It seems that there is no escape from social media marketing. It has become a must-have for big corporations and small businesses alike. Nevertheless, the actual work, effort and time requirement for effective social media marketing is very often totally underestimated. I have come across so many organisations who thought it is enough to “hire a young girl who runs our Facebook page”. (I have heard this comment thousands of times – by managers reaching retirement and millennial young professionals alike…).
However, social media marketing has become much more than having a Facebook page and sending free products to influencers. The challenge lies in choosing the right social media marketing channels with the most impact for your business in line with your overall branding and marketing strategy.
1. Overall Branding and Marketing Strategy First
You cannot start using social channels without laying the groundwork. Everything has to be in line with your overall branding and marketing strategy. It is the basis for everything related to your social media marketing: the brand story, colour schemes, content types, etc. Without a sound strategy, your social channels will not be cohesive and appealing to your customers. Furthermore, it will be very difficult to leverage each channel accordingly.
2. What is Your Goal for Social Media?
When you know what you want to achieve with your overall branding and marketing strategy, determine how social media tools will contribute to reaching this goal.
Define certain indicators: What do you want to achieve with social media? Sales, duh! But the more you will get into the social media game the more you will realize that sales generation via social media is a long-term goal most of the time. The next obvious answer is “followers”. But growing your follower base is not enough: Do they engage with your content? Do they visit your site? And do they BUY your product at the end of the day? A smaller but active community can be much more beneficial than a big inactive base.
In general, the first step for small businesses is to use social media as an inexpensive tool to spread the word about your product. The next step is to build a strong community and turn brand awareness into brand loyalty.
3. Focus on the Key Channels
You do not have to present on all social media channels. One of the key factors to crack social media marketing is to customize your content for every single channel you use. The worst approach is to use the same content over multiple channels. Your followers have no incentive to follow you on all your channels and will get bored easily.
Social media marketing is much more than just having a Facebook or Instagram page where you post a picture. Successful channels capture their audience, they create a feeling of belonging and communities. This is what you want for your brand. Therefore, it is better to focus on selected channels and use them well.
4. What is Your Product?
Your product or service determines which channel will be the most useful to achieve your marketing goals. If you sell a physical product, jewellery for example, the visual channels like Instagram and Pinterest might be the best suited. If you sell editorial content, research or a coaching service, for example, Linkedin might be your best option.
It also depends if your product has a strong personal link to yourself. It may be interesting for your target customers to learn more about you or the behind-the-scenes of your business by watching your Instagram stories or watch Vlogs on Youtube.
5. Who Is Your Target Group?
In your overall branding and marketing strategy you should have defined your target group. Try to be as clear as possible and think about factors such as age, geography, interests, income – and last but not least – which social channels does your target group use?
Do not be fooled by the mere size of platforms. Despite being the biggest platform, Facebook, for example, might not be the best option if your target group is aged under 20-25. They are probably more often on Snapchat, Instagram or Youtube. If you target B2B customers or professionals, Twitter and Linkedin might be more suited. Therefore, carefully analyze where your potential customers spend their time.
Most importantly, put yourself into the shoes of your target audience and create the content they actually WANT to see. This involves a lot of research, testing, focus groups and assessment during your branding and marketing strategy phase. Creating relevant content is key – there is nothing worse than producing -what you think – the perfect and most beautiful content but your target customers consider it irrelevant and move on.
6. Which Content Do You Plan to Publish?
Similar to the product and target group, your content will impact the use of social media channels. Are you going to have a blog accompanying your product? You can promote those blog posts via Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. If your service is heavily related to video or can your product be promoted best with video content, Youtube and Instagram TV will be your friends.
7. Assess the Competition and Overall Social Media Landscape
Which channels do your direct competitors use? Are they successful and is there something you could use as well, adapt or develop further?
Moreover, follow influencers in your niche to get a feeling for the newest trends and content relevant for your target group. Watching influencers may sound a bit dull and boring at first sight. However, these people have built up a relationship with your target customers. Try to find out why they connected and implement some strategies.
8. Be Aware of the Effort
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, social media marketing has become much more than setting up and sporadically updating pages and sending out freebies. If you want to do it well, you will have to invest a lot of time and effort into planning and executing your social media strategy. Make sure to have enough resources – mainly time but also financially – for your (social media) marketing.
Lastly, social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. But the advantage is that if you do it right, you can reach your target customers much more easily and at a much lower cost than ever before. Just hang in there!
Stay tuned for more articles about branding and marketing for small businesses! Is there any particular branding/marketing topic you would like to read about? Let me know via e-mail or my social channels!