What is Social Media Marketing and is it Important for your Business?
When it comes to establishing a “voice” for your business, social media is one of the biggest and most cost-effective methods available to companies of all sizes and in all industries. Regardless of the market that you serve and the audience that you are seeking to reach, there is at least one social media platform that you could use to help you market your business.
We have talked a bit about Branding vs. Marketing…once you have defined your brand and are ready to begin sharing your story (and of course the products or services that you offer), social media is often the place to go next. You can save time and effort (and as a consequence, money) by ensuring that you have well-thought out strategy for social media marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Merriam-Webster defines marketing “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service”. When you use social media to promote, sell or distribute your products and services, you are therefore using social media marketing. You might be doing that by using your own individual social media presence, or you might develop and use a business profile that will be your primary method for distributing information.
Although it may seem cumbersome to have another place to manage information and to keep updated, there are usually significant benefits to having a business profile. You can, of course, share your business information to your personal profile, in hopes of getting your friends and followers to also follow your business, and you can typically invite people to your page. But by maintaining a separate page, you are able to maintain your company brand, and can ensure that people who follow your business are hearing things from your voice, with your company goals and values in mind.
Additionally, many social media platforms have additional analytics and tools available for business pages, which are not available for individuals. By establishing a business presence, you might be able to see things like:
- how many people liked and shared your posts
- how many people engaged with certain types of posts
- how many people visited your page
- what times people are most likely to engage with you, and more
All of these metrics provide valuable feedback which can help to define future posts and timing. Additionally, you might be able to schedule posts, create additional background information about your company, and share things like hours, directions and more.
By the definition above, everything you do on social media becomes marketing. That’s important to remember since you want to be sure that you are using the media to convey the messaging that you want to define you. Be conscientious about your brand and your voice. If you are building a casual, homey business, you need to be sure that your communications maintain that tone. Likewise, if you want people to think of you as formal, professional company, make sure that your social media posts reflect that.
One thing to keep in mind is that social media marketing is a form of digital marketing. And all digital marketing (yes, social media included) can make a difference when it comes to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. By maintaining a presence that is rich with keywords that are meaningful for your market, your social media efforts can support your SEO. Building and then not maintaining social media presence on a variety of platforms can damage your SEO efforts.
Which social media platforms should I consider using?
When social media marketing first became a part of companies’ every day marketing mix, many businesses spent a lot of time establishing a presence on each platform. Today, there are over 50 different social media platforms to consider, with seven considered major players for companies: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Reddit. For the most part, businesses who are just entering the social media world should identify one of these as their primary, and focus on that one platform to build an audience before moving on to the next.
Each social media platform has its own primary demographics and focus. You should research each platform and determine where the people that you are trying to reach spend most of their time, and which one lends itself best to your type of business. You may find overlap, but it is likely that this is one social media platform that is ideal for your type of business.
Once you’ve identified which platform is best for you to start with, you can begin to develop a full plan, including a content calendar and appropriate content.
What do I need to think about when it comes to social media marketing?
Many businesses fail to recognize the impact that their social media presence may have on their business. As stated above, building but not maintaining profiles in a variety of platforms can actually hurt your SEO efforts, so having and following a strategy and plan when it comes to social media is critical for your digital marketing efforts.
Although many look at social media marketing as being “free”, it does have inherent cost in terms of time necessary to spend on it, and that cost can be a detriment to many small businesses. As things get busy, you may think that it’s acceptable to hold off on new posts and focus on the business you already have. Consistency throughout your social media campaign is critical. Not only can it negatively impact your SEO, depending on the platform, reach for your future posts may actually be throttled, causing issues with your followers not seeing your posts when you do have time to put messages out there (and they may not realize that there are posts out there that they might have missed!)
Create a plan
One of the reasons that developing and implementing an individual plan for each platform is so important is that trying to launch all of them at the same time can be extremely time consuming. It may seem easy enough to create the same content for several platforms at once (after all, you want to share the same information, right?), but each platform has enough differences that you will want to address. There may be different image sizes that each platform finds ideal, different ideal lengths and types of messages, and even differing times that people are online and active. And don’t forget that each media platform has a different audience, so you may need to approach them differently, with slightly different messages and concepts. Starting slow can help you manage all of those factors.
Beware of Post Aggregators and Scheduling Tools
There are a number of programs that are available to help manage social media messaging. The developers all discuss the advantage of having a single place to go to manage content and having the ability to tweak and then disseminate that content across a variety of platforms. The problem is that many times your messages that are distributed through those third party providers are throttled back, and won’t achieve the same reach and outcome as if you personally placed each piece of content in the appropriate place.
At Platinum Passports Marketing, we help you establish your business objectives, identify your target audience, create engaging and share-worthy content and finally integrate your social media with all other aspects of your online presence. We then tailor strategies specifically conceived for your brand and your audience, and support the program based on your individual needs.
For more information about how we can help you develop and implement a social media marketing strategy that works for you, please call us at (509) 842-0782, fill out one of our a contact forms, or comment below.