A 3-step guide to social media marketing
The world of social media marketing is vast and complex. The opportunities it presents to businesses are enormous, and they only seem to be growing. But with this enormity comes the risk of spreading your resources too thin and investing time and energy into a program that doesn’t deliver the results you want. Honing in on your objectives, your target audience’s behavior, and then selecting the best social media tools for your needs are three key steps to creating a successful social media marketing strategy.
This guide will help you to:
- Clarify your social media marketing objectives.
- Hone in on which social networking platforms your target audience uses, and target your efforts to their behavior.
- Select a social media tool that will amplify your efforts.
Whether you’re an independent blogger, a marketing director, or the owner of a small or medium-sized business, this article will give you plenty of ideas to take your social media marketing to a whole new level.
“If you make your customers happy in the physical world, they can tell six of their friends. If you make your customers happy on the Internet, they can tell 6,000 of their friends.”
–Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon
Step 1. Clarify your social media marketing objectives.
Whether you’re already immersed in a social media strategy of just getting started, ask yourself these two questions:
What’s my overall objective with this social media program?
Just feeling like you “need to be there” is not enough to structure the optimal social media program to reach your target audience. Hone in on your overall objectives and the desired results you want from the program. Are you using social media for:
- Customer acquisition
- Brand awareness
- Product feedback
- Enhancing your reputation as a thought leader
- All of the above?
Get these objectives down on paper (or Asana, Evernote, Google Docs, etc.) Then, when you go to make any decisions on tools, budget, resource allocations, etc., ask yourself if those decisions are actually going to help you achieve your clearly defined objectives.
What kind of return on investment am I expecting?
How much time, attention, and money can you realistically devote to your social media marketing? One thing everyone who’s been successful with a social media program will agree on: It takes time and attention.
Like having a healthy, successful relationship with anyone, being successful with your social media audience takes time, attention, dedication, and responsiveness. One of the best things about social media is that you can get a high ROI without spending a lot of money; and then you can always make a financial investment to get even better results. Being focused is essential so you don’t waste your time and money.
Getting clear on your objectives and then your analytics will help you get the most from your program. For example, if you’re going to spend 10 hours per week on creating content, posting, and commenting on various social media platforms, what does that effort have to net out to in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs)? Will you measure the return on your efforts by new visitors to your site, email signups, followers, likes, or shares? It’s important to get a clear picture of how your activities will net out to conversions – desired outcomes from the actions of your social media audience.
Step 2. Know your audience and focus on the social networking platforms they use.
Who is your audience and where do they hang out? Meeting your audience on their preferred social platform will be a key to the success of your program. Since the days of MySpace, the world of social media platforms has ballooned. From Facebook to Facebook Groups, to Yelp, Quora, reddit, subreddits, and more, there are countless places to connect with an audience.
You might realize that the smaller niche platforms are the best places to reach your users, or you might realize that having a more ubiquitous presence is the way to maximize your reach.
Most people agree that you need to be on Facebook and Twitter, regardless of your industry. But what about LinkedIn, Medium, or reddit? Maybe you need to post on LinkedIn during business hours and Facebook in the evening.
Again, it’s a matter of knowing your audience and where they spend their time. Being successful with your social media campaigns is very much a situation of being in the right place at the right time.
For reference, here’s a quick overview from Statista on the number people using the top social media platforms today:
While the reach of platforms like Facebook and YouTube is undeniable, considering niche social networking platforms can be equally useful to reach a more targeted audience. Sites like Yelp and Nextdoor can help you connect with a specific local audience, whereas the subreddits on reddit can give you a direct connection with an audience that is opinionated about your specific niche. And newer social platforms are coming on line that are worth looking at. Telegram, which already offers a group messaging service, is taking the world by storm because it’s the communication platform of choice among cryptocurrency and blockchain aficionados–technologies that promise to revolutionize countless industries.
If you’re not sure where your target audience is, do some competitive analysis. Take note of the competitors and influencers in your niche who have a lot of active followers and see what, where, and when they post. Free tools like SimilarWeb will give you an estimate of how much traffic your competitors get at their websites, and if you scroll down on the page, you’ll be able to see how much of that traffic comes from social media sites, and approximately what percent from each platform.
Still need ideas on which social media platforms to consider? Check out this comprehensive list on Wikipedia that shows dozens of social media sites and includes their niches and audience sizes. It also includes the platforms’ Alexa rankings. (Alexa is a website ranking system that takes into account a website’s traffic and visitor behavior.)
Step 3. Select the best social media tools to turbo charge your efforts.
Clarifying your objectives, knowing your audience, and understanding which social media platforms they use will help you focus, which will enable you to select the best tools for streamlining your efforts while amplifying your presence. For this article, we looked at social media tools that give you the most bang for your buck: auto scheduling and posting across multiple social platforms.
1. Alto Social
Alto Social is a new social media tool on the scene, with technology that is fresh and cutting edge. Alto Social is designed to make your job fast, easy, and effective. It lets you set up your social posts in advance and schedule them ahead of time, to go live on multiple platforms.
Alto Social’s system provides incredibly useful insights with built-in analytics that show you which of your posts were the most successful with your target audience. In addition, it helps you reward your top followers and reach out to them when they engage with your posts.
The service already comes with a mobile app, available on both iOS and Android, so you can manage your program on the go, wherever you happen to be.
Alto Social Pricing
Alto Social’s combination of competitive pricing, value, and ease of use is hard to beat.
You can start with a no-risk, one-month-free plan to try out their service. Alto Social’s free plans offers service with three of your social media accounts, and you can schedule 10 posts for each of your accounts.
In addition to their free plan, Alto Social offers four more pricing tiers, including Pro, Team, Business, and Enterprise, starting from $8.99 per month up to $349.99 per month. So, whatever the size of your business, they’ve got a solution to fit your needs.
With their free plan, highly competitive pricing at every tier, ease-of-use, and best-of-breed technology, Alto Social is an “everything-to-gain and nothing-to-lose” solution worth checking out.
Click here to try it out for free.
2 .Sprout Social
Sprout Social is another tool that will auto post to different platforms. Their service is geared towards enterprise-level clients and integrates with the major social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.
The tool enables its users to monitor their social media mentions, schedule posts ahead of time, and analyze engagement for each post.
Sprout Social Pricing
Sprout Social offers a free trial, and then pricing starts at $99 per user per month, up to $249 per user per month.
Buffer offers a similar set of tools, which includes pre-scheduling posts, monitoring audience engagement, and analytics.
Buffer offers a free plan for three social accounts, which includes use of their mobile app and image uploader. After the free plan, they offer four more tiers, starting at $10 per month up to $399 per month.
Hootsuite offers the same combination of tools, which includes auto posting to multiple social media accounts, user engagement monitoring, and analytics.
Hootsuite also offers a free plan, and then their pricing starts at $19 per month up to $499 per month for 50 social profiles and five users.
Tailwind is another tool that offers auto posting, listening, and analytics. Tailwind is geared towards image-focused platforms and integrates only with Pinterest and Instagram.
Tailwind offers a free trial and then a pricing tier of $9.99 per month for bloggers and small businesses. After that, they target enterprise-level businesses with a pricing tier that starts at $799 per month.
6. Salesforce Marketing Cloud – Social Media Studio
Salesforce offers social media auto posting, listening, and analytics with their Social Studio service, which is integrated with their Marketing Cloud offering. It’s geared towards larger, enterprise clients.
Salesforce’s base social media marketing solutions start at $1,000 per month.
While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the opportunities, tools, and platforms in the social media marketing ecosystem, focusing on your objectives, your audience, and the optimal tools for your specific needs will put you on the right path to a successful social media marketing program.