Part 3 Fundamentals of Digital Marketing: SMM

This blog is the third in a five-part series all about digital marketing. In this post, we’ll dive a bit further into Social Media Marketing.

In Part 1 of my series on the different aspects of digital marketing, we covered a brief overview of all of the elements that make up a well-rounded digital marketing plan. In the rest of this series we’re going to go a bit further into each of these elements so that we can get a better understanding of each, and then use them to create our own digital marketing strategy.

What social networking channels are there?

SMM stands for ‘Social Media Marketing’, which refers to your online presence on various social media channels and the traffic your website receives from them. While a variety of social networks fall into this category, they are all different to one another and as such all require a different approach. Each social media channel has its own properties and qualities that make it unique. Let’s look at a few of the most well-known channels that are out there:

– Facebook is perhaps the most iconic social media network and allows lengthy status updates,  photos, sharing, commenting, messaging, games…there are so many things you can do here! Facebook began mainly as a way for people to connect to others they knew and to make friends in the online world but has become very popular with businesses and companies as well, and is now full of pages that you can ‘like’ if you want to see updates from them.

– Instagram is similar to (and owned by) Facebook in a sense, but is primarily an image sharing platform. Hashtags are much more widely used here, and instead of becoming friends with someone like you do on Facebook, you simply follow them. Instagram is a very visual platform, and similar to most other social networks is now filled with many businesses as well as personal accounts.

– Twitter is a social sharing site where you can post short (up to 280 character) tweets, or messages. You can follow others, create lists, trawl through hashtags, take part in q&a’s and tweeting hours. Twitter feeds can move pretty quickly, due to the shorter messages on this platform.

– Pinterest is known as a social media network but is unique in that it is also a search engine. Essentially, it is an online pin-board where users can ‘pin’ images which are linked to sites that they group into different boards. Pinterest is also regarded as a social network in that users can follow one another, comment on pins and re-pin content form other users. This platform is still a bit under-looked with its huge search engine capability, and can drive large amounts of traffic to your site if used correctly.

– LinkedIn is a social network that is designed more specifically for business networking. Users can request a connection to someone they know, post content, follow company pages and join groups, comment and like other users content.  Many companies also post job openings or recruit potential employees on LinkedIn.

– YouTube is a social network based on sharing videos. Users can follow each other and comment on videos and subscribe to channels. With video quickly growing as one of the most captivating and effective forms of content around, this channel is one that has an incredible amount of usage. Here’s a pretty impressive list of stats to take a look at!

This is simply a short run down of some of the main players of the many social channels that exist online today. This infographic by Leverage is a great visual to describe some more about the main social channels:

How do I choose which social channels I should use for my business?

There are many different approaches that can be taken here, and I don’t believe there is one hard and fast rule that will work for everyone. All too often though, I speak with someone who thinks they immediately need to jump in and be active on four or five social networks and then say they want to send out one post a week. I’m of the mindset that it is far better to choose a couple of channels (at least to start with) and do them well. So then, how do you choose where to start?

You could make a reasonable guess based on which industry you’re in about where would be a good place to be active, but the more important question you should ask yourself is, where are your followers? That’s where you want to be active on social media. You should take some time to research your customers and your competitors, and then look at demographics of the main social media networks that you are considering being active on. Here’s a good place to start researching the demographics of the main social networks you might be considering.

For example, if I were to launch an online music course aimed at 30-50 year olds who are interested in folk music, I would probably want to start with Facebook and YouTube; my followers will be most active on these channels and I can serve them useful content in the best way possible on these platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn are probably a bit too business-based for this example.  

How do I start marketing on social media?

The best way to start is to create an on-brand presence on your chosen channels and then start posting valuable, high quality content that links to your website. You should also really invest in time to build up your brand and engage with your followers on those channels. What’s the point in putting together fluffy content, posting it out across 6 or 7 channels and never answering any comments or questions on your posts? Your followers will be able to tell very quickly that you don’t really care about them, and then your social media presence will be swallowed up in a very noisy online world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out. If you want to build your brand on social media, set yourself apart and be more memorable, you need to be authentic and create quality content that serves your followers well. After all, social media is all about being social and connecting with others!

Most large social media networks also have their own ad networks. Try to learn a bit about each and start with some small ad campaigns if possible. Compared to traditional marketing methods such as tv, radio and newspapers, ads on social media are pretty underpriced and can have huge ROI for how many people see your ads and how specifically you can target them. If you haven’t yet come across Gary Vaynerchuk, he talks a lot about this so make sure you check him out. You can also do a bit of reading here, here or here to get started with Facebook ads. Many people think you can throw money at social media ads and not be active or post organic content, but I really believe these go hand in hand. Making sure you have a good organic presence and then supplementing this with paid ads will give the best results.

My tips to help you start your social media marketing

Now that we’ve covered just the basics of social media marketing, I hope you’ll put some of this information to good use. These are some of my tips to help you get started with social media marketing, and I hope that makes it a little less daunting for you.

As always, there are many different aspects on the go here to effectively complete your social media marketing yourself. If this is something you would rather outsource to ensure it’s done well and free up your time, please get in touch with me to learn more about the digital marketing services I provide.

Up next: best practice and pointers for Content Marketing

If you want to catch up, you can read Part 1 or Part 2  in this series. Keep an eye out for the next one or sign up to my mailing list to get the next part in this series delivered straight to your inbox, where we’ll take a look at content marketing. As always, I welcome your comments and questions below!

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