In recent years, more and more brands are turning to social media for marketing purposes. Indeed, social media marketing has proven to be very effective towards many goals; lead generation, increasing brand awareness and loyalty, and so forth. However, there are also many pitfalls for the unsuspecting and unprepared. Loose and unrefined strategies can have a very poor return on investment (ROI), and improper ones can even damage your brand. Thus, it is vital to know exactly how to build a good social media marketing strategy from start to finish.
Why social media marketing is a good idea
For one, let us briefly touch on why you should consider social media as a valid, lucrative marketing option. Among others, three common reasons are as follows:
1. Social media offers a vast potential audience
It is no exaggeration that nearly half of the world’s population uses social media. Approximately 4.4 billion people use the Internet today, which already renders them a potential audience for digital marketing strategies. Better yet, roughly 3.5 billion people use social media specifically. That’s a staggering number; about 45% of the world’s population is on social media.
2. It’s cheaper than marketing on traditional media
In terms of cost per thousand impressions (CPM), it’s astoundingly cheaper to advertise on social media. 2.5$ on social media is just as effective as roughly 28$ on broadcast TV or 16$ on the press. Social media marketing is undeniably cost-effective.
3. It offers unique interaction options
Lastly, advertising on social media offers much more direct communication. Brands can interact with audiences in unique ways, such as through contests and giveaways, that are otherwise impossible. If done properly, this can come off as more authentic and help incite brand loyalty.
Building a good social media marketing strategy
Having established why social media marketing can be very effective, let us explore how to build an optimal marketing strategy.
Define your purpose for being on social media
The very first step should be to carefully define your strategy’s goal. There are a plethora of realistic, reasonable goals that you could build your strategy around. Your exact goals will inevitably depend on your brand and its needs, but the main ones include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing engagement
- Driving web traffic
- Conversions and sales
- Customer retention
As the above goals differ substantially, focusing your strategy around only one of them is of paramount importance. In doing so, you can refine your strategy towards that one goal and later evaluate its effectiveness.
Try to sum up your strategy’s purpose as concisely as possible; e.g., “we will use Instagram to increase brand awareness by x%”. This way, you can set clear, solid goals for your marketing team, as well as a benchmark for effectiveness.
Establish your target audience
As you establish your goals, you should ascertain that you know your target audience. You should identify your key demographics in advance, since this information will inform your following choices and overall strategy.
Fortunately, various analytics tools can facilitate this process. All information you can gather before and after launching your social media marketing strategy will be vital. All identifiers are relevant; from age, gender, and ethnicity, to interests, education, income, and spending habits. You can even conduct surveys through such means as Google Forms to collect information, while also engaging with your audience.
Choose the platform that best suits your social media marketing strategy
With the aforementioned information in hand, you should then find the platform that best suits your brand’s needs and goals. While it’s feasible to eventually expand your social media marketing strategy to many channels, it’s best to start small.
Each social media platform has key characteristics that determine how appropriate it is for your brand. Namely:
- The platform’s focus (e.g. visual versus text, content limitations)
- Its active user base
- Its key demographics
For example, Pinterest better facilitates visually stimulating content, and its main user demographic is women. Twitter presents a word count limit and is more time-sensitive, and its users’ main age group is under 50. Therefore, you should carefully consider which platform’s focus suits your product or service, as well as which demographics it offers.
Create regular, quality content and engage with your audience
At this point, you should have a clear goal, an established audience, and an optimal medium. However, a good social media marketing strategy hinges on creating regular, engaging content. Fortunately, social media excels at facilitating engagement.
Visually stimulating content tends to be the most effective by far. Therefore, consider using sharp visuals, bold fonts, and infographics. Better yet, you can consider video content, if your team can produce it and it suits your brand. Humor, bold messaging, and contemporary culture can also work very well, as long as they feel authentic. Don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from modern trends and pioneers in your field, as well as from your competitors.
Lastly, remember to frequently engage with your audience. Time-limited events, if appropriate, such as sweepstakes and giveaways, can drive engagement. Polls, contests, and similar posts can do so too, and are often more welcome – and effective – than traditional promotional material.
Evaluate and refine your social media marketing strategy
Finally, it is vital to constantly monitor your strategy post-launch. No amount of research and planning can guarantee that it will fully meet your goals on the first attempt.
Therefore, you should maintain a close eye on the metrics that are most valuable to you. Isolate the metrics that are most crucial for your goals, and micro-manage your strategy as it unfolds. It’s much more efficient to dynamically implement small changes in response to emerging circumstances than to completely revamp your approach. Examine and compare different strategies, so that you refine your strategy in real-time and improve your ongoing and future efforts.
It should thus be clear that any social media marketing strategy hinges on research, effort, oversight, and adaptation. The foundation of any strategy relies on a keen understanding of one’s own brand, its goals, and its intended audience. Hopefully, this article has helped you identify what deserves your attention, and where your efforts should be invested.
Trevor Grant is a freelance web designer and a regular blog writer for digitaldot.us, a pioneering digital marketing agency based in New York. When he’s not working, Trevor enjoys catching up on all tech-related news and spending time with his wife.