The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing

The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing

Social media campaigns for businesses can become overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to begin. Here are five important steps to get started.

So why social media marketing? No matter what business you’re in, social media is a marketing tool that can help your brand. And it’s clearly not going anywhere. There are 80 billion users across social networks. As of June 2018, Instagram has 400 million daily users, and its numbers are only growing.

According to Hal Stokes, founder and managing director of Happiour, “Social media is one area of business where you don’t need to outspend your competitors in order to beat them.” It’s true. Social media gives you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors in the most cost-effective way possible. When done right, these social tactics can maximize conversions at the lowest possible cost.

So, let’s take a look at these five simple steps.

1. What Is Your Social Media Goal?

The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing — Social Media GoalImage via 0beron.

Just creating a profile and posting information about your product is no longer enough. It is essential to engage and communicate with your community. Without building strategies and goals, you won’t know if you are meeting any of your targets. Often, KPIs are an afterthought, but it’s important to take a step back and decide what the primary goal should be for your social media campaigns. It’s tempting to choose all four factors from the list below, but that’s a little ambitious. A safer approach is to pick one that specifically meets your business needs:

Engagement: clicks, likes, shares, comments, and mentions of your brand.
Reach: follower counts, impressions, and web traffic.
Conversions: sales revenue, lead conversion rate, and non-revenue conversions.
Customer loyalty: costs per lead, issues resolved, and customer lifetime value.

2. Understanding Your Customers
The 5 Essential Steps for Getting Started on Social Media — Understanding CustomersImage via 0beron.

Now that you have a goal in mind, the next step is to break down the details of your customers. Take the time to understand who they are, what they’re interested in, and where you can find them. But don’t get lost in the data. It’s important to be detailed and specific, but the results can get overwhelming, especially when you’re just getting started. This exercise is meant to help you get a general sense of who your target market is so you can engage with them effectively. Consider the following characteristics:

Age
Gender
Education
Occupation
Needs
Hobbies
Location

3. Competitor Analysis
The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing — Competitor AnalysisImage via 0beron.

This is a step that many often forget, but it’s important. Take the time to identify your social media competitors. Pay attention to what social campaigns they are implementing, the strength of their social influence (followers and engagement), and the frequency and timing of their posts. You need to know what they’re doing well and what they’re messing up to learn how you can differentiate your own campaigns. Keep this information in a document that you can easily refer to and update every quarter.

4. Pick Your Social Channels

The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing — Social ChannelsImage via 0beron.

According to consultant extraordinaire Peter Drucker, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” When you’re getting started, focus on one or two social channels. Keep in mind that each platform serves a different purpose and caters to a different audience. The social profiles you concentrate on should target your customers’ favorite online gathering places. If you’re entirely sure where to start,  begin with one of the following channels:

Facebook

Local businesses do particularly well on Facebook — anything from restaurants, to hotels, to boutiques, to healthcare facilities, to entertainment services. Tip: create your own Facebook store. Not only will you be growing your community, but you will also be able to sell your products directly to your consumers.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual social network that targets millions of millennials. When posting to Instagram, keep in mind branding, design, and photography. User-generated content, photography, design, and custom posts are also accessible,  and I highly recommended you use them.

Twitter

Unlike the other platforms, Twitter serves both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) audiences. Inform and engage with your audience about your brand and industry with news updates and popular hashtags that will amplify your messaging.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn users are business professionals interested in connecting with other professionals. Post ideas? Share educational resources and provide snippets of relevant industry information.

5. Strategize Your Social Media Campaigns
The 5 Essential Steps of Successful Social Media Marketing — Strategize CampaignImage via 0beron.

Now that you have what you need to get started, you are ready to strategize and execute your company’s next social campaign.

Develop a Plan

Let’s work with an example — Sally’s Shoes. In the development phase, Sally will need to start with research. Specifically, she will need to identify her customers and competitors. What campaigns do her customers respond to? Have her competitors run a social campaign? If so, what have they done so far? What worked and what didn’t?

The next step is to finalize an idea. If you are in a creative block, boost your inspiration with these twenty-four creative ideas. Other factors that you will need to consider include the following:

Total budget.
Resources that you have or may need.
Start and end dates of the campaign.

Defining Your Goals

Let’s assume Sally wants to run a Labor Day sale campaign. Her general purposes would be to drive more traffic to her store, increase her sales, and broaden brand awareness. She will then need to break the goals down even further — for example, a 30 percent increase in traffic, total sales of $1,000, and 300 new Instagram followers. By assigning numerical value to her goals, she can later evaluate and analyze the success of the completed campaign.

Promote the Campaign

To drive more traffic to Sally’s store, she will need to promote her campaign. As a small business owner, pushing it on all of her social networks may not be enough; Sally will need to consider her budget for other forms of promotion, such as the following:

Promoting on Instagram.
Contacting an influencer to promote on their social profiles.
Reaching out to business partners to share the campaign.
Emailing her existing customers to let them know about the promotion.

Assuming Sally chooses an Instagram promotion and then reaches out to an influencer, she will need to detail an advertising budget for the campaign. For this example, with a total budget of $300, her budget for an Instagram promotion might be $200, leaving $100 for an influencer.

Analyze

Once the campaign is over, it’s time for Sally to evaluate her success. To do so, she will need to gather all the data for the goals she initially set and then measure her performance against them, using some of the following metrics:

Total website traffic from the campaign.
Total sales from the promotion.
Total reach of the campaign.
Total profit earned.

Once Sally has all this information at hand, she can compare it against her goals for final analysis:

How did the campaign perform?
Did she meet all of her goals?
What were the pros and cons?
What were some challenges?
What are some ways to improve?

When Sally has answered all of the questions, she can record the data where she can easily refer to it later when developing her next campaign. Hard data builds as you go, and each campaign will be better informed than your last.

Cover image via oberon.

Looking for more social media tips? Check out these articles:

10 Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Small Business
Social Media Marketing Toolkit for Every Type of Business
Small-Biz Strategies for Launching Products on Social Media
How to Build a Social Media Community
Social Media Quick Guide: How Every Social Media Channel Works

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