The rise of technology has changed the way we do absolutely everything. And, with the exception of the smartphone, it’s possible that the invention and widespread use of social media has influenced the modern landscape more than any other form of tech. Social media marketing, as one might imagine, refers to the use of social media platforms for marketing purposes.
Social media marketing allows companies to engage with customers in ways and using methods that would have been inconceivable just a few short decades ago. However, with new opportunities come new “rules” and new challenges. Read on for an overview of the types of social media marketing and how to establish an effective social media marketing strategy.
Two Types of Social Media Marketing
Although unique in their purpose and execution, the two different aspects of social media marketing play an equally important role in any digital marketing strategy. In fact, they work together to make the most of that strategy!
Organic social uses free social media tools to build and connect with an online following. This includes posts on all types of social media platforms, responding to comments on your own pages, and engaging with other businesses and individuals online, as well.
Paid social media marketing refers to anything posted on a social media channel which is influenced by marketing dollars. For the most part these will be advertisements, sponsored posts, or influencer campaigns.
Steps to Creating a Great Social Media Marketing Plan
While it may have been the case fifteen years ago, creating an effective social media marketing plan is no longer as simple as posting on Facebook and watching the likes roll in. In fact, it was probably never that simple. But the digital marketplace was much less saturated back then, so businesses could get away with a less than stellar strategy and still reap the benefits of social media “marketing.”
Today, however, you’ll want to take some time to determine where you’re going and what you want to accomplish along the way. To do so, it’s best to move through the following steps, in this order.
- Establish (or adjust) a strategy.
- Plan and publish content.
- Engage with users.
- Report and analyze results.
Establish a Social Media Marketing Strategy
First and foremost, what do you hope to accomplish with your social strategy and how will you make that happen?
Just like any good marketing plan, your social marketing plan should involve some key targets. While each individual campaign may have its own objective (building brand awareness, connecting with customers, or optimizing conversion rates, for a few examples) it’s important to define one or two main objectives for your overall strategy. This may be anything from growth of your customer base, to increased website traffic, to a more engaged user base. Doesn’t matter the goal, it just matters that you know what it is and how you will measure it.
Determine a Target Audience
You need to know whom you’re marketing to before you can really dig in and create a plan. Be very detailed when getting to know your target audience. This will allow you to create some incredibly effective user personas, which you’ll eventually use to create the best social media marketing campaigns for your brand.
The message used to communicate with customers is part of your brand and should align, not just with the mission of your business, but across all campaigns and platforms at all times.
The list of social media platforms seems to grow every day. And we all know that every platform makes regular updates to features and functionality of their website or app.
One of the best things about marketing on social is that the ever-evolving landscape keeps the playing field pretty level. But there’s a flip side to that coin. Social media trends come and go so quickly that just as we settle our attention in one direction, the next trend is likely upon us. In this sense there must be a certain amount of flexibility built into in any social media marketing plan, and a certain amount of agility required of any digital marketer.
Plan and Publish Content
Once you know the general direction in which you’re headed and what social media categories you’re targeting, it’s time to dig in!
Create a Calendar
A content calendar is an effective tool for planning your posts. It helps keep you from getting stuck in a social media rut and lets you see, at a glance, the execution of your strategy organized by the type of social media used.
Consider Your Platform
There are several unique types of social media platforms and each of them function in unique ways. Each attracts different demographics, lends itself to different types of engagement, and develop different user expectations. In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and the most common uses of different social media platforms will impact the specifics of each individual post.
Develop Paid Advertisements
Paid social media advertisements are different from your regular content, and you’ll want to plan these just as meticulously as you plan your everyday posts. After you’ve been posting organic content for a while, you can use information gathered from those insights to inform decisions about paid advertising options and opportunities.
That said, there are just as many options for paid ads as there are social media types. The benefits and challenges of each advertisement type is derived from the platform. While this may sound discouraging, it doesn’t have to be. Social advertising costs way less than traditional advertising, so many companies can run multiple ads across several social media avenues at once.
When it comes to social media communication and posting, consistency is key. Whether consciously or not, users recognize patterns, which lead to expectations. And nothing will turn a customer off faster than a failure to meet their expectations, no matter how small or arbitrary they may seem.
Engage With Users
Social media marketing doesn’t end with the post. In fact, that’s just the beginning. Engagement plays a major role in an effective social media marketing campaign.
Respond to Comments
If you are relying on social media as a marketing tool, then you best be replying to comments in a professional and timely manner! Monitoring social media channels for comments can be a ‘round the clock job, so for the sake of your sanity, establish a standard response time in your social marketing plan and stick to it.
Respond to Messages
Similarly, if you allow direct messages through your social media channels, it’s imperative to monitor those inboxes. For better or worse, customers expect a shorter response time after a direct message than they do a comment. Again, it’s all about meeting expectations.
Connect with the Community
One of the most effective tools in your arsenal doesn’t even involve your own social media. Sharing advice as a subject matter expert (kindly and tastefully, of course) or asking questions on others’ pages is a surefire way to increase your own following.
Social media sites are a great place to network, build rapport, and establish virtual relationships. If you want to stay relevant in the ever-evolving, ever-changing, ever-growing social media space, put yourself (and your brand) in front of anyone who may be even slightly interested in what you have to offer. Over time this connection will yield results you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Report and Analyze Results
Even if it’s clear that your social marketing strategy is working like a charm, you must still analyze the results and document your findings. Tools such as Google Analytics and the insights provided by each of the social media platforms allow you to objectively evaluate your strategy, determine exactly what is working (and why), and find areas for improvement. Once you’ve collected this information, you can use it to start back at the beginning, buty with more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Make the Most of Your Social Media Marketing with Hungry Media
It doesn’t matter what type of social media marketing you plan or how well you execute if you don’t have a kick-butt website to anchor your efforts. Hungry Media’s web design and development team connect with all areas of your business while planning your new or refreshed site. Contact us today to discuss our unique approach and how we can help you make the most of your online presence!
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer