The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing.jpg

You’ve been posting two, even three times per day for months now and haven’t seen any vast improvements. Your follower count drops as soon as you get new followers, and you’re not really sure what the problem is.

If this is you, then here’s some news for you: there are many reasons why social media marketing fails, and most of those reasons stem from just providing the wrong type of content to the wrong type of people.

But before detailing what that really means, and how you can change your luck around, let’s dive into social media marketing. What does it really mean, what does it entail, and why should you care?

 

How Will This Help Me?

Social media marketing is when you create content (tweets, images for Instagram, Boomerang videos, YouTube videos, etc.) that meets the needs of that particular platform’s content, with the objective being to increase engagement.

I’ve spoken about this before, about every platform having its own context. That is to say that what might work on Twitter wouldn’t generally work on, say, Snapchat. Twitter is all about short sentences, maybe a gif here, a link there, but mainly just witty commentary with content shares.

Meanwhile, Snapchat is all about filming what’s in the moment, or taking silly photographs of yourself or something else. It’s meant to be instantaneous and forgiving, in that all the content that gets uploaded disappears at the stroke of midnight.

Writing witty commentary and linking to your latest blog post wouldn’t even work on Snapchat. And your silly cat selfies wouldn’t generate any engagement on Twitter.

When you actually post the right type of content to the correct platform, engagement increases, but it’s not enough. You still need to pay attention to things like frequency of posts, quality, theme and topic, as well as hashtags.

The good news is that once you’ve mastered it, social media can truly enhance your marketing strategy by:

  • Directly connecting you to your target audience

  • Inserting you into a community of like-minded individuals

  • Checking out your competition

  • Getting continuous inspiration

  • Making it possible to link to your latest blog posts

  • Creating another platform to share sales, announcements, news or appreciation

 

Goodbye Organic Growth

First thing’s first, let’s begin with some brutal honesty so that the rest of this post makes more sense. Yes, social media marketing is helpful, and yes, it’s something you should totally work on, but don’t expect to accomplish anything without a budget.

Not that long ago, brands and people alike were able to get on the platform, any platform, and organically rank up followers. They did this with top-notch content, carefully selected hashtags, and patience. Anyone could grow their accounts to the thousands, or even millions, of followers.

But that doesn’t really happen anymore, and it’s one-hundred percent intentional. It began with Facebook, but now it’s every other platform, where they make it difficult for users to grow their accounts organically so that businesses spend more money on advertisements.

As an example of tactics used to make things harder on businesses, Facebook chose to reflect posts made by SocialFlow customers, which caused organic growth to plummet by fifty-two percent in a matter of months.

That was one change.

Another trick being used is algorithms that prioritize advertisements. And that explains why social media ad spend has skyrocketed. All of these platforms make all of their money from ads, and working with businesses that are willing to pay for exposure and growth.

So, again: the following tips will help, but will not guarantee substantial growth over a prolonged period of time without the use of ads.

 

Facebook

Hands down offers the most data and targeted ads than any other platform in existence. This is because the ads can be filtered to exact gender, age range and location, so for those of you who have really dug into buyer personas, this is super handy.

Also, there’s plenty of freedom. You can post images or videos, focus on your wordsmith skills, or just join a bunch of related groups filled with like-minded individuals. And better still, you don’t need to use hashtags on Facebook.

The best way to grow your following on the platform is to reach out in the form of groups, and spend money on ads, which have become essential in the world of business. Any business.

 

Build A Campaign

Select your goal (engagement on posts, promote your Facebook page, etc.), select your audience in as much detail as possible, and then focus on placement (side or top of the page). It’s really that simple: a three-step process filled with plenty of customization options.

And once you do this, you can create similar audience profiles that seem similar to your target audience. This allows you to test out what it’s like to pitch to other people who may or may not have an interest in what you have to offer.

 

Additional Options

Clearly, Facebook likes to give you full control by throwing all possible options at you. For instance, you can integrate Instagram, if you want. With one button click and a selection of either “Feed,” “Stories,” or both, you can have your ad show up on both platforms without any extra work or effort from you.

The only catch? It needs to be very visual and top-notch quality. Otherwise, it won’t perform on Instagram.

Because Facebook is such a valuable social marketing tool, let's dive into its profitability potential for a second. 

 

How to Craft Profitable Facebook Ad Campaigns

A carefully structured campaign will do wonders for your brand, while alleviating headaches. It can prevent issues like outdated ads, it will help you spot opportunities thanks to those insightful reports, and it will make things easier for your team, even as it grows over time.

And those are just the more technical aspects to look forward to. That’s not even touching on the fact that if your campaign is successful, you could have a higher conversion rate, more exposure, etc.

But this is only if you know how to craft profitable Facebook ad campaigns. Surprisingly, for such an easy-to-use platform, there’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re making beginner mistakes, like creating ads instead of campaigns, using only one creative, or having great production without great copy.

 

Clarifying Goals

social media marketing

It’s one thing to have some goals and start creating ad campaigns. It’s another to truly understand those goals and structure a campaign with that in mind.

Without understanding your goals at the campaign level, you can’t possibly have a good foundation to build off of. This is because Facebook optimizes campaigns based on whatever you choose as an objective, which affects every decision going forward.

To better craft profitable Facebook ad campaigns, you’ll need to take a minute to figure out what your goals really are, and then group them accordingly.

 

Step One - Establishing Clear Goals

Sift through your metrics, hold a team meeting, or take a look at your annual goals list. Whatever your approach to getting a detailed look at your business may be, the idea here is to better understand where your business is currently going, and where you actually want it to go.

For instance, maybe you realize that traffic isn’t where it should be right now. You want to drive traffic to your site up, so you can increase that conversion rate. It’s likely, you’d be focusing on ways to get people to go to your site and click on the call to action, but you also need a way to establish trust.

 

Step Two - Categorizing

Remember when you were a child, and played that matching game where there were two columns of images side by side? The objective was to draw a line between the images that went together? By the end of it, there were several lines, each one matching two images that although different, went together perfectly.

Think of campaign grouping in much the same way. For instance, going back to needing more traffic for your website, say you also realize that you need leads. This would logically lead to two different campaigns, each with different ads due to Facebook’s algorithm.

One campaign would focus on driving website traffic, so people can click on the call to action. But you’d establish trust by sending traffic to your blog, which is full of valuable content that establishes you as an industry leader.

That means campaign one would be the blog, with the objective of link clicks. Campaign two would be conversions, with the objective of optimizing for conversions.

 

Step Three - Analyzing Promotions

Will there be multiple promotions within these campaigns? If a promotion is short term, or frequently changed, make the campaign name relevant to the overall goal. For instance, may the promotion is centered around blog content, so you’d name the overall goal “blog traffic.”

You could have many ad sets displaying the same promotions within each, since Facebook will optimize the promotion for what’s performing the best in each. This helps you see what works and what doesn’t. Which ad set is the winner and why.

If your promotion is long-term, or even evergreen, like a conversion campaign, then creating separate campaigns for each individual promotion is the way to go. In other words, a promotion would have to ad sets, each with 3 different ads in each, and Facebook would show you which of the two ad sets performs the best.

 

Effectively Using Ad Sets

The ad set level is where you pull the strings, deciding what to spend on the most. If one target audience outperforms another, you can allocate more money to the winning ad set.

It helps to cycle ad sets through different campaigns and then assess the costs associated. To do this, try laying out ad sets by targeting method.

Here are some targeting methods to consider:

  • Remarketing, website users

  • Custom list uploads

  • People who likes the page

  • Conversions

  • Manually targeted audiences (interest/behaviors), both broad and narrow variations

  • Geographic location

The idea is to make a list that is as specific as possible so you can accurately measure which segments perform best for you. Blending audiences will leave you with more questions than answers in the long run.

 

Structure Around Sales Funnel

Over time, you will want to create audiences of people who have already converted. This will help you exclude those users from specific promotions, and allow you to remarket them with a lower funnel or upsell offers.

Hyper-targeting your audience means you can spend less wherever possible, and experience higher conversion rates overall.

 

Putting It Into Practice

Say you have a free guide you’re using to generate interest in a limited time course. You could write copy thanking them for downloading the guide, and then suggest that they reserve your spot in the upcoming course.

You could create multiple campaigns each with their own promotion, or you can create an umbrella campaign that shows a variety of promotions to each audience.

Of course, each approach serves different situations. The umbrella campaign model works if you have limited data, or if you don’t quite understand which offer performs the best at each stage in your funnel. This allows you to use the campaigns for research, as well as conversions. It will tell you which promotions you can afford to eliminate, and which ones to prioritize moving forward.

Here’s a funnel refresher:

Top of Funnel

Get people to your website by providing quality content like ebooks, whitepapers, or something else in exchange for contact information. SEO, social media, and PPC all help with this.

Middle of Funnel

Nurture existing leads by getting them to like you even more. Give them tailored content that they need to solve their problems.

Bottom of Funnel

Get them to choose you by offering free trials, assessments, demos and other product offers.

 

Tweaking For Effectiveness

Sometimes during a campaign, the focus is entirely on the big decisions. What ad set to use, how long to run a campaign, who to target, what to direct traffic to. But the smaller decisions that get cast by the wayside can be equally as important.

For instance, are your email settings set to receive all important notifications? Ideally, you want to get notified of ad disapprovals, and ads that require editing.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

 

Conversion Tracking

Is your conversion tracking set up and working? Are you tracking the right things? You can optimize every aspect of your campaign to maximize your profit potential, so eliminating a waste of resources is critical. If you’re not tracking the right things, or failing to track at all, you don’t know if your campaign is successful or not.

Some of the things to be mindful of are add to cart, purchases, cart abandonment, and average transaction amount.

 

Custom Audiences

Custom audiences lets you unload a list of people to target in your campaign. Think of it as a way to advertise to leads or past customers exclusively. It even lets you exclude current customers if you want, since clearly, they are converting already.

 

Schedule

Is the end date correct? Each campaign you run will likely end at a different time, and if you’re managing 2 or more, things can get a little confusing. Maybe one of them is timed to end sooner than later for a reason. Maybe you’re trying to get people to sign up for a course, or to pre-order a book. Those are time sensitive.

 

Budget

Are you sure you’re allocating enough funding to a certain campaign? The trick here is to keep your limited budget in mind, and prioritize the things you can’t succeed without. Everything else is expendable. More so, if a campaign is outperforming another by a large margin, it may be wise to move that funding over to the successful campaign.

The idea is to have a high enough budget to meet your goals, but if you’re maxed out, try lowering your bids in order to reduce your cost per click. You may wind up getting more clicks for your money.

 

Calls to Action

Obviously each ad needs to have its own CTA which tells the customers what the next step they should take is. If your campaign is successful, there should be a high conversion.

To make these campaigns successful, you need brilliant copy. A few tricks can make the difference between mediocre results, and ones to write home about.

For instance, creating a benefit-packed headline, such as getting something personalized, getting something delivered right to your door in a short span of time, being matched to something that is proven to be something you’d be interested in, etc. It also helps to highlight things such as deals, low prices, sales, or other forms of value for the money.

And don’t forget to address pain points directly. For instance “5 Reasons Your Video Games Aren’t Selling As Well As They Used To.” It piques interest, tells the reader exactly what to expect, and speaks directly to an issue they may be having.

 

Freshness

Ideally, you should be adding in new images and copy each month. Ads have to be updated frequently in order to stay relevant. Otherwise, seeing your same old ads on their feed becomes a routine, and no longer draws the eye. Unsurprisingly, this slows conversions, which you don’t want.

 

Placements

Experimenting with different ad placements is always a good idea. Depending on where you show up on the page, you could get higher conversion rates by being front and center, rather than to the side, or vice versa.

To really analyze it, generate a report that includes the placement. It will tell you when the same ad, placed in different locations, outperforms or underperforms by comparison.

Just remember, you can create custom ads to take advantage of each placement. Sizing, style and coloring matter.

 

Conversion Specs

If you use optimized bidding, Facebook automatically optimizes bids for specific actions, like clicks. If there is no specified spec, it will choose an action by default, depending on the ad type. Although it will be the best guess, it’s still a default, and that’s a wasted opportunity if you pass it up.

So, if you have a specific action goal for the ad, like a video playing, make sure to define that in the settings. It will elevate your campaign, while increasing conversion rates.

 

Instagram

social media marketing

Speaking of Instagram, they were acquired by Facebook in 2012, and have grown a ton since then. After unveiling ads in 2015, they grew even more, but unfortunately have messed with their algorithm so much that organic growth isn’t quite what it once was.

Sill, the platform boasts the highest engagement rate, meaning chances are high that most people you know have an Instagram account. This is in large part because the content is visually engaging, and it’s super easy to use. It’s a scrolling feed that allows you to stare, read a caption, and double-tap to like an image. That’s it!

A few tips to remember is that while video is encouraged, it needs to be kept short. Also, it needs to be professional, so make sure to hire someone to shoot and edit it, if need be. That being said, images rack up more engagement than videos do, although it all depends on the video itself. A boring one, or one that doesn’t provide any value, won’t be liked as much as something people can use.

A few categories that work well are:

  • Inspiring quotes

  • Questions in text form

  • Photos of items from luxury brands

  • High-quality images of products or lifestyle tips related to target audience

Also, hashtags and call-to-actions are essential on Instagram. Use these and frame your bio correctly to have the best possible foundation to build on.

How should you build your bio?

  • A clear statement of who you are and what you have to offer

  • A link to your website or product

  • A reason for people to care, maybe something that relates to them

 

Influencers

Sixty-five percent of brands use influencer marketing: paying someone with a large following to post about your product/give you exposure. And Instagram, as it turns out, is everyone’s favorite influencer platform ever, with YouTube coming in close second.

The thing to understand about Instagram is that it’s all about creating a false sense of what a lifestyle looks like. Food is meticulously staged, makeup is blended and perfectly lighted, people are retouched in Photoshop, etc. When people see someone with a large following playing a specific game, looking good while doing it, it makes want to purchase the game too.

It’s the classic mentality of wanting to have what others do, or wanting to be like other people, in order to stay “in-the-loop.” Brand reaching out to influencers are using more than the person’s follower count, they’re using Psychology 101.

 

YouTube

Ah, the other social media marketing platform that’s been nothing but good to gamers, developers, makeup artists, comedians, musicians, etc.

In case you didn’t already know, Netflix was once a mail-in DVD service that would mail your DVD selections so you could watch them, pop them back in a red envelope, and mail back. They switched to a digital streaming service once they saw YouTube making waves.

And to this day, everyone fears the platform. The only stiff competition it has is Twitch, but otherwise, not really. It’s used so much, it’s estimated that by 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 won’t even have cable thanks to YouTube, Netflix and Hulu alone. The platform already has 1 billion monthly users!

But what makes YouTube so amazing? What keeps people going back to YouTube even after thirteen years?

It’s the fact that it’s visual, and detailed in a way Instagram could only dream of. Instead of sharing a poor quality photo of their food like on Snapchat, or a lighted and edited version on Instagram, they can see it and learn how to make it in detail on YouTube.

Brands have taken notice, and everyone from makeup companies to game developers have posted videos about their companies, behind-the-scenes looks, work in progress shoots, announcements, special giveaways, and insider looks of their products.

The best thing about the platform, however, is how lenient it can be. For instance, people who create courses to watch have uploading single 3-hour videos before, and with great success. But those who have divided up their courses lesson by lesson, keeping videos short, have also excelled.

In other words, no one really cares about your video length on the platform, what’s important is that the content is there. It needs to be engaging, and it needs to keep people coming back for more.

Many brands choose to do this by using their other social media platforms as a gateway to drive YouTube followers. For instance, a game developer may post a part of a game trailer on Instagram, and then say “watch the full tutorial on YouTube, link in bio!”

This makes it easy for people to a) find you on YouTube, b) watch what they wanted to watch more of, and c) find the rest of your content, which they may be interested in. If they are, they may hit that subscribe button.

The more followers you have, the more exposure, which makes it easy for influencers to work with you. They don’t want to work with companies that have no viewer base, because chances are they won’t be paid for their efforts. Or at the very least, they won’t gain any further exposure from it.

 

Content Ideas

There are two things that do well on the platform, more so than anything else:

  • Entertaining content.

  • Teaching something valuable.

For makeup artists or chefs, content comes naturally. They can do what they do best and chances are viewers will learn how to make something new, apply something, or use something.

For other niches, like gaming, it’s more about entertainment. Much like musicians or people who love filming skits, their content is addictive, without having to educate anyone in the process.

 

Looking for ways to get more out of your social media marketing?

In this day and age of technology, the bulk of human connection is done with the use of screens, with Instagram comments, Facebook likes, Twitter shares, and even conference calls over Skype.

It’s no wonder businesses are using the power of social media to expand their outreach.

The only catch is that every platform has its own context, and therefore, there are content expectations for each. While following those unspoken rules is a start, it’s not enough to succeed at social media marketing.

You need to dig a little deeper, use the methods that are great for growth, but that you might have overlooked up until now.

 

#1 Stop Thinking You Can’t Compete On YouTube

social media marketing

Unlike that you may have heard, you don’t need a $3k camera and fancy equipment to make your YouTuber dreams a reality. Just use an iPhone, a tripod, good lighting, and either a crisp white wall, or a mural as your backdrop.

Also, don’t use the iPhone digital zoom . It only enlarges the image itself, it’s not optical, so your footage will be pixelated or grainy.

 

#2 Take A Page Out of Instagram Famous Accounts

social media marketing

What do all of those Instagram accounts with thousands, if not millions of followers have in common?

They know how to best present themselves. Everything they post, no matter how minimalistic, is gorgeous.

But how?

  • Good, natural lighting

  • Crisp backgrounds that are either light (white) or dark, but textured

  • Perfectly packaged products, expertly plated food, or other aesthetically-pleasing visuals

  • The knowledge that less is more

 

#3 Jump On the Live Video Movement

social media marketing

There’s a reason live video has gained so much popularity: people want to see what you can pull off without editing.

If you can do it, it can lead to live interaction with your audience, a more realistic and relatable persona.

Here are some valuable tips for those of you wanting to give it a try:

  • Use live video at events or conferences related to your industry, so it shows your followers what happens behind-the-scenes.

  • Use it to introduce your employees, or your offices, which gives people more of a connection with your brand.

  • Advertise an exclusive sale or item that no one else can get anywhere else.

 

#4 It’s Not Just Millennials

social media marketing

Statistics show that Gen Z is what brands will be appealing and marketing to in 2018+. That means anyone born after 1995 is already starting to gain some traction on social media, albeit slowly.

But these people are roughly 23, tops. These people fall in many of the demographics by several companies. So, if your target audience is 15-40 year olds, Gen Z absolutely needs to be included in your marketing strategy.

Basic characteristics of Gen Z include:

  • Unlike Millennials, who predominantly use desktop, smartphones and TV, Gen Z use laptops, TV, and smartphones.

  • Also, Gen Z watch less TV than Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers.

  • They are also less likely to use Facebook than Millennials, but avidly use YouTube and Snapchat more than Millennials.

  • They love using ad-blocking software.

 

#5 Never Stop Testing

social media marketing

Once you find something that works, push yourself to keep looking for new methods of advertising. It’s the cornerstone of advertising after all!

Marketing is a science, and as such, you should always be asking questions. Will this group of people also be interested in my product? What platforms are they mostly using? Which channels am I using, but not seeing much growth from?

 

Wrapping Up

social media marketing

Whew! It’s been a long journey, hasn’t it? Hopefully you’ve learned a bunch, and have a clearer perspective of what you’ve been doing vs. what you need to do to excel at social media marketing.

To reiterate, this is a very important topic for businesses large and small, because it makes it possible to further expand your audience, and therefore, your outreach. The more that people hear about you and your projects, the better it is. Exposure is the name of the game.

Social media has made it possible for brands to connect directly with their target audience, use hashtags to further hone in on their niche, and really experiment with brand image. If anything, companies have grown along with their customers, and have gained access to more and more leads along the way.

So if you’ve been doing social media marketing all wrong, don’t fret. This is a new era, one of technology and human connection through the use of screens. If anyone can handle a little experimentation and tactical posting, it’s you!

The only real question now is where are you going to begin? Which of these tactics do you think you'd benefit the most from, especially in the short-term?

Leave a comment below with your answer, would love to hear some feedback!