How to Get Started: Social Media Marketing

It might be every social media manager’s dream to go viral. But honestly, in most cases, there is no overnight success. Building a strong social media presence requires planning, time, and consistency. For businesses to drive successful social media strategies, there must be a balance between thinking ahead and capturing the moment.

If you are looking to build or grow your social media presence, this blog will help you set SMARTER goals for social media, create engaging content, and, with time, cultivate a community of followers. 

#Goals

As the adage goes, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The first step in any plan is to establish your goals and objectives. The way you apply SMARTER goals to your business, you should also apply to your social media strategy. A quick refresher on SMARTER goals:

  • Specific: what, exactly, are you trying to achieve?
  • Measurable: you want to know if you hit your goal, so make it measurable
  • Actionable: use action verbs
  • Risky: stretch yourself and your team a little bit
  • Time-keyed: have a deadline
  • Exciting: it is more motivating to have a goal you and your team are excited about achieving
  • Relevant: does it align with the culture and stage of your business?

For example, a SMARTER goal for social media might be something like “Increase the number of website visits that come from LinkedIn by 25% by the end of Q4 and capture their activity in our analytics.” 

The specific KPIs you choose will differ, depending on the goal you set, so think about whether you are using social media to build brand awareness, drive sales, increase web traffic, or something else. For example, if you are trying to increase your brand awareness, you will measure metrics like your number of followers, impressions, traffic, and reach. Building a strong social media brand is likely the first goal of any new or budding account, but it is also one that is ongoing and that will help your business make a mark in the social space.  

Finding Followers 

It might sound daunting at first, but chances are you already have people that want to follow you. The customer list you use for email marketing is already an engaged audience that wants to stay connected to your business. Leverage this list to announce and promote your social media presence. Adding links to your email communications and website will make it easier for your customers to find you and connect with you. 

Another key factor to find followers is defining your audience. Your social media audience is your target demographic for your customer and services. This gives you an advantage as you probably already know your customer well. 

After defining your audience, it’s time to do some research. Find out what platforms your customer spends the most time on and focus your efforts there. Too many accounts can lead to neglect and content that is non-native, which leads to low engagement. 

Getting new followers is not enough. Building community will be the key to your social media success. According to HubSpot’s 2023 Social Media Marketing Report, which surveyed more than 1,000 global social media marketers, 90% said “building an active online community is crucial to a successful social media strategy in 2023.” The sign that you are building a good community is an engaged audience, and your community’s engagement is tied to the content you produce. 

Creating Content 

What separates a good social media account from a great one is content. Posting a good mix of original content, current trends, and events will keep your page fresh and relevant to your followers. Use your social media as a way to test ideas and find new ways to connect with your audience.  

Social media content has evolved on almost every platform. For example, the story feature—made popular on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat and now offered on most social platforms—allows accounts to share posts, images, and videos to their followers for up to 24 hours. Depending on your industry and brand, your audience will respond to different content types more positively than others. While posts with videos or visuals get more traction on social media, creating content native to the platform you are posting on will always prevail. 

While it is important to know what your competition is posting, stay true to your voice and community. Use your analytics and engagement tools as your guide. These tools can help you set benchmarks and determine your KPIs for engagement. Deciphering your top posts, what platforms generated the most leads, and what type of posts get followers to “like” and leave comments, are a few examples of what your dashboard can show and distill for you. 

Maintaining Your Channels: Listen, Interact, and Engage

Social media is a unique way to build a direct connection with your audience. Think of it as a forum to talk to your customer and survey them for feedback. Like any good conversation, both parties listen and are engaged in the topic at hand. Keys to engaging your audience include: 

  • Being authentic. Your captions should feel like a real person wrote them. An easy way to do this is to inject personality and humor into your posts. 
  • Being attentive. When a user comments or asks a question, be ready to respond. This will help build community and trust between you and your users. 
  • Being present. Don’t take on more than you can manage, literally. Start with two to three social media accounts and focus on cultivating your online brand. Quality over quantity is the name of the game. 

Leveling Up Your Toolkit

Even if you don’t have a dedicated social media team, tools for scheduling, listening, and analytics can make social media marketing less of a “lift.” There are a number of social media tools at your disposal to help automate your content, for example. Here are some of the more common types of tools for social media marketing today.

(Note that we’ll provide some names of common tools here, too, to help get readers started. These are not endorsements; we ourselves here at Pace are tool agnostic! If you want to learn more, these tools, along with reviews, can easily be found with an online search.)

  • Scheduling. Scheduling tools can help you plan and queue up content across multiple platforms. You can schedule for peak times or plan for key events related to your industry. These tools are great, because they allow you to plan out content in advance and ensure that it goes out smoothly and on schedule. Some well-known tools include Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer, and Zoho Social, but there are literally dozens of these tools.
  • Analytics. Most platforms will give you some rudimentary metrics to measure content performance and engagement. But there are analytics tools that will give you much more insight; these can be the key to understanding what types of posts are working, allowing you to tweak your strategy. Some tools include BuzzSumo and Followerwonk.
  • Listening and monitoring. These tools help you stay tapped in with your audience. By tracking their conversations, you can get insight into what topics are important to them and make content decisions with this information. Tools here include Hootsuite, Brandwatch, Social Mention, and Sprout Social.

As you can see, many tools offer two or all three functions, but the more sophisticated the tool, the higher the price tag tends to be.

Need Help Getting Oriented?

Social media marketing always requires a big dose of experimentation to find what works for your industry, company, and audience. Once you are set up with the right platforms, the right tools, and a consistent content schedule, the field is open for you to test and try new things to engage your audience. 
Which means that, contrary to the hype, social media is a “slow burn”—building an audience and engaging with them takes time. But when done right, social media marketing can be a powerful addition to your marketing efforts, allowing you to build brand awareness, gain customer loyalty, and drive new business. If you need a guide to get you started, we are here to help. Schedule a Roadmap Call with our team and take your social media to the next level.

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