Social media marketing can be a cheap and effective way to target a wide range of consumers and promote brand awareness without the need to pay thousands to a recognised marketing agency. The rewards don’t come easy though, social media marketing requires a large amount of time and effort to keep your profile and content up to date. Social media marketing primarily covers activities involving social sharing of content, videos, and images in an attempt to make readers promote the information through their own network. This practice is known as earned media, as you are relying on word of mouth to promote your brand or product rather than paying for promotional material.
Social Media Platforms
Before we get too far it’s useful to know what the various social media platforms are. Almost everyone will have heard of Facebook or Twitter, but what other networks are available for you to promote your brand?
Recent figures puts the total number of active monthly Facebook memberships at around 1.23 billion globally. This is almost 10 times more than Twitter and gives you the chance to reach an unrivaled amount of possible customers. Facebook marketing is primarily done through the creation of a Business Fan Page. Social media marketing for business pages revolves around posting industry related articles, images, videos, etc. There is also the option of mainstream advertising through banners and adverts.
Twitter allows you to promote your company or product using short messages that are restricted to 140 character but which can contain links to websites, photos, videos. Twitter relies on other users ‘following’ your profile in order to see any promotional messages you tweet. Twitter also gives the chance to interact with your customers directly, giving a more personalised feel which can lead to improved customer loyalty.
Google+ is a new Facebook competitor which has many of the same features allowing you to upload and share photos, videos, links, etc. Google+ allows targeted advertising methods, navigation services, and other forms of location-based marketing and promotion. A popular feature of Google+ is its ability to let you create Google+ circles, meaning you can segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others which is useful for being able to target specific audiences.
Instagram is a photo and video sharing that allows its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on various social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Instagram has over 200 million users but boasts an engagement rate of 15 times more than Facebook and 25 times more than Twitter. According to a study by Simply Measured, 71 % of the world’s largest brands are now using Instagram as a marketing channel via rich and engaging visual environment.
Tumblr is a micro blogging social media format which has over 200 million individual blogs and over 90 billion individual posts. A great feature of Tumblr is its ability to let you schedule when your posts are displayed, meaning you can create content whenever you have some spare time and then post it during a peak or targeted time slot when it will receive the maximum exposure to your target audience.
Youtube is a video sharing site that allows you to view, create and share videos of various types. Available content includes video clips, TV clips, music videos, and other content such as video blogs. Marketing on Youtube is done in the form of adverts that are displayed before a video and are usually related to the video content.
Social Media Marketing – Start with a plan…
Social media marketing can be a bit of a minefield, so it’s vital that you know some key goals that you are trying to achieve and the best way of accomplishing them:
What am I trying to promote? Complete brand or individual service or product?
What is my target audience?
What form of social media are my target audience most likely to use?
When in the optimum time to schedule promotional messages?
These are just some of the basic questions you need to ask yourself before diving into the world of social media marketing in order to create a successful campaign. Lets take a closer look at some of the points above.
What am I trying to promote?
Although this sounds obvious, with platforms such as Twitter restricting you to just 140 characters in a post, you need to be clear and concise about what your promoting. Are you trying to promote complete brand awareness or is this a specific product or service that you are looking to gain exposure? Make each individual post unique and use each one to promote a specific item.
What format do my target audience use?
Its always useful to do some basic research to find out what social media platform your target audience are using. For example if you are targeting 18-24 years olds in the UK, research shows 34% of all users of Instagram are people aged 18-24 compared to Facebook where this figure drops to 17%. Therefore by targeting Instagram rather than Facebook, you can reach twice as many people in your target audience.
It’s a good idea to read up on the social media platform you are targeting as each platform has a number of different ways you can reach your audience. A quick Google search will also throw up a number of useful sites with tips and tricks to help you engage with your audience, such as these 16 Useful Tips from Social Media Examiner.
Optimum Time Slot
When engaging with potential customers via social media, it’s a good idea to know what time they are most likely to be online and using a certain platform. After all it’s no good if you post a great piece of content and there’s no one about to see it and share or retweet it! To help you find the best time to engage with your target audience SUMarketing have put together a completely separate guide which can be found here.
Creating your Social Media Content
Once you have considered the above, it’s now time for the hard part, creating engaging content that is going to attract the attention of your target audience and get them to share it . One of the most simple ways of generating higher engagement is including photos or image with your posts and tweets. Although different sources all put different values on the actual increase adding an image can give you, they all agree that it’s the most effective method of increasing awareness. The graphic on the right shows research from SurePayRoll that by adding an image to a Facebook post, you can increase like by 53% and comments by 104%. Similarly, adding an image or photo to a tweet can increase retweets by 41%.