The Importance of Social Media Marketing [with free strategy template]
Wondering whether your business needs to make use of social media marketing? We’re going to say: “yes”. If it’s something you’ve shunned in the past, then you could be missing out on a real chance to connect with your customers, get your name out there and see your sales skyrocket. We’ll show you why.
Over the course of this article, we’ll get you up to speed on what social media marketing is, how it works and why it’s so important in today’s digital age. We’ll also throw in some ace how-to tips, along with a downloadable social media strategy template, so you can hit the ground running with your social activity.
First things first: a definition. Social media marketing involves the use of a business’ social media channels to showcase their products or services, foster community across their target audience and increase traffic to their websites. To do all of this, they:
- Publish targeted content that represents their brand and speaks to their audiences’ interests
- Respond to comments, shares and likes
- Keep an eye on their online reputation
- Analyse results and analytics to see what kinds of posts users respond to
How does social media marketing work?
Just like any other form of marketing, social media marketing works by defining goals, identifying your target audience, and then creating content that’s going to resonate with that same audience.
They’ll be different for every business of course, but some of the more common social media goals include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Gain insights into your customers
- Increase leads and sales
- Boost website traffic
- Improve customer service
- Retarget users who haven’t completed transactions
- Increase shares of your content
We’ll move onto the ins and outs of how social media marketing works in more detail later. For now, let’s put a pin in this and move onto why social media marketing is so important right now.
All of the above is well and good, but you’ve clicked the title of this article for a reason, and that’s to learn about why social media marketing matters. So, without further ado, here are some of its most powerful benefits…
It helps users make a decision
Have you ever liked the look of a restaurant and swung by its Instagram to look at pics of the delicious food they serve or looked at its Facebook for customer reviews? There’s a reason for that. Social media has a huge role to play in nudging potential customers towards buying from, making a booking at, or getting in touch with your business.
The content on your chosen channels can get users to act in a big way. And if they search for you on socials and can’t find you anywhere, there’s a good chance they’ll look for a competitor with a social presence instead.
It gives you an edge over the competition
The opposite is true too, of course. If you’re in a niche or local market, but your competition isn’t on any social media, then you can easily corner a share of the market with the content you post online. And when you can get out in front this way, it’s going to be very hard for your competition to catch up to you.
It keeps your brand in mind
For customers who already know about you, social media marketing is a great way to keep them engaged by constantly reminding them of what you do. And this is usually more effective than trying to heat up cold leads. When you’re always at the front of their minds, you’ll be the go-to when they need to make a particular purchase – or if anyone they know has a problem they need to solve.
It creates a community
Through the comments, likes and shares of your customers, as well as your own content, you can create a community of users that keeps them coming back for more. With a brand voice that’s relatable and speaks to your customers’ own interests and ethos, customers – existing and potential – feel more inclined to share their own thoughts with you, as well as others who are part of your community too.
It increases brand awareness
While we would never recommend resting on your laurels, the built-in benefit of social media marketing and the presence it creates is that it works ‘round the clock. This ‘always-on’ element lets people from around the world find you, and get to know what you’re all about – whether it’s your products or your values – when your business has downed tools for the day.
Combined with paid ads, you can take advantage of this benefit in a big way, allowing you to be super specific in who you target, right down to their postcode, occupation, and hobbies.
Defining your goals is going to be the first thing you’ll want to do when it comes to getting to grips with social media marketing. Here’s what else you should be doing from the outset before you go creating that Facebook page for your business…
Define your target audience
You can’t create content and messaging your audiences will love if you don’t know who that audience is. Demographic info not only shapes your content, but it could well influence which platforms you use – if your audience is mainly 55+, for instance, then it’s unlikely you’ll use TikTok to target them.
So, how do you go about doing that? We’ve got everything covered about target audiences and customer personas with this in-depth article here.
Choose your social media platforms
With your target demographic info to hand, your next step is to identify the social media platforms you’ll use to best reach them. Like we said above, the needs of your audience will dictate your choice, so it’s important you heed it. You don’t want to waste time and resource trying to reach people who aren’t active on the platforms you’ve gone with.
Identify the right metrics
Without metrics, it’s going to be hard to know whether your activity has been worth the effort. By identifying the right ones, you’ll be able to achieve your goals – and make adjustments to the approaches you’re taking if you need to.
So, what are some metrics we’d recommend? Rather than vanity metrics, go for things like the following…
- Reach: The number of unique users who saw your post, and a measure of how much content actually reaches people’s feeds
- Clicks: How many clicks your content or account is getting – handy for understanding where your users are directing their interest
- Engagement: Covering things like comments and shares, engagement lets you know how your audience is perceiving you, as well as how much they like interacting with you
- Sentiment: How are people responding to you? Is the vibe positive or negative? Measuring sentiment lets you see how users are reacting to your content and messaging
- Hashtag performance: If you use hashtags, measuring them will show you which ones your audience associates with your brand – which will help to shape the direction of future content you make
Create your content
Now for the juicy part. This is where your target audience research will come in handy, since you’ll now have more of a handle on their problems, likes and demographic info. With these insights, you can create content that really speaks to their interests.
A look at what your competitors are getting right (and wrong) will help out too, giving you opportunities to capitalise on areas they might not be focusing on – and stop you from trying to nab followers in a market they’re a key player in.
Draw up a schedule for your posts
Consistency is key. Not only will you stay in your audiences’ minds, it’ll help with the algorithm of certain channels, which means increased reach, too. A post schedule ensures this consistency, but it also lends organisation to your activity, so that no posts or opportunities fall by the wayside thanks to social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout.
Created and scheduled in advance, and then published automatically, they allow your team to broadcast a steady stream of quality content. And they’ll do all of that while your social media guys can focus on other tasks, too.
Review and amend your strategy
Like any other strategy, a social media strategy isn’t set in stone. If things aren’t working out, then you’ll need to tinker with some of your methods and approaches. This way, you’ll make sure it remains as potent and effective as possible.
Get in the habit of regularly reviewing your strategy. Depending on your business needs, this could be monthly, quarterly or every year. However often, use the time to review what’s working, what isn’t and what opportunities you can take advantage of.
Additionally, you should review your actual performance against the KPIs you set at the outset. Additionally, consider any trends that are coming or going. Social media is constantly evolving, so be aware of changes to algorithms, user behaviour and new platforms. They could have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your marketing.
Found all of that useful? Great! Now you’re ready to start on a social media marketing strategy of your own.
To help you out, we’ve created a downloadable social media strategy template for you to fill in with your goals, target audience info, activity and more. You can grab it by filling in your details below…
Don’t have the resource to boost that social media presence yourself. Our team of social media experts and creatives can create a strategy that’ll get your business up and running across your chosen channels. Head here to learn more or call us today on 0345 459 0558.