Social Media Marketing For Dummies

The days of print advertising dominating marketing are long gone. In this article, I'm giving you a crash course on social media marketing for dummies.
Social Media Marketing For Dummies

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Social Media Marketing For Dummies Quick Start Guide

The days of print advertising and television commercials dominating marketing are long gone. Today, even your great-aunt has a Facebook, and companies often respond quicker to a Twitter post than a phone call to their customer service department.

Between the prevalent popularity of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others, the social media realm is ripe for marketing. You just need to know how to work the system properly.

Today, I’m here to give a crash course on social media marketing for dummies.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Generally speaking, social media marketing is the process of using social media platforms to boost website engagement, facilitate new sales, and develop your brand.

What Social Media Platforms to Choose?

Every major social media platform has its benefits and drawbacks. To make an informed decision about where to start, let’s look at some raw data about who uses which platform and how much. 

In particular, let’s review three major players for comparison: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While other platforms like Pinterest, Youtube, and LinkedIn might yield good results too, this will at least teach you how to make comparisons.

Demographics

Facebook is by far the largest and most widespread social media platform. A whopping 70% of American adults use it. Instagram comes in second place at 37% of adult Americans, and Twitter comes in third at 24%.

Consider the age of users. Facebook casts the widest net. While more than 80% of Americans aged 18-29 use Facebook, the platform has also impressively drawn in 65% of the 50+ demographic. Instagram is similar to Twitter. 75% of their users are 18-24. If your target audience is older, Facebook is a gold mine. If they’re younger, though, you might do better on Twitter or Instagram.

How Do Users Interact With These Platforms?

Before you start developing marketing strategies, let’s get to know the users of these platforms. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all take different approaches to user interfaces. As a result, users visit them a different number of times per day on average. They also spend varying amounts of time each day on them, and they utilize them for different purposes.

Though Twitter has roughly 340 million users, about 186 million are active daily. It’s a very streamlined platform, where users share brief news bulletins and opinions about current events. Twitter users are 38% more likely to share opinions about businesses and products than other platforms. They also spend 26% more time viewing ads than on other major platforms. It’s fast-paced, news-heavy, and concise.

Facebook blows Twitter away with 1.79 billion users active daily. The vast majority of these users interact with the platform on mobile devices. As stated earlier, Facebook spans a massive array of age demographics, but users between the ages of 25 and 34 are the biggest. 

Facebook users are more likely to use the platform to engage with friends and family rather than seek out news or follow celebrities. It’s a much more multi-faceted platform than Instagram or Twitter, with additional features like groups, polls, and the exchange of goods and services on the marketplace. People check it more often, as it has been designed to be the most addictive platform (hence the massive amount of users).

Instagram has around a billion active monthly users and about 500 million daily active users. 73% of teenagers say it’s the best platform for new brands to reach out to them. Active users tend to check the platform about six times per day and spend an average of 28 minutes scrolling through it. Two hundred million users visit at least one business profile per day. 

How Will You Approach Using these Platforms?

How can you use this information to build a strategy? It’s important to lean into whatever features are on the platform and work with the content flow.

On Twitter, for instance, the fast-paced content is conducive to short business pitches. How can you promote your brand in the most efficient, simple way possible? Twitter is a fantastic choice if your brand is related to politics and news, especially since you can link to other content sources using the brief text in your tweet as a hook. 

Remember to appeal to an audience with short-term attention spans. Users are flooded with new pieces of content every second.

Instagram is an excellent choice for maximizing engagement, especially if your target demographic skews younger than most. Instagram users are highly receptive to brands, and Instagram influencers often team up with brands to extend their reach as far as possible. 

Being that it’s primarily a photo platform, it’s also an excellent app for showing off attractive products and boosting their visibility with hashtags. 

Facebook is the most complex for marketers, but it can also yield the best results. A multi-faceted approach is likely your best bet. Start by creating a business page that users can like, then move on to sharing images and videos. Be wary of using videos! 85% of users watch videos without sound, and 80% are bothered by videos with sound that automatically plays. This can give them an unfavorable opinion of your brand.

Facebook also offers additional opportunities for engagement like groups, polls, and giveaways. Since there are more options, test each method out until you find the one that works for you.

If your product demographic is older than most, using Facebook is a no brainer. You aren’t going to reach out to many people over the age of 35 using Instagram or Twitter, and you don’t want to waste your time and money.

What About Advertising?

Okay, enough about free marketing. If you want to cast the widest net possible, you’ll want to spend some money. This is a more high-risk marketing area since you’re risking more than just time and effort.

This one is tricky and will likely require trial and error. All three platforms allow you to spend as much as you want to on advertising, but the initial investment and return vary wildly on a case-by-case basis.

All three platforms offer targeting tools to help you reach your specific audience. Demographic data like income, interests, communities, followers, and more are used so that you ideally won’t waste precious advertising space on someone who is extremely unlikely to purchase your product.

The main differences in quality between the three come from price and engagement rates. The same company owns Instagram and Facebook, so their advertising rates are similar. Facebook brags that marketers can get away with spending just a few dollars per day and still have a solid return on their investment.

Twitter, on the other hand, requires you to invest more in advertising upfront to make it worth your while. Again, you can still spend what you want, but you likely won’t see great results on just $2-3 per day. What it lacks in affordability, though, it makes up for in efficiency.

While Facebook ads report an average of .119% for ad engagement, Twitter blows them away with engagement rates between 1-3%. Instagram reports an ad engagement rate median of 1.6%. The benefit of advertising on Twitter and Instagram over Facebook is that the ads are embedded in the social media feed. In contrast, on Facebook, they are often tucked away in corners of the page where users don’t see them.

Types of Social Media Marketing

Posting New Content

Posting new content keeps existing followers interested and engaged. Make plans on how often to post content and keep track of what types of content do well. Just because you have a fan or follower now doesn’t mean they’ll forget about you or lose interest.

Extending your Reach

Extending your reach means casting the widest net possible. This type of marketing includes paid advertisements, giveaways, and promotions. For the most part, this kind of marketing involves spending money, so it’s the method in which it is most important to carefully track your spendings and data about the return of investments.

Though it can be the most high-risk method, it is also often the type that yields the most significant returns.

Engagement with Existing Audience

It’s crucial to keep your audience happy. When a user of any platform attempts to engage with you, it’s incredibly important not only to respond but to do so quickly. No matter what type of brand you are promoting, you’re facing a lot of competition.

Often, the difference between someone choosing your brand over another is how responsive you are to questions and concerns. Don’t forget to speak to them like a human and not a robot!

Tips For Building A Social Media Marketing Strategy

Define Your Goals as Precisely as Possible

Social media marketing can be overwhelming and confusing, so before you get started, make a simple and specific goal that you can refer back to. Try writing it down too. 

For instance, you might say: I’m going to make two posts per day on Facebook for the next three months to increase website traffic by 50%. It’s specific, time-bound, and reasonable to achieve. If you haven’t attained this goal after three months, it’s time to try a new strategy. 

Do Case Studies of Brands Like Yours You Admire

What better way to predict success than by paying attention to those who have succeeded in your field? The first way to do this is by simply visiting these brands’ pages and studying the way they make posts. Look at which posts garner likes and comments and pay attention to what users are talking about. Mirror their strategies.

The second way to do case studies is to visit the business sections of social media websites. Since these platforms also benefit from your usage of their services, they have reason to show off how well they can work. Most of the major platforms have pages with dozens of examples of businesses that have succeeded spectacularly. Again, mirror these strategies. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Track and Rebuild your Strategy as Necessary

Once you have a social media marketing strategy in play, the process is far from over. You need to know if it’s working. The easiest way to do this is with a spreadsheet. Make rows for each platform you use and columns for metrics like total followers/likes, % shift in followers, total comments, etc. 

When you implement new strategies, make a new spreadsheet. You can find most data you’ll need under the analytics section of a given platform.

Tracking performance won’t help unless you use the spreadsheet as a tool for change. If implementing new ads or increasing your daily post count isn’t improving your outreach, drop it, and try something else. No need to waste further time, effort, and sometimes money on strategies that aren’t paying off. Don’t be afraid to revisit your stated specific goal and alter it as needed.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

While it might be tempting to focus on flooding social media with as many posts as possible, this often is a losing strategy. Every time someone logs into Facebook, for instance, there are an average of 1,500 potential posts for the algorithm to choose from. Which posts appear is dependent on engagement. 

The more likes and comments, the more likely for it to appear in someone’s timeline. Even if 500 of the potential posts are yours, users won’t see them. Instead of bombarding your potential customers, focus on making the most engaging posts possible.

The Future of Social Media Marketing

Though trends change over time, and social media platforms rise and fall in popularity, they aren’t going anywhere. The number of American adults who use social media increased from 5% to 79% in the fifteen years since 2005.

If you want to market your brand to the greatest extent possible, you have no choice but to engage audiences on social media, especially if they’re young.

In the last few years, 24-hour content, video advertisements, and influencer marketing have blown up as dominant forms of marketing. To know what’s next, keep experimenting and watching the trends.

What Next?

It’s easy to be intimidated by the vast and confusing world of digital marketing, so we hope this guide to social media marketing 101 is helpful in your quest to develop your brand in ways you’ve always dreamed of. 

The possibilities are endless, and who knows, maybe you’ll come up with the next big method in getting your products out into the world. There’s only one way to find out.

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