Social media marketing is becoming an increasingly crucial element for brands of all sizes, as a way to grow consumer base and reach new audiences. In this guide, we’ve explored all there is to know about social media marketing, including what it actually is, how you can create an effective social media strategy, and the top tips to maximise your return on investment.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing allows you to connect with your audience through social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok etc). In turn, this builds brand awareness, drives traffic to your website, and increases sales.

How to use social media for marketing

Knowing how to do social media marketing hinges on how well you understand each social platform. You need to live and breathe social media, and be prepared to nurture your strategy if you pick up on noteworthy trends and notable audience behaviours. This means listening to and engaging with your current follower base, as well as looking at ways you can expand your reach.

Why social media marketing is important

Social media marketing is important, as it allows you to analyse audience behaviour and industry trends across platforms other than search engines. This gives you a greater idea about how and what you can do to improve your brand image and reputation.

How effective is social media marketing?

If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering why social media marketing is important, reflect on how easily you can interact with users across the various platforms. Once you introduce this aspect to your overall marketing strategy, you’ll begin to realise just effective social media marketing can be.

A social media marketing strategy is an effective way for small businesses to improve their reputation, and is particularly beneficial if introduced alongside an SEO strategy and paid marketing strategy.

What are the benefits of social media marketing?

  • Increase brand awareness

Social media marketing is an excellent way of increasing awareness around your brand. To begin with, create social accounts across the most populous platforms, and begin interacting with your target demographic and user base. From here, you can begin to establish a social media strategy, with a content timeline of relevant posts that resonate with your audience.

  • More inbound traffic

By establishing a social media strategy, that combines both regular posting and paid social ads, you can open your brand up to new audiences that you might have missed if by relying solely on search volume.

Importantly, though, remember that each social platform is slightly different, and will attract varying demographics as their main user base. For instance, Facebook and TikTok have contrasting audiences. With this in mind, tailor your content to the needs and wants of each platform’s users, to maximise your chances of inbound traffic.

  • Build a personal relationship with customers

Social media sites are uniquely placed to offer a direct communication portal between you and your consumers. Take advantage of this to build personal relationships with your follower-base, whether it’s through interacting and engaging or sharing content that continues a point of conversation. Whatever your approach, make sure to take the opportunity to build relationships.

  • Improve customer loyalty

One of your main goals when establishing a social media strategy should be to build customer loyalty, which happens when users buy into your brand. To do this, make sure you’re prioritising customer satisfaction and engagement. By posting relevant and sharable content, your followers will develop an affinity for your business and messaging, and become more likely to convert into customers.

  • Cost-effective

As far as cost effectiveness goes, a social media strategy is one of the best value forms of marketing; creating profiles across social media sites is free, and it doesn’t cost anything to post content. Additionally, compared to PPC, social ads are relatively inexpensive. This value-for-money approach to marketing is of great benefit to new businesses, who can capitalise on brand exposure for a greater return.

  • Position your brand as a thought leader

Social media sites are the perfect place to distribute insightful, well-written content, that demonstrates thought leadership within your industry. Take advantage of the platform and build a presence within the social community, and establish your business as an authority. For complete efficiency, and greater cost-effectiveness, develop a connected approach to marketing that allows you to plan your social media strategy around your on-site content timeline.

How to create a social media strategy

Now you know what a social media marketing is and how it can have an impact on your business, it’s important to know how to go about creating an effective strategy. We’ve outlined what this is and how you can improve your chances of success.

What is a social media strategy?

A social media strategy outlines your marketing plan across each of the social platforms. Importantly, this includes what you hope to achieve over a certain period of time, including your short- and long-term key performance indicators.

It’s crucial to set yourself attainable targets, that reflect the varying approaches you’ll take to each social media platform. Remember, the more specific your social media strategy is, the easier it is to implement, and the more effective it will be.

Advice for creating a social media marketing strategy

Creating a social media strategy should be a part of your overall marketing effort. When drawing up a plan, you should prioritise tracking performance, testing new ideas, and auditing competitors. We’ve outlined the key elements that go into a strong social media marketing strategy:

  • User personas

Developing an understanding of your audience, and what they want to see from you, should be one of the first steps you take in building out a social media marketing strategy. When analysing user personas, consider age, geographical location, profession or industry they work in, and general interests. Once you’ve established the basic identity of your audience, you can more confidently post content knowing that it’s both relevant and more likely to get shared.

  • Relevant supporting data

When creating your social media marketing strategy, take the time to gather relevant industry insight. This allows you to make informed, strategic decisions around which content is most successful across various platforms, as well as which sites your consumers are frequenting.

  • Performance metrics

Within your social media strategy, you should indicate how you are going to track performance across each platform. Not only will this allow you to see how you’re doing, compared to your pre-determined targets, but performance data will also allow you to plan future content.

Additionally, being able to track progress makes trying out new strategies worthwhile; testing and comparing different types of posts and social campaigns allows you to see what works best, and which you should be prioritising.

  • Competitor analysis

In social media, competitor analysis is a particularly important step; the chances are, your industry competitors are already active on social media, so it’s crucial to develop an understanding of the landscape as soon as possible. Track what’s working well for them, and how you can incorporate something similar into your social media marketing strategy.

  • Social listening

Social listening is a way of keeping on top of how your competitors are performing, as well as how your target consumers are interacting online. You can either use a designated social listening tool, such as BuzzSumo or Hootsuite, to provide on-demand analytics, or you can track data manually: perform regular searches of your competitors over social media, using their name and social handles, and take note of what they’re sharing, what their users are talking about, and what people are saying about them.

Social media marketing tips

Whether you’re creating a social media strategy as a new business or hoping to widen your reach as an established brand, we’ve pick out our top tips for improving performance.

Create a social media strategy for each platform

When planning your social media marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that each platform is both orientated around different posting formats. For instance, Instagram is more picture-focussed than Twitter. With this in mind, you should be creating a specific strategy for each platform, rather than relying on a one-size-fits all plan.

Include A/B testing in your social media strategy

A/B testing is when you compare two theories side by side to see which performs best. This involves tracking different variables across each of your active social media platforms. A/B testing is important, because it allows you to work out what content is most effective, and what best-suits your audiences preferences.

Hashtags should be part of your social media marketing strategy

Hashtags are a fantastic feature of social media in that they allow users to explore content that fits a certain theme or category. By including relevant hashtags on your post, you can open your content up to a wider range of users, who might not already be following you. This allows you to engage with a community of like-minded users, who are likely to find your content useful.

When drawing up a social media marketing strategy, consider which hashtags you should target to propel your brand forward and put you in the eye line of a wider user base.

Make stories a part of your social media strategy

‘Story’ functionality have become a huge part of social media over the last few years. In essence, stories allow you to post content that is more ‘behind-the-scenes’, which makes followers feel as though they’re part of your journey. Not only does this allow you to continue to post content beyond your main feed, but you can also use interactive elements to build consumer relationships.

Remarket your content across social media sites

If implementing paid ads is part of your social media marketing strategy, you should make a point of analysing data around users who visit your site but don’t make a purchase. The chances are, if a user or follower has clicked through to your site once before, they’ll be tempted to visit again. By remarketing your content by way of display ads, you are giving yourself a second chance at a sale. Failure to include remarketing within your social media strategy makes your advertising effort less efficient.

Knowing how to create a social media strategy and utilise the various platforms to expand your brand is crucial in building an online presence. Discover even more expert advice around marketing your business, or setting up your business.