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What is social media marketing?

With 3.8 billion users, nearly half of the entire world’s population uses social media. This presents an incredible opportunity for businesses to leverage these platforms to reach current and potential customers. But social media marketing is more than simply posting on Facebook. It’s the strategic use of one or more social media channels to increase brand awareness, engage with your audience, drive traffic to your website, increase sales, and provide customer service. 

What is the role of social media in marketing?

Social media is one part of a broader marketing strategy, similarly to email marketing, Facebook advertising, and content marketing. It’s typically used in one of the following ways:

  • Brand building: Many marketers utilize social media to organically participate in conversations about direct and tangential topics related to their companies’ industries. For example, a beauty supply store may choose to reshare third party content about beauty trends, influencers, or techniques. In doing so, brands assert themselves as experts, remain relevant, and gather data on their audiences’ interests and preferences.
  • Content distribution: Social media platforms can act as a megaphone to amplify the reach of your content through the use of hashtags, boosted posts, targeted audiences, and more. This allows marketers to reach many more people than they would have otherwise.
  • Customer engagement: Your customers are likely already sharing their experiences, questions, and thoughts related to your brand on social media. If you ignore this opportunity to interact with your customers in real time, you’re leaving opportunity on the table. Social media engagement can take the form of asking for input, sharing experiences, or even providing support.
  • Customer acquisition: Did you know that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to influence their purchasing decision? Or that 37% of internet users rank social media as the top way they find inspiration for purchases? Clearly, social media is a major way to drive purchasing behavior through both organic posts and social media advertisements. 

It’s important to use social media as a way to support your broader marketing goals and strategy. As a reminder, here’s our quick and dirty overview of how marketing strategy works. This is from our email marketing ebook, subbing in “social media marketing” for “email marketing”:

“Typically, marketers start with their overall strategy to determine how social media marketing supports their organizations’ goals. They’ll need to answer questions like the below:

  • Who is my typical customer? What is their role? What do they care about, like, and dislike? 
  • How does my audience prefer to receive information, and what goes into their decision making process?
  • What am I trying to achieve – a specific revenue goal, outcome, or action?
  • Where can I communicate with my audience? 
  • When is my audience most likely to buy, and how long is the typical sales cycle?
  • Why is what my company offers unique and superior?

Next, marketers should create campaigns to support the strategy and message. Campaigns may be one of the following:

  • Evergreen: This type of campaign lives on in perpetuity, like a new customer welcome flow.
  • Timely: This type of campaign requires execution at a specific point in time and may be related to current events internally or externally to the company. Examples include the kickoff to a sports season or a new product release.

Each campaign will then require a messaging plan that may include social media, paid search ads, landing pages, web updates, blogs, out of home marketing, image or collateral design, media outreach, and emails. Each of the campaign components work together to deliver and reinforce messaging to maximize results.”

From there, marketers map out the social media platform(s) to leverage for each campaign. They also determine the frequency with which to post, and the actual copy and imagery to utilize.

What are the best strategies for social media marketing?

Many marketers use multiple social media platforms, each with its own tone, audience, and purpose. Your first step should be to identify the platforms that align with your goals and brand. For the purposes of this ebook, we’ll focus on a few of the most popular platforms in the United States.

Facebook

With billions of users spending an average of almost 1 hour per day on Facebook, this social media platform is full of potential for businesses of all sizes. Marketers can use their Facebook page in a variety of ways, including:

  • Housing information like hours, website, and menus
  • Creating promotional offers redeemable via Facebook
  • Booking appointments or taking reservations
  • Sharing text, images, videos (pre-recorded or live), and polls
  • Developing and managing ad campaigns

Facebook shows users organic posts (those without ad spend attached) according to an algorithm. This means that content has the potential to continue surfacing hours or even days after they were originally posted. While Facebook’s precise news feed algorithm isn’t available, we do know a few things about what causes content to be surfaced to wider audiences:

  1. Content is prioritized based on what is most likely to increase the amount of meaningful time users spend on Facebook. That means the algorithm will prioritize posts that are likely to spur positive reactions, comments, and shares from users. 
  2. If you share spam or misleading information, your content will be deprioritized in others’ news feeds. 
  3. Content is prioritized for individuals based on their prior signals. This includes types of posts or users with which they typically interact. It also includes how similar users have interacted with the post. 
  4. Videos carry more value than other types of posts. They are ranked against one another based on metrics like completion rate, watch time, and length.

Facebook is perhaps best known among marketers for its robust ad targeting capabilities. For a detailed walkthrough of Facebook advertising, check out one of our latest ebooks

So, who’s actually using Facebook? In short: nearly everyone. There’s significant representation across all income levels, genders, locations, and nearly all ages. The one group that has seemed to sidestep Facebook is the under 18 crowd; they tend to congregate on newer platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

If you choose to use Facebook, tailor your approach to include these key points:

  • Post frequently. Facebook prioritizes content for family and friends over brands’ posts, which means a small percentage of your audience is likely to see any one post. Stick with a regular cadence of content to increase the chances of showing up in news feeds.
  • Focus on quality. Your Facebook posts should be easy to read, have a clear purpose, and encourage engagement and discussion from other Facebook users. The more positive interactions others have with your posts, the more your posts will rank highly in news feeds!
  • Use imagery. It’s no question that striking imagery helps to catch Internet users’ eyes. Use this to your advantage to make your posts stand out. Also, remember to keep a 1.9:1 ratio to ensure your images render correctly.
  • Experiment wherever possible. Not sure if your audience prefers images or video? How about long, informative posts vs short, quippy posts? There’s only one way to find out — testing! Try out different times/days, post types, length, and tone. This will help figure out what your audience engages with the most. Facebook’s Insights will provide valuable data around what works well (and what doesn’t).

Want to learn more about how to build your presence on Facebook? Check out one of our favorite guides from Hubspot.

Instagram

Instagram started as a photo-sharing platform in 2010; Facebook quickly recognized its potential for hyper-growth and engagement and acquired the platform in 2012. This proved to be a wise decision with Instagram’s user base currently projected to grow to nearly 113 million users in the US alone in 2020. 

Over the past decade, Instagram has evolved its offerings while maintaining a singular focus on visual media. Users can post photos, short videos, or even broadcast live via Instagram TV (IGTV). Brands also have the ability to post ads through Facebook’s ads manager tool. This tool provides incredibly in-depth targeting.

Brands typically use Instagram to increase their audience size, share visually engaging content, and boost sales with aesthetically-pleasing product campaigns. Similarly to Facebook, content is ranked using Instagram’s algorithm. Here’s what we know about how this algorithm surfaces content to users:

  1. Content is prioritized based on similar posts with which users have previously engaged or viewed. If they’ve tagged or mentioned your brand’s posts in any of their posts previously, even better. This means your content is more likely to rank higher up on their feed.
  2. Posts can “age out” over the course of hours or days. New or popular posts rank higher than older or less popular posts.

As you can see, Instagram’s algorithm appears to be somewhat simpler than Facebook’s news feed algorithm while still maintaining the core driving principles around prioritizing engaging content. 

So, who’s using Instagram? The teens who are staying away from Facebook, of course! In fact, a recent blog by Hootsuite asserted that 73% of teens have reported that Instagram is the best way for brands to reach them about new products and offerings. According to SproutSocial, the Instagram has the most market penetration among:

  • Women
  • Aged 13-29 years old
  • Living in urban settings
  • With an annual income above $75k
  • And a completed college degree

While there are users that fall into other demographic groups, the above are the most prominent characteristics. This demographic breakdown plus the focus on visual components make Instagram a key platform for marketers who use influencer marketing; in fact, brand marketers spend an average of 69% of their influencer budgets on Instagram. Clearly, Instagram users are more apt to trust and make purchasing decisions based on what they see. 

So how should you use Instagram in your social media marketing strategy? Here are a few tips:

  • Be discoverable. Instagram users often use hashtags both to categorize their own posts and to find posts or conversations they’re interested in seeing. You can use tools like the ones listed here to get a sense for which hashtags are most relevant to your content and/or industry. As Boosted notes, the ideal number and placement of hashtags depends on how many followers you already have.
    • Fewer than 5k followers, use 6 hashtags hidden in the caption
    • 5k-10k followers should use 5 hashtags in the first comment on the post
    • 10k-50k followers should use 2 hashtags hidden in the caption
    • 50k-100k followers should use 8 hashtags hidden in the caption
    • 100k+ followers should use 6 hashtags in the first comment on the post
  • Keep it clean. Instagram is all about aesthetics, and that applies to the captions accompanying your posts as well. Keep your copy crisp and to the point. Additionally, use line breaks to “hide” text under a “See More” option in the caption. Pro-tip: you’ll need to copy and paste your captions from a text editor to use line breaks.
  • Make yourself recognizable. Aesthetics matter to Instagram users, so make sure yours are on point. Pre-determine your color palette, filters, overall imagery focus, and tone. Then, stick to them (with regular reviews!) to ensure you create a familiar, discernible brand. 

For further details around how to successfully include Instagram in your social media marketing strategy, try this guide from Hatchbuck.

Twitter

Want to try something a little more real-time? Twitter is a massive micro-blogging social media platform with 145 million daily active users and an average session time of under 4 minutes. That’s fast!

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter is designed for short quips of fewer than 280 characters. Tweets expire from users’ feed based on time (if users are viewing “latest tweets”) or activity levels (if users are viewing “top tweets”). This type of rapid fire content consumption makes Twitter perfect as a support channel, sharing frequent informational tidbits or humorous posts, or for live-tweeting events or news — but less of an ideal platform for posting long form, less frequent content. 

Twitter offers advertising options to businesses in addition to organic posts, though its advertising platform’s usability is slightly different than Facebook and Instagram. While its targeting isn’t quite as robust, 40% of users still reportedly make a purchase after viewing a product on Twitter — making it a worthwhile platform to consider. Marketers can use the following advertising options:

  1. Promoted tweets: these are tweets that appear in-feed just like any other tweet, but they can be targeted at Twitter users who don’t already follow a brand. The goal for these is typically to generate engagement.
  2. Promoted accounts: these are campaigns displayed to users who don’t already follow a brand, with the main goal being to acquire new followers.
  3. Promoted trends: Twitter keeps its users informed about recent hot topics via a feature called “Twitter trends.” Brands can pay to promote a trend of their choosing, which will appear for targeted users near the top of their trends area. Goals here are typically around either engagement and/or acquiring new followers.
  4. Promoted moments: Twitter moments are a desktop-only feature of the platform and consist of grouped tweets with the intent to tell a story. Brands can promote their own moments to recap an event, get extended life out of older tweets, demonstrate a journey, or similar uses.

So, who uses Twitter the most? Our trusty friends at SproutSocial share the following characteristics with the most market penetration:

  • Men
  • Age 13-29
  • Living in urban settings
  • With an average annual income of $75k+
  • And a college degree

Like Instagram, Twitter uses hashtags to help users find relevant conversations. In most cases, you’ll want to start your hashtag strategy at a broad level and narrow it as appropriate to reach the right amount of people with the correct relationship to your brand. If your goal is to surface your posts to people who don’t follow your brand yet but are interested in related topics, start with industry hashtags and work your way down using the guide from Hashtag Babble below.

social media strategy: hashtag pyramid
Source: Hashtag Babble

Before you get started with Twitter, be sure to create brand guidelines to reference in Twitter interactions; the short, quick nature of tweets may lead to a tendency to be too informal, shorten words, use acronyms, or other actions that may or may not jive well with your brand’s image. 

Read more about how to best use Twitter in your social media marketing strategy in this Hootsuite walkthrough.

Linkedin

Most professionals are familiar with Linkedin as the #1 business networking platform in the world, and it’s true: there are over 660 million Linkedin users around the world today. Users flock to the platform en masse to make connections, maintain a professional public image, find jobs, and discuss business trends and news — and that makes Linkedin second only to Facebook for B2B marketers. 

Linkedin has two main purposes for businesses:

  • Hiring: What better place to find professionals to fill an open role than on a professional networking site? Businesses often maintain a company page on Linkedin to start nurturing job seekers before they’re actively seeking a new job by posting consistently about the company’s culture, news, and thought pieces related to industry subjects. Recruiters also use Linkedin to reach out to individuals whose profiles suggest they would be a good fit for open roles.
  • Selling: With such a large base of active business professionals, up-to-date title and company information, and the ability to directly message any user via Inmail, Linkedin is an excellent tool for B2B sellers. Brand building activities mentioned above are also helpful with selling activities. This is because they provide additional credibility to companies of all sizes. 

You can likely guess that as a professional social media platform, this platform is not the one to use if you want to reach teenagers and very young adults. But who else uses Linkedin? You might be surprised at these stats from Foundation, Inc:

  • 10%+ are senior-level influencers
  • 6% are decision makers in their organization
  • 57% are men
  • 50% of all college graduates in the United States use the platform
  • 27% of all Americans are users

You may recall that we discussed how to tie Linkedin into your content marketing strategy in one of our recent ebooks. As a reminder, here’s an excerpt:

“The first way you can leverage Linkedin as a B2B marketer is to post your company’s blogs, videos, infographics, and other content to your company’s Linkedin page. This is an easy, free way to get your content out into the world for others to see! You can also share these items in relevant Linkedin groups, but make sure the content is truly valuable to the group’s members and isn’t forced into discussions. 

You can also utilize Linkedin to share content from other industry experts. While this may seem counterintuitive, sharing content from others gives you a little breathing room in terms of pressure to create constant content, demonstrates engagement and understanding with the industry as a whole, and even gives you the opportunity to tag the author — which may result in even broader reach if they engage with your post!

Likewise, Linkedin provides an excellent opportunity to share pieces written and posted by your individual employees. Linkedin users respond well to individual experts’ posts, and sharing such a piece on your company page can help to amplify your employees’ voices while still driving home the association between their expertise and your company. 

Linkedin also offers the ability to purchase advertisements. According to Mezzanine Growth, businesses that utilize Linkedin as part of their marketing strategy generate 80% of their social media-sourced leads from the platform. You’ll have the option to utilize what’s called “sponsored content” via Linkedin ads, which looks like a typical Linkedin post but is displayed beyond your followers to reach people who meet your targeting specifications.”

Youtube

With 2 billion monthly active users and 5 billion videos watched per day, Youtube is a force to be reckoned with. This platform is focused exclusively on video content of any length, with many organic videos supported by ad revenue. Many businesses host their organic videos on their Youtube channel while also running ad campaigns to reach additional users by targeting demographics or interests. 

Brands may use their Youtube channel to:

  • Post product demonstrations or tutorials
  • Share user feedback
  • Make company or product announcements
  • Create humorous content
  • Publish video blogs

In terms of usage, Youtube is most popular with men between the ages of 15-25 years old. Keep in mind, however, use grew by 40% last year for adults aged 35 and over! The large majority of Youtube users watch Youtube videos from their mobile devices, so be sure that your website is optimized for mobile browsing if you want to drive traffic there from your videos or ads.

Youtube surfaces organic videos to new users through “suggested videos” at the end of video playback, on users’ watch page, in a side menu, and via search results. The videos displayed are ranked based on – you guessed it – another algorithm. This one is more complex and less transparent than other social media platforms as Youtube is owned by notoriously-secretive Google. Here’s how you can optimize your content to get the best ranking results possible:

  1. Be descriptive: Use your video’s title, description, and tags to accurately and fully represent what the video is about. Don’t try to game this; the average completion rate and watch time on your videos will make it clear if your title, description, and/or tags don’t actually give viewers an accurate depiction of the video.
  2. Focus your content: your channel’s videos are more likely to rank well if you post about similar topics or target specific audience interests consistently.
  3. Build an audience: try to link to other related videos from your channel near the end of each video to increase engagement and watch time.

Youtube advertisements are run through Google’s ad platform (Adwords) and can take one of several formats. You can view a thorough description for each ad type on Google’s video ad support page, but here are the basics:

  1. Skippable in-video ads: these advertisements play before, during, or after videos. Users have the ability to skip the ad content after 5 seconds of play time. 
  2. Non-skippable in-video ads: these advertisements play before, during, or after videos but cannot be skipped until they’ve completed playback. 
  3. Video discovery ads: these ads promote your selected video in Youtube’s side menu, in search results, and on Youtube’s mobile homepage. 
  4. Bumper ads: these ads are extremely short (6 seconds or shorter) and play before, during, or after other videos. 
  5. Masthead ads: these ads are soundless for 30 seconds and prominently displayed and played at the top of the Youtube home feed. They are available only through contact with a Google sales representative. 

When determining if Youtube is the right platform for your social media strategy, one of the key considerations is whether you or someone on your team will have the time to dedicate to creating consistent, high-quality videos. It’s a considerable time commitment to storyboard, write, film, and edit videos regularly.

TikTok

Gaining over 800 million monthly active users in less than 4 years, Tiktok has rapidly become an international sensation. This social media platform was originally launched in China but is now one of the most popular apps for Gen Z’ers in the US — according to Appinventiv, 41% of Tiktok users are between the ages of 16-24 years old. 

The premise of Tiktok is to create and share short (under 60 seconds) videos. Videos automatically progress to the next one, and users can also swipe continually to find more videos surfaced via Tiktok’s own algorithm. 

Tiktok’s video ranking algorithm is similar to the ones we’ve gone over before. Each user has an individualized list of videos based on their previous behavior and interests. Videos are prioritized according to:

  1. Number of interactions (likes, comments, shares)
  2. Video metadata (title, captions, tags)
  3. Settings (language and location)

Though Tiktok’s primary audience is the under 24 crowd, there are a growing number of adults using the platform for an average of 45 minutes per day. Though the platform is composed of approximately 60% female users in the United States, the numbers are rapidly growing and changing as the app continues to gain popularity. 

Tiktok recently began investing further into its ad platform for businesses with the release of Tiktok for Business. This platform offers several features that include: 

  • Topview: ad placement on the TikTok home page
  • Brand takeovers: video or image ads displayed for less than 5 seconds
  • In-feed videos: videos displayed for less than 60 seconds in the normal video feed
  • Hashtag challenges: ads that encourage users to create content using a brand’s promoted hashtag(s)
  • Branded effects: an augmented reality experience that gives users the option to insert branded items into videos

Many brands have recognized the opportunity presented by investing time in a flourishing platform early on. Given that video is already a priority on many other platforms, businesses can follow typical guidelines around quality and cadence to succeed on Tiktok with just one caveat. Tiktok users tend to value authenticity and relatable content over all else. Make sure your tone doesn’t come across as overly formal or disingenuous to find success on this platform!

Reddit

Often considered an alternative social media platform, Reddit combines the mechanics of an online message board (with threaded comments and topic-focused areas called subreddits) with a tech feel. Users share text, images, videos, and links with one another and vote using a thumbs up or down mechanism to surface popular content to additional users. 

The platform currently has over 430 million monthly active users around the world. These users are highly engaged, with hundreds of millions of posts, approximately 2 billion comments, and over 32 billion upvotes on content in 2019 alone. Redditors tend to skew young and male, with 15% of men aged 18-29 using Reddit versus only 5% of women in the same age range. Users are also most likely to have completed college, earn $50k-74,999 per year, and live in an urban setting. 

Though subreddits cover a large variety of topics, the most popular subreddits by number of subscribers reflect the demographics of the platform: r/funny, r/AskReddit, and r/gaming are the top three after Reddit’s announcements subreddit. Unlike other social media platforms, Reddit’s ranking algorithm is heavily reliant on other users’ upvotes or downvotes. The main factors that go into moving posts up or down on the site are:

  1. Number and speed of upvotes and downvotes from users
  2. Age of the post, though heavily upvoted and active posts will outrank a new post
  3. Number of comments from users

Many brands do post organically on Reddit, but it’s crucial that any posts made on behalf of your brand are authentic and don’t come across as spammy (in addition to following any rules that apply to the particular subreddit(s) in which you’re posting). This means you should be transparent about representing your brand if you’re the one posting, and not unnaturally forcing the conversation toward your own company or product. Additionally, make sure your posts and comments actually add to conversation and aren’t just marketing fluff — or be downvoted into oblivion. 

Aside from just making comments, marketers may choose to use a post format called an Ask Me Anything (AMA). The premise of these posts is that a subject matter expert or well known person schedules then hosts a discussion during which users can – you guessed it – ask anything and receive an answer. It’s a great way to generate buzz and engage with Redditors as long as the thread is handled appropriately. Elon Musk’s AMA in the space subreddit is a great example of an engaging, positive initiative. On the other hand, Woody Harrelson’s AMA is a classic example of an AMA that went off the rails because it is a clear attempt to promote a movie and dodge any unrelated questions. 

Some brands choose not to engage Redditors directly as representatives of their brand, but this is a very risky move. They may purchase accounts with a long account tenure and/or high amounts of karma (upvotes from comments or posts) to gain credibility and then make “undercover” posts from the account. They may also post anonymously in an attempt to organically start conversations, recommend products, or similar activities. Redditors have an uncanny ability to recognize this type of behavior and aren’t shy about calling it out, if the HailCorporate subreddit is any indication. 

Advertisements are available for purchase on Reddit, but marketers should be aware that the rules for organic posts still apply to ads. Redditors do not often enjoy being subjected to one-sided ads, so much so that many businesses turn off the ability to comment on their ads. However, some marketers truly nail authenticity in their ads; for an excellent example, check out this successful ad from a multi-ad campaign done by Woodchuck Ciders. 

If you choose to pursue Reddit ads, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that they’re an inexpensive option with decent targeting compared to some other social media platforms. The types of ads available are:

  1. Promoted posts: these ads will show up in the feed for the specific subreddits you choose. The posts can be created by you in a text, link, or video format or can be a post from another user (like a customer recommendation). You can also choose whether to pay for these ads per 1,000 impressions, per click on your ad, or per video view.
  2. Display ads: these are just like any other sidebar display ad on a website or other platform and must be set up directly with the Reddit team.
  3. Sponsored AMA: this is like a typical AMA, but it’s promoted on Reddit ahead of time in users’ post feed. You’ll also need to set these up directly with the Reddit team. 

Overall, Reddit has strong potential to reach a hyper-engaged audience for relatively low cost. However, you should think carefully about this platform before deciding to add it to your social media marketing strategy; if done poorly or without a true understanding of the platform, it can result in a very negative perception of your brand.

Snapchat

Snapchat has come a long way since its inception in 2011, when it was simply an app that allowed users to send each other photos that disappeared after a short period of time. As of the end of 2019, there were 210 million daily active users on the platform and its feature set has expanded to enable video sharing, messaging, and live video streaming. 

Snapchat is overwhelmingly used by Millennials and Gen Z’ers; 82% of the platform’s users are under the age of 34 years old. It’s users are split equally across men and women, and users are most likely to live in an urban setting, earn an average of under $30k per year, and have completed some college coursework. 

Brands can utilize organic posts on a business channel, which users can find by following the account directly, locating it under the “Discover” page, through engagements on their or others’ posts, or via an ad campaign. This platform is known for being playful and casual, so you’ll want to be sure the tone of your brand and its posts match that tone. 

Many brands use Snapchat as a top of funnel tactic to drive traffic to their websites. Their snaps and stories are quick, bite-sized pieces of content that pique interest and link back to products or more in-depth content. 

With ad revenue of just under $2 billion in 2019, it’s clear that many marketers have found value in meeting young social media users on this platform. You’ll have the opportunity to advertise across a multitude of options:

  • Lenses: these ads create an interactive, augmented reality filter that users can incorporate into their snaps and then share with their own audiences
  • Single image or video ads: these appear in between users’ stories
  • Collection ads: these ads are used to display multiple products and appear in the stories section of the app
  • Story ads: these ads show up in the Discover section of the app alongside tailored stories according to user interests and activities
  • Filter ads: these ads are stickers or overlays that are available to users to use on their own snaps and then 
  • Commercials: non-skippable six-second video advertisements 

There are also a few other ways to interact with your audience on Snapchat, including swipe to call or text. This feature allows users to simply swipe on your advertisement or Snap to text or call your business directly.

Other

These are just a few of the social media platforms available for businesses. Other channels include Pinterest, Quora, Meetup, Imgur, Nextdoor, Facebook Messenger, and many others. Use a quick, online search to find additional social media platforms, research their user bases, and determine if they’re a good fit for your business.

How to evaluate a social media platform

There are several factors you’ll use to evaluate whether a social media platform belongs in your marketing mix. First, ensure the audience demographics of a social platform matches with your business’ demographics. For instance, imagine your target audience is women ages 18-35. Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok may be your best options to connect with that audience given their own platform user demographics. 

Next, take a look at the style of content required for the platform as well as the posting frequency. Do you or your marketing team have the time post multiple times a day? If not, a platform like Twitter isn’t your best option. Do you have the bandwidth to create high-quality videos? If you do, then Youtube could be a great choice. 

We recommend starting out with 1-3 platforms. You can always add additional platforms as you successfully manage your initial ones. However, it reflects poorly on your business if you have many channels but fail to monitor or use them regularly.

How to market on social media platforms

After you’ve chosen the right platforms, it’s time to develop how you’ll leverage each. You should clearly outline a plan regarding the frequency and cadence with which you’ll post to each platform. You should also include the type of content you’ll post and the approximate content mix for each platform. 

There are many types of content you can post, including (but not limited to):

  • Blog, whitepaper, or ebook promotion
  • Company news
  • Quotes
  • Memes
  • Customer highlights, stories, or testimonials
  • Product highlights or releases
  • Customer engagement prompts
  • Third party content
  • Interesting statistics

The best social media strategies don’t simply rely on pushing a company or product over and over again. Instead, they create discussions, share interesting and relevant information, and plug products only when appropriate.

Next, create a social media calendar so you can plan what type of content will be posted on each platform. Some marketers do this visually in a calendar-style layout or line by line. We recommend using a spreadsheet to outline the date, time, copy, link, image, and platform of each post.

Make sure your posts vary from platform to platform. It’s tempting to simply duplicate posts on every platform to save time, but it’s poor practice. Instead, use similar topics across platforms but present information uniquely on each. This gives your audience a reason to follow you on each social media platform instead of being spammed with the same message across all channels.

You may be able to leverage influencers to increase your overall reach. There are a couple of approaches you can use when it comes to influencers: micro-influencers and major influencers.

Micro-influencers

These are hyper local influencers with followings between 1k and approximately 50k. When an influencer’s audience is relatively small, it tends to be much more targeted (both geographically and topically). Micro-influencers are also much easier and cheaper to work with than celebrities. 

You can engage with them in one of several ways, including:

  • Pay per click: you will create a unique short URL or landing page for the influencer to share, and you will pay them for every click through that link
  • Pay per post: you will pay the influencer a set amount for each post that mentions your brand
  • Sponsored giveaway: you will pay for (sponsor) some item that the influencer will then give away on your behalf in a contest. Usually, entrants will need to like your Facebook or Instagram page, comment with a contest-specific hashtag (for tracking), and potentially tag someone else (for awareness building) to enter the contest.
  • Sponsored review: you would offer a product or service to an influencer for free in exchange for their posted review on their own digital media channel(s). This is usually done with tangible items like makeup or clothing, and is likely not a suitable option for your medical practice unless you also sell supplements or something tangible. It may work if you can find a pregnant influencer who is also seeking a midwife and willing to share the entire journey for free services.
  • Account takeover: you will “take over” an influencer’s account (or vice versa) for a day to showcase a relevant event through posts and stories.
  • Guest content: you author content for a blog and submit it as guest content, or the influencer authors guest content and you post it on your own blog (which they would then promote). The first method is helpful to the influencer because it helps them with constant content generation, and it’s helpful to you for the promotion and backlink to your own website. The second method is helpful to the influencer because it generates backlinks to their main website, and it is helpful to you for brand awareness and content generation purposes.
Major influencers

These people typically have huge followings of at least 100k and are often celebrities. The main difference between the two is that influencers’ followings are usually much more focused on a specific subject. Major influencers will be considerably more expensive to work with, but these influencers are best if your business needs far-reaching visibility and a “cool” factor. They can also provide a big return – up to $10 million in additional sales.

If you choose to go this route, you’ll need to get in touch with the person’s agent. You may also be able to utilize a PR agency or influencer network to set up a deal. Your options are limited to a purchased shout out, product placement, or similar promotion.

What are social media marketing services?

As you can tell, social media marketing requires quite a lot of ongoing effort. Naturally, there are a number of social media marketing services available to assist with these efforts. These services range from help with specific portions of social media marketing (like copywriting) all the way to full management of your social strategy. 

A social media marketing service will commonly provide one or more of the following:

  • Monitoring: the service will monitor your social media channels for comments or mentions and respond appropriately. These social media marketing services also often encompass a light customer support aspect.
  • Copywriting: the service will create and post content on your behalf.
  • Crisis management: the service will help guide your company through a PR crisis to minimize damage to the extent possible. 

Social media services usually charge a monthly fee. Depending on the function and scope, this fee can be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per month.

What software do you use for social media marketing?

There are many types of software you can use for social media marketing. Let’s walk through a few popular options.

Sprout Social

This tool makes it easy to monitor multiple social media channels for mentions of your brand, hashtags, or certain keywords. You can also schedule, post, and manage content easily then perform analytics within the tool. Companies of all sizes use this powerful tool for a variety of functions, including social media, customer care, data intelligence, and employee advocacy functions. 

Pricing will range from $99 per user month for a standard package to $249 per user per month for an advanced package. The standard package provides up to 5 social channels, paid promotion tools, review management, and publishing capabilities. The advanced package offers all of these things plus message tagging, custom approval workflows, optimal time calculation for sending, a Helpdesk integration, chatbot support, surveys, and more. 

We recommend the standard package for small businesses and those just getting started with social media marketing. From there, you can upgrade the package as needed. 

Hootsuite

This tool is a classic for many social media managers. Hootsuite enables marketing teams to publish, engage, advertise, monitor, and analyze across a large number of social media channels. They also offer a mobile app so that marketers can manage social media on the go and around the clock.

Their plans range from $39 per month for a professional plan to $599+ per user per month for a business plan. The professional plan is for entrepreneurs and small businesses. It comes with up to 10 social accounts, $500 in monthly boost spend, and integrations to 250+ other tools. The business plan is for larger teams with up to 35 social accounts, 5-10 users, approval workflows, and asset libraries. 

Buffer

Ever seen or thought of something you’d like to share on social media but forget to save it for later? Buffer solves that exact issue with an easy web browser extension. If you see something (or think of something) you’d like to share later, you can quickly add it to Buffer to schedule for later. The tool can also send you reminders to post on social media channels that need some love. 

Pricing ranges from $15/month for 1 user on a pro account  to $99/month for up to 6 users on a business account. The pro account comes with 8 social accounts, up to 100 scheduled posts per social account, and a calendar view. The business account comes with 25 social accounts, up to 2k schedule posts per social account, Instagram hashtag manager, Instagram shop grid, and more. They also offer an analytics add on with strategy suggestions and a Shopify integration for $35-50 extra per month. 

We recommend starting out with a pro account and upgrading as needed.

How to hire the best social media marketing agency?

Want some assistance with your social media marketing strategy? You aren’t alone. Many businesses partner with an agency, even at the enterprise level. However, there are a huge number of social media freelancers and agencies vying for clients at any given time. So how do you choose the best fit?

First, look at the agency’s past work. They should be able to provide examples of campaigns or advertisements they’ve run as well as the results. This will help you understand their breadth of experience as well as what kind of results you can expect. You’ll want to find an agency that has experience in your industry as well as in the type of services you’d like to purchase. 

Next, you’ll want to make sure their pricing aligns with your social media marketing budget. Don’t be afraid to share your budget with the agency as well as what kind of services you’re seeking. The agency should be able to let you know what level of service you can expect with your budget. 

Finally, talk to the people with whom you’d be working. Are they pleasant to work with? Will they share their expertise with your team, or will they simply execute? Do they have access to social media tools that will benefit your brand? You’ll also want to ensure that the agency acts ethically and sustainably. For example, don’t partner with an agency that takes shortcuts like purchasing followers. 

If their expertise, pricing, and other characteristics are a good fit, then congratulations – you’ve found the right agency!

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