Jan 19, 2017

A Best Practice Guide to Social Media Marketing

by Digital Marketing Institute

81% of millennials check Twitter once a day, 76% of Facebook users visit the site daily and 35% of individuals check Instagram multiple times a day. Thanks to the growth of digital technologies and the prominence of mobile devices, we are constantly connected, and social media is one of our main communication channels of choice.

Social channels are an integral component of personal and professional lives. For many businesses, social media is now a constant within their marketing mix, providing a perfect platform for brand building, customer service and conversion.

Whether you’re just starting with social media marketing, or you’re slightly more seasoned, our best practice guide will serve as a helpful reference point to make sure you get the most out of your efforts!

1. Gather data

In a data-driven digital era, knowledge is synonymous with success. The more detailed your insights, the more easily you’ll be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses within the social specialism, and refine your approach. Thankfully, there are an abundance of social listening tools that you can use to leverage essential information that will inform and enhance your social media marketing, and provide you with a better understanding of your target audience, your competitors, and your own brand.

You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which of your competitors’ content performs best on a variety of social channels, from Facebook to LinkedIn. You can also view top-trending social content within your industry – looking at who is producing may help you to identify additional competitors! Setting up Google Alerts is another simple way to monitor the competition. You can choose to receive notifications based on a variety of keywords, including your competitors’ brands. You can set up streams on Hootsuite to monitor specific social accounts and hashtags. Use these tools to ascertain how your competitors engage with their followers and when, the type of content they use, and who is talking about them as a result.

Setting up Google Alerts is another simple way to monitor the competition.

To gain a better understanding of your own audience, you can use BuzzSumo again to identify your own most shared content, and filter its performance based on a number of criteria, from format to length. The more you know about your audience’s preferences, the better you can tailor your social posts!

Finally, use Sprout Social for detailed reporting on the performance of your own social channels. Find out which of your posts generate the most engagement, and you’ll be able to maximize the impact of your social media marketing!

2. Choose your channels

Once you have an understanding of your audience’s needs and preferences, as well as those of your competitors, deciding which social channels to adopt should be a relatively easy exercise! It’s also important to take into account your target audience. This post provides an extensive overview of social media demographics for each of the main social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

You can support these insights by taking into account the demographics of your existing audience. Sprout Social aggregates gender, age and location data from your social followers, which will give you an insight into the personas that currently engage with you. Facebook’s Audience Insights tool will also provide you with valuable data based on either people connected to your Page, or everyone on Facebook. You’ll gain an insight into these users’ relationship status, education level, and job title, to name a few categories.

Twitter’s audience analytics will let you analyze your own followers or all Twitter users to find out more about their interests.

Similarly, Twitter’s audience analytics will let you analyze your own followers or all Twitter users to find out more about their interests.

Twitter Audience Analytics - Guide to Social Media Marketing

Once you have accumulated enough demographic data, you’ll need to consider other factors before finalizing your channel selection. Staff resources is an important aspect of the selection process because it will dictate the time you have available for social media management. If you have one team member available, then attempting to establish a brand presence on five social media channels may be unrealistic.

The type of organization you work for and the industries in which you’re involved are also factors that need to be taken into account. For example, if you work for a construction company selling materials to builders, you may want to invest in a more B2B-specific platform such as LinkedIn. If you’re a fashion retailer who wants to showcase your diverse product range, visually-driven channels like Pinterest and Instagram may be more suitable.

The most recommended approach is to start small so your efforts aren’t spread too thinly. Manage two social channels initially, gauge your performance, and the effort required, and you can choose to adopt more platforms accordingly!

3. Create a content calendar

Thoughtfully-created, carefully-created content is a fundamental aspect of any social media marketing strategy, and can often determine whether it flounders or flourishes. The content you post on your social channels can enhance engagement, acquire new followers, and positively impact your brand’s reach and identity.

Social listening and demographic data gathering will give you an understanding of the content topics and formats that resonate most with your audience, be it a 1000 word blog article or a video interview. Once you have decided what you will post, you need to decide when you will post it.

If possible you should create a content calendar and what you’ll publish several months in advance (some social media marketers may update their calendar every two months, others may update it once a quarter.) You can use a simple spreadsheet format in Excel or Google Sheets and use the following headings:

  • Content title
  • Content format
  • Description
  • Keywords
  • Call-To-Action
  • Channels

This will help you to create a more detailed posting strategy that will allow you to plan for seasonal events, significant campaigns and any other important dates in your organization’s calendar

It’s important to remember that a content calendar can be a fluid document, and that you don’t have to stick rigidly to the content you’ve outlined – you need to be able to adapt your approach according to any unforeseen developments or events.

Create a content calendar - Best Practice Guide to Social Media Marketing

Once you’ve created your calendar, you can use a social media management tool such as Buffer, to schedule your social posts in advance across a variety of channels. You can cross-post across your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, or edit posts based on the channel to which you want to post them. Buffer automatically shortens links and pulls in images, maximizing your social media engagement.

4. Consider paid advertising

Strategically implemented paid social media advertising offers a beneficial boost for the social content you’re distributing organically. With advanced targeting options and strict budget control, you have the opportunity to elevate your social media marketing and guarantee that your brand promotes itself to the largest, most relevant audience

In order to get the most out of your paid advertising, you first need to decide who you want to target. Deciding between acquiring new followers and retargeting users who are already aware of your brand will help you to identify what kind of ads you need to run, as well as the allocation of your budget. It’s also important to keep in mind your overall social media marketing objectives, be they driving more traffic to a product page, gaining more “likes” or increasing your conversion rate. Facebook’s Adverts Manager, for example, allows you to create an ad campaign based entirely on such goals.

Facebook’s Adverts Manager, for example, allows you to create an ad campaign based entirely on such goals.

The next factor you’ll need to take into consideration is the social channels through which you want to advertise. Do you want to leverage a channel on which you already have a significant following, or would you like to build a stronger presence? This also relates to the type of ad you want to run, be is promoting your Twitter account for acquisition purposes, or boosting a Facebook post with the goal of engagement.

Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences lets you reach new users who are similar to audiences you already care about.

5. Measure your effectiveness

The final, and most important step in any digital marketing campaign is measurement. As with your initial data gathering exercises, measuring the effectiveness of your social media marketing activity will help you to optimize your approach and guarantee ongoing success. You can use a range of analytics tools to gain these insights.

The main social media platforms you will use, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, will have native analytics tools that you can access to provide you with performance data on a channel-specific basis. Their ads managers will also provide you with information on the performance of individual ads. This approach is ideal if you want to take a more granular look at how your channels are being managed.

A high-level, efficient alternative is to use a tool that pulls in data from a variety of sources and combines it into one easy-to-digest report. Buzzsumo will aggregate data on social shares, Hootsuite will track standard engagement metrics and Cyfe is an all-in-one business dashboard that will monitor brand mentions, follower growth and demographics.

Cyfe - Measure your effectiveness - Social Media Marketing Best Practice

For a more detailed dive into the social media metrics that matter and how to measure them, you can check out our complete guide here.

Let us know your thoughts on what makes perfect best practice for social media marketing in the comments section below!

Related posts:

Develop a detailed understanding of key social media specialisms including content marketing, and platforms on which you can promote your content.

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