Social media marketing or SMM (also known as social network marketing and social web marketing) is a form of internet marketing that leverages the ability of social media and web applications (apps) to generate interaction (engagement) and sharing (social sharing) in order to increase the visibility and notoriety of a brand. It includes activities such as the promotion/sale of particular goods and services, or of oneself (Personal Branding), the generation of new business contacts (leads) and the increase of traffic to a brand’s website.
For promotional purposes, it is advisable to integrate this with other forms of online marketing and visibility such as search engine marketing (SEM), Social Media Optimization (SMO), Social Media Advertising (SMA) or Social ads, and Digital Public Relations or Digital Pr.
Social media marketing together with social customer service, social selling and others, is considered a component of Social Business.
How Social Media Marketing Works
Companies and Organizations create (or connect) to “networks of individuals” (communities) that share interests and values expressed by the Company on social media. These people are offered relevant content in various formats (text, images, videos, etc..) capable of generating discussions about and with the company, on specific issues.
If managed correctly, user/client interaction with these contents can produce loyalty and social media advocacy. The users/clients, that is, with their “likes”, “comments”, “shares”, activate the online word of mouth by individually involving their network (friends, fans, followers) in the discussion.
This greatly increases the possibility that a fraction of these in turn end up becoming a fan/follower of the Company/Organization or brand.
Step 1: Conduct a social media marketing audit
In this first step, the audit activity is directed to the evaluation of digital assets (blog, site, app, etc..) that you have, in relation to the competition, in order to detect on each social channel what works and what does not work.
On which social platforms is the brand currently active?
Which social networks bring the most value?
What kind of content do competitors post?
What is the Tone of voice they have chosen?
How much website traffic does each social channel bring?
What types of content do we post on different channels? How often?
Are we getting results from our investment in social media advertising?
Step 2: Define your social media marketing goals
After analysing digital assets, public and competition, the next step in establishing an effective social media strategy is to define the objectives and results we hope to achieve (leads, customer loyalty, sales growth, brand awareness?). These objectives must be aligned with the general communication and marketing strategy so that social media can achieve business objectives. In setting your goals to make sure they are valid, you should follow the S.M.A.R.T. method (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-dependent) used for the first time by Drucker in 1954, in the book “The practice of Management”.
Step 3: Target audience identification
You need to be clear about your target audience so that the message you want to convey on social media is effective. Developing profiles of the typical customer (buyer personas) is essential for the development of a social media marketing strategy. The collection and analysis of data on the web or by conducting surveys allows the marketer to achieve a high profile of the typical customer. Once the audience is defined, through Listening activities, it can understand on which social platforms the customer (actual or potential) is present.
Step 4: Creation of a social media content strategy
The contents are very important in order to create engagement and to achieve the marketing objectives set. In this context, it is essential to follow a strategic approach focused on the creation and distribution of relevant content and value (Content Marketing), aimed at a clearly defined audience.
In order for the communication strategy on different social media to be effective, however, it will be good to plan the management of these contents (Content Strategy). Choice of content and images to be published based on the type of social, choice of Tone of voice with which you want to attend the network, are summarized in the drafting of an editorial plan social media marketing, The definition of days, times to publish, topics, keywords or links are instead the elements that characterize another important tool: the social media marketing calendar.
80% of posts should be used to inform, train or entertain their audience, while the remaining 20% should be used to promote the brand. As far as the frequency of publication is concerned, given that quality beats quantity, for an SME 2 or 3 weekly contents are generally sufficient.
Step 5: Paying attention to Influencers
Twitter research shows that 49% of consumers rely on the advice of Influencers when making purchasing decisions. Finding those who have a large social following about advice on the products/services you sell is therefore very important. One way for a business to gain visibility with social influencers is through the sharing system suggested by Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute, known as Social Media 4-1-1. For every 6 contents shared via social media, 4 must be content relevant to the target audience but written by influencer; 1 must be original content created by us; 1 content must be about selling (a coupon for example).
Step 6: Choice of social media marketing platform
A social media marketing strategy must also be planned taking into account the market in which the company operates (B2B or B2C), the decision-making phase of purchase (social consumer decision journey) in which the customer may find himself (search, consideration, decision). Knowing the differences between the platforms and identifying the best ones to support the company’s marketing objectives is fundamental.
Step 7: Measurement and testing:
We need to constantly analyze the social media marketing strategies implemented to understand which was effective and which was not. As part of a social media marketing strategy, it is necessary to decide which metrics or KPIs to use to verify whether the set objectives have been achieved. Some of the metrics to consider to measure the success of a social media marketing strategy are as follows:
- Cost per click (CPA)
- Conversion Rate
- Number of followers
- Mention of the brand
- Total shares
- Comments and engagement
Social Media Marketing Strategies (trends 2019)
1. Real-time video streaming (live video): In 2017 90% of all content shared by users on social media was video, and according to Smart-Insight, by 2020 it will make up 80% of all content in online traffic. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are already investing heavily in this content. Tools such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live are valuable tools to create unique and compelling content with which to generate engagement and increase followers.
2. Influencer Marketing: Social Media Influencer manages to generate an ROI 11 times higher than any other digital marketing strategy. It is no coincidence that 94% of social media marketers claim to have achieved, thanks to their collaboration, excellent results and consider them an integral part of their social media marketing strategy.
3. Augmented Reality (AR): Using augmented reality is one of the most innovative and interactive ways to reach and engage with customers. Many social networks are planning to introduce this technology to their platforms. Snapchat already uses a new AR feature that allows its users to create a Bitmoji 3d avatar and place it on an image or scene that we are framing in augmented reality.
4. Tightened security: another growing trend strongly related to Social Media marketing is the security of users. The recent scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge analytics is likely to further increase this trend. Privacy protection measures for social network users will have to be increasingly adapted to combat hacking, identity theft, phishing and various other security threats.
5. Virtual Assistants (Bot or Chatbot). The use of artificial intelligence (chatbots and virtual assistants) will increasingly allow marketers to interact with consumers in real time and in a personalized way. Facebook is preparing to relaunch a virtual assistant that will be able to offer suggestions to users and respond to all their requests through the Facebook Messenger chat. According to Gartner, a multinational company world leader in strategy consulting, research and analysis in the field of Information Technology (IT), 20% of business content could be generated this year by machines similar to artificial intelligence.