Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you're not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you're missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, creating devoted brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
Social Media Marketing 101: What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing, or SMM, is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals. Social media marketing includes activities like posting text and image updates, videos, and and other content that drives audience engagement, as well as paid social media advertising.
We’ve created this guide to provide you with an introduction to social media marketing and some starter social media marketing tips and training to improve your business's social presence.
With these tips, you can begin developing your own social media marketing expert plan.
Social Media and Marketing: Start With a Plan
Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business’s goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a social strategy in mind is like wandering around a forest without a map—you might have fun, but you'll probably get lost.
Here are some questions to ask when defining your social media marketing goals:
- What are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing?
- Who is your target audience?
- Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media?
- What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?
Your business type should inform and drive your social media marketing strategy.
Example of a drone company doing social media marketing on Instagram
For example, an e-commerce or travel business, being highly visual, can get a lot of value from a strong presence on Instagram or Pinterest. A business-to-business or marketing company might find more leverage in Twitter or Linkedin.
How Social Media Marketing Can Help You Meet Your Marketing Goals
Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:
The bigger and more engaged your audience is on social media networks, the easier it will be for you to achieve every other marketing goal on your list!
Best Social Media Marketing Tips
Ready to get started with marketing on social media? Here are a few social media marketing tips to kick off your social media campaigns.
- Social Media Content Planning — As discussed previously, building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research and competitive research to help brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience. What are other businesses in your industry doing to drive engagement on social media?
- Great Social Content — Consistent with other areas of online marketing, content reigns supreme when it comes to social media marketing. Make sure you post regularly and offer truly valuable information that your ideal customers will find helpful and interesting. The content that you share on your social networks can include social media images, videos, infographics, how-to guides and more.
A great Facebook ad should be consistent with your whole brand image
- A Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’s core identity, whether it's friendly, fun, or trustworthy, should stay consistent.
- Social Media for Content Promotion — Social media marketing is a perfect channel for sharing your best site and blog content with readers. Once you build a loyal following on social media, you'll be able to post all your new content and make sure your readers can find new stuff right away. Plus, great blog content will help you build more followers. It's a surprising way that content marketing and social media marketing benefit each other.
- Sharing Curated Links — While using social media for marketing is a great way to leverage your own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also an opportunity to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Curating and linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.
- Tracking Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing channel or technique that seems to be working for them, considering doing the same thing, but do it better!
Measuring social media performance through Twitter Analytics
- Measuring Success with Analytics — You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your most triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them. And be sure to use the analytics within each social platform for even more insight into which of your social content is performing best with your audience.
- Social Media Crisis Management — Things don't always go swimmingly for brands on social media. It's best to have a playbook in place so your employees know how to handle a snafu. Check out our guide to social media crisis management to see examples of the worst social media disasters, plus tips on how they should have been handled.
How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Marketing
Here's a brief overview about how to use social media for marketing according to each platform’s unique user base and environment. Different social media marketing sites require different approaches, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.
Using Facebook for Social Media Marketing
Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy. Start by creating a Facebook Business Fan Page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience.
Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly. And remember, organic reach on Facebook can be extremely limited, so consider a cost-effective Facebook ad strategy, which can have a big impact on your organic Facebook presence as well!
Using Google+ for Social Media Marketing
Google+ entered the scene as a Facebook competitor, but it now serves a more niche audience. It won't work for everybody, but some communities are very active on Google+.
On Google+ you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.
You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you're a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you're feeling adventurous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen into your fan's feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.
Using Pinterest for Social Media Marketing
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media marketing trends. Pinterest’s image-centered platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes or sales-driving ads.
Pinterest allows businesses to showcase their product offerings while also developing brand personality with eye-catching, unique pinboards. When developing your Pinterest strategy, remember that the social network's primary audience is female. If that's your demographic, you need a presence on Pinterest!
Using Twitter for Social Media Marketing
Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.
Mix up your official tweets about specials, discounts, and news with fun, brand-building tweets . Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget to answer people’s questions when possible. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible to nurture and build your following.
Using LinkedIn for Social Media Marketing
LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. It's also great for posting jobs and general employee networking.
Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations makes your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established as a thought leader and earns trust.
Using YouTube for Social Media Marketing
YouTube is the number one place for creating and sharing video content, and it can also be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google, so don't under-estimate the power of video content!
Location-Based Social Media Tools
Social media platforms like Yelp, FourSquare, and Level Up are great for brick and mortar businesses looking to implement marketing on social media. Register on these sites to claim your location spot, and then consider extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts. Remember, these visitors will have their phones in hand, so they will be able to write and post reviews. A lot of good reviews can significantly help sway prospective visitors to come in and build your business!
Using Reddit for Social Media Marketing
Reddit, or similar social media platforms such as Stumble Upon or Digg, are ideal for sharing compelling content. With over 2 billion page views a month, Reddit has incredible social media marketing potential, but marketers should be warned that only truly unique, interesting content will be welcomed. Posting on Reddit is playing with fire—submit spammy or overtly sales-focused content and your business could get berated by this extremely tech-savvy community.
If you have content you believe the Reddit community (majority is young, geeky, liberal, and internet-obsessed) would enjoy, you could reap tremendous benefits and earn valuable traffic.
Using social media in marketing does more than improve site traffic and help businesses reach more customers; it provides a valuable venue for better understanding and learning from your target audiences.
Paid Social Media Marketing Tips
We love paid social advertising because it's a highly cost-effective way to expand your reach. If you play your cards right, you can get your content and offers in front of a huge audience at a very low cost. Most social media platforms offer incredibly granular targeting capabilities, allowing you to focus your budget on exactly the types of people that are most likely to be interested in your business. Below are some tips and resources for getting started with paid social media marketing:
Learn the ins and outs of social media advertising on four major networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
If you know how to use it properly, Facebook can be one of the most powerful advertising platforms for driving your business forward. And it's not just for raising brand awareness. In this guide, you'll learn how to create effective Facebook ads that generate real leads.
If you're already advertising on Facebook and are looking to save time AND money, check out WordStream Social Ads, our new offering that makes Facebook advertising easier and more effective.
Many businesses aren’t quite sure how to tackle marketing on Twitter from a paid perspective. It’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and if you don’t quite know what you’re doing, you could wind up wasting a ton of money. Learn how to master Twitter advertising in this guide.
More Social Media Marketing Help
Looking to learn more detailed information about implementing social media in marketing? Get more information about social media and how to use it for your business.
Social Ads 101 - Visit PPC University to learn everything you need to know about advertising on social media.
Most Searched Social Media Keywords - Popular keywords related to social media.
Our 13 Best Social Media Marketing Tips Ever - The best of the best!
Do Facebook Ads Work? - Learn how Facebook advertising works, and why.
5 Reasons to Advertise on Facebook - If you're not using Facebook ads yet, you should. Here's why!
The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Remarketing - For advanced Facebook advertisers. Learn how to recapture lost audiences and close those leads!
Experts Guide to Keyword Research for Social Media - Learn about how to conduct winning keyword research for various social media marketing campaigns.