Not too long ago, the internet was an activity. We’d come home from work or school, and spend maybe an hour or two gaming, catching up on news, or interacting with our friends. Engagement levels were similar to that of television. Now that’s all changed. Today, we’re connected every waking moment, and social media plays a major role in all of this.
We bank, shop, interact with one another, order food, watch movies, and pay bills online. Brands who want to engage with potential customers must reach them where they are, and that’s on the internet. That’s why social media marketing has exploded.
The problem is that if you’re new to all of this, it can be more than a little overwhelming. The benefits are certainly clear. Social media is a platform for creating audience engagement, increasing brand awareness, promoting your products and services, nurturing leads, and driving traffic to your website. It’s also a place where you can build trust, and establish thought leadership.
The downside is that a failed SMM effort can be worse than none at all. How do you create an engaging social media campaign that resonates with your audience? If it was just a matter of creating some ad copy, this would be much simpler. Instead, you’ve got to make connections.
Getting Started: Your Guide to Social Media Platforms
There are so many social media platforms that you can use to promote your brand. Many of them you’ve likely heard of. Others are a bit more obscure. They may be designed for an age group that isn’t on your radar or made for people with very specific interests. Here, we’ll review the largest platforms where you are sure to find your target audience.
You won’t want to invest your time in resources in all of these. Instead, pick a couple that is worth your time and effort. You can always revisit your choices later.
Even though it’s gotten some bad press lately, Facebook remains the platform of choice for most businesses. Chances are, this will be your brand’s flagship platform. Done right, a Facebook page can be a powerful tool for audience outreach and engagement.
Just keep in mind that the algorithm changes that came with Facebook Zero, will make reaching your target audience a bit more challenging. However, you can overcome this by doing the following:
- Creating native content that is relevant to your audience
- Sharing videos and other visual content
- Focusing on audience engagement and discussion
- Limiting your use of outbound links
- Investing in Facebook advertising
- Use the tools and resources provided by Facebook including Facebook Live
On Facebook, you can create content on any topic that your target audience finds interesting. You can tell your followers about the technologies you use in production, or fashion trends that are shaping your industry. Or, you can follow the Everlast’s examples and create posts that motivate and inspire.
Instagram is the next platform to consider. While it operates very differently from it, Instagram is owned by Facebook. In fact, you’ll go through your Facebook account to do some of your marketing tasks on Instagram.
If you plan to market to your audience in a very visual way, Instagram is definitely a platform to consider. It’s designed to allow you to share videos and images with your followers. These can be paired with captions that include clear descriptions and hashtags.
Now let’s take a look at the sports company that knows how to get the most of Instagram. Under Armour, a world-famous sports brand has more than 7.8 million followers on Instagram. To grab the attention of the athletes and boost engagement, Under Armour publishes content that covers the following topics:
- Workout tips, interesting exercises, and new training techniques
- Information about the important sporting events and world records
- Business insights. Information related to collaboration with other sports brands and organizations.
- Shoppable posts that allow customers to order products directly from the page
The benefits of Instagram are that it’s growing quickly, it’s got very high rates of engagement, and there’s a lot of great potentials there for promoting your brand via user-generated content. This is when your customers produce content that is directly related to your brand. In this case of Instagram, that might include someone sharing pictures of themselves using your products, and then including a relevant hashtag.
Used correctly, Twitter has real engagement potential. It’s a great place to share up to the minute news and updates, and to create and participate in conversations with your audience. The key is finding the right voice, and learning what interests your audience.
That starts with evocative tweets and focusing on sharing things that generate engagement. Ask questions. Share strong opinions. Use polling. These are all things that are guaranteed to generate a response.
Twitter can be also a successful promotion platform where you can engage with your followers and also add a touch of humor. Take the example of Nike and their #DaretoZlatan campaign. The sports brand decided to promote their newest clothing line by creating a successful marketing campaign with lots of fun touches.
Nike’s marketing team took over Zlatan’s Twitter account and asked the football icon’s fans to send their questions and ideas. The answers were full of humor and engagement.
For instance, one follower asked: “how does Zlatan take risks?”. And marketers answered on Zlatan’s behalf: “A wise man once said, surprising your opponent is the key to surprising them. That wise man was Zlatan”.
The entire concept showed that marketing can also include humor and come closer to the target audience with a more appropriate tone and style.
There’s more to a successful, digital marketing campaign than reaching customers directly. Building your audience, increasing brand awareness, and establishing yourself as a thought leader also depends on your ability to connect with industry influencers. Your ability to recruit the right talent is a factor as well.
To do these things, you’ll need a LinkedIn account. Now, if you’re a B2C company this step may be optional. If you’re in the B2B space, it’s absolutely essential. LinkedIn is the place where you’ll share vital information about your company, connect with people within your industry, and share your knowledge. Consider creating a separate page for your company, yourself, and any other team members that have important roles in your organization.
Take a look at Adidas’ LinkedIn profile. It’s a great example to follow. Adidas uses LinkedIn to show its followers how the company cares about the physical and mental health of its employees, how it transforms corporate culture, and how it contributes to the environment protection. It helps the company not only to engage its target audience but also to attract the best talent.
If you plan on sharing video content, you’ll need to create a presence on YouTube. It’s not the only video sharing platform, but for most of your audience, it’s the default. Just keep in mind that this is a crowded space. Execution really matters in terms of getting noticed. That begins with understanding what your audience most wants and needs from you in terms of video content. Your options include:
- Question and Answer Sessions
- Employee Profiles and Interviews
- Product Demonstrations
- Instructional Videos
- Behind the Scenes Content
- Event Footage
Whatever you choose, your videos should have excellent production values.
With YouTube, your videos are only part of your outreach. In order to ensure that you’re found by the right people, you must also focus on using the right keywords in your video descriptions, titles, and tagging. Remember the idea is to interest them with great content but to find ways to route them to your site whenever you are able to.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that YouTube is the best platform for sharing branded content. If you want your branded video to go viral online, you should upload it to this social media platform.
Here is an example of how a famous sports brand takes advantage of sharing branded content on YouTube. Puma published a video Propah Lady Takes Over to destroy gender stereotype promoting the idea that “there’s no one way to be a lady”. The idea resonated with the target audience and video got more than 800,000 views in less than 24 hours.
This may or may not be a useful platform for your marketing efforts. However, Pinterest developers have certainly worked hard to make it friendlier for brands. They’ve added buyable pins. This allows users to click on a pin you’ve shared, and purchase the product featured. You can also connect your Pinterest to your verified website. This will improve your ability to get found on Pinterest. Your followers will also be able to Pin items on their own boards directly from your website.
Fila created branded boards “Fila Gifts for Her” and “Fila Gifts for Him” to help customers to discover gift ideas. With this simple trick, Fila drew users’ attention to its products and increased sales.
Just remember that keywords play an important role here, just like YouTube. Your pins, profile descriptions, pinboards, and other content should contain relevant keywords to make your pins that much easier to find.
How do you know if Pinterest is right for your brand? Keep in mind that it’s a platform for people who are planning projects, looking for creative ideas, and conducting research before making a purchase.
Here’s a final use for Pinterest. You can use the platform to create secret pinboards. You can use these to store and share content marketing ideas, and visuals to use in your social media marketing efforts.
SMM Goals and Campaigns
Before you finalize your choices on where and how to engage with your audience, you have to determine what your goals are going to be. Your SMM campaigns will be built around these goals. There are several things you can accomplish through social media marketing, including:
- Increasing brand recognition
- Building a larger audience
- Getting more subscribers
- Driving traffic to your website
- Building thought leadership
- Selling more products
- Connecting with influencers
- Developing better customer relationships
You may want to tackle several of these goals, even all of them. Just keep in mind that your most successful campaigns will focus on just one or two of these at a time.
Once you know your goals, you can decide which of the platforms above are the best vehicles for your content. You can also explore other platforms that may be a good fit.
Social Media Tips
Before you begin sharing content and engaging with your audience, you’ll need to start by creating your various social media accounts. Here are some best practices:
- Complete your profiles. If it’s an option, add a professionally taken photo to your profile, or use your company logo. Add links to your website and other social media pages. Use your target keywords in your descriptions. If possible, add your location information and hours. This ensures that wherever they connect with you, audience members can make their way to your website.
- Plan to create and share content regularly. Quality is most important, but quantity matters also. People won’t follow your pages if they can’t count on you for great content on a regular basis.
- Take advantage of new technologies to create share-worthy content. You may use content writing tools such as Studicus, WoWGrade and SupremeDissertations, or hire a freelance content creator at Upwork or Fiverr.
- Participate in relevant conversations. This includes the ones you create on your own page, but also relevant conversations that come up elsewhere.
- Find influencers and follow them on social media as well. Engage with them, share their content, then reach out to them privately to build on those important relationships. A good influencer relationship opens you up to a much larger relationship and gives you marketing opportunities such as guest blogging.
Social Media Marketing Content
Any social media marketing campaign is going to hinge on your ability to create and share content that your audience wants to see. It must be relevant, engaging, and exceptionally well done. Here are some tips to follow:
- Find one or more sources for content curation. You simply won’t be able to create all of the content you need in the house. Use your customer personas to identify your audience members’ interests, and share the interesting content you find with them.
- Use high-quality visuals in your content. This is good for readability, and SEO.
- Share stories about your brand. Let your followers know your history and your values.
- Stay on top of industry trends. Know what your audience is interested in, and address that in your content.
- Subscribe to industry publications, use content aggregators, and tools such as Buzzsumo to identify the topics and keywords that generating the most attention from your target audience.
- Make your content shareable. Add social share buttons to your website, blog, and other pages.
Final Thoughts: Analyzing The Results
Nobody gets perfect results from social media marketing. You’ll need to make ongoing changes to get the most out of your efforts. Fortunately, you can use the data you glean from analytics to measure your success and identify what you need to change. Google Analytics is probably one of the most popular tools for measuring traffic and engagement. In addition to that, most social media platforms offer their own analytics tools for business users.
Estelle Liotard is a content specialist at TrustMyPaper and senior writer at GrabMyEssay. She can teach anyone to write perfect social media posts, remarkable blog posts, and best essays. When not writing, you can find her playing tennis, jogging in the park, or volunteering at a local youth center.