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What is social media marketing? The Beginner’s Guide!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

10 min read

The average social media usage by a person is 136 minutes each day. There are more than 2.8 billion users on different social media sites. You have to be in an unheard-of industry if you say that none of your potential customers are in any social media site. Almost impossible, right? That’s how powerful it is. 

With so many social media users on a single platform, they can also gang up against companies if you were to indulge in something that your customers don’t appreciate. This is why it becomes essential that you have a strategy to operate on social media for your business. There are so many businesses spouting on social media sites as well. It is so ingrained in our lives that we cannot avoid them. You can say anything as an individual on social networking websites, but if you are a business, it is best advised to be conservative unless your business requires you to be colorful! 

How can Social Media help your business:

There are a lot of ways in which social media can help your business. But on these sites, you should have a strategy. Everything you do here should be with an end goal in mind. There is a lot of testing that you have to do to finally crack the social media code for your business. You can extrapolate the results you get on different platforms to see if they work on your business as well. That’s how it works for most businesses. But before all of that, it is essential to know how social media can help your business. Below are some of the ways in which social media marketing bring success to your business. 

Getting leads: 

Using the power of social media marketing, you can get leads by converting your website visitors into email subscribers or leads who can eventually be your customers based on the value you offer. You can also share your opinion on social networking sites to gain a readership who will think about your product the next time they want to buy. 

Build credibility:

The kind of testimonials that are left on your various social media handles gives more reasons to trust your business. 

Having a website is the first proof that you are a credible business. People will still like to check your social media profiles to know more about your offerings. The interactions you have with your customers, the content you float there, and the kind of testimonials that are left on your various social media handles gives people more reasons to trust your business. 

Customer Service:

Twitter is an excellent example of how you can use social networking sites to address customer’s issues. All you need to do is tag the business’ Twitter ID with a complaint, and the customer service executive will take care of it. The fact that there is a much larger audience listening to the customer’s complaint makes it impossible for the business to ignore. It’s a win-win for both, especially for companies whose motto is to keep customers extremely happy. 

Becoming a thought leader:

The best thing about social media is that it costs less to be heard on the platform. If you can be bold in your conversations with your audience in a way where you share a lot of valuable content, you will soon be seen as a leader in your industry. 

Drive traffic:

You can use social media to drive traffic to your website or a landing page. It could be for a special event where you want people to buy tickets, or it could be merely to increase the footfalls on your website. Social media is a two-way communication platform, and if you use it well, there are high chances that you can get tonnes of visitors to your website. 

Some of the other things that you can do are building a community, announcing new products and features to the world, creating brand awareness, and so on. 

How to get started on Social Media Marketing 

While there aren’t fixed rules about how to use social media marketing for your business, you can follow certain best practices to get good at it. It is all about understanding the relationship that your customers share with you and the platform, experiment what works for you and keep revisiting your strategy to see if you are on the right track or should you pivot. Let’s make it easy for you with our steps that will help you get started on social media marketing.

Set goals:

Any action plan comes with a clear set of goals with carefully laid down guidelines. If followed it to the T, you can expect success or at least go in the direction of where you want to. Each activity that you do on social media should be tied with an end goal in mind. It is smart to create campaigns that last for a decent period of time instead of just engaging in one-off posts that try to cater to your clientele. 

Customer Persona:

Every company has customers with specific traits that make it easy to target them. In social media, the messaging that you do should not be for everybody. It will make your targeting terrible, and you will only be shooting in the dark. 

How do you find out who is your target audience? Look for factors that would make someone a customer of yours. Where are they from? What kind of financial background do they belong to? What is their level of education? What are their interests? Look for psychographic data. Scout for patterns from your previous customers or even from the client list of your competitors. When you take all of these points into consideration, you will be able to refine your customer persona with as much clarity as possible. 

Look for psychographic data. Scout for patterns from your previous customers or even from the client list of your competitors.

Create a content calendar:

There are so many ways you can create stellar content for your business. You could do a series of posts, interview clients, vendors, and employees, write how-to guides, create ebooks, publish relevant memes, and more. All the content that you post can be repurposed in different places. For example, a content written on LinkedIn can be repurposed as bits on Twitter, put up as a blog on your company website, shared on Instagram, and more. 

If you can crack the code of User Generated Content where your users send you content themselves, it can be great for your brand. Leverage it to the hilt to show that you are a customer-focused company, and it is proof of the fact that they like your products and services. 

Before creating a strategy, identify the kind of content that will help your brand. Brainstorm with your stakeholders on how you can improve the relationship with your customers, both existing and potential. After all, the whole point of putting up content is to make the readers fall in love with your brand. When you are clear on the content, create a strategy so that you aren’t scrambling every day with-” What do we post today?” That is always a losing strategy. Be well ahead in terms of planning if you want to win in the game of social media marketing.

Value Value Value:

Most companies would require an entire team to work on their social media handles. You must allocate goals so that the work is done in tandem. What kind of content do customers love? Anything that provides them with enough value to keep returning to your website. 

Here are some ways in which you can provide valuable client:

  1. Content that tells them how to use your product. While you cannot expect everyone to understand the intricacies, it would be helpful if you could create a separate article (or videos) on how to make the most of your product.
  2. For example, let’s say you are in the fin-tech space where you disburse loans to professionals. The kind of content that will resonate with your audience would be-1. What is the eligibility for housing, personal, and business loans from a private lender? 2- How to invest money using your salary to get a million in X years?, 3- Here’s how you close your student loans in 3 years. Content like this will capture the interest of your target market. 
  3. Information on what is happening in the industry. 
  4. Demo videos, explainer videos, case studies, testimonials- all of which are promotional content, but it still helps your customers make a decision.
  5. Videos of your customers using your product.
  6. Detailed Question & Answer sessions with your customers
  7. Show them videos of how your product is made. Behind-the-scenes content with your employees in it. It shows the humane side of your business. It works well if you are trying to create trust with your customers. 

Use 1-2 social media channels: 

While there are many social networking sites that you could dig into, please save yourself the trouble of getting your hands dirty on everything. If your business is with C-suite executives managing a team of 1,000 and more, would you choose Instagram or LinkedIn? LinkedIn. Simple, right? If you sell watches where the target audience is 15-20, then Instagram is the best place to be. You get the drift? 

Also, do not treat all the channels in the same way. There are best practices for working on each of them. Build your presence on the platform and leverage the existing platform to bring all your customers to the newer platform. This works best when you have a loyal following. 

Create a content calendar:

Now that you know your strategy and the kind of content you want to include on your business, the next step is to kick off a content calendar that streamlines your content marketing efforts. 

Here is how you can create a stellar content calendar:

  1. Write down a bunch of ideas. 
  2. Assign these ideas to the stakeholders who would create the content. 
  3. What is the type of content? Is it videos, blog posts, images? You can repurpose the content later. 
  4. Schedule the content. Follow the W2H formula- When, Where and How. When, where, and how is the content going to be published. Set a deadline for it and inform the stakeholders about their responsibility. 
  5. Create templates that you can use to create a series of content with ease. 
  6. Festivals, important dates, and seasonal holidays are a great way to connect with the audience. Create content in advance for these kinds of days so that you aren’t found wanting during the D-day. 

Engage with the audience:

One of the most significant advantages of social media is that it is a two-way street where you can have conversations with your customers. In fact, if you don’t respond to customers, they might think of your brand as snooty, and it won’t help you at all. So what does engaging with the audience entail? Respond to people’s comments, retweet their posts, get back to them with a resolution if they ask for one and so on. 

Respond to people’s comments, retweet their posts, get back to them with a resolution if they ask for one.

Also, don’t share content that has nothing to do with your business. A stray commentary here and there on something is funny, but do not make it a habit of drifting too much from your core area. It is smart not to get into posts that show your political affiliation or your opinion on sensitive matters. 

Monitor all the conversations that revolve around your brand. Search on different platforms for mentions about you, if it is a bad experience that a customer shared, promise to resolve it and get working on it. If it is a compliment, be grateful, move on, and strive to keep yourself useful to your customers. 

Spend a lot of time listening to your followers. It is a goldmine of advice using which you can make your product better. Use an online survey tool like the one that SurveySparrow offers to get feedback from your customers. 

Be consistent:

Research says that it takes at least 18 calls to connect with a buyer. In the initial correspondence, you need to sell them the concept, the budgets should work out, and only then can you close the sale. But with consistent messaging on social media platforms, you would be able to establish trust with much ease. This makes it easy for you to get inbound leads because a lot of potential customers are consuming your content on a daily basis. 

If you are consistent, your engagement rate will balloon up, people will start trusting your business and will be considered reliable in the eyes of the average customer. If you are not consistent on social media, customers will not be sure what to make of you. In fact, for your customers, social media is one more way to reach out to you with their queries. If they realize that there are spells of drought when there is no communication from you, it makes you look bad. This is why you must always be available on your social media handles, at least during working hours. 

Promote your channels:

The first step to promoting your business using social media marketing is to help your social media handles. When you are starting, only your employees know about it. Spread the word using sponsored ads, use share buttons for your website visitors, let your email list know, and use it in your email signature. Announce to the world that you have arrived on the social media marketing landscape. The initial push from your side will be your first few followers. Nurture them into becoming your fans and not just followers. 

The initial push from your side will be your first few followers. Nurture them into becoming your fans and not just followers.

Measure results from social media marketing:

All types of marketing should have a benchmark or specific goals. If you are just starting out, keep a benchmark that you want to achieve. 

Here are some of the objective results that you can measure?

  1. Increase in the number of organic visitors to your blog
  2. Increase in the number of email subscribers
  3. Increase in lead conversions
  4. Number of appointments made with your sales team
  5. Engagement on your content in different social media sites
  6. The number of clicks on your social media post
  7. Number of likes, comments, and shares on each social media platform

These are the type of data that can be useful to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. Look at your performance on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. This will help you unearth a lot of variables that directly contribute to your business. You will be able to identify which method is the most valuable in terms of ROI. 

Optimize and streamline your efforts:

When you have a lot of data in your hand, the next step that you need to do is to optimize them based on your learning. Make changes based on the results shown. Optimizing your goals based on the results will help you exceed your goals. Once you have created loads of content, go back to your followers on social media again and ask them these two questions. 

  1. What other types of content do they expect from you?
  2. How else can you improve the existing content you publish?

The answers to these two questions will give you answers that will incredibly push the results of your content marketing by a considerable margin. 

Conclusion:

With all that said, now you know that there are few things as humongous and impactful as social media in the 21st century. It will only be getting stronger as anyone can access it for free and since there are no restrictions at all. If you are a business and don’t have a strong presence on at least one social networking website, then you need to rethink your strategy. 

Win your customer’s heart with strategic content that drives home a point. Your audience should look forward to hearing from you. That’s the kind of impact you can create if you try hard. For that to happen, you should start slow and find out what your audience likes, refine your messaging that way, and keep experimenting till you strike gold. 

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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