At this point in the 21st century, businesses should know by now that having a presence in the digital business space is not a luxury: it’s the bare necessity. Now that we’re neck-deep into the age of social media, having a website isn’t even enough anymore. Heck, even having a simple social media page isn’t enough; you need to have multiple social media platforms to reach a wide enough audience, and those platforms need to be managed in such a way that it brings your customers together into a self-sustaining community that your company engages with on the ground level.
Tall order? Not quite: brands are doing that all the time, and honestly, if your business isn’t, then you might as well close up shop today. Yes, social media is that crucial to surviving our Facebook-posting, Instagram-storying, Live Tweeting, TikToking world. But if you’re only now shifting into a social media-centric marketing strategy (which, again, we cannot stress enough that you should), don’t worry: it doesn’t matter when you start, it matters that you did and that you’re doing it correctly.
Social media marketing is quite honestly the most powerful marketing strategy any business, in any industry, can use to reach their customer base. Bar none, forever and ever, amen, no hyperboles. Think about it: more than 4.5 billion people are active social media users, and not having access to it is lethal to your business.
But don’t worry, your previous ideas of marketing aren’t exactly outdated in the digital world; rather, they’ve evolved and taken on different ways of being, different names and acronyms, but at the end of the day, the same marketing mindset we had in the past can still apply.
So let’s talk about how digital marketing services such as social media platforms and social media marketing can develop brand awareness, market your brand, and most importantly, create a community of people that love your products and services. But first:
What Exactly is Social Media Marketing?
At its most basic form, social media marketing, popularly known as SMM, is a form of internet marketing that involves creating various types of content –from images and videos to livestreams and games –and sharing them over one or more social media applications and platforms. By doing this, company’s are able to not only maintain a digital presence, but also create strategies that keep their brand constant in their customer’s psyche. While you could most certainly run an entire social media campaign for free, paying for social media advertising (or Paid Social, as it’s called in the biz) is the best way to leverage social media technologies to your advantage.
Social Media Marketing: Defining Your Business Goals
The first step of any strategy will always be defining your business goals. These goals can be short-term or long-term, but either way, they must be clearly stated, with clear definitions, and a clear timeframe. Sure, you could probably just go ahead and make a social media platform, but without a basic guide as to what you want to achieve, you’re basically just wasting internet real estate.
As with traditional marketing strategies, there are some basic questions you can ask yourself when you define your goals:
- Outside of being relevant in the digital business space, what else do you expect social media marketing to do for your brand?
- What exactly is the psychographic of your target audience?
- Which social media platforms and applications does your target audience primarily use?
- What exactly is your branding and does it match the social media platforms you are targeting?
Take a good, hard look at your business type, the industry you’re in, and your current branding, not to mention your marketing budget. All of these should inform your social media strategy and help drive it in the right direction. Yes, it’s important for your brand to be on a social media platform, but what’s more important is for your brand to be in the right social media platform.
What does the ‘right’ social media platform mean? Well, consider your business type and the kind of marketing materials you use: for example, a travel agency uses a lot of photos, videos, and other visual collaterals to market their services. This means that they should probably consider a platform that’s geared towards hosting photos and videos, like, say, Instagram. An e-commerce business might have more success in, well, e-commerce platforms. Meanwhile, business-to-business company’s might be able to reach more of their preferred audiences in, say, LinkedIn or even Twitter.
Even social media applications like TikTok can be leveraged: let’s say you’re an e-commerce company that specializes in sports clothing. You could consider tapping a TikTok influencer and providing them with products they can showcase on their feed. The choices are endless, but you just have to remain consistent with your branding.
However, there are some common business goals that social media marketing is great for, such as:
- Increasing Website Traffic: an extremely important goal if you want to be at the top of search engine results (and yes, you should want to be 1st in the results page!)
- Increasing Conversions: in digital marketing, ‘conversions’ refers to literally converting a website visitor into a paying customer
- Increasing Brand Awareness: the more people see your products and services on social media, the more likely they are to become paying customers.
- Improves Branding: establishing a social media presence can, and most likely will, make your company take a hard look at your branding and determining whether your current branding is what’s best for the moment.
- Improves Brand Association: it’s one thing for people to be aware of your brand, but it’s another for them to associate your brand with positive messages and feelings.
- Helps You Interact with Audiences: perhaps one of the most important business goals you should have. Interacting with your audience is crucial in today’s world, and having a social media platform allows you to do this directly and on a human level (if you do it right).
Remember: you can have a presence on multiple social media platforms and applications, just make sure that you straddle the fine line between creating content that’s relevant to the platform/application and staying consistent with your branding.
Social Media Marketing: The Basics
Now that you’ve defined your business goals, it’s time to actually create your strategy. As much as possible, always rely on a professional digital marketing company to help you craft a strategy that they believe will leverage the best of your brand and the social media platforms you’ve chosen.
These strategies will, again, be subjective to your particular business and business goals, but in general, there are certain things you can do to get you one step closer to fulfilling your needs:
- Keyword Research and SEO: SEO, or search engine optimization, is the creation of content that makes it easier for search engines to find your page and place it at the top. Invest in professional keyword research so your content can have the most relevant ones for your brand.
- Keep Your Branding Consistent, but Relevant: different platforms require a different type of voice, so make sure your social media strategy takes it into account. However, your social media strategy should also stay on-point with your company’s core image, whether it’s fun and friendly or subtle and elegant.
- Keep Track with Analytics: perhaps one of the best features of social media marketing is its ability to allow you to measure your KPI’s (i.e. Key Performance Indices, or, the factors that tell you whether or not something is working) in real time. Use this frequently and apply what you’ve learned to your strategy moving forward.
- Content is STILL King: the medium may have changed, but this core value of marketing remains the same. Whether it’s text, photo, or video, your content needs to be high-quality, it needs to be relevant to your customers needs, and it needs to add value to their lives.
Again, having a social media platform is a necessity, but being on the right platform is more important, and the only way for you to determine that is by defining your business goals. Depending on the company, your industry, your market, and a whole bunch of other factors, these goals will vary wildly.