What Social Media Marketing Involves
Prepare yourself for an epiphany. At its most basic, what social media marketing involves is the act of marketing through social media. There you go. We’ve given the game away in the second sentence. No need to read on. Or is there?
Social media marketing is simple, right?
Everyone and their grandma uses Facebook. So, how hard can it be to use it as a business?
Firstly, familiarity as a user shouldn’t be confused for expertise as a marketer. Put it this way. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and assume you could cook all the dishes just because you’d tasted them all.
With this in mind, there are a few key differences between social media for businesses and social media for fun. Here’s a quick look at exactly what social media marketing involves. And the steps businesses need to take for it to work.
What Social Media Marketing Involves
Social media marketing, commonly shortened as SMM, involves marketing your business on social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, and more. “Marketing” in this context involves posting content (such as sharing videos and links, or even paid advertising within the platforms) to achieve your business goals, e.g. more sales, email subscribers, event attendees, etc.
At its most basic form, social media marketing involves making a plan.
Otherwise, you’re just posting for the sake of it.
To begin with, the purpose of your social media strategy needs to be clear. Specific, measurable goals are necessary to determine success. And, more importantly, to find out what needs to change.
Like any business or marketing plan, a social media marketing plan is a fluid, malleable strategy. It will evolve over time. However, it can be a bit of a Catch-22 at first. You don’t know what to set as a goal, because you haven’t started using social media. Yet, you might not want to start using it before you have a clear goal in mind. So, what do you do?
We’ve said it before. A bad plan is better than no plan. If you set the bar too low or too high, it’ll become obvious once you get started.
When starting out on social media, your first goal could be to encourage and enable full buy-in from your team. If the people in your business aren’t following, liking, and sharing your content, how can you expect other people to?
Consequently, the main purpose of the plan is to make sure your social media marketing efforts are in line with your overall business development plan and marketing strategy. Social media should be used to amplify your other business efforts. For example, you should share press releases, mentions in the media, new products, and positive reviews. Most importantly, any content, such as articles you produce, should end up across your social media channels.
Build an Active Presence on Social Media
Social media is much more than just creating profiles. A presence comes from being active on your chosen social media platforms. Again, if you aren’t sharing your own news, views, and content on social media, can you expect others to?
Inactive profiles are active in only one way: they actively discourage people from engaging with your brand.
Point is, you want to create a positive presence that supports your business. You don’t want to just build a place for people to send their complaints.
Social media isn’t a live support desk. So, don’t treat it like one. Otherwise, your audience will.
Put Your Social Media Marketing in Context
By the same token, presence only matters if the content is received by the right people, at the right time. That’s why context is key.
One of the most powerful aspects of social media marketing is the ability to create context around a business and its content. People no longer have to rely on the context of others, for instance, TV advertisements during prime time shows, or magazine mentions next to the right article. Significantly, with social media marketing, they are able to create context through their own content.
As well as through articles and videos, context can be created on social media through targeted advertising, hashtags, and even influencer marketing.
Read more about what social media marketing involves and how social media can create context.
Encourage and Involve Your Community
A business won’t get far without an audience. The exact definition of ‘community’ will change depending on the goals of the business. Customers, audience, network, partners. However you put it, a business needs other people in order to thrive. Especially B2B companies. We are all still human and reputation counts.
Your presence is essential because it’s what will kickstart your community. Your community will grow your presence completely outside of your own profiles, through hashtags, videos, and other user-generated content. Once you’ve hit a certain level of popularity, your community can and will produce content. This could be by sharing videos from your events or talks, writing product reviews, posting pictures on Instagram using your product, bragging about meeting a top exec in your company, or any number of things.
So how can you take advantage of this? Hashtag campaigns, video competitions, referral rewards, affiliate schemes, and sometimes just asking can go a long way. (How many times have you seen a restaurant or café menu include their hashtag? It’s just a subtle ask, but it works!)
Monitor Your Social Media Marketing Activities
Measure, monitor, track! Your social media activity can produce an at-times, overwhelming amount of data. The trick is to stick to your goals. Are you looking for increased reach? More newsletter sign-ups? Selling event tickets? Blog views?
Monitoring involves measuring the engagement of your posts and the mentions, comments, replies, and messages your profiles get online.
It goes a step further, as well. Although it’s technically not “social media”, monitoring mentions of your brand across news sites, lifestyle media, blogs, and other websites is essential. Engaging with the press and your audience through social media will build on everything else that social media involves. Your presence, your brand’s context, and your community. That’s what marketing is all about. And this is what social media marketing involves.
Plus, no one wants to be ignored after they’ve said something – good or bad. A tweet is the least you could do.
Learn more about how to make marketing on social media work for your business. Find out how to strategise. Browse our Social Media Marketing for Startups series.