By now, pretty much everyone with an internet-enabled device belongs to at least one social network. It’s where we go for news, entertainment, conversations, and information. It’s an integral part of our everyday lives, and it’s where we expect to connect with people, brands, and businesses. You likely already have a social media account or two set up for your company. But having an active profile and actually using it to benefit your small business are not one in the same. Learning how to connect with your followers in a meaningful way that has a positive impact on your business takes time, planning, and commitment. That’s what social media marketing is all about.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing involves sharing content across social networks that users will then share with each other. Social media marketing serves multiple purposes:
- To increase a brand’s online visibility and presence
- To position a brand as an expert in a particular industry
- To stay top-of-mind with customers and connect with potential customers
- To drive traffic back to your business’s website or blog
- To drive consumers to an e-commerce experience where they can make a purchase
- To let followers know about new items, offers, events, and specials that will drive in-store business
How Do I Develop a Social Media Marketing Program?
Creating a social media marketing program is, on the surface, pretty simple. But the devil lies in the details, as the saying goes, and the details are what make social media marketing a challenge—but also a lot of fun. These are the basic steps involved in developing a social media marketing program:
- Goal-setting: Think about what you hope to achieve with social media, where your customers are most active online, and what types of content will have the most impact on your audience.
- Select your networks: Choose the social networks you’re going to join.
- Create profiles: Set up consistent, detailed profiles on each network.
- Follow people and invite followers: Connecting with other social media users is the best way to promote others to follow you as well. You should also make it easy for people to find your social accounts on your website, blog, and listings pages.
- Share content: Whether it’s original content or relevant articles, photos, quotes, and videos, the content you share should be interesting and useful to your followers.
- Track your performance: Look at the analytics provided within each social network and the traffic back to your website and blog from your social channels to assess what you can be doing better.
What’s the Benefit of Social Media Marketing?
Just because a particular marketing technique tends to be popular doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worth doing. In the case of social media, though, your efforts will be well rewarded. A few reasons why social media marketing is worth your while:
- Social networks are the online marketplace for word-of-mouth marketing. The more active you are in a social network, the more motivated people will be to share positive feedback with other users who might also be interested in your business.
- Social media marketing isn’t just about selling your products or services. It’s about developing a community around the industry you’re a part of or the problems you help solve. Being a part of a dynamic conversation, rather than just talking at an end user you never interact with, is exciting stuff!
- Social media marketing can help you reach a large audience without taking a huge bite out of your budget.
- The conversations you have on social can help you identify improvements for your business and find the sweet spot for special offers, events, and deals. You can even field impromptu surveys to ask specific questions to your followers.
The Bottom Line
Social media marketing is is a simple concept that becomes complex during implementation. Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll delve more deeply into specific aspects of social media marketing to help you get even more out of your investment of time and effort.