The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

Manage and plan your social media content with this free social media content calendar template

When it comes to social media, increasing brand awareness and advertising products and services are top goals held by marketers.

But many brands struggle to create engaging content and reach their target audience. Social media plays an increasingly important role at the top of the funnel. This article contains everything you need to know – what it is, its benefits, and how to build and implement a social media marketing strategy for your business.

Topics we will cover:

What is social media marketing?

What is a social media strategy?

Why do you need a social media strategy?

Benefits of social media marketing

Social media content strategy

How to create a social media strategy

How your sales team should leverage social media

Social media marketing platforms

How often to post on social media

Time to get social

What is social media marketing?

Many companies use their social media presence to connect with their customers, provide support, advertise new products and features, and promote special offers.

Social media marketing is the process of creating content for social media platforms to promote your product or service, build community with your target audience, and drive traffic to your business’ website. Constant change is a hallmark of social media today. New features and platforms are emerging every day.

Social media marketing is all about meeting your target audience and customers where they gather and supporting how they socially interact with each other and your brand. Your strategy for using social media marketing will depend on which social networks your audience spends their time on.

Let’s begin with a discussion on social media strategy.

What is a social media strategy?

Put simply, a social media strategy is a plan that outlines your social media goals, the tactics you use to achieve them, and metrics to measure performance. Your strategy doesn’t need to be complex. All you need is a simple and specific plan with meaningful measurables.

Your plan describes how you create, post, and engage users with your social media content. It includes your content guidelines, posting cadence, social media campaigns, content development plans, and engagement strategy.

Your social media strategy depends on many factors. Among them are the brand’s voice and positioning, target audience demographics, and social media platform limitations. Considering these factors will help your message reach the right audiences in the right format.

The user experience on social media should be consistent with imagery and content on your website, blog, and any other digital assets. Always be quick to address questions or comments your audience posts because that engagement could make or break a conversion or purchase.

To get the full benefit, synchronize the content you post, and how you post it, with digital marketing campaigns you’re running across other channels like email or ads.

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Why you need a social media strategy

Buyers of all kinds are increasingly on social media. If you want to increase brand awareness, consumer trust, and knowledge of your offering, then you need to get in front of them.

A social media strategy will help you map out a plan to stand out from the crowd. It will help you build an audience of activated and informed followers and create an environment where you can take leads and move them through the buying cycle. This is true whether your business is B2C or B2B.

Benefits of social media marketing

There are a host of reasons. We believe these three benefits are the most powerful:

1. Increase your brand awareness

The pervasiveness of social media means if you don’t have a presence you are missing an opportunity to reach thousands, and even millions of people.

Social media has been proven to boost brand awareness by driving up engagement. By social engagement we mean user actions like comments, likes, shares, and reposts, and saves. It also helps you increase brand awareness by directing traffic straight to your site.

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2. Generate leads and boost conversions

Promoting and sharing your products on social media is a simple way to improve lead generation and boost conversions. You are getting your message to people following your account and engaging with them.

Here are some examples of ways you can use social media to generate more leads.

  • Host live videos to make announcements about products or news at your company.
  • Create and run polls to engage your target audience.
  • Create contests for your visitors and followers to participate in on your social media profiles.
  • Include links to your website and offers in the bio sections of your social media profile.
  • Implement a social media marketing campaign on one of your channels.

3. Foster relationships with your customers.

By connecting and engaging with your social media followers, creating lasting relationships between them and your business becomes possible. You do this by interacting with them on your posts, responding to their questions and comments, and providing them with any help they may need.

You can also ask your followers questions about your products, their pain points, or create giveaways to help you build trust and show them how much you value their input and support.

Social media content strategy

Content is the crux of any social media strategy. Without content, engaging your audience, promoting your products, or measuring performance is impossible.

The “in-the-moment” nature of social media may cause you to think that you do not have to plan content as much as you do for your emails or blogs. This is false. While not as static as landing pages or blog content, social media content is equally important for engaging your audience and representing your brand as a whole.

For that reason, you social media content strategy should include:

  • Posting guidelines and specifications for each network you use; for example, share GIFs on Twitter but avoid them on Facebook.
  • Determining the target audience nuances per network, e.g. the younger segment of your audience is more active on Instagram than on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Repurposing plans for long-form content from your blog, podcast, and e-books.
  • Identifying who on your team is allowed to post, and who’s responsible for engaging followers.
  • Naming the companies, publications, and individuals you’ll repost – and those who you avoid.

How to Create a Social Media Strategy

1. Define your buyer personas and audience.
2. Determine which social platforms you’ll market on.
3. Establish your most important metrics and KPIs.
4. Create unique and engaging content.
5. Organize a schedule of your posts.
6. Measure your results.
7. Adjust your tactics.

Let us show you how to build a social media strategy and plan from scratch.

1. Define your buyer personas and audience

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The first step is to determine who your buyer personas and audience are so you can target their needs and interests appropriately.

Start by thinking about the people you’re trying to reach and why, and how you would classify them as a group. You need to define the key demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach, such as age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies and interests, etc.

Understanding your buyer personas and audience will enable you to create the type of content that will attract the followers and customers you want.

2. Determine which social platforms you’ll use

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to which social channels your business should use. It’s more about the needs of your target audience and where they tend to spend their time.

3. Establish your most important metrics and KPIs

Your social media strategy should be data-driven. That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter.

Here are 10 of the most important metrics for you to track:

  • Engagement. Examples include clicks, comments, likes, and replies, as well as platform-specific types of engagement such as “Saved” and “Pinned” posts on Instagram and Pinterest, respectively.
  • Reach. The number of people who have seen any content associated with your page or profile is your reach.
  • Followers. The number of people who have clicked your “Follow” button and see your content in their feeds regularly.
  • Impressions. This is the number of times a post from your profile or page is seen, whether or not your audience members click on it. This is often what happens when someone is scrolling through their newsfeed, but not clicking on anything.
  • Video views. This is the number of views on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or any other social channel with video capabilities.
  • Profile visits. The number of people who have opened your social media page is your number of profile visits.
  • Mentions. This is the number of times your profile has been mentioned by audience members in their posts.
  • Tags. This is when your audience adds the name of your company’s profile or your hashtag to another post.
  • Reposts. This is when a member of your audience posts a piece of your content on their profile.
  • Shares. These are the posts your followers and audience take from your profile and share with their network.

4. Create unique and engaging content.

With the billions of social media users around the globe, there’s no question that at least some of your followers – or the people browsing your profile – have also seen your competitor’s content or that of other businesses in your industry.

That’s why you must have engaging social media content that stands out and provides viewers with a reason to click that “Follow” button and interact with your brand.

Not sure what’s considered engaging?

Our number one recommendation is to do market research first because what will be engaging depends on the audience. When you know what your audience likes and needs to know, you can create content that engages those interests.

To help you get creative, consider the content your competitors are sharing and how you can uniquely promote your products. Also, take advantage of the features offered by the platform you’re using.

You can also use your current customers and promoters to help you generate content. You can do this by re-posting their content or encouraging them to use a hashtag to share their own experiences and pictures with your products.

5. Organize a schedule for your posts.

One of the easiest ways to ensure your content is shared as planned is to use a social media management solution. These tools allow you to write captions, prepare pictures and videos, and schedule posts in advance. They also automatically share your content on schedule and monitor all post interactions and engagement for you. Social media management solutions save you time and allow you to focus on your other tasks.

HubSpot, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite are three examples.

6. Measure your results.

There are countless things to track on your social media channels. Start by looking at how much traffic your social accounts drive to your website or blog.

Social media platforms offer tools to help businesses track analytics. Once you get an idea of your average traffic and post performance, set goals for key metrics, and keep a scorecard to measure your progress. Be sure to choose metrics that are easy to gather – if it is too time-consuming to track, then you will stop.

7. Adjust your tactics.

Social media won’t start working overnight. Establishing a following, stabilizing your brand, and seeing the results of your efforts takes time. So experiment to find the right combination of channels, content, and messaging that works for your audience.

Keep track of changes in your post views, audience demographics, and post interactions, and make changes as needed.

Over time, you’ll be able to adjust your recipe card, content, and personas based on the information you’re gathering. This will help you fine-tune your strategy and generate more consistent results.

How your sales team should leverage social media

Seventy-eight percent of sales teams who use social media outsell those who don’t. Consider these four tips to help ensure you start off on the right foot.

Develop relationships

Groups, hashtags, related images, and events bring like-minded people together and make it easy to find your target audience and ideal buyers. Once you have identified qualified leads, sending or posting highly-targeted content to engage this target audience is a natural next step.

Provide real-time engagement

Social media thrives on current events and real-time news. How quickly a vendor responds to inquiries has a disproportionate impact on a B2B customers’ decision to work with that vendor.

If your sales team doesn’t have a designated team member responding to the questions and inquiries that come through social media, consider making real-time engagement a higher priority.

Add unique value

There is a saying, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” If your published content is too general or explores concepts every industry authority has already covered, then you are not offering anything of value to the table.

Grow your brand’s reputation and influence by speaking into problems that only your product or service can solve. Your goal is sharing why your product or service can meet their needs better than your competitors.

Grow and retain business

The main reason to leverage social media is to expand your customer base and to keep them coming back.

While social media should only be one aspect of your B2B sales funnel and marketing strategy, it’s an ideal way to push social connections towards your website and products unobtrusively. Organic growth and paid media work together to help maximize your reach and maintain connections with existing customers.

Social media marketing platforms

Facebook

Users: 1.9 billion daily active users worldwide

Audience: An even spread of Generation X and Millennials

Industry impact: B2C

Ideal for: Brand awareness; advertising

TikTok

Users: 1 billion active monthly global users

Audience: Primarily Gen Z followed by Millennials

Industry impact: B2B and B2C

Ideal for: Short-form, creative video content; user-generated content; brand awareness

Instagram

Users: 1 billion monthly active users

Audience: Primarily Millennials

Industry impact: B2C

Ideal for: High-quality images and videos; user-generated content; advertising

Twitter

Users: 211 million daily active users worldwide

Audience: Primarily Millennials

Industry impact: B2B and B2C

Ideal for: Public relations; customer service; community building

LinkedIn

Users: 774 million active users worldwide

Audience: Baby boomers, Generation X, and Millennials

Industry impact: B2B

Ideal for: B2B relationships, business development, and social selling

YouTube

Users: Over 315 million daily active users worldwide

Audience: Primarily Millennials but has a strong audience across gender and age demographics

Industry impact: B2C and B2B

Ideal for: Brand awareness; long-form entertainment, and how-to videos

Snapchat

Users: 306 million daily active users worldwide

Audience: Primarily Generation Z

Industry impact: B2C

Ideal for: Brand awareness; advertising

Pinterest

Users: 444 million monthly active users worldwide

Audience: Primarily Millennials with a solid audience in Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers

Industry impact: B2C

Ideal for: Visual advertising; inspiration

How often should you post on social media?

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Social Media Content Calendar Template

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This is a question we are often asked. As a rule of thumb, you should only post on social media when you have quality content to share. A major mistake is confusing quantity of content with the quality of content.

For example, it is better to post two or three times a week with super valuable content, than posting seven times a week with only one or two valuable posts.

There are plenty of studies and resources available explaining social media post frequency standards by industry and platform for you to follow. Every business is different, so find what works for your audience.

Time to Get Social

Do you still feel like social media is overwhelming? You can diminish it by leveraging the tips in this guide and the free templates above.

Taking smaller, measured steps will help you gain the skills you need. For example, tackle one social network at a time, prioritize your audience, and focus on the content that works. You will start seeing an increase in your number of followers, engagement, and conversions.

For advice on developing and help to implement your company’s social media marketing strategy, talk to the experts.

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