2020 guide to social media marketing

The 2020 Guide to Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is an essential tactic to drive traffic and engagement to your website.

Are you an entrepreneur who is looking for effective ways to reach a wider audience and generate more revenue through social media marketing? Or are you a marketer who wants to help their client improve audience engagement and win more loyal customers? Perhaps you’re a blogger who is struggling to boost website traffic? The solution to all these problems is to build a powerful and result-oriented social media marketing strategy.

Social media marketing is no longer just an alternative to mainstream advertising. Whether you’re a business owner or a content creator, you need a robust social media marketing strategy to connect with your target audience. It isn’t surprising that the worldwide social media advertising spend was more than $89 billion in 2019. This figure is expected to reach $102 billion in 2020.

As more businesses realize the potential of social media marketing, making a mark on different social media channels is becoming increasingly difficult. That’s why you must develop a strategy that helps you strike a chord with your audience and achieve your end goals. From selecting the right channels and hashtags to creating a social media content calendar and monitoring the results – it involves various steps.

In this blog, we’ll outline a detailed guide to help you create and implement effective social media marketing campaigns. But let’s first delve deeper into the concept and understand why it’s important.

What is Social Media Marketing?

The simplest way to understand social media marketing is to define what it isn’t. Uploading a few posts on your Facebook and Instagram profiles now and then isn’t social media marketing. Instead, it’s the concerted practice of using different social media channels to connect with your target audience. It’s instrumental in building brand awareness and a long-term relationship with your existing and potential customers.

Apart from publishing insightful and interesting content on your social media profiles, you must actively engage with your audience. This involves responding to their comments and messages as well as hosting live sessions, polls, etc. Additionally, you can run paid ad campaigns on different social media channels to further expand your reach. It’s also essential to track your campaigns and determine whether your goals are being accomplished.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

If you’re even remotely familiar with digital marketing, you likely already know why social media marketing is so important. To begin with, there are 3.96 billion social media users across the globe. That’s more than 50% of the world population.

Whether you’re selling handmade soaps or luxury cruise packages, your potential customers are likely already using one or more social media platforms. You just have to reach them at the right time through the right channel. A robust social media marketing strategy is instrumental in building your brand. Here are a few additional benefits:

Community Building

Social media platforms let you directly engage with your audience. When you respond to comments and messages, you can strike a conversation with your potential customers. This, in turn, gives you a deeper understanding of their needs and pain points. Ultimately, it helps you build an enduring relationship with them and create an engaged community of loyal brand advocates.

Customer Service in Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Social media provides various communication channels to receive feedback from your existing customers and quickly address their grievances. If you actively respond to customer complaints on social media, it positions you as a brand that values its customers. Moreover, owning up to any goof-ups and mistakes helps amplify transparency. This is particularly important considering 53% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that are transparent on social media.

Potential for Virality

Here’s the thing – if your audience finds your content valuable or entertaining, they’ll share it on their social media profiles. If your content further resonates with their friends/followers, it’ll likely be repeatedly shared and ultimately, become viral. This boosts brand recognition and helps you reach a wide audience that would’ve remained inaccessible otherwise. All you have to do is create original, thought-provoking, and relevant content in the form of videos, images, animations, infographics, etc.

Social Listening

Social media marketing isn’t just about increasing awareness and engagement. It also gives you a glimpse of the online conversations surrounding your brand. You can research branded hashtags as well as audience comments to understand how your brand is being perceived. It also helps you understand your audience’s expectations and evaluate their response to new products/services.

Lead generation from Social Media Marketing

When implemented judiciously, social media marketing helps drive organic website traffic and generate qualified leads. You can even use paid social ads to drive consumers to specific landing pages. When you actively communicate with your audience through messages and comments, you can convince them to share their contact details.

Many social media channels including Facebook also let you add a link to your opt-in form on your business page.

Conversions & Revenue

Social media channels have come a long way from being just a networking platform. For instance, Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing mobile app into a robust marketing and sales tool. Today, you can let your followers directly buy your products on Instagram. Likewise, you can set up a “Shop” on your Facebook business page to let your fans browse and purchase your products.

Shop on Instagram via social media marketing
Shop option on Instagram

Image via Search Engine Journal

Thus, social media marketing is no longer restricted to brand building and audience interaction. When used correctly, it helps you promote and sell your products and earn more revenue. Moreover, you can easily use remarketing ads on Facebook and Instagram to target website visitors and convert them into customers. Even if you use paid social ads, it’s often more cost-effective than other paid marketing channels such as Google Ads.

It’s now time for us to outline the steps to build a concrete social media marketing strategy.

Social Media Marketing Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you want your social media marketing campaigns to yield the desired results, you need a well-defined and actionable plan. It’s crucial to outline a publishing schedule and a repurposing strategy. Otherwise, you’ll publish random social media posts at odd times without making any real impact on your audience.

Here are the steps to build a powerful social media marketing strategy in 2020:

1. Set Measurable Goals

You can’t build a result-oriented marketing strategy without knowing where you’re headed. Your marketing objectives will influence the type of content you create and the social media channels you use. That’s why the first step is to define clear, measurable, and time-bound goals. It’s recommended that you avoid setting vague or immeasurable goals such as increase brand exposure, improve brand authority, etc.

Typically, you can set goals such as:

  • Increase reach and awareness by 50% in the next six months
  • Increase audience engagement by 25% in the next quarter
  • 2x email opt-ins in the next quarter
  • Increase revenue by 30% in the next quarter
  • Boost website traffic by 50% in the next six months

Once you’ve set your goals, the next step is to assign key performance indicators (KPIs) to each goal. KPIs are measurable metrics or milestones that help determine whether you’ve achieved a goal. They are crucial for monitoring the performance of your social media marketing campaign and calculating its ROI.

Let’s say your goal is to improve audience engagement. The number of reactions (likes, comments, and shares) on your social media posts is a relevant KPI. Likewise, if your goal is to increase website traffic, the number of average monthly visitors is a suitable KPI.

Apart from goals and KPIs, it’s also essential to define the metrics that are integral to your social media marketing strategy. This is particularly crucial because many marketers often measure the success of their social media campaigns solely based on the number of likes and shares.

Instead, you must focus on relevant metrics such as:

  • Reach – It refers to the number of unique users who saw your post or ad.
  • Clicks – It is the total number of clicks on your post (image, video, or caption), brand name, and logo.
  • Engagement – It is calculated as the total number of reactions (likes, comments, and shares) divided by the number of impressions (total number of times users saw your post or ad).
  • Mentions – It is the number of times your brand name has been tagged in users’ posts.

Additionally, you can track delivery metrics such as relevance score and frequency while running Facebook ads. While social media platforms provide useful built-in analytics, you can use social media tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social to track these metrics.

2. Define Your Audience

The most crucial aspect of social media marketing is to create content that resonates with your audience. You can’t do this unless you have a clear idea of who they are and what they want. This involves identifying the following parameters:

  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Preferred communication channels
  • Socio-economic background

It’s also essential to delve deeper into their psyche and find out their ambitions, aspirations, struggles, pain points, and spending habits.

If you already have a significant audience on social media, take a look at the analytics section of your social media profiles. This will reveal important demographic data about your audience. It’ll also help you analyze their online behavior and determine then they’re most likely to be online. Moreover, you’ll get a deeper insight into how they’re responding to your content.

Demographic breakdown on Facebook
Demographics Analytics on Facebook

Image via Buffer

You can also use social media tools such as SocialRank and Buffer’s Analyze for audience research. Apart from demographic data, it’s crucial to conduct a psychographic analysis of your audience. The simplest way of doing this is to monitor the comments section of your social media posts. Additionally, you can host AMAs and live Q & A sessions to get a lucid glimpse of your audience’s problems and queries.

Likewise, you can conduct polls on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to understand your audience’s preferences. This is particularly useful for assessing the type of content they prefer as well as their spending habits and online activity. Lastly, if you have a substantial mailing list, it’s recommended that you conduct a comprehensive online survey.

Using polls to drive engagement in social media marketing
Polls on Social Media

Image via HubSpot

3. Allocate Your Social Media Marketing Budget

At this stage, it’s also recommended that you allocate a dedicated budget for your social media marketing strategy. At the very least, you’ll have to pay designers, animators, video producers, and copywriters to create your content. Additionally, you may have to spend money on paid ads. Your budget will have a significant impact on the type and quality of content you publish.

4. Craft Your Brand Persona

Do you want your brand to be perceived as an industry authority? Or do you want to create the image of a quirky friend? Or perhaps you want to build a brand that’s vocal about social issues? It goes without saying that you must maintain the same brand image across all social media channels you use.

That’s why you must outline a detailed brand persona that aligns with your core values and niche. For instance, Casper uses a light-hearted and humorous tone on their Instagram profile to give the impression of an amicable brand. This tone perfectly resonates with their overall brand image.

Instagram

Image via Instagram

Here are a few aspects you should include in your brand persona:

  • Voice – This is the overall tone you’ll use in comments, messages replies, captions, tweets, etc. It can be friendly, sarcastic, satirical, or authoritative.
  • Color palette – It refers to the range of colors you’ll use in your visual content (photos, videos, infographics, etc.).
  • Banned topics – This includes a list of subjects or words you don’t want your brand to talk about on social media.
  • Audience interaction – Outline whether you’ll communicate with your audience as a brand or an individual.

Once you’ve prepared the brand persona, make sure all your team members know about it.

5. Analyze Your Competitors

One of the biggest advantages of any digital marketing technique is that you can closely monitor what your competitors are doing. It helps you identify the topics, content formats, and communication channels that are grabbing eyeballs for them. And if it’s working for your competitors, it’ll likely work for you as well. While you shouldn’t mimic a competitor’s social media campaigns, analyzing their strategy helps strengthen yours.

The first step is to identify your competitors by running a quick Google search. Thereafter, check out the companies that closely resemble your brand. Evaluate their social media profiles to find the topics they’re working on and the hashtags they’re using. Monitor their posting frequency and schedule and analyze whether it’s working for them.

You can also use BuzzSumo to identify the topics that have been garnering traction. You can even find the number of shares a particular blog post has got on different social media channels. While BuzzSumo is mostly used for content planning and marketing, it’ll help you spot trending topics and themes that’ll resonate with your audience.

Social media marketing using Buzzsumo
Buzzsumo Is a Helpful Platform to craft your social media marketing plan

Image via BuzzSumo

Likewise, you can use Phlanx to determine the engagement rate of any Instagram account. You can also use Social Blade to monitor a competitor’s social media profiles

6. Select the Right Hashtags in Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Hashtag research is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of building a social media marketing strategy. Hashtags play an important role in expanding your reach and taking your content beyond your existing fans. That’s why you must identify the most popular and relevant hashtags in your niche.

The simplest way of doing this is to check out the hashtags your competitors are using. Click on any hashtag to find whether it’s being used by other brands and users. It is, however, recommended that you avoid using generic and overly popular hashtags. Additionally, you should create a short, simple, and easy to read branded hashtag to boost brand recognition and awareness.

You should also watch out for trending hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Social media tools such as Hashtagify and Keyhole help you track the top hashtags in your niche. Make sure you don’t flood your social media posts with too many irrelevant hashtags.

7. Pick Your Social Media Marketing Channels

When it comes to social media channels, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all platform. You have to identify the most suitable platforms based on your target audience. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn continue to be the most popular social media channels. However, many brands also leverage platforms such as Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, etc.

If you perform thorough audience research, you’ll get a clear idea of the social media platforms your audience mostly uses. You should also consider your niche, brand persona, and end goals. Additionally, you should analyze the user demographics of different platforms and select the ones that best match your requirements.

For instance, more than 60% of Instagram users are aged between 18 and 34 years. This makes it a great platform to connect with Gen Z and millennials. On the other hand, nearly 80% of LinkedIn users are aged between 25 and 54 years. Therefore, if you want to target senior-level officials and decision-makers, LinkedIn is the right choice. It’s also a great platform to reach B2B marketers.

Here’s a useful infographic to help you identify the right social media channels for your business:

Social media marketing channels per industry
Network Recommendations based on your Industry

Image via Khoros

8. Choose Your Content Formats & Topics

Now that you have a deep insight into your audience and objectives, it’s time to start building your content plan. You should start by identifying what type of content works on the social media channels you’ve selected in the previous step. While high-quality images and videos are great for Instagram, opinion pieces and thought leadership articles work better on LinkedIn.

Here are some of the most used content formats for popular social media platforms:

  • Facebook – Videos, infographics, memes, images, blog posts
  • Instagram – Images, videos, memes, GIFs
  • Twitter – Blog posts, memes, jokes, one-liners, short updates
  • LinkedIn – Informational articles, case studies, industry reports, thought leadership articles
  • YouTube – Tutorial videos, hacks, unboxing videos, podcasts

Next, you should start listing the topics and themes you want to work on. Brainstorm ideas with your team members and create a list of topics that address your audience’s needs and pain points. The key is to create content that educates, entertains, or inspires your audience. You should also plan specialized content for public holidays, festivals, and other events.

Additionally, it’s crucial to consider your goals while selecting the topics and formats. For instance, well-researched infographics and hack videos are great for reinforcing brand awareness and authority. On the other hand, you can use unboxing videos to create a buzz before launching a new product. Likewise, memes and narrative-based videos can help your brand become viral.

9. Create a Social Media Content Calendar

It’s now time to build a tentative schedule defining what, how often, where, and when to post. The first step is to outline an overarching calendar based on the broad themes you want to address. Thereafter, refer to the list of topics and see how they fit into your calendar. Next, select the right format and platform based on the topic and your goals. You should also look for opportunities to periodically repeat a specific theme or type of content.

Here’s an example of a simple social media content calendar:

Social Media Marketing Content Calendar Template
Social Media Calendar Template

Image via Hootsuite

At this stage, it’s also essential to determine the optimal time and frequency for posting content on different platforms. While there isn’t a well-defined formula for this purpose, here are some recommendations:

How often should I post as part of my social media marketing plan?
Publishing Frequency on Social Media

Image via Louise Myers

You can use tools such as Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, Google Calendar, Trello, CoSchedule, etc. to create your calendar. Make sure you search for different social media calendar templates on the internet. While you can build one from scratch, a template acts as a readymade framework to build your calendar. Additionally, you should ensure that the calendar is flexible enough to accommodate viral trends and events.

Here’s a customizable social media calendar template by HubSpot:

Social Media Marketing Content Calendar
Social Media Calendar- Hubspot

Image via HubSpot

Apart from social media posts, your calendar should include a healthy mix of live sessions, AMAs, polls, and contests. For instance, you can host a giveaway right before launching a new product. Likewise, you can host a weekly AMA every Sunday to skyrocket audience engagement. Additionally, you should leverage advanced features of various platforms such as stories, highlights, and IGTV on Instagram.

Mejuri, the everyday fine jewelry brand, uses IGTV to host a weekly episodic series that showcases different influencers and their stories.

Using IGTV in your social media marketing plan
Using IGTV in Your Social Media Marketing Program

Image via Mejuri

10. Create & Schedule Your Content

This is likely the most exciting step of your social media marketing strategy. If you’ve built a lucid content plan and calendar, creating various social media posts should be fairly simple. You’ll need a team of skilled graphic designers, copywriters, photographers, scriptwriters, and musicians to create your content. Hiring freelancers for these roles is often more cost-effective.

Needless to say, you’ll also need to create pages/profiles on various social media channels. Make sure all your social media profiles are complete and include vital information about your brand. Craft simple and keyword-rich descriptions/bios tailored for each platform. Additionally, you should include a link to your website and add a profile picture (preferably your company logo).

Take a look at Chanel’s clever and thoughtfully articulated Twitter bio:

Chanel's Bio on Twitter in their Social Media Marketing Program
Twitter Bio for Chanel In Their Social Media Marketing Program

Image via Twitter

Creating and publishing content on multiple social media platforms requires meticulous coordination and communication. You should use tools like Trello and Asana to facilitate collaboration between team members. While you can manually upload each post on various platforms, it’s recommended that you use scheduling tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite. These tools let you schedule your posts in advance and analyze the performance of your campaigns.

11. Leverage Social Advertising

While organic reach is the heart of social media marketing, you shouldn’t ignore paid social ads altogether. Judicious use of paid ads can help boost website traffic, generate & nurture leads, and drive conversions. For instance, you can use Facebook ads to increase the reach of your blog posts and drive more organic website visitors. You can also run Facebook ad campaigns to drive more visitors to your brick-and-mortar store.

Social Advertising is a key part of your social media marketing program
Leverage Social Advertising to Drive New Visitors to Your Website

Image via GeoMarketing

Here are a few useful tips for executing successful Facebook ad campaigns:

  • Use the “Conversions” objective – This makes it easier to track whether a campaign is driving the desired results on your website.
  • Use multiple ad sets – Don’t cram too many detailed targeting parameters into an ad set. Instead, create multiple ad sets for the same campaign using up to five detailed targeting options for each. It helps identify the best-performing targeting options.
  • Tweak judiciously – If you want to edit a campaign, make sure you duplicate it before making the changes. It lets you better assess the performance of the edited campaign.
  • Use compelling copy and creatives – Craft crisp and eye-catching copy and use high-quality images or videos for all ads.

12. Monitor & Measure Your Social Media Marketing Program

The last step is to track the performance of your social media campaigns. You can use the analytics provided by different social media platforms to monitor your content. Additionally, you can use specialized social media tools like Sprout Social, Buffer, and Hootsuite for this purpose. Check the KPIs and metrics you’d defined in the first step to determine whether a campaign is working in the right direction.

Now that you’re all set to build an awesome social media marketing strategy, here a few more helpful tips:

Quick Tips for Social Media Marketing in 2020

Developing a robust social media marketing strategy on paper is futile if you fail to implement it properly. That’s why we’ve curated a few practical tips and hacks to help you execute your social media campaigns.

Be Consistent In Your Social Media Marketing Program

Consistency is the key to achieving remarkable traction on social media. Make sure you regularly upload insightful, valuable, and relevant content across all your social media profiles. Additionally, you should outline a schedule based on when your audience is most likely to be active. It’s also recommended that you maintain a consistent tone and image on every social media channel.

Leverage User-Generated Content

Encourage your existing customers to upload images and videos of your products and share their experiences/stories. It expands your reach and helps you attract a wider audience that doesn’t know your brand. Sharing these posts on your social media profiles also strengthens brand credibility. It makes your audience feel valued and encourages more customers to talk about your brand on their social media profiles.

Daniel Wellington, the luxury watch brand, regularly features user-generated content on their Instagram profile.

User Generated Content is a Great Way to Showcase Your Brand
User Generated Content is a Great Way to Showcase Your Brand in Social Media Marketing

Image via Instagram

Sharing user-generated content is also a great way to reinvent your content strategy. It gives your audience a break from branded and promotional content. You can host contests and giveaways to create a pool of high-quality user-generated content.

Collaborate with Influencers

Partner with relevant influencers in your niche to skyrocket your reach and engagement on social media platforms. You can collaborate with an influencer to create engaging content or host a giveaway. You can even invite them as a guest on one of your live sessions. Alternatively, you can ask them to take over your social media profiles for a day and post on your behalf.

Prioritize Shares Over Sales

Sharing overly promotional content on social media often alienates your audience. Instead, you should focus on rewarding your followers/fans with unique and valuable content. If they find it useful, they’ll likely share it in their networks.

Take a Stand

In today’s day and age, consumers often look up to brands for support and inspiration. According to Sprout Social, 70% of consumers consider it important for brands to take a public stand on socio-political issues. It is, therefore, recommended that you express your views on trending social issues and current affairs.

Here’s an example of how Nike uses their Instagram profile to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement:

Take a Stand - Nike BLM Messaging
Social Media- Take a Stand – Nike BLM Messaging

Image via Instagram

Conclusion

Developing an effective social media marketing strategy requires impeccable research and planning. It’s essential to define your goals and target audience and identify the right social media channels and content formats. It’s equally crucial to create a social media content calendar and use scheduling tools to automatically post content on different platforms.

Next Steps

Schedule a time with one of our expert content marketing strategists and let’s get your content marketing plan into the next gear. We will even create a FREE Content Marketing Playbook to kickstart a partnership with you.

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Andy Steuer

Andy Steuer is the Chief Marketing Officer at WriteForMe. Andy has been CEO, CMO, VP of Product for 8 fast-growing companies in his career. 3 of those companies became Top 10 Internet companies. Content Marketing has always been at the core to differentiate these companies from their competition. You can always schedule a 1 on 1 meeting with Andy by grabbing some time on his calendar here. List articles below that have Andy on the byline on the rest of the page. Here’s my calendar link:https://meetings.hubspot.com/andysteuer » More blog posts by Andy Steuer

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