What is Social Media Marketing?

social media

Social Media Marketing, as HubSpot defines, is “the action of creating content to promote your business and products on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”

Social media is a powerful tool for growing businesses to reach prospective customers and engage with them thoughtfully. Your target market is on social media already--they’re interacting with brands and with each other. If you’re not there, you’re missing out on valuable connections.

Social Media: Where Conversations Happen & Connections Are Made

We all know that social media is popular, but when we look to the numbers, the data on social media use is astounding. According to HubSpot, there are over 2.38 billion monthly active users on Facebook, and 1 billion active monthly users on Instagram. Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn have equally impressive numbers. And these numbers are growing. More and more individuals are taking to social media to interact with friends, share news and information, and get recommendations.

Your startup needs to meet these billions of people where they already are: on social media. 

That’s not to say that through social media, you’re going to reach a billion people. That shouldn’t ever be your intention...even if you believe your product or service would serve every single person around the world. Instead, your social media use should be targeted. 

And the beauty of these social media platforms when it comes to marketing is the ability to reach your niche. You can use your resources wisely to reach your target demographic without breaking your budget.

But how do you begin developing social media marketing content and campaigns? Let us help.

It Starts With a Plan

If you’ve been reading our blog or perusing our website for any length of time, you know that in most every case, we’re going to tell you that you need a plan. Social media marketing is no different.

Before you begin throwing time and resources into social media marketing, identify your goals and your overall social media strategy. To do so, you have to know who you’re trying to reach--your target demographic--and how you hope to reach them.

If you start by detailing everything you know about your ideal customer, you’ll soon have a clear picture of who you are trying to reach. In other words, you’ll have created a thorough buyer persona. We’ve written an entire article about the benefits of having clearly defined buyer personas. You can find it here. But to summarize the main points, we know that identifying your buyer personas: 

  1. Helps you learn how to talk to your prospective clients and customers. If you know who they are, you know where they are spending their time online (you’d hate to be throwing resources at Facebook when your target market is actually spending most of its time on Twitter, wouldn’t you?), and how they like to communicate. 
  2. Focuses your marketing efforts, making them more successful. If you know what your people and want and how they want to receive information, you can cater your marketing efforts accordingly. You won’t waste time on projects that drain your resources with little to no return on your investment.
  3. Avoids confusion within your organization. Creating a clear buyer persona and ensuring that every member of your organization understands it and is working with it in mind allows you to avoid confusion within your business. If everyone is on the same page, then your external communication efforts align with your marketing strategy as a whole which aligns with your product development etc. etc. etc.  

Once you clearly identify who you’re targeting and develop detailed buyer personas, you’re ready to set goals and create a plan for reaching this audience.

The bottom line for goal setting is this: SMART goals are always more likely to be met. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Every goal, whether for the entire organization, a single department, or even a single team within that department, should always follow this rubric.

Get Your Social Media Branding Checklist

When setting social media goals, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Who are you hoping to reach? (Aren’t you glad you did all that work creating buyer personas? This one should be easy)
  • What do you want to achieve with your social media marketing? (Again, be as SMART as possible: e.g. “We want to increase our page like by 15% over the next two quarters vs. “we want to gain more followers.”)
  • What is the overall message you want to share with those you interact with on social media?
  • What platform is the best fit? (Think about both your target market and where they hang out as well as what makes the most sense for your company type. B2B companies may have less success marketing on Instagram if their clients aren’t on Instagram, but they may find their niche instead on Twitter or LinkedIn.) 

What can Social Media Marketing Help Your Startup Accomplish?

Once you’ve done your research and have a plan in place for you social media marketing efforts, you’re ready to dive in to the crazy world that is social media. What are some things you can hope to accomplish? In our experience, we’ve seen well-thought-out social strategies help startups: 

  1. Establish their brand voice and personality 
  2. Build a loyal customer following
  3. Generate increased traffic to their websites
  4. Generate leads

 

There is an art to creating content for social media. Given that the number of users across these platforms worldwide is approaching 3 billion, it's worth your time to produce great content.

And anyone who follows you on social media could be considered a warm lead. They already like you and are interested in what you have to say. So you have an audience that's ready to engage with your content. This is great! But keep in mind that social media isn't the place to be overly sales-y.

Social Media: Not the Place to Be Sales-y

We are firm believers in the 80/20 rule when it comes to Social Media Marketing. 

In other words, 80% of what you post should not be sales-y. 

Gone are the days when you could sell, sell, sell, using your presence for nothing more than pushing your widget to the world. These days, brands are using social media to present their human side. Content needs to be informative, useful, and engaging. Remember, people are interacting with brands on social media because they have a question, a problem to solve, or they want information about the brand and it’s industry.

Thus, your content should be useful to your target audience based on what you know about them thanks to your buyer personas. Your posts should be filling a void for your audience. What you say on social media should give your followers something of value. 

If your business generates useful content and disseminates it on your social media platforms, your followers will come to recognize you as a thought leader and as someone they can trust to help them solve their problems. 

Make them laugh. Make them think. Show them that you are attentive to their needs and willing to communicate with them. This, of course, is the crux of inbound marketing, and we’re firm believers in it.

Doing all these things will make your audience more willing to listen when you do have something to sell, the other 20% of the time. 

Furthermore, using social media to create brand ambassadors and develop social proof is often the most significant benefit to social media marketing. If you treat your audience well, they are going to tell their friends. If they buy a product from you, and they have a positive customer experience, they’re going to talk about it.

Nothing you ever write or create will be as trusted or as influential to potential customers as what your current customers say about you.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward (Writing for Social Media)

That doesn’t mean that you can ignore what you write, or phone it in as “good enough”. You have to be on the top of your marketing game on social media. Just as you’d proofread and pour over brochures or mailings before sending them out, you must be diligent in your social media efforts.

You can make the reader feel something, take action, or be more informed simply by paying attention to your social media writing habits. Social media etiquette is different from long-form content etiquette, and the interactions with your readers come at you fast and frequent. Check out this post for 22 ways to improve your writing for social media marketing purposes.

And when you’re writing for social media, fit the content format to the potential buyers' stage in their customer journey.

First, they become aware of a problem, and they research to better define and name their problem/opportunity. Use blog posts, checklists, tip sheets, infographics, eBooks, games, and quizzes.

Second, they consider ways to solve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity. Use podcasts, webinars, worksheets, comparison matrices, and templates.

Third, the solution strategy, method, or approach is set and they compile a list of vendors and products. They shorten the list with more research and make a purchase decision. Use demos, free trials, product guides, consultations, and coupons.

Social Media Cycle

Automation and Managing Social Platforms

Marketing automation tools are truly game-changing. Especially in a hectic startup environment, they can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a failed product launch. By scheduling your posts a day, week, or even a month in advance, you free yourself (or your marketing team) to put their energy into social listening, responding thoughtfully to comments, sharing other relevant posts with your followers, etc. In other words, all those human-driven intuitive tasks that are at the core of their roles.

The alternative is these team members spend their time worrying about being at their desks at exactly 2:30 to get that update out. Or worse, if you’re marketing globally, they have to get up in the middle of the night so that update can be timed for morning coffee breaks halfway around the world. Nobody benefits from that.

Marketing automation solutions can even integrate with your CMS and include modules that let you do things like automate your email newsletter distribution. Followup emails for new leads? Yep, you can automate then, too. Like we said, game-changing. Read more about managing your social media accounts here.

Helpful Links

Marketing on Facebook 

Marketing on Instagram

Marketing on LinkedIn

The Benefits of Promoting Posts on Facebook and How to Do It 

Facebook Hacks Every Startup Should Know

Get in touch with Aspiration Marketing