What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is a discipline within internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals. Social media marketing includes activities like posting text and image updates, videos, and and other content that drives audience engagement, as well as paid social media advertising.
If marketing is about putting your message where your audience hangs out (which it is), then social media is a no brainer. Today, 79% of US internet users are on Facebook. Six out of ten Americans stay updated on news through social media, while 35% have used social media to look for or research a job. And these same numbers are reflected worldwide. Is it any wonder you should invest in social media marketing to grow your business?
Trouble is, “going social” isn’t as easy as it looks. There’s a lot more to social media marketing than simply posting to Facebook and Twitter.
Social Media Marketing Methodology
There are 4 stages in a successful social cycle:
All 4 of these stages are key to reaching social media success everything hinges on Stage 1: Social Listening.
Listening gives the insights needed to perform the other 3 stages well. It helps develop a strategy that will influence, build a strong network, and result in lots of conversions. The key, of course, is to get the right information in front of your prospects and customers where they hang out online.
Social media marketing is not about wasting time hanging out with your prospects and customers. It’s about executing the social cycle, minimizing your costs by executing the methods and metrics for all 4 of the stages.
1. Social Listening
As with any marketing strategy, we start with your target audience. That’s why social media marketing starts with listening.
People are talking about you and reaching out to your brand on the social web, or at least they should be. They’re sharing their experiences with your products. They’re talking about the things you’re saying or doing. They’re even asking you questions. Positive comments and feedback will be celebrated and responded to with a great big thank-you.
Negative comments and comments that are not so positives will receive immediate attention. This fast response shows followers that you’re present and accessible. It’s a lot like customer support and it influences reputation management. It can help or hurt your public perception.
Every day, your social phone is ringing. If you don’t answer, it leaves a bad impression. On the social web, it’s a bit like leaving your customer service lines unattended. But when you do answer the call, listening and responding appropriately, you can connect with your fans and followers, find and fix issues you may not be aware of, and build incredible good will. The key, of course, is making listening the #1 priority and then using those insights to inform the other 3 stages of the social success cycle.
Goals Of Social Listening
- Track public perception of your brand.
- Identify the topics to talk about.
- Keep a pulse on your industry, where it’s going, how it’s being perceived.
- Perform customer research.
- Conduct competitive research.
5 Things To Social Listen For
- Your brand – Watch for mentions of your name, your products, or any other identifying information.
- Topics relevant to your industry – Stay on top of the pulse of your industry. Listen to the topics people are bringing up, their questions, and their hot buttons.
- Your competitors – What’s being said about them? Is it positive or negative? And what are your competitors saying about you?
- Influencers – Listen to thought leaders and influencers and look at the content they’re producing. They’re all clues for where the industry is moving.
- Public facing people in your company – Watch for mentions of your leaders and influencers. What’s being said? Is it positive or negative?
The aim of all this to tune into the pulse of public sentiment towards your brand, your industry, and the topics that relate to your brand. It’s reputation management. It provides real-time customer service and identifies product or content gaps that need to be filled.
Putting The Listening to Work
Listening is only half of the equation. We now need to respond to the things we see and hear. A strategic “feedback loop” is the best way to do this. To read more about this, please visit reputation management.
Social Listening Metrics to Watch
- Reputation score (AKA sentiment level) – Are people happy or sad when talking about you? Is the tone negative or positive?
- Retention rate – Are you retaining customers (and followers)? If not, why?
- Refund rate – Are issues resolved without having to issue refunds?
- Product gaps identified – What suggestions are people making for new product features?
- Content gaps identified – What content should be developed to answer questions and resolve issues before they arise?
2. Social Influencing
At this stage, the aim is to lead and direct the opinions, attitudes, and behaviors of your follower … and since we’ve been listening, it’s relatively easy.
We already know the trending topics and conversations taking place, so adding and authority voice is the natural next step.
What are the signs that your influence is growing?
- More engagement – people retweeting or sharing posts, and people responding to your posts.
- Traffic numbers increase – people click on your links.
- Greater mindshare – people share their questions, thoughts, and opinions with you, and they eagerly seek interaction with you.
- You become a recognized authority and a brand people watch.
Keep in mind, this stage of the success cycle is influenced by the social listening in Stage 1, but the reality is listening happens at every stage.
Goals for Social Influencing
- Increase engagement with your brand and your content.
- Start conversations around the topics related to your business.
- Boost traffic to your site.
- Build awareness of your products and offers.
- Grow your retargeting list.
Social Influencing Metrics to Watch
- Site engagement rates – Are you getting more social shares and comments?
- Traffic by channel – Traffic from social media should increase over time.
- Offer awareness – People see and respond to offers on social media.
- Retargeting list growth – Through retargeting, offers are placed in front of people who are most likely to buy from you.
3. Social Networking
It’s at this stage of the social cycle when you connect with other influencers and authorities who can move the needle. Social networking is important for all businesses, whether just getting started, scaling, or expanding into new markets. It may help to think of social networking as a live event—except the interactions are online rather than face-to-face.
The Process of Social Networking
Each time an article is published or you have a new offer, create social media posts to get the word out. Also, engage people one-on-one, both asking and answering questions.
Share valuable content from peers and even your competitors. If it relates to your brand’s primary topic and helps your followers, it’s worth sharing. By sharing content from others, you’ll offer your audience more useful content and build good will and strong alliances with the brands you share.
Goals for Social Networking
- Share content that fills gaps left from your own content.
- This content may relate topically or target people at different skill levels.
- Create good will with brands that are similar to yours.
- Over time, transform that good will into profitable partnerships.
Social Networking Metrics to Watch
- Number of inbound links – A strong network will result in more backlinks to your content.
- Number and description of earned media mentions – Consider the relevance and value of mentions, who they come from, and the value of those mentions.
- Number and description of earned strategic partnerships – Are you engaging partnership prospects, or are they reaching out to you? How relevant are those brands to your business, and what is the value of those relationships?
4. Social Selling
The fourth and final stage of the social success cycle is social selling. This is where social media marketing gets interesting. Finally, after listening to your prospects, building authority in your space, and establishing a strong network, your offers can now be put in front of people—and convert them.
What does good social selling look like? Good social selling integrates with your funnels, but it relies multiple channels for getting people into those funnels, from blogging to retargeting to pay-per-click advertising.
For instance, lead with blog content that’s perfectly targeted to your audience, and in that content, embed an opt-in offer. Then promote the content in social media (leveraging Stages 2 and 3 of this cycle). The social promotion directs traffic to your content, where prospects will see the offer. If they respond, immediately make an upsell offer—a low-priced tripwire designed to convert your new lead quickly into a customer.
If they don’t respond to the offer, retarget them with a relevant ad that could lead to a conversion after they leave your site. The ad takes them to a funnel, where they’re offered the same (or a related) lead magnet—and then an entry-level product.
Of course, the same social media marketing tactics can also be used to upsell and cross-sell to existing customers in combination with email marketing.
Goals for Social Selling
- Generate leads to grow your email list.
- Acquire new customers and upsell/cross-sell existing customers.
- Increase buyer frequency, turning one-time customers into raving fans.
Social Selling Metrics to Watch
- Number of leads – Over time, your email list shows grow.
- Offer conversion rate – Are your offers converting? Maybe your offer isn’t relevant or isn’t close enough to your prospects’ bottom-line desire.
- Buyer recency / frequency – You want customers to buy repeatedly and often.
Social Media Marketing Metrics
We’ve talked about specific metrics for tracking the 4 social cycle stages, but there are a few more metrics that can show how well social media marketing is working.
- Applause Rate – Every social share and mention is a form of applause. Measure the sum total of all social shares (Facebook, Likes, Tweets, LinkedIn shares, etc.) and comments on a piece of content.
- Traffic by Channel – It’s important to know where traffic is coming from. Track your social traffic by channel via our website analytics and performance reporting. Lots of engagement indicates a topic your audience resonates with. Low engagement misses the mark.
- Conversions from Social Media – Calculate conversions from social media to know the percentage of visits from social media that take action. The formula is: [traffic from social media] divided by [total traffic]. The higher the conversion rate, the more successful social media marketing is.
Social Media Marketing Terminology
- “Value First” Offer -Social media marketing allow you to make successful offers. Offers that are appropriate for social channels include:
- Valuable content. Link to content that has embedded offers and CTAs.
- Lead magnets, or opt-in offers designed to get cold traffic into your funnels.
- Tripwires, or deep-discount offers to upsell and cross-sell new and existing customers.
- Feedback Loop – A reputation management system where complaints, praise, and other useful comments “heard” during social listening are handled. This makes it easy to apply the 3-step social customer service plan:
- Acknowledge the concerns.
- Forward the issue to the right person.
- Take the issue off public channels and resolve it in a timely manner.
- Social Media Bouncing – When a social media follower on one channel is exposed to your brand on another channel.
- Social Media Topic Map – Two keys to successful marketing are relevance and focus. A topic map helps you stay “on brand” with both. As a bonus, by narrowing the topics you post about, you actually increase engagement. Take your brand, the products/services you offer, and your primary message. Then figure out the topics and subject matter that are “on brand” to discuss on social channels.
- Long-tail Media Outreach – This is the process of earning mentions from lots of small media players (bloggers, podcasters, etc.) instead of a small number of large media players.
Social Media Marketing Services
- Organic Driven Campaign
- Integrate Accounts
- Awareness/Traffic Campaign
- Develop Brand Voice and Tone
- Content Curation/Repurposing
- Regular Posting
- Community Engagement
- Weekly Reporting
- Monthly Phone Calls
Step 1: Developing the Strategy (Comprehensive Social Media Analysis Reports)
Critical research is the first step taken with a client. Our comprehensive Initial Social Analysis Reports lay the foundation for the strongest social media success possible and determines the best path in achieving greater brand exposure. The analysis is an extreme amount of information we need to collect in order to take action and direction with your social profiles.
It takes us approximately two to three weeks to aggregate the below data, then we deliver the reports to you in an online meeting format. These reports allow all parties to understand the scope of the project and will allow us to write a Strategic Social Media Marketing Plan.
Once this plan is complete, you’ll receive an official quote for ongoing social media, but until that point it is only guesswork as to the amount of effort that will be necessary to attain success. That’s why we start with a baby step of noncommittal research. After that stage is complete, you’ll know what it’s like to interact with our professional team, you’ll have a great amount of knowledge about the opportunity and obstacles, and we’ll know what it’ll take to help you achieve the success you want.
These reports include:
- Comprehensive Profile Review – We provide detailed suggested changes to optimize organic exposure. How a profile setup is weighed into Facebook/Instagram’s formulas heavily. Not as much for other networks.
- Content Calendar (1 Month) – We will provide content type suggestions based on what we see working best in your industry. We will build it out along with a recommended posting schedule.
- Social Keyword/Hashtag Research – Your hash tagging strategy is crucial for gaining as much organic exposure as possible. We have found our hash tagging strategy in addition to growing your organic social exposure also compliments SEO via social signaling whenever we are posting content that links back to your site.
- Paid Ads Strategy Development – We will develop initial recommended copy and graphic suggestions as well as targeting recommendations.(execution of a paid social campaign is completed under a separate PPC Management agreement)
- Best Practices Writeup – In addition we will provide an official write up of social media best practices specifically for your industry.
Ongoing Social Media Marketing
The following are some of our primary social media deliverables. Our deliverables per client are unique and are certainly not limited to the following:
- Development of Brand Voice and Tone: Brand voice and tone is maintained through consistent posts about the same general topics. Posting information about sleep disorders and tips to help you get to sleep is great if you are in the health industry but if you are a glass manufacturer, not so much. Keep it relevant and post during times when your following is most active. We make sure you respond to anyone who messages you within 24 hours via automated messaging and let them know someone will be with them soon to help address any concerns or questions.
- Content Curation / Repurposing Content: Using content in the form of articles/videos from your site will do better than pulling articles/images/videos from other pages on the web or in social media. It is important to post to the native platform we are working in and either reuse informative content or use what others have published, giving credit where it is due. Repurposing content is a great way to establish credibility and may help turn your brand voice into an authority in the industry.
- Posting (Testing day/time): Posting when your audience is active is extremely important. Take twitter for example; the average life of a tweet is 18 minutes and most retweets happen within 7 minutes. This means users in this space are living on the social platform, see something happen and then share it as a part of what they are interested in. Understanding when to post/tweet/reshare is critical to a campaign’s success and will continued to be tested for the best results across the entirety of the business.
- Community engagement: When you have an established and active following, it’s important to stay connected with them. The worst thing you can do is “deliver and disappear.” We will keep your brand humanized by answering follower questions, adding value to conversations on your posts/page, liking and commenting on follower-shares, asking questions to promote conversation, and more. We will work with you to create a generic FAQ (with answers) for your audience in case they ask questions that require your expertise.
Additional Social Media Marketing Deliverables (as needed)
- Weekly Analytic Report and Assessment: In depth analytics of: post and post type success, engagement stats, audience insights, mentions and campaign results.
- Consultations: Equip you with the skillset to tackle a wide range of social media strategies. It’s important to always stay involved and educated with your social media channels so that you can understand and apply methods for tasks not within our realm.
- Content Extras: Content Creation (Images, Videos, Blogs, etc) Videos can be edited, clipped or created. Images can be branded, texted or slightly modified. Blogs can be created or edited.
- Contests / Giveaways: Depending on the platform, different software and tools are used for contests and giveaways. Facebook for example, has specific requirements on what you can run and how you run them. An example of this is that you cannot count a submission based on a like and you cannot force others to share your promotion or giveaway as a way of getting more votes. While these giveaways are possible to do off of a website or direct traffic to a page, certain guidelines must be met before proceeding.
- Industry and Tactical Analysis: We research what is trending in your industry along with who the social influencers are. By studying your audience to understand what content they engage with, we can determine which type of content to post onto your page and what types of strategies work best with them. It’s suggested that you provide your own content (blog, case studies, company photos or videos). At least 50% and at most 95% of your posts should be created by your brand. We will also establish social media goals and measurable objectives for each social profile.
- Campaign and Strategy Development: Social media campaigns are highly successful for increasing brand awareness and audience engagement. Promoting giveaways or contests will get people to your website, get people talking about your brand, give your audience an exciting experience, help you collect lead information (Email addresses), and more. This includes strategy development for non-giveaway campaigns such as a series of posts surrounding a specific tactic. You could also call this the “ideation” deliverable. These hours include the implementation/execution of the strategies as well.
- Creating a New Social Profile: If you aren’t on a social channel that your audience is participating in, then we will setup, create and get this social profile up to speed for you. This also includes instructing you on how to use the new platform.
- Monitor Brand Mentions: We monitor and report on brand name mentions across all public social media sites and blogs, so we can determine how we want to respond to people who may not be tagging our social media profiles when talking about our brand. This is an excellent way to turn a bad experience into a good one, or a good experience into a great one!