Ever since the birth of Facebook in 2004, social networking has become a part of the daily lives of over 2 billion people. Combined with fast evolving technology, more and more people have access to the Internet over laptops, tablet and mobile phones. The vast increase in smartphone users all around the world has let to the exponential growth of social media users over the recent years. As a result, social media networks have become ideal places for companies to achieve their market penetration goals.
We used to plan to include Social Media Marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy but it has now become an entire marketing genre on it’s own. It has quickly grown from earning the attention of target audience to “paying to play” wherein social networks have allowed companies to pay for a spot on these sites in front of their target audience. Paid Ads on social networks have changed user behavior and the way marketers develop their content.
If you’re a beginner at social media marketing, it can seem pretty confusing. Here are a few essential guidelines to planning your campaign and content.
1. Select Your Platform
There are hundreds of social media platforms out there. How do you select the right one? This is where the research starts. Study the different social networks and find out which of them your target market frequently uses. There are many sites online that provide the latest statistics about social sites and their users.
One great example is Pinterest which leverages on the fact that people have become more visual, preferring images to long articles. Pinterest has over 70 million users, 80% are female and 88% have purchased an item they’ve pinned. This makes Pinterest ideal for social media marketing strategies that involve a female audience you can reach out to through stunning images of your product.
Social networks also allow you to listen to your target audience. Often times, successful campaigns are the result of carefully crafted content posted less frequently but producing a higher impact. Read and analyze posts and the type of media shared by your target audience. This will help you in the next step which is creating meaningful content.
2. Plan Your Content
As they say in content marketing, content is king. Always keep in mind that quality wins over quantity. Take time to research what the latest trends are that your target market might be interested in. Find a way to integrate those trends into your posts and develop content that is likely to start a conversation with your customers.
The content you create for social media marketing must be interesting and valuable to your target audience.Thinks of ways to produce high value content that lets your target audience see you as an authoritative source of reliable information that is worth sharing. Sharing good content is how “electronic word-of-mouth” works.
It’s always good to be prepared. Mapping out your content on a timeline allows you to get a rough idea of what needs to be posted when. Create a general draft for the types of content you want to post and finalize them a week or two beforehand. Updating everyday is not as laborious as it seems. You can use tools like Publishing Tools on Facebook or HootSuite to schedule your posts in advance. This way you can spend more time interacting and analyzing your target audience’s social media behaviors.
3. Be Social
You can’t expect your social media marketing to work if your campaign only focuses on posting content, it’s not a one way street. Social media gives you a great opportunity to communicate with your customers. When you participate in conversations with them, your brand becomes more relatable. Dedicate a portion of your time to reaching out, exchanging ideas and answering questions.
Building a relationship with your followers increases the chance of converting followers into customers. It also helps you find out what’s important to your followers so you can develop the direction of your future posts.
How frequently you engage with your followers also affects the outcome of your social media marketing. Don’t expect your popularity to boost after just one post. You need to keep yourself relevant and maintain a place in your target audience’s newsfeed. Keeping active online is important because you need to remain visible to your followers so they won’t replace you with someone else the moment you fall silent.
And now we wait…
There are many remarkable social media marketing campaigns that have made huge impressions however, none of them happened over night. All the planning and interaction takes time. Although it may seem like there are success stories that went viral in a matter of hours, it was probably the result of carefully placing the right kind of content in front of the right audience at the right time.