The Ultimate Guide to Social Marketing

See also: Social Media Marketing

Nearly everyone uses social media, but are they using it correctly? For individual users, there really isn't a correct or incorrect way to socialize online (although there are some best practices to navigate the digital landscape!). For businesses, however, there's an entire universe of strategies that goes into using social media platforms to build brand awareness and engage with existing and potential customers.

Here, we'll explore how to properly use social media for marketing from a paid-social perspective, as well as from the organic lens. Now, let’s learn why social media marketing is essential in this day and age.

What is Social Marketing?

Social marketing uses social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok to influence audiences' behaviors and opinions about brands. It involves a well-planned, long-term marketing strategy that's aimed at targeting specific users with tailored messages and branding. Like traditional marketing, social marketing focuses on:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion

Unlike traditional marketing, however, social marketing enables brands to engage directly with their existing and potential customers through shares, comments, likes, and status updates on social media. From there, it's easier for those customers to recommend their favorite companies to their own circles, which increases brand awareness without a lot of effort on the organization's behalf.

It's important to understand that your strategy should be altered to fit the best practices of each platform. In doing so, you'll be more likely to gain attention (and followers!) from your efforts.

How Social Marketing Works for Businesses

Social media platforms allow companies to have direct access to their ideal customers. People tend to offer a lot of information when they're on social platforms, such as geographical, demographic, and personal attributes. Wise companies take advantage of this sharing, segmenting their social strategies for specific users of the sites.

When you provide relevant content to social users, you can engage with them in ways that excite them to share your posts. At the same time, you'll be able to gain insights into their preferences and tastes, as well as benefit from that crucial, age-old method of marketing: word-of-mouth advertising.

Here's what a social marketing strategy should look like:

  • Create a social media marketing plan

    You need to understand the key objectives your company is trying to achieve. Armed with this knowledge, you can then create a targeted strategy that's in alignment with these goals. While you're at it, familiarize yourself with what your competitors post. What are they doing well (or poorly) when they talk to their audiences?

    Review the positive factors and potential opportunities associated with your existing social strategy (if you have one). Create a social marketing calendar so you always know when your content is going to be posted to which platform. Track these posts' performances regularly, and pivot or adapt when you need to.

  • Segment customers

    Use the depth of knowledge and personal details you can glean from social platforms to segment your user lists. This allows you to create detailed, targeted campaigns.

  • Create shareable content

    The content you post should be relevant, valuable, and most of all, intriguing enough for your audience to want to share it with others. When it's appealing in these ways, people will be compelled to engage directly with your brand.

  • Use customer relationship management (CRM) tools

    Make sure you have the tools in place to help you make the most of your posts once they go live. CRMs enable you to track customer value through purchases (directly) and product referrals (indirectly).

What's the Difference Between Paid and Organic Social Marketing?

Paid social marketing is exactly what it sounds like: you pay money to a specific social platform or influencer so your content is seen by the greatest number of people possible. This can be incredibly expensive, particularly for small or startup businesses. For this reason, it usually makes more sense to start by trying to gain organic (free) traffic at the onset of a social marketing strategy.

Organic social marketing takes into account all the free actions you contribute on social sites, such as publishing posts or sharing photos and videos. Most of the time, you're already taking part in organic social marketing to some extent just by having a social profile on popular platforms. Organic growth does take a lot more time and effort to see results than its paid counterpart.

It's important to understand that neither organic nor paid social marketing is better. Instead, they work in harmony with each other, offering you a healthy mix of opportunities to maximize your reach and engagement.

How to Get Started with Social Marketing

  1. Make Sure Your Website Has an Active Blog

    A blog affords you lots of benefits. For one, it's really important for SEO purposes. Additionally, it gives people an inside look into your business. Beyond this, it's the perfect place to create content that's worthy of being shared in the social sphere while you showcase your authority in your industry.

  2. Create Outstanding Content

    Your blog and social accounts don't mean anything if your content falls flat. With that said, if your content is exceptional, you'll build trust and rapport with your audience. When you provide expert advice at no charge, it's easier to usher people through the sales funnel as they begin to enter the final stages of the buyer's journey. People who trust your brand are far more willing to pay for the products and services you provide, and your content is the easiest way to start building this trust.

  3. Include Links in Your Social Media Updates

    Make it easy for your followers to explore the content of your site by always including a link to your blog, product, or landing pages within your updates. Generating this curiosity, and allowing people to find more about you with ease, creates further trust in your brand.

  4. Create Platform-Relevant Content

    You must understand how users of various platforms interact differently with their preferred channels. For instance, TikTok users may not want to read your blog, but they'll love your short video content or a fun TikTok Giveaway. LinkedIn users love infographics because they're busy people who tend to lean into visuals.

    Know your audience and the platforms you're using before you begin curating content.

  5. Work with Social Marketing Specialists

    If all of this sounds overwhelming to you, reach out to a team of social marketing experts who can guide you through the optimal strategy for your operation!

About the Author

Alyssa Anderson is the Director of Content at Zero Gravity Marketing (ZGM), a digital marketing agency in Madison, CT. ZGM is known for developing overarching marketing strategies and specializes in Pay-Per-Click, SEO, content marketing, social media, development, design, and eCommerce services.