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The goal of social media marketing (SMM) is the same as any other marketing medium: to increase both brand exposure and the customer base of a business. SMM, in its most simplistic definition, refers to Internet based marketing that utilizes the various social media platforms as a marketing tool. Nowadays, global Internet coverage and widespread use of social media means you’re never far from one form of SMM. In this article, we’ll provide an answer to the commonly asked question: just what exactly IS social media marketing? And explain the fundamentals of the rapidly growing marketing tool.

Social Media Optimization (SMO)

SMO is similar to SEO (search engine optimization) as they both play an important role in the success of a website or brand. The purpose of SEO is to increase the ranking of a website in SERPs (search engine results page), whereas SMO refers to the optimization of your content through the various social media platforms. The difference being: the former is centered on increasing website traffic and the latter involves laying down the foundations of your brand in the realm of social media.

It’s important to remember that SMO can’t be neglected. It’s an ongoing process that will establish your social media presence and brand as a trusted source.

Putting Social Media Marketing into Practice

It’s time to put what we know into practice. Planning and curating our own social media marketing strategy should be easier now that we have an understanding of the basic fundamentals of SMO.

1) Learn about your target audience:

  • Learn about who is already buying from you
  • Use website analytics
  • Analyze the competition

This should culminate in the creation of your buyer personas. Buyer personas are a realistic and detailed snapshot of a specific customer type as opposed to simply listing off basic characteristics. This will allow you to produce carefully crafted messages or content that speaks directly to your targeted customer group.

2) Set up and improve existing accounts

Think of your businesses social media profile page as a website landing page. It’s the first facet of your business that user will see and interact with. As well as looking professional, your product should be presented clearly and without ambiguity. This is a critical stage of SMO to get right – and where many fall short. We’ll use Spotify’s Twitter profile as an example:

Profile picture:

You should always use your company logo as your social media profile picture. There are special cases where a simple headshot would do i.e. freelancers or consultancy work

Username:

Use your company name as your username. If your company name is available on platforms such as Twitter or Instagram, replicate it in your ‘@’. However, username scarcity is a genuine problem nowadays, with more companies being forced to include numbers and capitalized letters.

Bio:

Simply state what your business does and include a link to your company website. Spotify have included a separate customer support account to their bio – adding to the growth of multiple social media channels. You can also include a brief outline of your current social media campaigns.

3) Create a content calendar

Outline an initial posting schedule based on known user engagement. It goes without saying that posting content no one will see is counterproductive and a waste of resources. Make use of the various analytic tools available and check when your audience is most active on social media.

The graph below suggests that user Twitter user engagement peaks on a Friday – particularly between the hours of 9 and 10 am. Posting frequency requires the correct balance. You want to ensure your users are seeing your content, but you don’t want them getting bored or irritated by a sudden deluge of content during those peak hours. Save your blog posts and video content for peak times but only enough to retain interest.

Making use of the Various Platforms

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube… More people than ever are joining the growing list of social media networks. The number of users is growing annually, and businesses small and large are tapping into the incredible potential of what can now be aptly viewed as an effective online marketing tool.

1) Facebook

Facebook has users from every corner of the globe – its reach is truly incredible. To save cost, small businesses sometimes even choose to only have a Facebook page as opposed to a separate website. Facebook is growing in popularity with the senior (55+) demographic so it’s a good idea to utilize Facebook if your customers are in this group. Furthermore, foreign markets and small niche markets are easily accessible through Facebook.

2) Twitter

Companies will often use Twitter as a chance to go ‘viral’ via thousands of retweets and likes. This is an effective way to quickly gain relevance and momentum. People are sure to talk and gain interest when a company enters the social zeitgeist in this way. Remember: the word limit means your content has to be witty and memorable. Twitter is popular with the younger audience.

3) Instagram

Social media advertising through ‘influencers’ on Instagram has become increasingly popular. Instagram is a strictly photo and video based platform, so it would only be wise to use Instagram if your business is able to constantly produce high quality photo and video content. In terms of demographic popularity, Instagram is well used by millennials and women.

4) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business focused social media platform. Aimed at promoting discourse between professionals from all sectors and age groups. LinkedIn is effective for small businesses and niche markets but should not be used for large-scale marketing campaigns that rely on gimmicks.

Conclusion

We discussed the various aspects of the SMM umbrella term and explained how and when to use it to your advantage. Consider this fact: digital marketing is continuously evolving. Ten years ago, using social media as a marketing tool was uncharted territory for companies and seemed a daunting task. Nowadays however, it would be down right negligent for companies to forego their SMM obligations.

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