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The Basics of Social Media Marketing: A Guide for Beginners

Social media marketing uses popular social media platforms to connect brands with receptive audiences. The connections formed between companies and clients on social media can help businesses increase sales, improve website traffic, and build their digital brand. Most companies, no matter their size, client base, or product, can benefit from a carefully crafted social media strategy.

Social Media Marketing

Businesses began using social media not long after it became popular. At first, they just shared straightforward content intended to push traffic to their websites and turn into sales. Now, social media marketing is far more complex. It involves organic content, ads, boosted posts, sponsored content, working with social media influencers, and interaction with customers. Ads, boosted posts, and sponsored content are usually highly focused on a subset of the audience. The company might want to raise brand recognition with this group or turn them into paying customers. Companies also use social media to change their brand's image. For example, a company concerned about the conversation about its brand online will monitor all social media mentions and engage with customers in an effort to improve the company's image.

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms rise and fall in popularity. Some early platforms, like LiveJournal and Myspace, have fallen by the wayside. Currently, some of the most significant platforms are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Apps like Snapchat and TikTok are growing in popularity, especially among the young, who have largely abandoned platforms like Facebook. Each platform has unique demographics, and it's important to consider where likely customers are using social media. For instance, LinkedIn caters to a professional audience, Instagram skews female, Facebook now has an older audience, and TikTok is beloved by young users. It's also important to remember that each platform requires a specific kind of content and tone. Twitter is short and snappy, Instagram stories are quick and visual, YouTube allows for longer video content, and Pinterest is entirely visual.

Social Media Strategy

Social media strategy is the detailed, researched, well-thought-out plan that answers who, what, when, where, how, and why for content published on a brand's social media channels. It takes into account the audience of the brand, how the company wishes its brand to be perceived, the sorts of content that will be shared, the platforms that will be used, and the goals of the company. A company can have and work toward multiple goals at one time. For example, they might want to increase their brand profile, generate more leads, and connect with a new generation of consumers. Perhaps the most crucial component is identifying the target audience, understanding where the target audience gathers on social media, and figuring out what sort of content will engage them.

Planning Social Media Posts

Once a brand's social media strategy has been established, it becomes easier to develop a comprehensive outlook for social media posting. Each post should fit into the company's overarching social media plan. It should help the company meet its social media goals and provide engaging content for the target audience. A social media calendar can help companies regularly deliver consistent, compelling, engaging content across platforms that conforms to the strategy without being repetitive. It also prevents scrambling for content. Additionally, a well-planned calendar allows all posts to be approved, which can reduce the number of errors and ensure that all content is brand-appropriate.

Measure Effectiveness

Once a brand has formulated a strategy, planned its content, and started working on its social media calendar, the next step is to measure the effectiveness of the social media campaigns. The results will be evaluated by looking at key performance indicators, or KPIs. KPIs are factors that values can be attached to, so they can be measured. Followers and post engagements are two KPI examples, but other metrics are sometimes more valuable. KPIs should measure if social media campaigns are helping companies to meet their goals. Tools like Google Analytics can help users track KPIs across social media platforms. Users will also want to monitor the analytics provided by each social media platform. These analytics give information about what sorts of content do well, and what time of day works best to share content. Another important benchmark is ROI, or return on investment. How much time and money is being spent on social media, and what is the return on that investment?

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