What is Social Media Marketing? Ultimate Guide 2019

Social media marketing (SMM) is a subset of digital marketing that utilizes social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to market brands and businesses. SMM can help businesses reach, grow, and connect with their audience as well as reinforce their brands. It’s best for any business whose target audience spends significant time on social networks.

A lot of time and expertise is required to use social media marketing effectively. For many time-strapped small businesses, the best choice is to leave it to the pros at a marketing agency such as Hibu. There, you will get affordable, industry-leading social media management that’s easily trackable to be sure you hit your SMM goals. Get started with Hibu today.

How Social Media Marketing Works

Social media marketing gives businesses a way of connecting with their audience on social networks. To launch your own social campaign, start by getting to know your target audience and which platforms they use. Then, create profiles on those platforms and determine the type of content that best fits your brand and resonates most with your audience. Finally, create a posting schedule and begin outreach efforts to engage with your audience and grow a following.

The first step in social media marketing is to examine your customer base. Research your target audience and use this data to determine what social networks they use most frequently. Then, examine the content they like and share to see what resonates most. Finally, determine where your brand content would best fit. For example, a food truck might have a modest Twitter following but would likely receive more engagement on a photo-driven platform like Instagram.

Next, register for accounts on the social media platforms that best reach your audience and serve your brand. Be sure to register for only a few so as to concentrate your posting and outreach efforts. Create your profile on each platform by adding your name, business-type, a profile picture, and a relevant bio, if applicable. Then, develop a content calendar and begin posting content that aligns with your brand, including both visuals and compelling copy.

Finally, work to grow a following. To do this, reach out to existing customers and invite them to follow you. Promote your social accounts on your website and incentivize people to follow you by offering special discounts and promos to followers. Seek to collaborate with others to gain awareness and engage with your target audience by liking and commenting on their profiles. If you follow all of these steps, you will ultimately grow your customer base.

Organic vs Paid Social Media Marketing

There are two primary types of social media marketing: organic and paid. Organic SMM is free, whereas paid SMM is a form of advertising. Organic is generally a more time-consuming way to build an engaged following, whereas paid social posts—which come at the cost of around $1 to $2 per click—increase target audience impressions and engagement quickly.

Here are the differences between organic and paid social media marketing.

Organic Social Media Marketing

Organic social media marketing involves strategically adding original content to a platform to help build brand awareness and engagement. This content can include informational, educational, or entertaining content that both serves followers and showcases a company as an expert, trustworthy brand in their industry.

To help grow engagement as part of organic social marketing, businesses find and interact with their target audience manually by following others, commenting on other users’ posts, and liking content that’s related to their products, services, or industry. Given the time-consuming nature of this approach to marketing, it’s best used as a long-term strategy.

Paid Social Media Marketing

Paid social is a form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that distributes paid content (ads) over social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Businesses can create ads and choose whom their ads are displayed to using audience targeting. These ads often include a call-to-action (CTA) like “Buy now” to encourage engagement. Given these characteristics, paid social is a good short-term strategy to build a following and promote customer action.

Paid social vs organic social example

Social Media Marketing Costs

While it’s free to use social media, there are expenses involved in social media marketing; the average small business spends anywhere from $200 to more than $2,000 per month on social marketing efforts. This covers everything from labor costs and management fees to design costs, paid collaborations with influencers, and social media marketing tools.

Here are five common costs involved with social media marketing:

Social media marketing is generally considered a low-cost marketing method, though many businesses still allocate a fair portion of their overall marketing budget to social because when used strategically, it can be a very effective marketing channel. These costs include everything from management fees for professional account oversight to the cost of tools that help businesses use social media more efficiently.

9 Top Social Media Marketing Platforms

There are several different social media platforms that businesses can use to reach and connect with their target audience. The most commonly used social media platforms for businesses are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Yelp, and forum and blog sites like Reddit and Tumblr. Understanding the available platforms will help you determine which is right for your business.

Here are the nine most popular social media marketing platforms for business.

1. Facebook

Primary user intent: Users of all ages, including a large number of users 50-plus years old, looking to keep up with friends and family

Example of a Facebook Business page

Facebook is one of the leading social networking platforms, with 2.4 billion active users. It has a vast audience, reaching users of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. Businesses can use Facebook for business in a variety of ways, from building and managing a business page—which can serve as another version of your website with information such as hours and reviews—to creating private groups and running targeted ads.

Primary user intent: Users seeking to chat with Facebook friends

Example of Facebook Messenger ads

Facebook Messenger is Facebook’s messaging tool where users can chat with one another, and businesses can start conversations with users, generating awareness. Businesses using Facebook for business might consider using Facebook Messenger for product promotions, surveys, and customer support. For sales, scripted messages can be triggered based on user engagement on Facebook. These can encourage actions like visiting a product landing page.

3. Instagram

Primary user intent: To keep up with social news and trends through visual media

Examples of Instagram business accounts

Instagram is the top social network for photo and video-sharing. With 500 million daily users, it reaches a wide audience, and like Facebook, businesses can create business profiles and advertise on the platform. Since Instagram is largely multimedia-based, its best for businesses that have images and short videos to share. It also allows users to tag businesses geographically, so it’s also great for businesses with a physical location, such as a restaurant.

4. Twitter

Primary user intent: Users seeking quick-hit, entertaining, and newsworthy content

Example of a business profile on Twitter

Twitter is a leading text-based social network, with more than 125 million users. While it has evolved to allow users to post photos and videos, it was built to share short streams of text―the current character limit is 280―and this is still its primary use. Given this focus, it’s best for those with frequent, quick-hit news and updates, such as businesses that host events, workshops, and food trucks that need a way to share their current location quickly.

5. LinkedIn

Primary user intent: Professionals looking to network with others in their industry

Example of an ad on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the leading social network for professional networking. Unlike other social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, users visit LinkedIn for professional and career-related purposes. However, businesses have both organic and paid social opportunities with LinkedIn. Given LinkedIn’s audience and their professional networking goals, its best for recruiting, software-as-a-service (SaaS), business-to-business (B2B), and educational companies.

6. Pinterest

Primary user intent: To get inspiration on a wide range of topics, from fashion to cooking

Example of Pinterest for business

Pinterest is a photo-sharing social network used for content discovery purposes. Unlike Instagram, where users primarily view photos from those they follow, users on Pinterest search by category or specific search terms and are then shown several relevant image-based results. These results, or posts, are generally linked to websites, so it’s a good way for businesses to build awareness of visual products and services and drive traffic to their site.

7. Snapchat

Primary user intent: To share intimate yet trivial visual content directly with friends; primarily a millennial and younger user base

Examples of Snapchat for business

Snapchat is another photo and video-sharing social network, but differs with its ephemeral content model; photos, texts, and videos sent directly to users disappear after they have been seen. Businesses can use the platform to add branded filters that users can use on their photos, while Snapchat stories can also feature short video ads. Authentic storytelling does best on this platform, so ads should offer personal, raw content.

8. YouTube

Primary user intent: To watch entertaining or informative videos

Example of an ad on YouTube

YouTube is the leading video-sharing platform, with more than 1.3 billion users worldwide. Businesses use YouTube in two main ways: To create and share videos that build their brand organically or to run video ads which display before users watch their chosen videos—much like a traditional television ad. Significant resources go into producing successful YouTube videos, so it’s best for companies whose brand, products and services, messaging, and budget lend themselves to video.

9. Yelp

Primary user intent: To discover and research businesses near you based on category or industry

Example of a Yelp listing

Yelp is an online business directory with consumer-submitted reviews and feedback. People use Yelp to find local businesses based on location and offerings, as well as the reviews left by previous customers. Anyone can create a business profile on Yelp, but it’s best for companies with physical locations that get in-store customers. If you have the budget, you can promote your company on Yelp with paid ads that give your brand more exposure in search results.

6 Top Social Media Marketing Tools

To help businesses make informed decisions on what to post, when to post, and who to target, many social media marketing tools do everything from help businesses discover trending content and manage social media calendars to translate data and analytics into actionable insights. Consider these as you map out your social marketing strategy.

Here are the top six social media marketing tools for small business:

The best tools for social media marketing help you manage content creation, content tracking, and strategy development at an affordable price. These include tools like Hootsuite for comprehensive social media management, Canva for creating great visuals, and Unbounce for building and testing landing pages that convert.

10 Tips for Social Media Marketing

Every business will have a different approach to social media that helps them connect with their audience quickly and effectively and meet their goals. To get further insight into how to use social for business, we asked the professionals for their tips on social media marketing.

Here are 10 social media marketing tips from the pros:

1. Don’t Create Content for Everyone

Stephie Predmore, Director of Influencer Marketing, Mediavine

Engage with people. Ask questions and allow people to share and engage with you. Become familiar with your social platform insights so you can learn and understand what your audience likes and dislikes. Don’t try to create content for everyone. Create content for those that want to see and interact with you. Finally, choose an aesthetic and a voice that aligns with your brand and stick with it.

2. Make Sure Your Social Profiles Match Your Brand

Jonathan Lubic, Co-founder & President, Distinction Agency

Map out the consumer journey and have content that speaks to each part of that journey. If you capture someone through a digital ad on Instagram, and they go to your social media profile, your feed needs to reflect the experience they would get when using your product or service. It’s also imperative that your social presence reflects the messaging that your brand portrays across other channels, including websites, TV ads, radio ads, and product packaging.

3. Choose the Right Platform for Your Business

Morgan Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer & Financial Advisor, LetMeBan

It doesn’t matter how clever your content is if you’re targeting an audience on the wrong platform. For example, if boomers are your primary demographic, then Facebook is your best bet while you’d avoid Snapchat or Instagram because those are primarily used by people between the ages of 18 and 34. Know the demographics of who you’re targeting and the platforms they use.

4. Be Social on Social

Hailey Feldman, CMO & Head of Brand, Mixed Digital

Think of social media as an online party. If you’re not participating and engaging actively with others, you’re invisible. When you approach social media as if you’re attending a cocktail party, you’ll have more fun and become more authentic, personable, and relatable—all of the brand traits your customers are seeking online.

5. Test Ads & Content Constantly

Colin Peter O’Riordan, Social Media Strategist, Brandwidth

Small businesses need to act particularly smart when devising their social media strategy. As they don’t have mega budgets like larger corporations, they need to make sure anything they spend is truly bringing value. A/B testing your ads and content constantly will help ensure you stay on the right track and get the best results for a limited budget.

6. Take an On-page & Off-page Approach to SMM

Andrew Miller, Head of Growth, GrowthExpertz

There are two types of social media marketing initiatives a brand must engage in: off-page and on-page social media marketing. The act of marketing content on your own social media pages is on-page SMM. This is only half the SMM battle. How do you attract people to that page in the first place? That’s where off-page SMM comes in. Engage with people on their pages, groups, comment chains, and so on, and then bring them to your content in a valuable way at the right time.

7. Encourage Employees to Post on Social Media

Daniel Ku, Director of Marketing, PostBeyond

Encouraging your employees to speak freely and share information about your organization shows them that you trust and value their views on the organization as well as their ability to communicate and share business information. However, having your brand image and updates shared through employees’ social media to potential customers requires guidelines to ensure both the employer and employee are comfortable and on the same page.

8. Share Your Expertise Over Social

Keri Lindenmuth, Marketing Manager, KDG

Social media is the place where your business can align itself as a “subject matter expert.” To do this, you not only have to share your own insights but do your research and share other insights from experts in your business or industry. Tag other experts and comment on/share posts. Show your followers that you spend time to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and news.

9. Don’t Use Social Media for a Sales Pitch

Allan Dib, Founder, Successwise

Stop selling. When a little voice in the back of your mind wonders,” Hmmm … does this sound desperate?” Do yourself―and the person you are about to message―a favor and listen. Hit send, and I guarantee that you’re going to annoy your prospect and probably be blocked. There’s a reason why it’s called social media. Get to know your connections. Deliver value and avoid the temptation to sell. If you do your job properly, the sale will come naturally.

10. Customize Content for Each Platform

Thibaud Clement, Co-founder & CEO, Loomly

Each social media platform has its own codes, rules, and best practices, which makes it inefficient to publish the same post everywhere. Instead, top marketing teams customize a given post for each platform—for instance, shortening copy on Twitter, adding 30 hashtags on Instagram, and adopting a more formal tone on LinkedIn.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best social media marketing agencies?

The best social media marketing agencies provide targeted insight and guidance on how to maximize engagement on social channels with posts and ads. Given this baseline, the best social media marketing agencies are Lyfe Marketing, Bearly Marketing, Social High Rise, 99 Social, Hibu, and Hootsuite. Get the complete breakdown of the best social media agencies for small businesses.

How do I set up a Facebook business page?

To set up a Facebook business page, log in to your personal Facebook account and click “Create,” which is located in the upper right-hand toolbar. Select “Page” from the drop-down, choose a “Page Category,” and enter your business information. Build out your profile by adding a profile picture and cover photo and completing business descriptions. Lastly, invite friends to your page and promote it. Get the step-by-step details on how to create a Facebook business page.

How much does Facebook advertising cost?

Facebook advertising is a type of PPC advertising where businesses are charged based on when users interact with an ad. The average overall CPC for Facebook ads is $1.86. Facebook currently has a minimum daily ad spend of $5 for ads based on clicks, likes, video views, and post engagements and $1 for impression-based ads. Learn more about Facebook advertising costs.

How do I advertise on Facebook?

To advertise on Facebook, businesses will need to start by creating a Facebook business page and ad account. With these established, go to Facebook Ads Manager and click “Create” to begin building a new ad campaign. Complete and follow all prompts from selecting your ad type and audience to uploading media for your ad. Configure all settings, and lastly, launch your new campaign. For more guidance, follow our step-by-step on setting up Facebook advertising.

Bottom Line: How to Do Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can be a very effective and low-cost form of digital marketing where businesses use major social media platforms to build brand awareness and connect with their audience to promote products or services. To market on social effectively, businesses should determine which platforms their audience is on, create accounts on those top platforms, and “get social” with their audience to reinforce their brand and reach their marketing goals.

It’s not easy to use social media for business effectively. It’s not only time-consuming, but it also requires a good deal of SMM know-how. Leave your social media to the experts at a social media marketing agency, such as Hibu. With Hibu, social media pros will build and grow your social presence for the best social return on investment (ROI). Get your free Hibu quote today.

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