There’s no denying the effect that social media marketing can have on your business. Social media marketing allows businesses to compete on a level playing field alongside competitors of any size. It also provides access to key demographics, which is essential for companies to grow. However, building a powerful and effective social media marketing strategy can be overwhelming. Where do you even start?
In this comprehensive guide to social media marketing, we’ll cover everything you need to know to set up a robust social media strategy. From what needs to be included in your strategy to a breakdown of the different platforms and what they’re best used for – you’ll discover everything you need to know right here.
In this article, we’ll be covering the following topics related to social media marketing:
- Social media marketing – what is it and how is it used?
- Benefits of having a social media roadmap
- How to set up your social media strategy
- Paid social media marketing
- Assessing your strategy
- A detailed breakdown of the best social media platforms
Social Media Marketing – What Is It and How Is It Used?
Social media marketing uses different digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram to promote your business. Social media provides businesses an excellent opportunity to build an audience, engage with customers, attract leads and drive sales. These social media platforms can be used as marketing tools to highlight your offerings and brand voice.
A recent survey found that as of January 2022, 3.96 billion people were using social media across all the different platforms. This makes social media platforms ideal for extending your reach to new potential customers. By having an effective strategy in place on these platforms, you have easier access to all of these potential consumers.
Benefits Of Having A Social Media Roadmap
A social media roadmap or strategy is your plan that clearly defines what you want to achieve with social media, how to reach those goals, and how to measure the strategy’s success. Many small businesses and individuals approach their social media strategy haphazardly with no clear plan.
Some of the benefits of having a social media strategy in place include:
- Having a clear direction and purpose for all content
- It makes it easier to generate engaging content
- Having a benchmark basis for reporting on results
- Making it easier to develop structured campaigns with a goal
- Empowers your team to work more efficiently
Setting Up Your Social Media Strategy
Setting up a social media marketing strategy may seem overwhelming. However, once completed, it’ll provide social media marketers and their teams with a clear roadmap of what has to be done. This will make any future social media strategies much easier to implement and evaluate the results. In order to reap the benefits that social media platforms hold, it’s essential to take some time and set up a social media strategy.
Social Media Marketing: Have Set Goals
The first step when setting up your social media marketing plan for social media is to clearly define your goals and key performance metrics (KPI). You need to clarify what exactly you want to achieve and how to track your progress.
Set Your Social Media Goals
Do you want to increase brand awareness? If so, your social media marketing strategy will require creating a consistent brand style and voice, building a loyal community, and developing a balanced multi-channel social media strategy.
Alternatively, you might want to focus on generating leads and sales? In this case, you’ll need to develop a social media marketing plan to generate leads across every stage of the consumer’s journey. The buyer’s journey can be divided into awareness, interest and conversion. The content that will appeal to buyers during these stages will vary.
During the awareness stage, you should focus on providing the potential consumer with information about your brand, your beliefs and anything else that will help them to get to know your business. In the interest stage, the buyer actively seeks a solution to their problem. You’ll have to convince them that your brand is the solution. Finally, they’ll reach the last stage, conversion. Here, they’ve already decided, and you can add more value by offering a trial, discounts or other helpful information to make the buyer feel taken care of.
Another popular goal for social media marketers is to boost customer engagement. By keeping your customers engaged, you’ll ensure that your brand is top of mind when it comes to bringing products or services. The best way to achieve this is by creating engaging content. Your content has to resonate with your audience and should define your brand as a leading authority within your audience.
The engagement rate can also be measured, making it a great metric to monitor if you’re reaching your goals. While most marketers agree that a reasonable engagement rate across platforms is between 1% – 5%, this rate can be narrowed down. The engagement rate can be affected by the platform you use, the content you post, what time you post, your audience, and more.
The average engagement rates according to each platform are:
- Facebook – 0.18%
- LinkedIn – 2%
- Twitter – 0.04% per tweet
- TikTok – 18%
- Instagram – 0.61% – 0.81%
Establish Your Most Important KPIs
Once you’ve finalized your goals, you also need to devise how you’ll measure their performance. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial for your team to see what’s working and improve what isn’t working to reach the goals.
You can set weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual goals. You can even break up yearly goals into smaller monthly ones to keep your team on track. These goals can be set by using your previous results as a benchmark and improving from there. Remember to keep your goals realistic!
Some popular KPIs to consider include:
- Reach – how many people has your content reached, how many have seen it
- Clicks – how many individuals have clicked on links to your website
- Engagement – how many people interact with your content in the form of likes, shares and comments.
- Hashtag performance – how many individuals have used your brand’s hashtag.
- Organic and paid likes – track these campaigns separately.
- Sentiment – track positive and negative opinions about your brand.
- Followers – how many people are following your brand.
- Impressions – how many times did your content appear on people’s timelines.
- Profile visits – how many people have visited and looked at your profile.
- Mentions – how many people have mentioned your brand on their pages.
- Shares – how many people have been sharing your content.
Social Media Marketing: Know Your Audience
To create compelling content, you have to know your audience. You must know what type of content they prefer, topics they enjoy, the social media platforms they use most frequently, and more.
Find out more about your audience. Where are they based? What is their age group? What industries do they work in? What gender is your audience? This is vital information to have as it defines who you’ll be creating content for. Once you have a clear indication of your audience, it’ll be easier to decide on the voice you want to use in your social media campaigns.
Best Times To Post
Posting at the optimal time will ensure that your audience sees your content when they’re online. It won’t help your campaign if you post at a time when the bulk of your audience is at work, asleep or otherwise occupied. You want your content to be the first thing they see, not buried under newer content from other brands.
You have to understand what type of content your audience prefers. Does your audience prefer watching videos? Do they want to engage with the brand live? Do they like clicking on links? Or do they prefer images with some text? When it comes to content, it’s also important to know what tone of content your audience enjoys. Do they like humorous content or educational? In a recent survey, 80% of social media marketers stated that funny content was most effective in their strategies. However, this does not apply to all industries or audiences. For example, people looking for ways to support their health might not enjoy joke posts.
Do Competitive Analysis
As you set up your social media marketing strategy, you must also be aware of what your competitors are doing. Take a look at their social media pages to see what they’re talking about and what posts are successful and which aren’t. This will give you more insight into the type of content that resonates with your audience.
Social Media Marketing: Conduct A Social Media Audit
Conducting a social media audit is a great way to check what’s working and what isn’t. Not only is it a good idea to run one as you plan your social media marketing strategy, but it’s also great to do one every couple of months just to ensure your strategy is still on the right track. In order to conduct a social media audit, you need to::
- Check the current metrics of all your active social media channels. Take note of your current reach, engagement rate and clicks.
- Evaluate the best and worst performing content. Try to find out why specific posts are performing better and what’s missing in others that can be improved.
- Finally, compare the results with your team’s goals. Did you exceed the goals set, or did you miss the mark? By knowing why you exceeded the results, you can try to replicate them in future, and knowing why you didn’t meet your goals; you can identify areas that need improvement.
Choose Your Social Media Platforms
While creating accounts on all social media sites is tempting, this is not always the best idea. There are so many social media platforms available that being active and effective on all of them might be an impossible challenge unless you have a large social media marketing team to handle all these accounts.
That’s why it’s recommended that you start with the platforms where most of your target audience is. It’s better to perform really well on one or two platforms than try to become active on all of them and sacrifice the quality of your strategy. Once you’ve got a good plan in place on your top platforms, you can also look at expanding to other platforms. Later in the article, we’ll be exploring the major social media platforms in detail so that you can choose the ones that will benefit your business the best.
Have Your Social Media Presence In Order
The best digital marketing experts will develop a strategy that’s consistent and recognizable with your brand. Here are a few social media marketing tips to ensure your media presence is clearly associated with your brand and business:
- Optimize your profiles across all your social media platforms. Make sure all the content in your profile is correct and consistent and that all URLs are up to date.
- Do shout-outs, as they’re a great way to cultivate customer loyalty. You can do this by sharing customer reviews or even thanking your top clients or supporters.
- Having a consistent brand image is vital. Make sure that the logos, colors, fonts and images you use clearly represent your brand and are consistent across all platforms.
- Don’t underestimate user-generated content (UGC). If someone creates high-quality content that involves your brand, share it on your page and give them credit.
Social Media Marketing: Develop A Brand Voice
A brand voice is the tone of all your communication. Social media marketers understand how important branding is. Branding is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your business is easily recognizable. Branding includes the logos, colors, fonts and even images used. It also includes the tone with which you communicate with your target audience. Having a consistent voice lends credibility to your posts and makes your audience feel more connected to your business.
Keep the following factors in mind when deciding on your brand voice:
- Acceptable type of language, including the use of slang
- The tone of language, whether formal, informal, humorous, etc
- If and how emojis will be used
- How to respond to negative posts, comments or events
- Whether to use singular or plural pronouns
Social Media Marketing: Create And Curate Social Content
Once you know your brand tone and target audience, you can start creating and curating social media content. A good social media strategy should include created and curated content.
Content creation is any content that’s been uniquely created for your brand or business. You can create this content in-house or use content creation services, and at the end of the day, the content is your property. Alternatively, curated content is created by other brands that you share on your account (giving the original creator credit, of course). This would be content that resonates with your audience and also builds a relationship between your brand and other figures in your community.
Set out a few different content themes for your brand. These should be topics that are related to your brand and that your target audience would find interesting. These could be related to specials, new products, staff introductions, news and others.
Combine all your individual posts into stories that convey a more complete and complex idea. This use of ephemeral content connects better with your audience. Stories also have a higher chance of being seen and interacted with, so don’t underestimate their power.
Long videos require a lot more work as you’ll need scriptwriting, editing and more. However, creating short social media videos is much easier, and they’re extremely powerful. There are different types of short-form videos that convey other messages.
These videos are aimed at getting conversions. They should be striking and grab the viewer’s attention within seconds. In these videos, it’s a good idea to present a pain point and how your product or service solves this issue. Good promotional videos also include testimonials for social proof and always have a call-to-action (CTA).
Engaging videos are meant to get your audience involved. These are usually fun ways to interact and connect with your target audience. It can be in the form of challenges (related to your brand) or getting them to help name a new product, or even asking users for feedback on your content.
These include tutorials and how-to videos and are extremely popular at the moment. You can create videos that show users how to use or set up one of your products. Alternatively, you can also go broader and share information on your industry. For example, if you sell hair care products, you can share a video showing how to wash hair properly or how to correctly blow dry your hair. If you struggle to create instructional videos, you can consider a listicle format as they’re also educational and popular.
Editorial media does not push sales but instead drives engagement. These videos usually feature celebrities, events, athletes, sports, and more. Their licensing restricts the use of editorial videos for commercial use.
Images are also highly effective. Some platforms and even specific audiences prefer still images as opposed to videos. You can easily create images from product photos, branded images or even behind-the-scenes photos. Other great sources for images include curated stock images, user-generated content (UGC) and influencer photos.
Infographics are a great way to share visually appealing and easily understood data. You can create infographics based on your own business, brand or products, or you can curate infographics from industry trends.
How-to guides are a great way to provide more support to your potential customers. People want to use products and services easily, so having these guides available adds great value to your consumers. You can create guides showing how to use your products or services.
Once you start tracking your performance, you’ll soon see what content and topics perform the best. This will make it much easier to create and curate more related content that will also perform well. This takes the guesswork out of what content to post.
Mix It Up
Having a variety of content available will mean reaching more of your target audience as there will be something for everyone. Use a mixture of user-generated content (UGC), image posts, videos (live and pre-recorded), text-based posts and even polls.
Social Media Marketing: Create A Social Media Calendar
The final step in your social media marketing strategy is to create a social media calendar. It may just be tempting to start publishing content, but a calendar will help your team to:
- Publish content consistently
- Post content at the ideal times
- Carve out times for time-sensitive promotions such as Christmas specials, etc
- Post topics in a chronological order that makes sense
- Space out topics to keep your audience engaged
There are many social media management tools that enable users to schedule content, these usually also include a calendar view so that you can clearly see what’s happening when and on which social platform – this makes these tools very convenient to use.
Paid Social Media Marketing
Before we can look into assessing your strategy, we need to cover paid social media advertising campaigns as well. Should you go with paid or organic content in your social media marketing plan? While it’s possible to build a strong and loyal following organically, using paid marketing can speed up the process when used correctly. If you decide to run a paid social media marketing campaign, make sure to keep the KPI separate from your organic metrics. This way, you can monitor how effective the paid strategy is and if it’s worth it. You don’t want to continue paying for a strategy that doesn’t bring in more value than your organic strategy.
Most social media platforms offer advertising opportunities. You can use these opportunities to design marketing campaigns to target users during their buyer’s journey. You can create awareness campaigns to introduce your brand to new potential customers and increase your traffic. You can also generate consideration campaigns that increase interest and consumer engagement. Finally, you can create conversion campaigns to encourage sales.
The advertising platforms on social media also offer many different ways to target your audience better. This makes it easier to ensure the right people see your content. You can usually target based on location, gender, and other demographics.
Facebook ads are very affordable, and you can start running a campaign on Facebook and Instagram (as the same company owns them) for just $1 a day. Using the Facebook Ads platform, your content will appear on Facebook, Instagram and Facebook’s Audience Network (this includes Messenger).
The Twitter Ads platform is just as powerful as Facebook’s and offers many useful marketing features to ensure a successful campaign. With the Twitter Ads platform, you can connect with other Twitter users on their timelines or in the Explore tab.
How Much Does It Cost To Advertise On Social Media Marketing Platforms?
There are quite a few factors that impact a company’s social media marketing budget. Businesses and industries are also different, and while some businesses require a very big ad spend budget, others can make do with a much smaller budget. When it comes to setting up a social media marketing budget, you have to include the following expenses:
- Ad spend: actual amount spent on your social ads
- Social media technology: platforms and software used
- Talent: in-house marketers, content creators, photographers, etc
- Professional services: social media agency or content creation services, etc
The average amount that businesses allocate to social media ad spend is between $200 – $350/day. Depending on your industry, strategy and available funds, you may spend more or less this amount.
Assessing Your Strategy
In order to know if your social media marketing efforts are effective and reaching the goals you set, you’ll need to analyze and assess the strategy. This is essential to ensure that if your strategy isn’t working, you can make the necessary improvements to reach your goals.
Every social media platform has its own set of analytics tools you can refer to in order to see how your social media content is performing. Alternatively, any social media management platform will also include its own analytics so that you can monitor your progress directly on the platform. These social media analytics will show valuable insights regarding your social media content, such as:
- Your audience growth
- Your reach and impressions
- The engagement per post
- Brand awareness
- Customer sentiment
With this information, you’ll be able to see which social media posts are performing well so that you can replicate that success. It will also show you which posts aren’t performing so well so that you can avoid those pitfalls in the future. You’ll also be able to monitor whether your progress is on track with your goals or if you need to re-think your approach in order to meet your business objectives.
Retest And Reevaluate
As a social media marketer, you’ll see that your strategy involves a lot of testing, retesting and evaluating. This is because once a social media post is successful, you want to try and recreate that success with future content. This means identifying what elements work and testing them in a new post to see if your assumptions are correct. Once you’ve discovered what content works best for your audience, you can do more of it. This means:
- Focussing on the type of content (video, images, text) that your audience prefers
- Writing more social media captions that you’ve found to generate engagement with your audience
- Posting more consistently and at times that are best for your audience
- Creating more social media advertising that generates clicks and conversions
Like many elements of digital marketing, social media management requires continuous learning. There will be new platforms popping up that social media marketers will have to learn how to use. Ranking algorithms are also frequently updated on social media platforms to improve the user experience. As such, a social media marketer must be aware of any changes to adapt the social media plan as needed. Social media marketing courses and podcasts are a great way to stay on top of any social media trends.
Detailed Breakdown Of The Best Social Media Platforms
There are many different social media sites to choose from. Whether your goals are to increase brand awareness, generate leads or increase website traffic, you need to know which social media platforms will work best for your industry and audience. You want to make sure that you focus most of your social media efforts on the platforms where your target audience spends most of their time.
Facebook is one of the oldest social platforms, and remains one of the biggest and most popular. Many of the younger generation also believe Facebook to be old, but don’t let its age fool you. This platform still has a lot of monthly active users, which makes it a good option for social media marketing.
What Content Works Best?
Similar to many other platforms, video content does very well on Facebook. This social media platform can support still images with text, carousels, short videos and more. Many digital marketers have found that video content, especially vertical videos, has the highest engagement rates on Facebook.
When And How Often To Post On Facebook
You want to make sure that you stick to a posting schedule and post regularly. You can post a couple of times a week and up to once a day. However, remember that quality content is more important than quantity when it comes to building an audience and expanding your reach. If you can post two or three stellar pieces of content a week, your social media account might perform better than if you posted every single day, but the content was of a lower value.
Organic Vs. Paid Content
A Facebook account’s main goals are to generate brand awareness and drive traffic to your website. On this social media platform, both organic and paid content can help you achieve these goals. Paid traffic is great for enhancing your reach and spreading your content further than your current followers. In fact, without spending some money, you’ll find it very slow to gain new followers.
Facebook Demographics And Target Audiences
The most recent Facebook demographics showed that more than half of the platform’s users are male. The largest age group of users is between 25-35 of age. Facebook pages in the following industries perform well on this social media platform:
- Sports related accounts
- Fashion related accounts
- Retail food accounts
- Electronics accounts
- Media accounts
Instagram has quickly grown to become one of the largest platforms for short-form visual content. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which can be text-driven, Instagram focuses on visuals. Meta owns Instagram and Facebook, so many of the tools and principles that apply to Facebook also apply to Instagram. This makes sharing content between the two social media platforms a lot easier. Instagram is a mobile-first platform, so in order to do well, you have to ensure your content is optimized for mobile.
What Content Works Best?
Instagram is a media-rich platform, and photos, images and short videos perform best on the social media site. Video usage on Instagram has grown tremendously because of the Stories and Reels features. As such, it’s a good idea to combine still images and videos in your Instagram content plan.
When And How Often To Post On Instagram
There isn’t a single straightforward answer on how often to post on Instagram. Some accounts post daily and have a large following, whereas others post a few times a week and get the same results. It’s generally good practice to post content on your feed at least two to three times a week and daily on your Stories.
Organic Vs. Paid
Similarly to Facebook, you can run ads directly on Instagram. Since both Facebook and Instagram have the same owner, it’s easy to create your ad campaigns for both platforms from the same ad platform. Also, a good marketing strategy will be to aim for both organic and paid content on Instagram.
Instagram Demographics And Target Audiences
The average demographic for Instagram tends to be younger, between 18 – 34 years of age. The following industries tend to perform well on Instagram:
- Traveling related accounts
- Beauty related accounts
- Fashion related accounts
- Health and fitness-related accounts
- Lifestyle-related accounts
TikTok is one of the newest social media platforms and also one that grew to fame in a very short amount of time. It has an impressive number of active monthly users and is definitely a platform to consider in your digital marketing strategy. TikTok is mainly a video-sharing platform for mobile, so it’s important to have your content optimized for mobile when targeting this social media platform. TikTok also features content on a lot of different topics, which means it’s possible for most industries to use this social platform to their advantage.
What Content Works Best?
TikTok is a video-sharing app, and as such, video content is required. Videos are usually between 15 seconds and three minutes long. However, aside from the short-video content required, there are certain types of video content that also do better when it comes to marketing your business. With TikTok, it’s important to connect personally with your audience. Videos showing how a product is made or how it’s used does well. Also, videos showing a behind-the-scenes tour of your company or production floor also get good results. TikTok can also be used effectively to introduce new products or services and explain why you developed them.
Due to the nature of the platform, it has gained popularity among the younger generations. About a quarter of TikTok users are between the ages of 10-19, and globally about 41% are between the ages of 16-24 years of age. As such, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends to see how you can incorporate them into your content where appropriate. The following industries tend to perform very well on TikTok:
- Beauty related accounts
- Fashion related accounts
- Jewelry related accounts
- Art related accounts
- Interior design and accessory-related accounts
Twitter is a primarily text-based microblogging platform. Users only have 280 characters to get their message out and link to other content. Although it is possible to add images and even videos to your tweets, it is largely a discussion-based social media platform. It’s great to open discussions and peak interests but not ideal for lengthy engagements or building a community.
What Content Works Best?
Due to the fast-paced nature of the platform, it’s best to share quick opinions or statements and easily digestible content. You can add images and videos to make your content stand out, but like many other platforms on Twitter, still images perform better than videos. It’s best used for sharing quick news about your business, such as the release of new products, upcoming promotions, and things like that. Twitter is useful if your social media strategy’s goals are to raise brand awareness and drive traffic to your website or other social platforms.
More than half of Twitter users are male, and approximately 30% are between the ages of 25 – 35 years of age. The industries that do particularly well on Twitter include:
- Travel related accounts
- Mobile app-related accounts
- Leisure related accounts
- Content related accounts
- Online-sales related accounts
YouTube is considered one of the biggest social media platforms and is also the second most visited website in the world. YouTube is considered the preferred video-sharing service globally and contains a large variety of videos. YouTube is also a great platform for hosting all your video content in order to embed it into your website without slowing down the page speed too much. On the platform, you can create longer videos than on TikTok, and you also have the option to create ‘Shorts,’ which are short videos. You can also do live streams to engage with your audience while streaming. It’s recommended to add content from all three of these categories to really get the most out of your social media marketing efforts on YouTube.
What Content Works Best?
As a video-sharing platform, it’s clear that videos work best on YouTube. However, certain videos perform better than others. While it is possible for nearly any industry to create video content for YouTube, certain types of video content perform better than others. How-to videos, unboxing videos and release videos generally do very well. Vlogs and challenge videos are also popular on the platform. YouTube is a great platform to promote engagement and build a community.
YouTube has a fairly even split between male and female users, and the average age range is between 16 – 35. Industries that do particularly well on YouTube include:
- Tech-related accounts
- Gaming related accounts
- Food and drink-related accounts
- Beauty related accounts
- Fashion related accounts
LinkedIn is considered more of a social networking site where professionals can connect with one another. LinkedIn is very beneficial for those working in the business-to-business arena, but that doesn’t mean other businesses can’t benefit from the platform. LinkedIn is a great platform to promote your company and be seen as a leader within your industry. An effective LinkedIn social media marketing strategy can boost brand exposure and recruitment purposes and is also useful for attracting influencers.
What Content Works Best?
On LinkedIn, you can share a range of different types of content, including text articles, videos and images. However, an important aspect to consider when creating and curating content for the platform is that it’s mainly a B2B platform, and your content should speak on that level. A few examples of topics that do well are inside industry information, news and current events, quick tips and current information.
Once again, we see a relatively even split between male and female users on LinkedIn. However, the audience is generally older than some of the other social platforms, and most users range between 46 – 55 years of age. Industries that do well on LinkedIn include:
- IT related accounts
- Hospital and healthcare-related accounts
- Construction related accounts
- Retail related accounts
- Educational management-related accounts
Pinterest isn’t your typical social media site. It functions more as a place where you can save interesting and relevant content rather than distributing it (although that is possible). However, it has a large daily following and can be used for digital marketing, especially if you have great visual content and your target audience is mostly women.
What Content Works Best?
Pinterest is a great platform to share curated content that’s related to your industry. However, don’t forget to add some of your own created content to help drive traffic to your website and other social media platforms. Pinterest relies on striking images or short videos. It’s only based on these images that a user might decide to click on the link to read more. As such, clear and engaging images are key. Content that works especially well is DIYs and how-tos.
Approximately three-quarters of Pinterest users are female, with 38% of all users being between the ages of 50-64 years. The industries that typically do well on the Pinterest social media platform include:
- Retail related accounts
- Architecture and home decor-related accounts
- Local business-related accounts
- Non-profit related accounts
- Art related accounts
Social media marketing is a great way to expand your reach, drive traffic and engage with your target audience. However, it can be overwhelming to get started, which is why a social media strategy is so important. Make sure to get your plan in place to make the most of your social media efforts.