Social media is now mainstream media.
Affecting billions around the world, they exert more impact on how people think, feel and act than any other factor. Collectively, social media influence public opinion, political landscapes, and economic environments in vast and significant ways.
From Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to YouTube, Twitter, blogs and Pinterest – social networks and apps are the stalwarts of the digital world.
As the world adopts a social-first stance in consuming content, social media marketing has become an imperative for businesses and brands both big and small.
Huge conglomerates like Coca-Cola, Ikea, Intel, and Airbnb have used social media to enhance brand awareness, grow communities and improve their marketing reach. Ditto for solopreneurs, start-ups and SMEs attracted to social media’s lower cost of entry relative to traditional media channels.
But what does social media marketing truly mean? And how can your brand leverage on this ubiquitous channel?
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing involves using social networks to create, curate and share valuable content to a targeted audience in order to market a company’s products and services. The goals of social media marketing are to increase brand awareness, build online communities, attract leads and generate revenue.
In thinking about social media marketing, it is useful to break down the different components of social media. To simplify them for easy recall, let us call them the 6 Cs:
- Customers: You need to know who your target audiences are, where they typically hang out online, and what their interests are like.
- Content: Social media eats, lives and breathes content. Your goal as a social media marketer is to create engaging and shareable content that amplifies your brand.
- Channels: There are numerous social media networks, from Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, to Pinterest and blogs. Each have their own unique qualities.
- Campaigns: Increasingly, companies realise that they need to invest some advertising funds to amplify their social media marketing activities.
- Channels: Calibration: Thanks to the availability of social media analytics tools, you can assess the results of your marketing efforts and calibrate them accordingly.
- Communities: If content is king on social media, then communities must be queen. Building a strong network of followers can help your brand gain traction online.
Let’s go through each of these components.
Who Are Your Customers On Social Media?
First and foremost, you need to identify your online customers.
What are their educational and economic backgrounds like? Where do they live? What concerns do they have in their day-to-day lives?
If you are selling to businesses, these considerations may include the size of the companies you are reaching out to, their interests, as well as their procurement processes and cycles.
Beyond these pointers, it is also important to consider your customer’s online activities. What are some of the topics that could trigger their interests? How can you distil and discern their pain points and keywords?
By mapping out your customer profile, you’ll have a stronger foundation to begin your social media marketing activities with.
What Content Should You Create On Social Media?
Content is king. On social networks, they may take a wide variety of formats, from text posts, image posts, link posts, videos, to infographics and ads.
There are three important factors to consider when you create content on social media:
- Searchable: Is your content ‘findable’ online, and will people care enough to search for it?
- Snackable: Does your content fit well into a mobile-first format? Is it easy to consume and understand?
- Shareable: Does your content make your users want to share it on their own social networks?
Beyond these factors, it is also important to consider the value of storytelling. Virtually all the legendary campaigns on social media have a strong storytelling component.
If you don’t know how to get started, check out my winning schedule for social media content creation.
Which Social Media Channels Should You Choose?
This is probably one of the most asked questions on social media marketing. The answer really depends on your goals and objectives.
Let us look at some of the more popular channels below.
With over 2.2 billion worldwide users, Facebook is the largest social network of all. Increasingly, more users access Facebook using their mobile devices.
Functioning more like a content management system than a conversational platform alone, Facebook allows you to create a wide variety of content types – from text, photos, videos, and articles, to live videos, stories (short video/photo segments typically created using a mobile phone), offers, polls, and much more.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram is ‘social media lite’ – this means that it has stripped down features with a greater emphasis on visual content like photos, videos and stories.
Due to the way it is built, Instagram tends to attract influencers with massive followings. Lifestyle brands have also used Instagram to great effect.
Now capable of allowing up to 280 characters, Twitter functions more like a broadcast and conversational channel than a content repository. Savvy users tweet multiple times a day, sharing links to their content or responding to tweets by influencers. Increasingly, tweets with embedded videos and images work better in gaining traction than pure text tweets.
With over 550 million global users, LinkedIn is the largest professional social network in the world. It is also one of the most under-used and hence opportunities abound for B2B professionals to tap this network.
Unlike the past, LinkedIn now works more like a professional reputation platform than an online resume. Companies have also used this social network to build their follower base, engage business partners, and improve their lead generating efforts.
As the second largest search engine after Google, YouTube has carved a niche for itself as the new TV. Virtually everyone watches a video on YouTube to entertain, educate or enrich themselves.
With the huge number of YouTube Channels available out there, gaining traction here requires a significant amount of investment in producing quality videos that are keyword friendly, topical and valuable.
Contrary to popular belief, blogs are not dead. Google and other search engines love blogs on websites as these are frequently updated, producing fresh and useful content for search engine users.
The beauty of blog articles is that they can be optimized to be both search engine and social media friendly. Beyond that, blogs also reside on your own website and are thus more immune to the vagaries of ever shifting social media algorithms.
What Is a Social Media Campaign?
Like any marketing effort, social media marketing is characterised by campaigns which are usually targeted at launching specific brands, product offers, or events.
These are usually fixed based on the following parameters:
- Target Audiences: They have a specific targeted audience.
- Goal Driven: They have a specific goal, measured in quantifiable results.
- Time bound: They happen during a specific time duration and date.
- Fixed budget: They normally have a fixed budget.
- Creatives: Most campaigns need attractive and engaging copy and designs to work well
- Offer: This would be the bait or hook to attract participation
In the social media world, advertising campaigns normally include a promotion or a lead magnet (a valuable piece of content, product or experience) that is used as a bait to attract participation. These are usually highly targeted to ensure that the right potential customers are drawn to the campaign.
How Do You Track Social Media Marketing Success?
Thanks to the ever-growing basket of tools and apps available, you can easily track the performance of your social media campaigns on a single or multiple social media platforms.
Social media analytics are usually measured in terms of your page or account performance or your campaign performance. Some of the indicators tracked may include the engagement rate of your posts, growth rate of fans, number of clicks to your website, as well as advertising efficiency metrics like your cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM), or cost per lead.
How Do You Build a Social Media Community?
Community building is more of an art and a science, and it requires stamina!
To succeed in growing a thriving online community, you need to adopt a systematic approach involving recruiting of new members, engaging them with valuable content and offers, sustaining community interest, and working with brand advocates. Check out this article on social media contest ideas that you can immediately use to generate more engagement and awareness for your brand and products.
Brands that have done well on this space include Whole Foods Market which regularly serves useful recipes or holiday cooking ideas to their Facebook and Instagram fans. You may also choose to follow the example of Airbnb, which crowdsources attractive photos from their network of home owners to be shared on the channel.
Ready To Learn More? Sign Up For Our Social Media Marketing Course!
What we have touched on above is just the icing on the cake.
In our two-day social media marketing course, we cover a detailed six-step process focusing on the most important social networks you need to know. You will be equipped with hands-on knowledge and valuable tools to strengthen both your skills and knowledge of social media marketing. Find out more about the course here.
Corporate storyteller, influencer, strategist, people developer, and change agent, Walter has 20 years of experience in brand development, content marketing, PR, social media marketing, strategic planning, industry development, and organisational management.
As the Chief Content Strategist of Cooler Insights, a bespoke content marketing, PR and social influence consultancy, Walter is an avid business and marketing blogger. He is also the lead trainer for Equinet Academy’s Social Media and Content Marketing courses.
Appointed by SPH to be a judge for the Singapore Blog Awards for 6 years (2010-2015), he has spoken and trained at multiple workshops and conferences on social media marketing, public relations, citizen engagement and branding.