Social Media Marketing (SMM) is a digital marketing tactic that uses social networking websites to develop a brand, drive inbound traffic, convert leads, and retain customers, among other marketing initiatives. Whether you're an experienced CPA Firm or a start-up tech company, you can use SMM to build and maintain relationships with your clients. Why Should SMBs Care About Social Media Marketing? To succeed in today’s competitive market, small and medium-sized businesses must have a social presence. Social media has completely overtaken society and if you are not developing your company’s social reach, you are leaving a lot of money on the table.
Consider these social media statistics that drive home the importance of social media marketing for SMBs.
- 66% of adults use Facebook every day– the most widely used social media platform.
- Instagram has over 700 million monthly users and 51% of their total users access the platform daily
- 59% of Americans with social media profiles think customer service on social media has made it easier to get questions and issues resolved
- 93% of Pinterest users make purchasing decisions based on the information received on the platform
In other words, to help your SMB reach its full potential, you must market your company on social media platforms.
With some SMM minds estimating 8% growth in social media use this year, the time has never been better for your brand to adopt better social media habits. How Does Social Media Marketing Work? Social media marketing (SMM) is a sum of its parts, each being equally important.
- Social: An organization or collective grouping of people
- Media: A medium or means of communication at scale
- Marketing: All collective actions used by a business to promote and sell products or services
These three independent concepts have combined into a phenomenon we know as social media marketing. In essence, social media is any digital platform that allows societal groups to collect, interact, and share information.
Marketing on social media isn’t unlike marketing through other channels like email or search. Social media marketers use three similar strategies: Paid, Owned, Earned.
Paid SMM: This is when marketers pay for promotion on social platforms. It could be in the form of a sponsored posts or by hiring social influencers to share your message.
Owned SMM: Owned social media is simply your brand’s individual reach on a specific social platform. The larger your social community on a platform, the more valuable owned media efforts become.
Earned SMM: Earned efforts on social media involve other members of your community sharing your brand or content. This user-generated social sharing is largely considered the most effective social media marketing strategy, but also the most difficult.
Content is at the heart of all three strategies. Social media marketing is based on sharing great content with your followers. Regardless of the platform, if you are not engaging your audience with valuable resources, then you will not succeed.
The content you choose to share on your social platforms should be a combination of internal and external resources. Curating from trusted and reliable third-parties is an excellent way to supplement content sharing, and also helps you develop relationships with tertiary influencers.
Social media is more than just a platform for growing your brand. SMBs can use social media to collect data about their target audience. Find out what your customers like by watching what they share, engage with, and talk about.
Social media is also an incredible customer relationship management (CRM) tool. SMBs can use social media to handle real issues with customers. In fact, Nielsen research estimates that 33% of consumers would rather contact brands via social media than by phone. If you want to excel at customer retention, then you need to be using your social channels effectively.
Tying it all together, social media marketing works when brands use the appropriate platform to engage and communicate with their target audience. How to Do Social Media Marketing Better Successfully integrating social media marketing into your digital marketing mix requires more than just understanding SMM. You need to learn a variety of different strategies to successfully compete on each individual social platform.
For your SMB to excel on social media, you need to follow a few key tips. Pick the right platform From the marketing perspective, social media is unique in that a number of individual social platforms have formed that target unique niches and offer different value to companies. For instance, Pinterest is a popular social media platform that lets users find, collect, and share image-based content. Thus, brands that rely on image-driven content to elicit consumer reactions will want to invest their energy on Pinterest.
Below is a quick and dirty summary of some popular social media platforms.
- Facebook: It’s the most popular social media platform and uses image, video, and text-based content. Great for business-to-customer (B2C) small and medium-sized businesses.
- Twitter: An immediacy-driven platform that is best used to share newsworthy or trending information. Can be a great channel for influencer marketing.
- LinkedIn: A professional social networking website that shares content in a similar manner to Facebook. Is great for business-to-business (B2B) marketing or B2Cs targeting business professionals.
- Pinterest: A social networking platform that is very image-driven. SMBs provide lifestyle, travel, food, and beverage, or home improvement products or services can excel on this channel.
- Instagram: A social media mobile application that targets a very similar demographic to Pinterest. It’s an image and video content medium that offers little functionality for conversion-based marketing activities. It’s mainly used for branding and influencer marketing.
- YouTube: Often thought of as a search engine, YouTube is also considered social media because of the user-generated content and engagement opportunities. Video content is going to be the future of digital marketing, so you’d be wise to invest in SMM on YouTube.
Create KPIs before starting Marketers that succeed on social media do so by carefully planning their strategy before ever posting their first piece of content. One of the most important pieces of your plan needs to be your key performance indicators (KPIs). A KPI is a measurable value that indicates whether or not you were successful in hitting a target.
As it relates to social media marketing, you can have KPIs in a number of different areas like:
- Reach: How many people saw your post? How many of those clicked through to your website?
- Engagement: How many likes, shares, comments, reposts, etc. did your content receive?
- Leads: How many email sign ups or contact forms did you receive from social media efforts?
- Sales: How many clients purchased from you because of your social efforts? How many repeat customers were saved by your relationship management efforts?
Many social media sites provide data on impressions, reach, engagement, clicks, and even leads. By collecting and tracking data on your social media efforts, you can make better strategic decisions moving forward.
Make sure that when you are setting KPIs that you set realistic expectations. It may be difficult for you to set KPI goals until after you’ve spent a few months on a platform, so don’t be afraid to iterate your KPIs after you have a better grasp of the social platform. Use third-party resources Another way for you to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts is to utilize the third-party resources you have at your disposal. There are hundreds of tools and software that make managing your social channels and growing your online community easier, so use them.
Some of the most popular third-party tools for social media marketers are:
- Open-source content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla
- Social media management platforms like Buffer and Hootsuite
- Social media data tools like Buzzsumo or Social Mention
- Curation resources like Feedly or Evernote
- Image creation tools like Canva or Piktochart (Social posts with images generate 3x more engagement than ones without)
Share great social content As mentioned previously, content is the key ingredient for successful social media marketing campaigns. Not only should you be sharing great resources, like infographics, videos, whitepapers, long-form content, but you also need to be writing compelling posts to perpetuate your followers to comment, like, share, or click on your content.
Sharing great content is important, but so is the consistency with which you share. Social media marketing needs to be frequent and uniform. Develop a posting schedule that keeps your social media manager sharing the content regularly and around the same time of day and week. We are creatures of habit and deviations from that regularity can be upsetting.
In addition to frequency, the content you share needs to have a similar theme and message. Consider building a style guide for your social marketing efforts that include topics you want to focus on, themes to avoid, influencers to curate from, and other general guidelines that help build a consistent voice through your posts.
Social media marketing (SMM) is a great resource for SMBs that want to improve their digital marketing initiatives. The above crash course will help you get acclimated with marketing on social media, but if you’d like to learn more about SMM you can utilize the additional resources below.
- Social Media Marketing for Businesses
- How to Harness the Power of Social Media Marketing
- How Microsoft Uses Social Media to Create the Customer Experience