Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing
If you have a business but haven’t started marketing it through social media yet, now is the time to do so.
With over 1 billion active social media users, the chance to connect with potential customers is more possible than ever.
But before you get too excited with creating accounts, take the time to understand first what social media marketing is, and if it’s really the right thing for you and your business.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that aims to achieve marketing goals and objectives through social media channels. Marketers usually include this together with other marketing strategies to easily share content like videos, images, and blogs, as well as to increase engagement with audience or customers.
And it’s proven to be one of the most effective online marketing strategies for all kinds of businesses whether it’s small-sized, medium-sized or large-sized.
Nike used Facebook to feature average Olympic athletes during 2012 Olympics which gave Nike an additional of 166,718 Facebook likes. Now, Nike has over 23 million likes.
Comodo NYC uses Instagram to create an Instagram Menu that generated more than 200 million earned media impressions.
But, while social media marketing sounds fun and exciting, it also requires time, proper planning and monitoring, because just as much as it can establish your brand’s identity, or achieve your marketing goals, if not done right, it can also destroy your credibility and reputation (don’t worry as there are so many ways to avoid these from happening).
Benefits of having social presence
Of course, marketers will never spend so much of their time strategizing, and creating social media marketing plan if they don’t get any positive results from it.
So, to better help you understand and get a gist of what you may get from this, I listed down some of the benefits of having social media presence, and a well-planned social media marketing strategy.
1. People can easily find you
Gone are the days when people only use Google or other search engines like Yahoo and Bing to search something, may it be a great place to eat or spend time with loved ones, online store where you can buy or sell, or a group where you can share and hear different thoughts.
When Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media platforms improved their search functionalities, they gave users new avenues to search – and that’s what most of us is doing – directly searching from our social media accounts.
Now, the thing with social media, unlike with Google that gives out various results (could be a blog page, social media profile, even an application), social media is limited to providing profiles, groups, communities, text posts, photos or videos as results.
This means that if you search for the term “pizza” in Facebook, you’ll get Facebook pages or profiles of pizza companies, or Facebook groups and communities that talk about pizza. If you do it on Twitter, you’ll more likely get Twitter pages about pizza, Twitter profiles with “pizza” in their usernames, or tweets with the hashtag #pizza. The same thing applies to Google+, Instagram and other social media platforms.
So, if you have social media accounts, then your chances of getting seen are much higher too.
2. A larger chunk of your target audience will be reached
Because billions of people are using social media, the chance to reach your target audience is also higher. But the best bit about social media is that it’s very targeted, which means that you have the option to choose the location, gender, interests and particular age bracket where you want your page to be seen – it doesn’t mean that your page will not appear in places, or gender, or age you haven’t chosen, it only means that the system will prioritize your options.
Facebook explained it pretty well.
3. It’s free!
You don’t need to pay for domain, or hosting – the only time you will have to worry about spending money is when you want to put up an ad, or boost a post (for Facebook), but other than those, creating accounts, and posting or sharing content are absolutely free.
4. Communication made easy
The very reason why social media is created is to help people stay connected. It gives us the chance to communicate with our friends, and families even in distance. For business, the concept is the same. When you have social media profiles or pages, you’re giving your audience an easy way to reach out to you – translating into free customer support, and increase in engagement, which will also lead to increase in sales.
And it’s not a secret, in fact it’s a very obvious fact that one of the most effective ways to convert your visitors into customers, or to retain your existing customers is by making them feel important.
By listening and responding. And there’s no better and free way to do it than opening your door to your audience through your social media accounts.
5. Great place to share your content
Publishing content in your website without amplifying it only adds up to your hosting disk space. That’s not your goal. Your goal is for your content to be read, and the only way you can achieve it is when you share or promote it to different channels, and one of those can be your social media channels.
How to choose which platform to use?
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of social media marketing, you may be asking which platform to use with all the options.
Well, you can try all of them, but just like websites with different niches, each social media platform also has different environment, thus should be approached in different ways.
Facebook has a very fun and casual atmosphere. And its core purpose is conversation – you will notice it by how you can freely message someone, or comment to a particular post. Because of its friendly environment, it’s best to keep your tone friendly as well.
Tips for keeps: Facebook users are very visual, so posting compelling images and videos will definitely help you.
Twitter is a place for busy and always on-the-go people. It’s very straightforward – keeping users from being concise by only allowing 140 characters to every tweet.
The environment is a combination of friendly and serious atmosphere, so you can stick to how you want your brand to sound.
Tips for keeps: If you want to input a link to your tweet, make sure to use URL shortener like Bitly to maximize the 140 characters limit, and of course, don’t forget to use relevant hashtags.
Like Facebook, Google+ has also a very light environment. The functionalities are combinations of Facebook and Twitter – you can share links, photos, and videos, without worrying about the character limit, and like Twitter, hashtag are very helpful, too.
Tips for keeps: Maximize your Google+ experience by joining communities that match your niche to better target the right audience.
Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is indeed the most human. And what I meant by that is it’s for real human and real-life moments.
We all know that spammers, or bots are created to plant links (because apparently it used to be one of the most effective strategies to rank in search engines – not anymore), but it’s not something that they can do with Instagram because there’s no way you can include a clickable link anywhere aside from the bio area.
That’s right! Genius Instagram!
Instagram has a fun environment too. So keeping your tone light is necessary.
Tips for keeps: While you can promote your brand by uploading photos of your products, take the chance to also use Instagram to showcase the people behind your brand (maybe a candid shot of your team, or your awesome workspace). This will give your audience an idea how human your brand is.
LinkedIn has a very serious environment, and works best for B2B companies. Because one of the core purposes of this platform is to connect employers and job seekers, the approach has to be very professional.
While there’s nothing wrong with creating profiles from all these social media platforms, monitoring each of them may take a big part of your day. The best thing to do is to analyze where your target audience is, what kind of content and approach are working best, when the best time to post is, and stick to whatever platform will work best for you.
Like I said earlier, social media marketing may sound so fun and exciting, but like any other marketing strategies, it also requires dedication. Before you start, plan everything first, perhaps identify your marketing goals, your target audience, your audience interests, and how your competitors are using social media.
Remember, social media marketing may or may not work for you, but you will never know unless you try.