Social media may be the most efficient way for today’s marketers to capture the attention of consumers. With social media, brands can tap into an instant and worldwide distribution channel with active and engaged participants. However, with the seemingly endless volume of content that is generated online daily, a thoughtful and carefully implemented social media marketing strategy is necessary if you want to stand out.
In this social media marketing strategy guide, you will discover:
- What is social media marketing?
- What is a social media strategy?
- 6 benefits of social media marketing
- How to create a social media marketing strategy
- Jumpstart your social media marketing strategy
- Frequently asked questions
Social media marketing (SMM) is the use of social media platforms to:
- Broaden brand awareness
- Drive site traffic
- Promote a product or service
- Increase engagement
Social media marketing can be implemented as part of both organic and paid advertising campaigns, but most companies blend the two strategies together.
With over 57% of the world’s population now using social media, it’s vitally important for businesses to meet their customers on these platforms, where they’re already spending a significant portion of their time.
However, social media marketing isn’t just about attracting the most eyeballs. As social media platforms continue to generate more insights into consumer behaviors, brands can hyper-target consumers most likely to engage and transact with them.
This is a cost-effective way for all types of businesses to quickly distribute content to relevant consumers who are likely to respond well to the brand.
A social media marketing strategy is an extensive plan of everything you aim to achieve from your social media activity. Your strategy will outline your goals and how you will achieve them. Your goals could be something like:
- Growing your brand awareness by gaining more followers on Twitter.
- Improving customer retention by responding fast to Facebook queries.
A good social media marketing strategy will detail what you need to post and when, looking at scheduling activity across all your accounts. You can:
- Promote your business/products
- Capitalize on seasonal trends and special days
- Spread awareness of your brand
If your brand has several different social media accounts — and best practice marketing suggests it really should — it might feel overwhelming trying to stay across everything.
A social media marketing strategy allows you to organize your posts, and there are several excellent management tools that can help with workflow and scheduling.
Some of the best-known social media management tools include:
- Sprout Social
DID YOU KNOW? The most popular type of social media for US adults is YouTube, with 81% of people surveyed saying they’ve used the platform.
Social media allows businesses to instantaneously reach consumers around the world and drive awareness, conversions and engagement.
The quickly changing landscape is a huge opportunity for brands willing to experiment and innovate, but it’s important to understand how these systems work to avoid being diluted by the sheer magnitude of online content.
Explore the main benefits of social media marketing:
1. Meeting customers where they already are.
The average person spends over 2 hours per day on social media platforms. This includes:
- Scrolling through news feeds
- Commenting on posts
- Messaging friends
- Watching videos
Because of this, consumers on these platforms are extremely active and ready to engage with content. If you can provide them with relevant and actionable content related to your brand, they’re much more likely to respond to your call to action than on a passive marketing channel, like TV or radio.
2. Increasing Inbound traffic.
Lucky for you, impressions on social media are cheap: CPMs on social media are around 10x cheaper than broadcast TV and 20x cheaper than direct mail. Because of this, it’s extremely efficient to get actionable content in front of people and drive traffic to your product or service.
However, this isn’t just the case for paid advertising. We’ve all heard of viral videos that have organically generated millions of views with no marketing spend. While not all brands can create viral marketing content, producing regular and consistent content for organic and paid campaigns can drive more views.
3. Increasing conversions.
The goal of marketing is ultimately to drive some conversion event, such as:
- Purchasing a product
- Downloading a gated asset
- Subscribing to a service
In addition to cheap CPMs, social media can also provide a way to strategically target customers who are more likely to take action, like purchase a product.
A common strategy to drive purchases through social media marketing is to use Facebook lookalike audiences to target segments of the population that are statistically most similar to your existing customers.
This can dramatically decrease an ad’s cost per purchase by utilizing the wealth of data Facebook aggregates around its users.
4. Raising brand recognition and awareness.
Due to the low barriers to entry and cheap distribution afforded by social media, a new brand can easily start marketing their product or service. Unfortunately, this also means consumers are overwhelmed — the average person now sees around 5,000 ads per day.
A well-executed social media marketing strategy can help brands break through that noise. A sustainable social presence helps reinforce brand awareness and allows consumers to differentiate a company’s offerings from its competitors.
5. Creating a brand identity and positive brand association.
Crafting a relatable brand that speaks to customers personally is a non-negotiable element of social media marketing. In fact, about 45% of consumers will unfollow a brand if they do too much self-promotion.
Therefore, if marketers can craft an identity on social media that relates personally to customers and is not overly promotional, it is more likely people will develop a positive brand association and convert to paying customers.
6. Tracking and quantifying performance.
Unlike traditional media sources like TV and radio, many social media platforms can precisely track everything from views to clicks to purchases. For example, Facebook provides analytics tools and dashboards to view demographics, engagement metrics, and more.
Social media platforms allow businesses to run brand awareness surveys to measure the success of more subjective marketing efforts. This provides real-time insights into the efficacy of campaigns.
In addition to making smarter decisions about adjusting future campaigns, it also allows for new strategies like real-time split testing and performance marketing.
DID YOU KNOW? With 11.2 billion total visits and 1.5 billion unique visitors, Facebook is the third most-visited website globally.
While the benefits of social media are indisputable, make sure you are focused on creating a strategy that helps you stand out among the other brands marketing to consumers on these platforms. Follow these steps to build out a successful social media marketing strategy:
1. Define your marketing goals.
Before beginning to implement a social media marketing strategy, it’s important to define your specific goals and what outcomes/successes you hope to see along the way.
Do you want to:
- Drive short-term conversions?
- Build longer-term brand awareness?
- Better engage your existing customers?
- Drive recurring sales?
A legacy brand with broad awareness might be more focused on driving immediate sales, while a startup may want to build trust and engagement with new audiences. There’s no right answer here — only you can decide your priorities.
2. Research and know your audience.
People of nearly all ages and demographics use social media platforms. Therefore, if you have a brand that is specific to certain types of consumers, you’ll want to ensure you understand how they engage online and what platforms they spend the most time on.
For instance, as new social media trends emerge, so do opportunities to engage with different demographics. For example, the explosion of TikTok has provided a unique opportunity for fast-moving brands to engage with Gen-Z consumers not as active on Facebook and other older platforms.
DID YOU KNOW? Brands post an average of 3-4 times a week on TikTok
Furthermore, different audience segments may have different views on social and political trends which can impact how they view your content and product. While it’s impossible to know exactly how consumers will respond to your campaigns with perfect foresight, doing your research and due diligence can significantly increase your chances of maintaining positive brand reception.
3. Decide on metrics.
Social media platforms provide seemingly endless data on the performance of content and ads. For businesses focused on conversion optimization for online actions like purchases, you can cross-reference your own transactional data with social media accounts through tracking systems such as the Facebook Pixel.
If your goal is to drive sales of a product, you can tweak your call to action and configure your social campaigns to strategically target consumers who are more likely to make a purchase.
This data can also be used to determine the success of ads by analyzing the cost of driving the conversion in relation to other campaigns and customer segments.
4. Research the competition.
While you certainly want your brand and content to be original, it’s useful to understand what’s already working in the marketplace. This will help you determine which factors are important to consumers and the type of copy that drives engagement.
Researching your competitors is a good starting point, as their customer base is likely to be similar to yours.
You’re not limited to their public posts — you can also view any brand’s paid ads on Facebook through the Page Transparency feature. By doing so, you can not only see what types of ads your competition is running, but strategically:
- How they’re split-testing different content types
- What countries they’re running them in
- The type of consumer feedback they’re getting
5. Audit your existing social media content.
Once you have your strategy and target audience, you’ll want to make sure your accounts tell a consistent story over time. This includes any past content that your business has produced.
Curious consumers will inevitably explore your various social media channels, so it’s often wise to audit past posts to avoid keeping content that may contradict a new message and brand story.
Content doesn’t have to be long form and detailed. There are plenty of quick-win methods to try — read our blog, 7 Social Media Activities You Can Do In Under 15 Minutes.
6. Choose which social media platforms to use.
Common social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok. Many businesses will choose to utilize most, if not all, of these platforms to ensure they reach as many people as possible. However, each platform is best for different demographics and types of content:
- Facebook and YouTube are the most widely used by adults.
- Instagram has strong usage across demographics but has a younger average user.
- Twitter has a diverse background with a large international presence.
- LinkedIn has a strong share of business and work-related users and content.
- TikTok and Snapchat have a strong hold on younger and more casual audiences.
7. Create timelines for social media posts.
Like all other content activities, social media content should typically be planned out in advance. This ensures you meet your business objectives, while also giving users an expectation of when content will be released.
Marketing automation software can be used to automate these processes, and will also improve the efficiency, consistency, and quality of your posts. Vary the content you post on social media. Sales promotion after sales promotion will push your followers away, as will repetitive messaging.
Looking for inspiration? Try our blog, 4 Types of Social Media Content That Drive Engagement.
8. Execute, test, and iterate.
Once your systems are in place, you can get to the action — publishing your social media content. Remember, this is an iterative and ongoing process. You should be constantly:
- Analyzing results
- Reviewing feedback
- Testing improvements
- Measuring against KPIs
The social media landscape is constantly evolving, so you need to be diligent in understanding your customers and meeting their evolving expectations.[TT1]
DID YOU KNOW? The USA is the country with the highest number of Twitter users at 77.75 million — way ahead of second place Japan, on 58.2.
Which social media is best for marketing?
There isn’t a single social media platform that’s better than the others. They all offer something important for brands and businesses, and you should have a presence on lots of them. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are leading platforms, but if you’re looking to engage with a younger audience, don’t forget Snapchat and TikTok either.
What can I post on social media marketing?
If you’re creating a social media marketing strategy for the first time but aren’t sure what content to create, there are lots of options. You can write posts to promote your brand’s blog — if you publish one, and you should — run surveys and campaigns, share industry news, new product releases, get involved in seasonal trends, and so on. Being creative and [TT2] consistent goes a long way.
What are the social media trends for 2022?
Social media moves fast, which is why any marketer needs to monitor trends and stay ahead of the game. Predicted trends for 2022 include brands driving on with marketing on fast-growing TikTok, increasing use and value of short form video content, and the continued rise of the meme. But keep your eyes on what’s happening in the world of social media to stay on track of what posts are getting cut-through.
Businesses need solid plans and processes in place to manage their social media marketing strategy, and Marketo provides the marketing automation solutions that help businesses run and analyze their marketing processes across all their channels.
Download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing to get a comprehensive view of how to implement a successful social media marketing strategy.