“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”

-David Alston

Social media has completely changed the world.

In just ten years time, between 1995 and 2005, over 1 Billion people started using social networks, platforms, and applications.

Now ten years later as social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and much more continue to mature and provide better value to their users, and the power of social media is unmistakable.

By June 2o17, Facebook could count 2 Billion monthly users, a 17% increase from the previous year and a total that amounts to more than 1/5th of the world’s entire population.

Some call the social media explosion the fast-growing trend of all time and businesses around the world have taken notice.

Today, when people are interested in learning about brands, they go online, explore social media accounts and look for user reviews.

The way brands position themselves across social media is a vital ingredient in their success or failure in the current landscape of business.

To put the size of Facebook in perspective, it has more users than the population of China. Success on Facebook can translate into brand loyalty and increased profits. Missteps can lead to costly losses to brand reputation and image.

Facebook is just one of the top social networks but its impact on the world of business is unmistakable.

There is so much to lose and everything to gain from working to master social media marketing to execute global communications and public relations strategy which captures the identity of your brand and assists you to better engage your target markets.

In this guide, you will learn what social media marketing is all about, the top platforms to focus your efforts on as well as the strategies leading to success for top brands around the world.

Continue reading to learn more about what social media marketing is and how you can leverage it to build success with your brands and ventures!

“Social Media puts the “public” into PR and the “market” into marketing.”-Chris Brogan

What is Social Media Marketing?

Modern flat thin line design vector illustration, concept of social media, social networking, web community and posting news for graphic and web design

Neil Patel, digital marketing mastermind defines social media marketing as “the process of creating content that is tailored to the connecting of each individual social media platform, in order to drive user engagement and sharing.

This definition is very descriptive but it is missing one essential component. While it is essential to tailor content to the specific social networks you are posting on, first and foremost you must design content which resonates with the unique individuals that make up your target market and their presence on these sites.

If your content does not appeal to those people, it will not influence them, it will not drive their decision-making processes. It will not convert interest into sales. Social media marketing is the process of defining a brand’s identity across public channels and with the expectation of boosting audience loyalty, interest and engagement.

To succeed at social media marketing is to have radical exponential growth baked into your business model with a steady stream of leads  and proven strategy for converting interest into actions. Social media marketing is about creating a cohesive brand identity and maximizing its appeal by designing your content into silos which allow you to target in on specific demographics and groups of your target market.

Regardless of the brand, this is the strategy which really separates the marketing efforts of today from those of the past and the height of the classical advertising method.

Today it is all about going after specific customer profiles, interests and demographics, gone are the broad strokes which used to characterize advertising approaches. Today brands specialize and seek to attract the greatest interest from exploring multiple sides to brand identity and positioning.

There are many ways to achieve this but they are all guided by a very focused view of who is interested in your brand. The more you can learn about your audience, the easier it will be to influence them to outcomes which are desirable for your brand.

When your customers trust you and see you as a source of valuable information, you don’t even need to worry about making sales, they will make themselves.

Likewise, when you have a rapid base of fans who can’t wait to comment on or share your next social media post, your brand is growing and profits continue to rise.

It’s a good place to be.

Keep reading to learn about what it takes to get there and how you can achieve it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and your social media empire won’t be either.

Realize that like many aspects of the modern business world, you will never be a social media expert, your education around the subject will never be complete. The game is always changing and you have to change with it.

Victory will come to the individuals and firms which are nimble and responsive to opportunities which may arise around new usage trends or technological advancements.

Don’t get too comfortable with any one approach or strategy, try them out and stick with what works. The best social media strategy is the one that gets your brands in front of the highest numbers of your target market.

Every day, people around the world, are utilizing the advanced modern telecommunications infrastructure and the power of their smart phones, tablets and computers to create a new landscape of connection, insight and meaning.

The Social Media Revolution

Today, social media doesn’t refer to a single platform, tool or app but instead refers to a vast global constellation of connected products, services, and opportunities.

In essence, social media is a new paradigm of experience which is bringing people closer to the things they love. This is great for all the citizens of the world and it might even be even better for all the global businesses seeking to reach them.

Social media is driving a revolution in the business world which is as useful for small startup endeavors as it is for the largest of enterprise level corporations.

All around the world, companies are learning that by connecting with social media meaningfully, they are better able to meet, understand and influence the behaviors of their customers. By creating high quality content, brands are able to tell their stories and the people that enjoy it are able to learn more about the things that are meaningful to them.

In this way, social media is built on reciprocity. That is, it opens a channel between businesses and their target audiences. Both groups receive tangible and intangible benefits from interacting meaningfully with social media content.

The absolute best data around this behavior illustrates a very conclusive point: social media marketing campaigns, when wielded effectively, can boost sales, engagement, and reputation in clear and increasingly measurable ways which offer clear advantages over other traditional marketing and advertising approaches.

Let’s look at little bit closer at some of the marketing statistics around social media:

  • Online, 95% of adults aged 18-34 are likely to follow a brand across social media

Social media connects people to the things they care about. Brands that are able to learn more about their customers motivations, hopes and desires are better able to design products and services that their target audiences gravitate towards.

  • 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.

Social media influence leads to real, measurable growth. Consumers are influenced by the experiences of people they identify with.

  • There are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day.

Everyday, new members of your target audience are coming online. The global opportunity around social media is truly staggering to consider.

Influence is Everything

Everywhere in the world businesses are interacting with social media. They try to use the information they know to direct their outgoing communications in a way that helps them to better meet, understand and interact with their target audience.

In many cases, these small to medium-sized businesses have a really great sense of how they would like to interact with social media but none of the time to manage it. In others, these business owners have absolutely no sense of how to interact with social media, they simply have a sense that doing so is worth it.

In both these cases, the attention directed at the company’s social media is likely to be random and unscheduled or extremely generic and too regular. Finding the right formula often takes trial and effort but the rewards are worth the effort!

“We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency. Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. ”-Pete Cashmore

The Social Media Landscape

In 2017, the top social media platforms contain a variety of names which are extremely well known and essential to any business as well as several that you might not have even heard of.

What goes without saying, is to succeed in the current social media landscape is to stake a claim on the most popular sites before trying to innovate with any new social media sites.

The biggest and most well known sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit etc are extremely safe bets when it comes to knowing where to focus your social media marketing efforts.

There are many other options and new services coming out on a daily basis. Unless, a specific social network matches the unique niche of your target market better than one of the existing, mega popular and well established social media marketing portals, consider sticking to the larger and more established platforms.

Take a look at this graphic to gain some better insight into the 15 most active social networks:

Social network

Monthly Active Users

Facebook 2,010,000,000
YouTube 1,500,000,000
Instagram 800,000,000
Twitter 328,000,000
Reddit 250,000,000
Vine (In January 2017, The Vine became the Vine Camera) 200,000,000
Pinterest 175,000,000
Ask.fm 160,000,000
Tumblr 115,000,000
Flickr 112,000,000
Google+ 111,000,000
LinkedIn 106,000,000
VK 95,000,000
ClassMates 57,000,000
Meetup 32,300,000

“These days, social media waits for no one. If you’re LATE for the party, you’ll probably be covered by all the noise and you might not be able to get your voice across. It could only mean that if you want to be heard by the crowd, you have to be fast; and on social media, that means you have to be REALLY fast.” -Aaron Lee

Each of these platforms is established and has the consistent monthly use. They all cater to slightly different demographics and could offer you many unique angles for marketing your brand or venture.

When you are getting started with social media marketing, it is extremely essential to find a rhythm, stick to it, evaluate it and move on from there. If you are just throwing darts at the wall and seeing what sticks on this network or that one without actually building up relationships with your customers, you will be spinning your wheels.

Social media is all about building mutually beneficial relationships. Whether you are a business or a private individual, success comes when you are giving as much as you are hoping to receive.

In simple terms, that means that it is very important to make sure you are providing value to your audience first and foremost. If you are approaching social media with the mentality of: “It’s all, me, me, me.” You will likely be left in the dust my competitors that are better able to articulate their unique value proposition and lead customers through their sales funnels and ways that do not feel like coercive spam.

To really make a huge impact on social media, you have to be able to shift your focus seamlessly from the wide angle view to the fine focus on the minutia. It is about the bigger picture as well as the fine details. To get a better understanding of what I am describing, take a look at the components which drive a successful social media marketing campaign.

To gain a better understanding of how to achieve success in the social media marketing landscape, take a look at some key concepts:

Content:  

Content comes in many shapes and sizes. It could be audio, text, picture, video-based or a combination. Different mediums of content work better on different social networks.

In general, there is a really intense trend happening in regards to video. Video content is on the rise and is expected to become even more popular in the coming years. As popular as the video is becoming it is important to consider which network you are posting content on.

For instance, Facebook and Instagram are going to be better fitted for video content than Twitter or LinkedIn. That doesn’t mean not to post the video on these sites but just to be aware that the way people use them is different than the other two listed.

The solution to this issue is to stretch your content out as far as possible. What this means is you can take a blog article for instance as a starting point:

  • First, you post the blog article in its entirety on Facebook.
  • You notice it is engaging your audience, so you decide to break off key takeaways from the article that you can tweet out on Twitter.
  • From the article, you create a simple text and picture-based video which you can post on Youtube.
  • You might also decide to post an audio version of you reading the article and post that again on Facebook with different headlines.

This example is very limited but the idea is that you can repackage and rebrand pieces of content according to their distribution channels. This is a very important element of success in modern content marketing.

Technology innovations such as wireless, mobile internet have made it easier than ever before to capture and stream live video, audiences are responding. Regardless of what type of content you choose to share with your audience, you should emphasize quality over quantity.

It is far more important to produce really useful content that people engage with than an avalanche of content which people purposefully avoid. Test a variety of styles and find your unique voice.

By the graphics, you have already seen that content can be present in many different forms and have to be individually tailored to each platform. Even more important than the content is the context.

The question of context gets right to the heart of the question regarding where and when it is best to post your content now that you are focused on providing high-value materials for your audience to engage with.

Context:

In social media, if the content is king, context is queen. They rule together and are of equal importance.

You don’t want to talk to and engage with everyone. You want to engage your target market and people who will have meaningful experiences with your brand. In general, you will want to inspire, excite, intrigue them. You don’t want to alienate them.

Meanwhile, you want to make sure that your headlines and pieces of content are attracting the right attention and generating the right kind of actions from the people you are hoping to influence.

If people are not commenting and sharing your content, you aren’t presenting it to them in the right ways. If your target market is not entering your sales funnels or taking the actions you would like them to take such as making purchases, signing up for your email list or anything else, you need to solve those issues immediately.

The problem might not be the content itself, it could have more to do with the context in which you are presenting it. The headlines you are using, time of day you post, social media channel was chosen can all vastly impact the success or failure of any one given piece of content.

While this may sound like a very complex puzzle to sort out, the key to finding your solution is to constantly test and see what works. Every social media platform has tools for tracking success and analyzing statistical insights. You need to use these to ensure you are constantly improving your conversion rates,  

Hashtags:

Getting hashtags right with social media is very important because they help you connect your brand to it’s audience. Moreover they help you to align your brand with the unique questions, concerns and terminology that is driving your target market.

Hashtags arrange information based on keywords and are extremely useful when it comes to searching for and sharing social media content. Understanding the hashtags guiding your industry can be the difference between generating a huge response and struggling to find your voice.

Placing the right search term in your post can bring up its engagement remarkably. Again, this is an area where you will need to test and retest to ensure you are meeting your audience where they are and communicating with them in a way that resonates with their emotional language and rational frameworks.

Across all social media platforms, there are elements like hash tags which help to arrange and organize the content. Study them, respect them, master them. In most cases, hashtags used across one social network will translate onto others but this is not always the case.

One of the best ways to analyze the hash tags relevant to your industry is to follow your competitors and see how they are talking with and engaging their audiences. If there are companies whose websites rank higher than yours, analyze which keywords their sites are stronger in. There is a good chance these will be essential keywords for you to use.

Take a look at the social media marketing that your competition is doing. Look at how they are using hash tags. Marketing is as much about blazing your own trail as it is about following a neatly established route.

Share/Shareable Content:

When people in your target audience interact with your content in meaningful ways, the most special is when they share. This feature is what drives viral campaigns which spread like wildfire.

When you can generate social sharing in your audience, your brand, influence and reputation grows. When the first time people interact with your brand is due to a friend’s heartfelt social media post, you are well on your way towards converting another customer.

Sharing is the currency of social media and should be a target for any campaign. If you can improve your share rate, you will see dramatic increases in all metrics related to profit and brand reputation. When people champion your brand, you have basically won.

Instead of having to pay money for your brand message to be duplicated across the internet, your customers do the legwork for you. When you can create a really exciting or engaging promotion that goes viral, you watch as all the heavy lifting is accomplished by your audience leaving you to rake in the earnings.

While content can serve many unique purposes, make sure you bake the idea of sharing into the design of any content you produce for social media.

You might ask yourself how relevant a piece of content is to your audience, how much does it engage them, does it ask them questions or encourage them to get involved?

You might consider if a piece of content fulfills a void that was left within your niche or unique segment of the market. A way to identify these content voids is to look for questions on Quora which have been asked about your niche again and again.

Chances are if people are asking questions over and over again, there is nothing out there on the first search pages of Google or social media which is a high value piece of content. If you write an exceptional guide or film an insightful video on these subjects, there is a good chance they will be shared tremendously as long as you are able to get them in front of your target audience. Which brings us to the next topic…

Engagement:

Engagement is every time someone likes, comments or shares any of your pieces of content. It is extremely important to generate for your brand to grow and gain influence over your target market.

The internet and social media revolution have changed the rules brands follow when it comes to engaging with their fans, critics, and the general public.

It is extremely beneficial to be proactive about generating engagement and responding thoughtfully to all the ways people interact with your brand.

Even negative criticism could offer you a better opportunity to share your brand identity than you realize. Instead of avoiding a negative comment, seek to emphasize with the individual making the comment and do your best to pivot and reposition your brand as necessary.

“Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence” – Sean Gardner

Why is Social Media Marketing Essential?

There isn’t a brand in the world that cannot benefit from the connectivity and engagement which is possible across social networks. Social media marketing is essential if you want to generate the best long term relationships with your target market and their specific interests. Because social media is driven by reciprocal relationships, it is the perfect framework from which to market your brand and expand upon your unique communications strategy with the world.

 

1.Being able to get to know your customers, on their own terms and with very little financial investment to gain these insights.
2.The ability to respond to the general public, your customers and anyone else who may be interested in learning about your brand.
3.Providing a very clear and strategic means of keeping up with the trends shaping your industry as well as the marketing efforts of your competitors.
4.Expanding your audience and converting interested fans into loyal customers.
5.Boosting sales, revenues and brand recognition.
6.The opportunity to share the unique audiovisual storytelling identity of your brand.
7.Vastly reducing marketing cost when compared to traditional channels such as print and broadcast marketing.

 

“Be genuine. Be nice. Know your audience.” -Calvin Lee

Statistics Guiding Social Media Marketing Efforts

  • Over 92% of brands on social media say it is extremely relevant to the growth of their brand.
  • More than 84% of brands have integrated social media into their traditional marketing strategy.
  • More than 65% of marketers are using social media for at least 6 hours a week to share information about the brands they work with.
  • 95% of brands believe social media presence has helped them to earn greater brand recognition from their target audiences.
  • 80% of brands believe social media contributes positively to the traffic of their websites and ecommerce stores.
  • More than 60% of marketers believe social media has vastly increased profits for the brands they work with.
  • 70% of marketers believe that social media leads to long term, beneficial relationships which help their brands to succeed.
  • More than 75% of the general public utilizes social media when it comes to making decisions around purchases.
  • More than $1.3 Trillion is said to be available for brands which can cultivate strong social media followings in the coming years as these technologies and services mature to their fullest potential.

Designing Your Social Marketing Media Strategy

Once you have established the necessity to utilize social media in your marketing efforts, it is essential to narrow your focus and create a logical framework for achieving your goals.

The following elements will help you to craft your social media marketing strategy:

  1. Establish social media goals.
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • More customers?
  • More signups for an email list?
  • What will social media marketing help you to do better with your brand?

Answers to these questions will help you to design a strategy which will benefit your brand in the short, medium and long term! 

2. Explore the landscape of social networks.

  • Which networks are you familiar with and already using?
  • Which networks are attractive to you?
  • Which networks will you have to spend the most effort to learn?
  • Which networks will offer you strategic advantages with reaching your audience?

Ultimately it is up to you to decide which social networks are worth your time when it comes to marketing. You really can’t go wrong with any of the largest networks as described earlier.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3.Launch, Modify or Improve Your Social Media Accounts

  • Design branding elements like logos, colors, and slogans.
  • Setup your accounts and start positioning yourself with your target audience is.
  • Consider purchasing advertising on your social networks to help get your brand growing right from day one.
  • Test, retest and keep refining your content.

The only way to make things happen is to get in the game. Every brand has to start somewhere. Don’t worry about getting every element ironed out before you launch. If you wait until everything is perfect, you will lose valuable market share. Instead just get going and learn from your successes and shortcomings.

  • Seek out inspiration and insight from market leaders and competitors
  • You don’t have to reinvent the wheel!
  • See what is working and how the most influential accounts are corresponding with their audiences.
  • Establish connections with brands that sell different products from you to similar niches.
  • Build relationships with influencers and see if they can help take your marketing to another level by piggybacking off their success and engagement with their audiences.

There is a wealth of market research available on social media. You can simply follow influential accounts and learn a great deal about how to design and position your content to generate success. Do not be afraid to copy what the biggest and most successful brands are doing. This is marketing 101!

  • Create a content plan and editorial calendar
  • Utilize tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, HubSpot, Social Oomph and Social Flow.
  • Design content silos which will allow you to speak to your target audience and appeal to different segments contained within it.
  • Automate your posts across networks but don’t rely only on the tools to post for you. Audiences can tell when they are seeing overly repetitive and automated responses. Mix up marketing automation with normal old fashioned responsive posts.

Marketing automation is extremely useful when it comes to keeping up with all your multiple social media accounts. However, do not lean too heavily on the technology. Remember that marketing is about building relationships. If you never respond to customer comments or engage your audiences directly, you will miss out.

  • Test, evaluate, and adjust your social media marketing plan
  • Social media marketing is not something you can set and forget.
  • Social media marketing is constantly changing and to get ahead you will need to change with it.
  • Always seek to gain as much insight as is possible into what is working and what needs to be adjusted to improve conversion rate optimization.

Marketing is an ongoing effort. You don’t complete your marketing, you simply improve upon it. Do not get caught up with short-term victories or mistakes, stay focused on your goals and work to improve your conversion rates!

“Humility, gentleness, and helpfulness go so much further and open doors you cannot imagine. Think from a higher level and try to see beyond today. Some hard work and insight will bring you to paths that will reward you so highly, it’ll make the little inconvenience you incurred so worth it.”-Ann Tran

Conclusion

Every tech-savvy aspiring entrepreneur in 2017 will be well aware that mastering social media is one of the most important elements of developing a successful digital business strategy.

Social media provides the aspiring entrepreneur with a plethora of options for earning largely passive income by cultivating the unique lead conversion ability these platforms offer in the modern telecommunications landscape.

Though there are many exceptional platforms for establishing supremacy across social media, what really counts is finding the one that will let you connect with your audience.

Imagine being able to get hundreds of thousands or even millions of people engaging with your video content, asking about your products and sharing their insights about what your brand means to their daily lives. Being able to attract and sustain a huge audience on social media and separate you from your competitors and bring your entrepreneurial ambitions to a world of interested buyers in your target markets.

All the top brands in the world have realized that social media can make or break them with either one well-timed viral campaign or one misplaced comment. Your brand is no different. Establishing, maintaining and expanding your social media followers and their engagement should be a major priority in your growth management strategy.

Social marketing or social selling is the clock endeavor, it is not an afterthought. Though there are many ways to automate elements of your marketing approaches, you need to remember that people can still largely tell the difference between generic, cookie cutter content and truly mind-expanding and emotionally engaging content.

From Facebook Live Videos to Instagram Stories and around the world in around clicks, there are a million ways to grow your audience across social channels. Newer approaches like affiliate and influencer advertising can help you to simplify the potentially mammoth task of actually cultivating followers.

Because content is so important you should focus on creating it. If you are unsure of what high quality content means, think about it like this: every piece of content you post online should have a purpose. Now you can work through multiple content silos to address multiple purposes but you should mix up the things you post to include a wide variety of things which will expand on your brand identity and help you to connect with your audience.

This last part is so very essential. If you are getting likes and comments on your posts but you aren’t engaging with your customers you are really missing out. There are so many ways to personalize the branding experience so that a customer feels extra loved and loyal to you. This is how you turn a random impulse buy into brand loyalty and customer retention.

If you aren’t producing high-value content, working on growing a social media following, establishing relationships with influencers and affiliates who can help your brand grow, you are missing out. If you are not an expert in social marketing or selling, now is the time to study up. It’s an ever-expanding discipline but there is still time to get ahead of the firms that will be slower to adopt these latest social content driven selling strategies.

Invest in social media marketing and watch your brand take off!