaching your target audience.
If your business caters to an older demographic, for instance, you may have the best chance of success on Facebook. If you serve a younger demographic, however, platforms like Instagram or Snapchat will probably be the better choice for your business.
Find your target audience online through careful research, and then plan content that performs best on your chosen social media network(s).
3. What is the tone of your business on social media?
Social media marketing is a useful tool to cultivate brand awareness, but in order to do that effectively, all of your content needs to stay on brand. Things like logos and color schemes are necessary to establish your brand, but social media is a bit more involved than that. You need to decide on your business’ tone of voice when establishing an online presence.
The Nielsen Norman Group identifies four dimensions for tone of voice:
• Funny vs. serious
• Formal vs. casual
• Respectful vs. irreverent
• Enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact
Choose one option from each of the four dimensions as a jumping-off point for establishing your brand’s tone of voice in your social media marketing and customer interactions. You can always add more adjectives to make your branding more unique and specific.
Establishing tone of voice will also make your business more appealing to your target audience. You have already identified who that is and what they want, so take that into consideration when deciding how you will communicate with them. For example, if your brand targets an older demographic, they may be less concerned with humor than they are with reliability and professionalism.
There are no hard and fast rules, per se, for communicating with your target audience. After all, you know them best! Decide what will resonate with your audience, and stick with it across the board.
4. What are your business goals and key performance indicators?
The only way to be sure of the effectiveness of your social media marketing is to set goals! Your goals need to be relevant to your business and time-sensitive.
For instance, maybe you just started your business, so your primary goal for social media marketing is cultivating brand awareness. One key performance indicator (KPI) for that goal may be follower count. Be specific! How many followers over what period of time will indicate success in terms of your goal?
Keep a careful eye on your KPIs so you can determine what works and what doesn’t. If something is not contributing positively to your overall goal, ditch it! If something seems to be working, find new and creative ways to replicate those results.
5. What’s the plan?
Who is in charge of social media marketing within your team? Which team members will be contributing to social media content? How do you plan to reach your goals? Conduct a meeting with relevant team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page about where your business will have a presence on social media and how it will conduct itself.
Your business should not be approaching social media marketing with the “spaghetti method.” You know, just randomly throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. You have already decided what your brand goals are on social media, so next, you need to plan content that will help you reach those goals. Having a plan in place will help you to stay on track, even if that plan changes over time.
Create a content calendar, and make it accessible to all relevant team members. Start by identifying important dates for your brand, as well as any other significant dates, such as holidays, that you may want to plan content around. Afterwards, decide if your business will use theme days of the week to post content. For instance, “throwback Thursday” is a popular theme on social media where users post older pictures, videos and memories. Your business can use popular themes, original themes or some combination of the two. Having theme days will not only set follower expectations for your business on social media, but it will also help you to plan content on days when you feel that you have nothing to post.
Remember: content type will also be dependent on which social media platform(s) your business decides to use. Certain types of content perform better on different channels (video is best for YouTube, images for Instagram, etc).
You may also find it useful to automate your content calendar, especially if you are a one man (or woman) show. Tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social are incredibly useful for planning your social media content ahead of time and automating your posts. Social media marketing in itself can be a full-time job, and tools like these will make help to lighten the load.
Once you feel that you have a handle on these questions, you will be ready to hit the ground running with your social media marketing!
One last note: social media marketing is all about engagement. While it is fine to use social media for making significant announcements and keeping followers up-to-date on business news, most of your content should be viewed as more of a dialogue, not a monologue. Get your customers involved in the conversation of your business by delivering content that matters to them for best results.
And, of course, if you’re looking to increase your brand’s online visibility and want to partner with an agency that offers top quality and affordable digital marketing services, please contact us today