Beginner’s guide to social media marketing
Posts. Tweets. Likes. Shares. These days, it feels like there are more ways to communicate than ever. And while you may be a dab hand at posting holiday photos, perhaps you’re not so confident when it comes to promoting your small business online. We’ll take a look at what social media marketing is, the benefits of a social media marketing plan and give you an insight into the different platforms available.
What is social media marketing?
Social media is a modern way of sharing content with an online community through networks we can access on our computers, tablets, or smartphones. According to DataReport, it’s estimated that 4.20 billion people use social media apps or websites to share their lives with friends, family and even strangers.
Businesses can also use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote their products or services either organically (i.e. on their feed without paying for further promotion), or by using paid advertisements. Known as social media marketing, this allows them to engage with customers and highlight their brand and personality.
The benefits of social media marketing
Putting a social media marketing strategy in place can, if done correctly and with the right budget, help boost the sales of your business. But there are many other benefits to gain:
- Audience targeting. When a business sets up an advertisement on a social media platform, they can target their audience based on age, location, interests and more.
- Easily measure the impact of campaigns. Social media platforms provide actual and real time numbers of engagement, so you can gauge how successful your campaign has been.
- Money saving. Businesses now have more options than choosing between taking out a costly ad in the newspaper or paying for an expensive prime slot on TV. Social media allows businesses to open a free account with which they can gradually grow a following organically. It also gives the option to take out paid advertisements, which may help them reach a wider audience and gain more followers faster.
- Easy to outsource. If you want expert help on how social media can be used for marketing, then you could hire a freelance social media marketer or an agency. They’ll take on board all your needs, set up your posts, help with content and help you build a community.
Types of social media marketing platforms
With so many social media platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to know which ones may be right for you and your business. So, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular and the pros and cons of each to help you understand how best to market your small business on social media.
Facebook is a social network which allows users to sign up for a free profile and share pictures, messages, music, videos, thoughts and more with friends and family. Facebook also lets companies create and build their own business page on the social media platform to expand their internet presence and run advertising campaigns to drive awareness or sales.
- With over 2.6 billion monthly active users according to the GlobalCom PR Network, you may be able to reach a range of diverse demographics and ages with your business’s message.
- You have the option of creating lead ads (ads that include an embedded form) on Facebook to make it easier for potential customers to request information about the goods or services you offer, and even schedule appointments, which may result in more customers and sales for your business.
- Facebook allows you to take control of your advertisement and budget (which can start at as little as £1 a day depending on what your goals are). You can keep track of your campaign’s progress, how your budget is being used and what you’re getting out of it.
- Advertisements must pass a rigorous approval process before being approved, which can sometimes take up to 24 hours.
- Since more and more companies are using Facebook ads, the chances of standing out may be greatly reduced.
LinkedIn is a platform that predominantly focuses on professional networking and career development. It’s also a hub for business owners looking to make connections and communicate with other like-minded professionals.
- A strong focus on content and thought leadership. The more times a post is shared, the more authoritative LinkedIn views it as being.
- It’s a professional environment, which means the people using the site will usually have the same goal as you – to network, make connections and promote their businesses.
- Although LinkedIn is free to join, the price for premium services, like access to learning courses, the ability to contact decision-makers of companies directly and more can reach up to £79.99 a month.
- Social media marketing through LinkedIn may not provide as many ways of interacting with users compared to other social media sites, some of who offer features like quizzes and questionnaires as standard.
Instagram is a highly visual social media platform where users can upload photos and videos to their personal feed, or ‘stories’ that are viewable for 24 hours. They can also comment on and share each other’s content. Instagram also offers business accounts with powerful marketing tools, like photo, video and carousel ads, an optional Shop tab, and the ability to stream live videos, which can help showcase your brand’s personality.
- Instagram allows you to be highly specific with audience targeting. As the app is part of the Facebook family, you’re able to access the same demographic-targeting databases. This means your business can target individuals based on their behaviour, location, age, or interests.
- The ‘stories’ feature creates a new way to engage with your audience, with companies using it experiencing a 72% completion rate according to the small business and marketing site BrandonGaille.
- Instagram’s optional Shop feature allows potential customers a one-click experience from the sales tab (which can showcase a company’s entire product range in the Instagram app) to the checkout page on their external website.
- BrandonGaille found that although Instagram has 800 million monthly users, 67% of them are between the ages of 18-34, which means businesses may not be able to reach as wide an audience as they may need.
- · Although paid Instagram ads can link to your website, it isn’t possible to add a clickable link to an organic post’s description. This means that if you want to direct people to your website, they have to find their way there by themselves, or by navigating to a link in your profile page bio which may not be the most seamless journey for a potential customer.
- If you are looking to have a presence on Instagram, you will need to rely on your smartphone as you are not able to upload content via a computer or laptop.
Twitter is an online news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages called ‘tweets’, which have a 280-character limit. This can be useful for brands looking to share information about their company quickly.
- It may be possible to reach a wide range of ages and demographics, as according to the eCommerce platform Oberlo, Twitter currently has 330 million plus active users.
- Twitter is one of the most open social media platforms, which means it doesn’t filter content and decide what users will see. Essentially, if someone follows you on Twitter, your content will always appear on their feed.
- As Twitter doesn’t ‘hide’ your content like some other social media sites, it can be easier to engage with your following. Users can also retweet your posts to their own feeds so they become visible to their own followers, which may in turn increase your following and reduce the need for sponsored ads.
- You can’t edit tweets once they have been posted so you may need to spend time double checking they are perfect before hitting the ‘tweet’ button.
- Many users follow hundreds – sometimes thousands – of accounts, which means it’s easy to get lost in your audience’s feeds.
- Being limited to only 280 characters per Tweet means you may have to spend time ensuring your messaging is shorter whilst still capturing what you want to say.
TikTok allows users to create, share and discover 15-60 second video clips. It’s used by many people as an outlet to express themselves via singing, dancing, comedy, lip-syncing and more. Incredibly popular with the younger generations, TikTok also allows brands to showcase their creative side in a fast-paced and vibrant environment.
- Blue Door Consulting recently reported that TikTok currently has 800 million active monthly users worldwide.
- Business accounts are free and can be used to showcase your business’s creativity.
- Each video plays automatically in a user’s feed, potentially increasing the chances of your content being seen.
- It isn’t easy to link TikTok videos back to your website, so you may have to think of new ways for customers to learn more about your business if you regularly use the app to highlight your business’s benefits or brand identity.
- TikTok has recently come under fire in the US after the government called it “an immediate security threat” so there may be some concerns around security.
Whatever social media strategy you’re planning on taking, you should always make sure you do your research before committing to a platform to ensure you make the best decision for your business. We have looked at a selection of the most popular social media channels in this Tyl Talks guide but as is the nature of social media, there are always new platforms and trends popping up so be sure to keep informed of the latest social media developments to ensure your business stays ahead of the game.
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This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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