Social Media Marketing 101

 

Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 24,112,009 million Australians as of June 27, 2016. Fifteen million of which (as of February 2016), have a Facebook account according to Vivid Social Research Division. That’s a little over 62% of the total number of Australians. By any standards, that’s plenty! And so it comes as no surprise that more and more organisations are increasing their social media marketing efforts and budget to promote their products and/or services.

What exactly is Social Media Marketing and why is it becoming a popular choice for promoting products and services? Social media marketing involves the use of social channels and platforms to increase brand awareness, increase customer engagement and improve their experience. It is also used as a tool for increasing conversion and sales. Usually, social media marketing is done in combination with other marketing methods (i.e. advertising through offline or traditional channels). In the past, marketing through social media played a smaller role in winning over a customer. However, the improvement in Internet speed, ease of connectivity and proliferation of gadgets, has changed the marketing game. Customers now go online to conduct research on products and services before then purchasing items(online).

The aforementioned reality has made it increasingly important for brands to establish a presence online, specifically in social channels where customers come together to find information, explore data and interact with other customers as well as brands. Through social media, brands are able to leverage word-of-mouth marketing. This is integral because according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from their peers. Given that people easily and willingly share their opinions through this channel, word can travel exponentially faster and reach a wider customer base.

Undeniably, Social Media Marketing is an easy and effective way to reach consumers. However, for any marketing done through these channels to be really effective, there is a need to develop a strategy behind all the efforts made. Where does one begin the process? Below are some steps to follow for creating a Social Media Strategy.

• Identify your goals – First of all, you must keep in mind that the way to determine if a marketing activity or campaign is effective is by comparing the results against goals or objectives previously set. Thus, the first step in developing a strategy is to identify the business’ digital marketing goals and tie these to the organization’s overarching business goals. The marketing efforts that will be developed will then aim to achieve the goals set.

• Define target audience – The second step is to identify and determine who the business’ customers are. The process of this involves defining your customer segments, making profiles of each customer segments then mapping out their customer journey. This will allow you to determine, what messages and tactics will be most appropriate and effective.

 Conduct research (on competitors) to see what’s working – The use of social media for marketing is not exclusive to anyone or any company. Chances are, your competitors are utilizing this channel to create awareness and increase conversions for themselves. The beauty in this is that you can, at any time conduct a competitor check to get a glimpse of how they are using social to see what is effective and what is not. You can then consider the findings when deciding on the tactics and social media channels to infiltrate.

• Select the most appropriate social channels and tactics – Once you have gained a full understanding of who your customers are and their purchasing behaviour, it is time to select the most appropriate social channels to be active in. Some research may be beneficial at this stage to match the demographics and interests of customers to the social channels.

Based on statistics compiled by SocialMediaNews.com.au for February 2016, the top ten most popular social channels are:

  1. Facebook – 15,000,000 users
  2. YouTube – 14,100,000
  3. WordPress.com – 5,600,000
  4. Instagram – 5,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users (Facebook/ Instagram data)
  5. Tumblr – 4,400,000
  6. LinkedIn – 3,750,000
  7. Twitter – 2,800,000 Monthly Active Australian Users
  8. WhatsApp – 2,400,000 Active Australian Users
  9. Blogspot – 2,350,000
  10. TripAdvisor – 2,200,000

 Confirm message – What is it that you are trying to relay to your customers and what action would you like them to take? Based on your customer understanding, develop and confirm a message that will appeal to your target audience to entice them to act on your prompts.

• Create a content plan – Social Media Marketing is a constant effort or an ongoing activity that requires sharing of myriad content. However, the content published through your social pages should always be relevant to your target market and should always offer valuable information. Otherwise, you will end up with a hodge-podge of materials that are not reflective of the brand or materials that may not resonate with the target market.

• Measure results – Finally, make sure to gather data on your efforts. One way is to enlist in tools that have analyzing capabilities. You can then evaluate whether or not your efforts are successful based on your goals and objectives and make changes to your strategy where necessary.

Social Media Marketing, when done correctly, can become an efficient and effective marketing method for your business. People naturally believe and become intrigued by what peers say, use and do. It is through social channels nowadays where peers share their opinions, stories, and experiences. However, engaging with customers through social media should be a calculated activity. There should be a plan or a strategy behind it for it to be truly meaningful and useful to the business and to avoid a jumble of information published only on an ad hoc basis (which, instead of becoming helpful can do your business harm).