Social media marketing is vital to your digital marketing campaign, but it’s no longer enough to just post on social media channels. If you want to reach your audience, build your brand, and engage your prospects, you need to put time and effort into your social campaigns.
There’s plenty of competition on social media, and not just from brands. Innovative campaigns and new channels are a great way to find new opportunities to speak to your audience.
Core components of social media marketing
Online presence, particularly with social media, is vital to modern business. There’s no doubt that your business needs to put some marketing effort and budget toward social media strategy.
Over half the world uses social media, and new members come online every day. According to research from Smart Insights, 5.22 billion unique social media accounts exist. This is massive untapped potential for your business, but only if you harness it.
Here are the core components of social media marketing:
Strategy is the foundation of your social media campaign. Without a plan in place, you can’t reach your goals and will likely waste all of your time.
Social media strategy helps you:
- Create valuable content
- Increase conversions
- Drive engagement
An effective social media marketing strategy has defined goals and a clearly outlined plan to reach those goals. This can be used to evaluate your progress and tweak your strategy as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
2. Planning and Publishing
Social media can be powerful, but not without a plan.
Before you can launch a campaign, you must:
- Know your audience
- Focus on quality content
- Consider the brand values and what you want to convey
Having a plan not only helps you direct your efforts at the right people in the right way, but it keeps you consistent. Consistency is the golden rule of social media and keeps your audience looking forward to your posts.
It’s not enough for a brand to post on social media and leave. You must engage with your audience and learn more about what they want from you. The feedback may not always be positive, but you can use those insights to learn what you can change and improve.
- Social engagement and listening also help you:
- Discover new trends
- Identify new opportunities
- Learn about your industry and competitors
- Find new influencers
The best way to find out if what you’re doing works is with analytics. Tracking and collecting data gives you valuable insights into your audience and your marketing efforts. You can learn about user behavior, the best-performing platforms for your brand, and the best times to post. You can also analyze what your competitors are doing and use it to inform your own strategy.
Social media advertising can reach a lot of prospects and puts your brand in front of billions of users. The main types of social media advertising are:
- Organic: Content that gains views and engagement naturally; unpaid
- Paid: Content that is sponsored and costs money to circulate
- Earned: Content that is spread through shares, likes, and comments
You can advertise on social media many ways, including:
- Creating content like posts and videos
- Promoting content with paid ads
- Engaging with your community and audience
- Gaining a following for your brand by sharing valuable content
- Enticing people to download your whitepapers, PDFs, videos, or podcasts
If you want to enhance brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and increase your conversion rates, advertising is the way to go.
For example, our driver’s ed app offers a lot of valuable student driver content, including practice permit tests. While a student driver may come across the Zutobi app with paid ads, if they have a great experience, they’re likely to share it and recommend it to other student drivers in their community.
Social Media Marketing Trends
Social media moves a lot faster than other online channels. Trends change all the time, and it can be difficult to keep up.
Here are some social media trends that are likely to continue into 2022 and beyond:
1. Live streams will stay popular
Many businesses had to go digital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom conferences and live streams replaced face-to-face meetings and live concerts, and it’s not slowing down. Facebook and other major platforms saw a massive peak in messaging and live streaming, especially in areas hit heavily by the pandemic.
Since the world is still grappling with different aspects of the pandemic, more people are using live streaming to interact with brands and their communities. Because of this, live streaming should be a part of your social media marketing strategy.
2. Stores as content
Instagram Stories are gaining popularity. Over 500 million users interact with Stories every day, and it’s expected to ramp up in the new year. Stories is a great content format for publishing calendars, releasing videos, and sharing timely content.
With video trumping photos on most social media platforms (see the popularity of TikTok), it’s vital that marketers include planned content for Instagram Stories and other videos in the upcoming year.
3. Virtual reality is coming to social
Also a result of the pandemic, people are looking for more meaningful interactions in a virtual space. Virtual reality (VR) is one of the biggest technology trends for this new reality because it gives users a sense of actually being together, even if they’re miles apart.
Many brands are finding unique and innovative ways to use VR in their marketing campaigns. As more social media channels include VR, this is a great opportunity to be ahead of the pack.
4. Social commerce is growing
One of the ways social media is ahead of other outlets is by adapting to create more valuable user experiences. Social media channels are rapidly including new features and tools for better experiences and easier shopping.
For example, Instagram allows brands to add product tags for easy checkout right on the platform. Facebook offers a Shop that brands can use to market products in a virtual storefront.
Social media is a tool many users rely on for product and brand research. By having the shop option right there, more users can make a convenient purchase on social media without a long and drawn-out process.
Most Popular Social Media Platforms
Arguably the largest and most popular platform, Facebook offers marketers some of the most robust data and plenty of tools for targeted ads. The process is also easy, making it a good choice for beginners.
Facebook Business Manager is a helpful hub for managing business pages, inboxes, and advertising. It’s free to use. All you have to do is create an account to get to your dashboard.
Facebook advertising has a lot of options. To create a campaign, you create a goal, such as driving conversions, promoting your page, and driving traffic to your site. From there, you can customize your audience using the ad manager link, or use Facebook’s suggestions.
Then, you select the devices you want to target and how you want your ads to show up. Facebook recommends automatic ad placement, but you can do this manually as well.
Instagram Integration: Another way Facebook makes advertising quick and convenient is with Instagram integration. When you create an ad on Facebook, you can click one button to run that same ad on Instagram.
You can choose where to place your Instagram ad by choosing your Feed, Stories, or both. You can also choose to have all of your ads integrated automatically.
Facebook Live: As we’ve discussed, video is popular on social media. Live is even more popular, partly due to its transparency. Using Facebook Live can supercharge your marketing campaign and get more users interested in your content.
Instagram is a highly visual platform that offers both images and videos. Out of all the major channels, Instagram has the highest engagement rate. Many brands are leveraging this popularity with short- or long-form videos, Instagram Stories, and other visual content.
You’ll find plenty of tools to make your videos more professional, such as Invideo.
Not comfortable with video yet? Instagram is excellent for pictures too. You have many ways to get creative with behind-the-scenes pictures, product photos, event images, and more. You could also ask questions to engage your followers and start a conversation.
Your photos don’t need to be world-class. Instagram users enjoy transparency and a little rawness to their brand interactions. Something as simple as a screenshot of an app in use or a quoted review from a real customer can get people interested.
For example, at Zutobi, we could create a split-shot using a screen capture from the app with a positive customer testimonial about how taking a practice test helped a student ace the real driving test.
No matter how you choose to promote your brand on Instagram, make sure to use a call-to-action with each post, such as “shop now” or “learn more.” Instagram also relies on hashtags to help users find the content they want, so be sure to include relevant hashtags.
YouTube has been around for a while and revolutionized the way the world consumes video content. It is fast and free, allowing users to add comments instantly to get a conversation going.
Each day, almost 5 million videos are watched on the platform. Several brands and influencers got their start on YouTube as well.
If you have long-form content, video is a great way to get it in front of your audience. For example, you could use your long-form blog posts as inspiration for video tutorials. Many people prefer digesting video content, so you can attract new people that would be less likely to read a blog.
Like Instagram, you don’t need fancy photography equipment or editing skills. Just keep your video professional and valuable to speak to your audience.
If you are concerned about the look of your video, plenty of apps are available to edit video content, add graphics, lay content, and more.
YouTube Ads: YouTube offers several different types of YouTube ads that you can pay to include in popular videos. Depending on the ad you choose, you can make it option users can “skip” after five seconds or one that they must watch to continue watching the original video. You can see which is best for your business with A/B testing.
Branded as a professional networking platform, LinkedIn isn’t as widely used as other channels, but it’s just as powerful for certain brands. The channel has almost 800 million members and focuses on professional connections, industry news, recruitment, and career development.
While advertising on LinkedIn may not work for every brand, it’s the perfect tool for some. If your brand offers content that helps people expand their networks, improve their own business, or develop professional skills, consider adding LinkedIn ads to your strategy.
TikTok is a video-sharing app that took off after its launch in 2016. The channel has over 800 million active users and features short video clips. One of the ways TikTok differs from the rest is that users can add music, filters, and editing capabilities for enhanced creativity.
If your audience is on TikTok, it’s an excellent platform for your social media campaigns. The competition is still low, the ads are more affordable, and you can experiment with new strategies that may not be the best choice for other platforms.
Like Instagram, TikTok is visual, so focus your efforts on videos about topics related to your brand. They can be behind-the-scenes, how-to videos related to your products and services or product features.
TikTok offers unique paid ad options, such as:
- Brand takeovers, in which categories take over the users’ feeds
- Native ads, which are boosted by the platform for better reach
- Branded lenses, which promote filters related to your brand
- Hashtag challenges are banner ads that promote challenges and help them gain attention.
Supercharge your brand with social media marketing
Social media is a vital part of any digital marketing strategy. Once you determine the platforms that have most of your audience, create your accounts and begin leveraging organic and paid advertising and content to build your following and increase your conversions.