Social media has grown over the past decade as one of the most consistent aspects of our everyday lives.
We are a social species, so this fact alone places social media at the center of a good number of our interactions with each other. But what exactly IS social media, and is marketing on social media the right choice for your organization?
And finally, if your organization chooses to market on social media, what are some steps to get started?
Social media refers to any internet or mobile-based platform that enables social interaction between two or more parties. The dialogue can take place between individuals, communities, and organizations. There are millions of people around the world using social media at any given time.
Paid Search has given marketers a unique avenue to capitalize on demand. However, it has always been limited to connecting with people, sharing ideas, and nurturing relationships.
As many marketing managers know, all too often, paid search leads were being turned over to sales as Sales Qualified Leads when, in fact, they were still Marketing Qualified Leads. This is why social media and even paid social play a significant part in many organizations’ digital marketing portfolios.
Social media is about engagement, inspiration, and action. With numerous metrics available to us, we now can judge an effective marketing campaign on how people share your content, interact with your content, and finally heed a call to action.
Why Your Organization Should Be Using Social Media
Businesses leverage social media to build relationships, listen to the market, promote content, and influence buyers even before they’re identified as potential leads.
Along with these apparent uses, below is a more comprehensive list of reasons why your business should be using social media:
- Gain traffic to your website
- Interact with your customers on a more personal level
- Boost sales as you move prospects along the sales funnel
- Manage your reputation in the community
- Spend less money to get more exposure
- Perform market research to understand your audience better
- Reach prospects on a global level
Every organization should have a presence on as many social media platforms as possible. There is no substitute for free activity, traffic, and presence online.
I’ve also found that Google, more often than not, indexes or “finds” the social media accounts before indexing the new website. Think of your organization’s social media account as a free booth at a convention or fair. Who wouldn’t jump at being a part of a convention with millions, if not billions, of patrons? Wouldn’t you?
The question is no longer if your organization should leverage social media but how it should.
The days of posting on social media and expecting all your followers to see your content are over.
Since the average user’s feed or timeline is so saturated, you have to have clear intentions, goals, and a specific plan of action if you hope to use social media as a tool to meet your organization’s needs.
How Many Resources Should Be Allocated to Social Media?
If a company wishes to engage in a social media campaign, they must ask themselves the fundamental question: Why?
Why do you need a social media campaign? Is it because your competition is doing it, or was it suggested during a random conversation? Believe it or not, social media isn’t a home run for every business. Answering the question of “why” will go miles to set the proper expectations and lay a roadmap to success.
Some businesses will do just fine with a simple presence, not a marketing campaign or program. For instance, if I sold metal plating to the military, what use would a dominant social media presence have in the relationship with my bottom line?
Your organization’s time and resource commitment to a social media program will depend heavily on how your customers or consumers engage with social media.
Who are your customers or consumers online? If you sell life insurance to 65+ year-olds, I doubt you’d get viral attention from an all-out Twitter campaign. Maybe a consistent flow of tweeted blogs would suffice since your audience is likely not spending a significant amount of time tweeting.
To give you an idea of what an engagement will look like, below is a hierarchical list of scenarios in which most organizations find themselves. These scenarios are listed from the least active social media presence to the most active social media presence.
- Baseline Presence: A few posts here and there in addition to that content that interests your audience or customers.
- Active Presence: This presence is more curated, consistent, and timely. Posts are regularly scheduled to drive brand awareness, followers, and website traffic.
- Aggressive Presence: Often used as a complete digital marketing strategy. Organic posts are regularly scheduled with increased volume. Social media and paid social campaigns are launched that align more directly with the organization’s bottom line.
- Cornerstone Presence: Social media is at the core of business or organizational commerce and activity. Usually, online, SaaS, or prominent personalities depend heavily on social media traffic to drive their business.
Making a Social Media Strategy: Start with the 5 Ws
The first step to developing a social media strategy is understanding your audience. This will require 5 Ws, and one H.
You need to know who they are, what do they like to do, when they like to do it, where they like to do it, how they like to do it, and, most importantly, why they like to do it. Who, what, when, where, why, and how are the questions you must ask about your customers.
Take some time to think about what they’re interested in and their challenges. Write down a few content ideas based on what you feel your audience would enjoy.
After you’ve decided what social media platforms to use, you can tailor your content ideas to each platform. Below is a list of the most popular social media platforms as of 2021. The list below is by no means comprehensive.
Investors and entrepreneurs are creating new social media applications on a routine basis. These are the social media platforms in which business owners have had success publishing content, serving ads, driving business, reaching a significant audience, and engaging with their audience.
- Facebook has over 1.9 billion registered accounts with users from a range of backgrounds. Facebook is, by far, the most used social media platform in the world.
- Instagram is fantastic for posting visual content with an audience of mostly younger individuals.
- Twitter has 321 million users worldwide and is an excellent place for finding out the latest trends and news.
- LinkedIn is more of a professional network for B2B brands that target other companies in various industries.
- YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, behind Google, featuring video content of all types.
- Vimeo is much like YouTube, except it boasts more quality videos than the quantity of YouTube videos. Popular among artists.
- Rumble is a video-sharing platform similar to YouTube but offers alternative monetization options for content creators as well as touts “free-speech.”
- Pinterest is another image-focused channel that’s relied upon by crafty consumers around the world.
- Snapchat is still going strong, with 210 million daily users worldwide. The platform is more peer to peer than Tik Tok, similar to Facebook and Instagram stories.
- Tik-Tok is the hottest app currently, with more than 800 million users and 90% of users accessing the app daily.
- Twitch is a live-streaming platform dedicated to gamers and those who like to watch other gamers. However, users are using the platform in ways similar to YouTube.
- Medium is a popular content publishing platform for longer-form posts with numerous social aspects to it. I’m on Medium as much, if not more than Facebook and Instagram.
- Quora is an extensive question-and-answer network with over 300 million monthly active users. I’ve seen many successful social media/SEO initiatives involve the platform.
- Reddit is a news aggregator site similar to Twitter that, believe it or not, frequently contains hard-to-find information and news. The platform has over 1.3 billion monthly users.
- Parler is touted as a “free speech” platform similar to Twitter, with 4.5 million users.
- Locals is a community-based application empowering influencers and creators to build communities in which they curate. Think of it as enhanced Facebook Groups.
Social Media Goals
If your goal is to drive traffic to your website and increase the number of people taking specific action on your website, your campaign will look much more different than a campaign designed to raise awareness for abandoned cats.
Once your goals are clear, your next steps are to set benchmarks and metrics and track them.
Remember, in the words of Peter Drucker, “whatever gets measured gets managed.”
Most digital marketing activities can be divided into three large groups: Brand awareness, Engagement, and Conversion.
Determine which goal fits your organizational needs. Recall the list of social media scenarios above. Based on your needs, you can choose one of the four scenarios. The first scenario aligns with brand awareness, 2 and 3 align with engagement, and the last scenario aligns with conversion goals.
Below are those three goals with some corresponding objectives and metrics to track.
- Increase Visibility
- Increase Reach
- Drive Awareness
- Building an audience, i.e., page likes or followers
- Drive post comments, likes, and shares
- Increase Traffic to Website
- Video Views
- Messenger Conversations
- Lead Generation
- App Installs
- Phone Calls
Understanding your goals, objectives, and critical metrics to track is more than half the battle.
The next step is to set up a schedule that works for your team and others involved in the process of content creation.
Consistency is essential.
If your content is good, your fans will look for your content with the same fervor as viewers expecting to see their favorite TV show every week.
Decide on a frequency of posting schedule, and stick to it. An editorial calendar can help keep track of specific post ideas and knowing when to post them. Include necessary information, such as the content, links, or images.
Whenever someone comments on your post, make sure you respond with a positive, uplifting remark or an answer to their question. If you receive negative feedback, respond to that as well.
Depending on how much engagement you receive, you want to try to engage with your audience as much as humanly possible. Try to be professional in your engagements, but don’t be afraid to add your personality and engage with other brands.
Finally, the key to any digital engagement is to track performance and continuously improve your strategy. Make sure you are tying back key metrics to core business outcomes.
A great platform to track the performance of social media is Google Analytics. Google Analytics lets you know where your traffic is coming from and the actions they are taking on your website after visiting. You can identify traffic from individual campaigns, posts, and platforms.
Step By Step Summary of Social Media Strategy:
- Do your research. Understand your audience. Understand where you want to reach your audience and how you want to reach them. This entails choosing what social media platforms to focus on and having an idea of what content you want to share.
- Determine your social goals, objectives, and key metrics you want to track so that you can measure success, optimize, and know what you’re looking to achieve.
- Choose metrics that align with your goals and objectives, such as the number of likes, retweets, comments, etc.
- Set up a schedule of when you want to post and how often you wish to post. Consistency is key here. I always like to create content on two fronts with every online initiative, a scheduled timeline of expected content and random content that coincides with current events.
- Create content and post it according to your timeline. Again, consistency is key here.
- Respond to fans and followers. This can be a bit difficult to manage. When done correctly, it can be a great source of leads and sales online and help build rapport with your customers.
- Start measuring analytics with a tool that gives you the insight you’re looking for in terms of your goals.
- Monitor and report regularly on progress.
- Adjust and repeat as needed, so you’re always improving your metrics, and therefore, exceeding your goals.