The short answer is right away. As soon as your business is officially open, you should start a social media marketing campaign. But if you’ve just launched your small business and you’re a solopreneur or have a small staff, you can’t do everything at once. So this article will talk about the components of a social media marketing campaign and prioritizing your efforts.
Why is Social Media Marketing Important to Your Business?
Consumers were already online, using the internet to shop, connect with friends and family on social channels, find the latest news, and tap into entertainment portals. The convenience of eCommerce created a gradual buildup of a global digital-first shopping community. But, the pandemic caused a titanic shift in online commerce, as consumers were left with little choice other than to find their favorite brands and small businesses through online portals.
Consumers spent $844 billion in 2020 at online retailers, an increase of 42% over 2019. Online consumer spending during the first two months of 2021 was up by 34% over the same period in 2020. (Adobe Digital Economy Index)
“Social is the new interface of commerce and the backbone of the new customer experience for 2022 and far beyond.” Etienne Merineau, Founder, Heyday by Hootsuite.
More than 4.5 billion people use social media.
According to the newest Hootsuite Social Trends 2022 report, social media shoppers do more than scroll through their newsfeed and click on your “buy now” CTA.
The research shows that online consumers use social media channels to complete every stage of their purchase journey. And this trend is prevalent in just about every product category.
Social media networks have become the second most used channel to research brands, the first being search engines. This means that consumers are logging on to their social media platform, let’s say Instagram, and searching for a product or service without specifically entering a brand’s name. Just as they might go to Google and search for hiking shoes, they’ll now go to Instagram and search for hiking shoes. Among certain age groups, social networks have replaced search engines for brand research.
If you don’t have an online presence, your consumer audience is not likely to find you. An effective social media marketing campaign is the only way to stay in touch with your customer base and expand your organic reach.
When Should You Start a Social Media Marketing Campaign?
Returning to the original question, you should start your campaign as soon as you open your business. However, you can’t be everywhere at once. You have to prioritize your efforts, and for this, you need a plan.
Your social media marketing campaign strategy should include many of the same issues you covered in your business plan.
- Goals and objectives
- Target audience
- Your competitors and their consumers
- A budget.
If you’ve just opened your business, your primary goal is going to be brand awareness. You want people to know who you are, what you do, where you do it, and why you exist. And, you want to drive them to your website.
If you’ve already been in business, your goals might be to
- increase your consumer base
- grow your brand footprint
- promote new products or services,
- or expand into new markets.
We’ve discussed ways to identify your target audience and the critical role this plays in the success of your marketing campaigns.
Looking at your competitors is another critical element in designing your social media marketing campaign.
- Who are they
- What are their strengths and weaknesses
- How are they using social media channels to promote their product or service
- Who is their target audience
- How is their target audience reacting to their marketing campaigns?
Watch your money
Setting a budget is especially important if you’re a startup. Still, it’s a wise move no matter how long you’ve been in business. As a new business, your cash flow will be tight, so once you have your campaign plan, strike a balance between your marketing goals and your budget. Keep track of your expenditures, monitor the ROI, and don’t be afraid to pivot if something is not working.
Components of a Social Media Marketing Campaign
When people think about a social media marketing campaign, they focus on social channels. But, an effective campaign includes more than Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Elements such as a website blog, creating and joining communities, and using chat apps are powerful tools to add to your social media marketing campaign.
In our article, “Six Reasons Why You Need a Blog,” we highlighted some of the primary reasons why you need a blog.
- Companies that blog increase their leads by 67% per month.
- Blogs boost your brand’s visibility on Google and other search engines and expand your organic reach.
- You can use your blog to share your brand’s values, building trust between you and your consumer audience.
- Blog articles keep visitors on your website longer, increasing your site’s dwell time and boosting your visibility on Google and other search engines.
The best place to house your blog is on your website. But, you can also blog on other platforms, such as Medium. If you’re short on time, write microblogs to publish on Instagram and Pinterest. Or, take advantage of the rise of video, and start a vblog.
You can quickly link your blog articles to your social channels and add “Follow” CTAs on all your blog articles. In this way, you’ll create a spiral connection between your social platforms and your website. In addition, your blog articles can be repurposed into short videos, infographics, and other types of content, enabling you to expand your reach with minimum effort.
“Communities are at the heart of a successful social strategy.” Amanda Wood, Head of Social Media Marketing Hootsuite.
The University of Michigan found that consumers spend 19% more after becoming members of a brand’s community.
Read our article, “How to Redefine Engagement to Meet Your Marketing Goals,” to learn about building brand communities.
Online communities are not limited to brand communities that you host on your website or social media channels. Forums, message boards, and chat rooms might be more suitable depending on your business niche and marketing goals. Whether you host on your site, social or set up a community forum, you want to be sure to have the time to invest in your brand community.
- What is your community forum’s purpose?
- What do you want to achieve?
- How will the brand community advance your overall business goals?
- What is the forum’s theme?
- Who do you want to join the community, and how will you recruit them?
You need to designate a moderator, set up rules to make your community a safe space, encourage participation and promote your forum to be successful.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you’ll know which social channels to emphasize. According to Sprout Social, Facebook continues to lead other social channels when it comes to using and following brands. However, 74% of consumers use YouTube, but only 47% use the platform to follow brands. Instead, consumers prefer to stay in touch with their brands on Instagram. In addition, Sprout Social found that 53% of consumers follow brands on social channels to learn about new products and services.
On the other hand, if you’re a B2B company, your primary social channels would be LinkedIn and Twitter. But, don’t ignore the benefits of LinkedIn just because you’re a B2C brand.
Avoid the temptation to pay for followers or reactions. Ultimately, it matters less how many followers you have if they’re not also your customers. You want sales, not reactions. The top three factors that consumers say makes a brand effective on social are they
- offer strong customer service
- engage their audience
- are transparent.
In fact, Sprout Social found that 31% of consumers prefer to use your social media channel to share their experience with a product or service. Compare this to 11% who prefer to call your customer service number.
According to Hootsuite’s “The Global State of Digital 2021” report, there were
- 1.3 billion users on Facebook Messenger
- 2 billion users on WhatsApp
- 1.2 billion users on WeChat
And let’s not forget about Telegram, which is quickly gaining ground on these three. Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than 60% of all customer service engagements will take place via live chat, social messaging, and chat apps.
Chat apps allow you to develop personal relationships with your customers beyond what you can achieve through content. And, when we talk about the need to be everywhere your customers are, the stats about chat apps speak for themselves.
They’re already there.
Incorporating social chats into your social media marketing campaign demonstrates you have put your consumers first. With social chat apps, your customers can easily communicate with your brand in real-time. They can message with questions or issues they may have before buying your product or service. Additionally, you can message your customer if you notice that they haven’t finished the checkout process.
With bots and other AI technologies, you’ll be able to auto-respond to your customers, guaranteeing that they receive an immediate response. Every exchange will be personal to that individual customer.
Remember, word-of-mouth is still a powerful marketing tool. One of the best things a consumer can say about your brand is that you were friendly, helpful, and promptly resolved their issues.
Social Media Marketing Campaign vs. Facebook/Instagram Ads
Ads and promos can be an effective tool in your social media marketing campaign. And if you’re a new business, promos or ads are going to be the best way to boost your brand visibility in the shortest amount of time. But, ads are only a part of your overall campaign; they don’t replace it. And at a time when consumer confidence in brand advertising is at an all-time low, you’ll want to be strategic in how you design and place your ads.
There’s no time to lose in today’s competitive ecosystem. Starting a social media marketing campaign has to be among your first tasks after you open your business. In fact, you can even use social media marketing platforms to test your business concept and identify your potential audience.
- Start with the basics and as your business grows, add marketing elements.
- Plan and constantly analyze your results.
- Be where your consumers are and don’t be afraid to experiment.
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