What is Social Media Marketing?
Here is the complete social media marketing guide by Decode Digital Market that will always be updated
In this guide, Let’s decode what social media marketing is?
How to use social media for business?
How you can use it as a tool to do personal branding?
It would be the sincerest effort to make it an interesting read for you. Read it till the end, it is totally worth it.
Before we dive into Social Media Marketing, it is imperative to establish what social media is?
What is Social Media?
Social Media Platforms have been around for a long time. The revolution of Social Media compounded exponentially since the inception of Facebook.
It all started in the year 2004 as Facebook came into the force & dominated the whole of social media. Before Facebook, people weren’t aware of the untapped potential social media had for the business.
After more than 10 years now, we have social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, VK, Snapchat & more.
Coming back to the point, what is social media after all.
It’s a platform on the internet. People join this platform to engage & interact with each other. As they interact & engage with human profiles on the platform hence the term “social media”
We are basically socializing with each other virtually.
What propels the sentiment of social media is the fact that on social media we can socialize via text chat, video call, call & going live.
Communication is taking place in every way possible. Be it sharing/resharing funny memes, posting media or asking a question via poll & so much more.
Social Media is a thread that ties us all together regardless of our geographic boundaries. YOU can join Buffer’s Live Chat Stream sitting in the remotest location from India.
None of this would be possible in the absence of social media.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Now that we have established what social media is, let’s jump straight into social media marketing.
We are talking about platforms upon which millions if not billions of people are actively engaging & interacting. Just imagine the myriad possibilities you have to market your product or service.
Social Media and Marketing go hand in hand.
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List of prominent Social Media Platforms that are best for Marketing & generating Business.
It’s all over the place. Be it good press or bad. Facebook is ubiquitous. In many ways, Facebook is a hybrid. It supports all forms of content.
Facebook boasts a daily active user base of a staggering 2.23 Billion people.
This creates a myriad of possibilities for your brand/business to extract business & foster everlasting relationships with customers.
You can market your brand or business on Facebook organically & through paid advertisements.
Before the algorithm update, most of the business seldom relied on Organic Reach. But the latest Facebook Algorithm update has pretty much killed the organic growth.
What that means is that now to obtain your business objective you have got to run the advertisement. The CPC of Facebook is relatively cheaper than other PPC platforms.
Although, there are 2 ways to bypass the algorithm & achieve your business objectives
- Establish Authority
- Leverage Facebook Groups
This isn’t black-hat, it is very much legitimate actually
What establishing authority means is educating & delighting people with your contagious content that basically serves the niche you operate in.
Gradually your content attracts your tribe & makes them wanna cling on to you. They will turn on the post notification, talk to people about how useful your content is & how it is helping people.
That is it, you have established authority in that niche. There’s no longer stumbling upon. Now they are searching for you with exact phrase match.
You no longer have to rely on the wicked algorithm for your content to be discovered.
You don’t have to stuff excessive hashtags in your copy or spam the Facebook groups with your content.
Seeing the value that you provide with your content people have begun following you, now at this stage, it is crucial to unleash a consistent content strategy that nurtures & delights the community you helped develop.
You do not have to worry about the algorithm, if more people are following you, talking about you & sharing your content.
2. Leverage Facebook Groups:
Now, I’m not trying to confuse you by suggesting you leverage Facebook group. There’s no contradiction here.
Facebook groups are a very crucial component of your growth hack strategy.
As a rule of thumb use Facebook groups to give & receive, don’t go on Take! Take! Take! spree.
If your idea of leveraging Facebook groups is just posting your stuff consistently then soon you will be kicked out of the groups as your activities would appear spammy. Nobody likes spam.
The goal is to interact, be social, ask questions, engage with the community, help the members in the community achieve their goals & receive what you shall with humility.
With Facebook groups, you can share the links to your information rich article that carries your value proposition and as a result, you can drive qualified referral traffic.
More than that you can share the post from your business page to the groups to gain more reach, engagement, generate leads & build your email list.
Coming to the number game, i.e leads & conversions. Facebook groups are the best, you literally don’t have to spend a dime.
Just post your product for sale in relevant Buy/Sell groups & interested buyers will buy from you. In fact, if you’re planning to run a contest or giveaway then do leverage Facebook Groups it’s the wisest decision ever.
I mean you’re already giving away goodies for free & that too on Free Shipping, so why waste more money on paid advertisement? Just leverage Facebook Groups instead. duh!
Facebook also paves the way for Social Media SEO. If you are an SEO Junkie then you already know that social media engagement & social shares are one of the ranking factors that Google takes into account for ranking your website in search results.
Facebook comes at your rescue under not 1 but 2 instances.
You can use your website meta description as your Facebook Business page description. When a user searches on Google, your Facebook page also ranks in search results & image search results. When the user clicks through the Facebook search result, he can then click your website URL present in your page & that way your website gains more and more discovery all because of Social Media SEO.
Over the course of years, Instagram has been proven to be an indispensable tool for marketers. Some also refer to it as the best social media for business. Given the fact that B2B Brands like General Electrics are thriving, it only makes sense.
Not just in B2C ecosystem, interestingly enough in the B2B sphere as well. It is for this reason that nowadays social media marketing companies are exclusively featuring Instagram services as one of their key role in the Industry.
Small Business owners don’t know how to make the most out of Instagram. They don’t know how to use Instagram hashtags & that timing is a key.
Key factors that distinguish Instagram from just about any other platforms out there
- IG Stories
- Influencer Marketing
Engagement over Instagram is phenomenal. Unlike big brother Facebook where organic growth is pretty much dead, over Instagram engagement is promising.
Your content on Instagram gets engagement in the form of likes, comments & shares (share on Instagram takes place by sharing the post as a story or sending the post as a DM)
To accelerate your content discovery, make use of hashtags. Hashtags on Instagram is your cheat code to grow in less amount of time.
To do just that you need a clear & concise hashtag strategy.
The common mistake with hashtags on Instagram people often make is, they add hashtags randomly without giving it enough thought.
Here is a step-by-step process to execute the hashtag strategy
- First, jot down the keywords that are relevant to your niche.
Search those hashtags on Instagram, see the top 3 posts in top posts.
- Examine the kind of content they posted & how they managed to obtain high engagement.
- See how many posts are attached to that hashtag (your relevant niche based keywords). That’s your competition. If your business is selling social media marketing services, then the keywords relating to your niche would be #SocialMediaMarketing.
Over that hashtag, there are 6.9 Million posts attached to it. That is your potential competition if your Instagram handle is a few months old & has relatively fewer followers & engagement then don’t use that hashtag.
Use a hashtag that is related to #socialmediamarketing but has fewer posts attached to it. Example #socialmediamarketinginspired, it has 904 posts attached to it, your likelihood of ranking in top posts for that hashtag is high. Gradually as you gain more followers, engaged followers then you will reach the stage when ranking top in #SocialMediaMarketing will be realizable.
This means that people following that very hashtag would likely see your post on their feed.
People will see your post (impression)
It will reach to their account (reach)
They may probably like or comment on your post (engagement)
BTW, there seems to be confusion between impressions & reach. Impressions are a number of times people see your post, that also means, 1 person, see your post more than once.
That is the impression. hence impressions will always be higher than reach.
Reach on the other hand means the number of individual accounts your post reached.
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post. The keywords that you jotted down about your niche, it’s time to add those keywords as hashtags to your post. The hashtag with less competition.
The idea is for your content to gain discovery by unique accounts. the hashtag is your cheat code to do that.
Instagram allows 11 hashtags in the story. Not using hashtags in IG Story is a huge loss. There have been times when I have received nearly 100 viewers from individual hashtags.
That is why it is very important to make use of hashtags in the story. Use sticker hashtag as the main hashtag & subordinating hashtags you can post as text.
Just so it doesn’t appear cluttered and clumsy, try to hide your hashtags by concealing it with the background color or dragging it down the screen.
Instagram stories are super huge. Instagram stories act as ephemeral content i.e shortlived content that disappears in 24 hours.
Using Instagram Stories you can actually take your target customers into a full-screen experience where you have their 100% focus free of distraction.
What’s more? Instagram Stories are actually interactive in nature with response registering actions like polls, question, barometer & if that’s not enough then get this, Instagram Stories actually has CTA button called Swipe up which can redirect you to a custom landing page where you will most likely be converted into a satisfied customer.
In fact, there is speculation by experts suggesting that people are actually spending more time on IG Stories than Instagram Feed. Instagram hasn’t made it official but more & more experts are positive about this.
Giving a nod to this theory, e-commerce brands these days can be found aggressively advertising on Instagram Stories where the object they want to achieve is sales & they do!
IGTV is an acronym that stands for Instagram TV.
That’s new, a little while ago Instagram launched Instagram TV. Giving Instagrammers a platform that would act as a TV channel that you hold over IG.
What makes IGTV (Instagram TV) different, is that just like IG Stories, IGTV supports vertical content (although now apparently there is an option to flip the portrait resolution video into landscape mode, which is a huge relief).
In IGTV you can document day to day life & let your viewers get a peek at that. You can notify your viewers about the new IGTV episode via story update or Instagram post where they can catch the episode on IGTV.
In the IGTV platform, you can also add hashtags for your video to reach more people. To make the experience more personalized & themed, you can add a customized banner to your IGTV & create sections within it.
Influencer Marketing isn’t something that Instagram conceptualized, it’s been around since a long while, but Instagram has helped people build a massive fanbase & become dominant in their domain.
Influencers on Instagram mainly caters to the following sectors
These 3 are the most sought after areas where influencers are growing on Instagram.
If you cater to these areas or have expertise then using the above-mentioned strategies like hashtag strategy, content optimization, content distribution & consistency you can also grow your Instagram & become a credible Influencer in your niche.
Influencers are paid well by brands that they endorse. Plus, if you have a decent following, then you can also give affiliate marketing a try by anchoring that traffic.
For example, if you reach 10k followers threshold then Instagram allows a link in the story swipe-up & that’s what everyone is after.
As an affiliate marketer, you can create content that promotes the third-party product in the story & let users buy the product using swipe up or by clicking the link in bio.
Influencer Marketing is so hyped on Instagram that there actually are portals dedicated entirely to track & contact Instagram Influencers with Instagram Influencer Calculator.
In fact, if you are a new creator in the niche & want to establish yourself as a solid influencer then networking with existing influencers that are doing well could be a hack for you.
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Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. It is one of those space where words matter.
Earlier it used to allow only 140 characters, but now it is allowing 280 characters per tweet. A marketer has to convey the message using 280 characters.
Apart from text, you can tweet a picture, video & share your blogs & website links.
Brands actively take part in conversation & at times encourages conversation resonating with their brand.
You must have noticed in the right sidebar hashtag column where you can find promoted hashtags by brands. It’s an effort by brands to initiate brand conversation strategy & guess what? people engage with these promoted hashtags.
Fact: You can drive more click through to your website from Twitter than Facebook
To track the traffic from Twitter you can shorten the link using free tools like Bitly & share on Twitter. All the traffic coming from Twitter can be tracked. It will also tell you about the traffic’s demography & Geography.
Social listening & social selling that’s HUGE on Twitter. You have a product or service that solves customer’s pain points. Guess what? they are expressing their pain-points on the platform using tweets.
All you have to do is perform a search starting what, why or how & answer those queries with your brand’s value proposition.
For example, someone tweets “I’m really confused between MacBook Pro & MacBook Air, which do you think I should purchase?”
There it is, an opportunity for a technology blogger/influencer who reviews gadgets. He/She can engage with that tweet & explain why or why not he should go with former or latter.
He can even share his blog/YouTube video link below for reference. It wouldn’t appear salesy or spammy. It’s a genuine effort to help out.
P.S. What if in your article or YouTube video there is an affiliate link & the users feel compelled to make the purchase using your affiliate link?
You make a commission & if your content is useful, I bet that person would subscribe, engage, keep coming back & even give you word-of-mouth.
All you have to do is social listening, there are even tools for that. To automate social listening on Twitter use tools like Social Mention, Mention & Crowfire.
You can set an alert for a given topic & every time there is a tweet regarding that, you will be notified via mail. You can open the alerts & engage.
Twitter Tools you need to start using now
Using these tools you can take your social media marketing efforts to flight mode on Twitter.
- Twitter Analytics
Crowdfire is personally my favorite Twitter Marketing Tool. It’s a freemium tool. You can use the tool for free with limited features, to access more features you will need to upgrade. Although, even in the free version it is indeed useful.
Basically, Crowdfire works like a social media dashboard for you with awesome features. Using Crowdfire you can publish & schedule tweets. It is not merely a Twitter Marketing Tool, using Crowdfire you can also add other networks like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
You can design your feed by selecting specific topics that are tailored to your niche. After designing the feed you will have access to the buzzy Images, RSS & Article content which you can share to your connected accounts.
You can connect Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram & Pinterest. In the Free version, you can connect one account per network. If you have more than one account on each network then you are gonna have to upgrade.
As you can see in the above screenshot, you have access to analytics, you can publish a post using Crowdfire as a gateway & you can share other’s content too.
What’s more, is that Crowdfire would mail you the report on a quarterly basis about the progress you have made using their tool.
They would enlist the organic followers you have gained. Because on Twitter as you share tweets/retweets your profile gains exposure by unique accounts & those unique accounts ends up following you.
Crowdfire is a shortcut & hassle-free way to do just that.
Crowdfire will also show you your non-followers(people who don’t follow you back), fans (your followers whom you don’t follow), recent followers, recent unfollowers, inactive following, competitor following & more.
This is Crowdfire’s one of the best feature. Using this feature you can keep track over your community that you are building.
TweetDeck is a one dashboard solution for Twitter Marketing. You can multiple Twitter accounts to the dashboard, Tweet or schedule your Tweet from the dashboard.
You will receive notifications, messages & feed according to the accounts that you have added. To have more control, you can even add columns to the dashboard.
Take a look at how your dashboard would appear.
If you run a blog and website & are using Twitter to drive traffic, then you simply cannot miss Bit.ly. Bit.ly is a link shortener.
It is again a Freemium tool. You can shorten the long ugly links, if you want to customize the name of the shortened link, then for that you are gonna have to pay.
It is functionality doesn’t end at shortening links. You can actually track the links that have been shared.
The Bit.ly Dashboard will offer you analytics of the shortened shared links like a number of clicks, geography from where you fetched clicks, date and time when the click occurred.
4. Twitter Analytics:
Speaking of tools, every social media marketing toolkit is incomplete without analytics. Analytics is very very important. The insights that you gain from analytics allows you to make informed decisions.
In Twitter, there happens to be Twitter Analytics, a free add-on by Twitter itself. It will give you insights about your top performing tweet, the time at which your tweet performed well, the demographic & geographic audience that you are tapping with your content.
Other than that it will inform you about the total impressions your tweets gained, followers you gained and more.
Take a look at this screenshot to get a better idea.
LinkedIn is the largest Professional network in the world. It is the platform where professionals share their expertise & seekers (YOU) pick on that expertise & use it to the advantage.
The platform boasts more than 590 Million active users. The active users that LinkedIn has are not as high as Facebook & Instagram but the conversion rate on LinkedIn is impeccably high.
The leads that you will generate will be of high quality. For a B2B Business that wants to generate leads, there cannot be a better alternative than LinkedIn.
Here you are no longer dealing with a layman audience, educating the prospects isn’t as difficult as it is in other platforms because it’s a largest professional network with people already being well acquainted in their field.
How does LinkedIn Marketing work?
It is a great tool for marketing in the B2B sphere. Here professionals share their expertise & educate the community.
This is one of the only platforms where individuals actually come with the intent of educating themselves.
What this means for a marketer is that people on this platform would not have a short attention span. If the content is useful they would stick by & consume it.
That is the reason why LinkedIn has LinkedIn Publishing, it’s a tool that you can use to publish the articles on LinkedIn, readers don’t even have to leave the platform they can read your article within the platform and you can add outbound links within the article to drive traffic to your website.
How does LinkedIn Advertising work?
LinkedIn Advertising fundamentally differs from other advertising/PPC Networks.
On LinkedIn, you target people on what they professionally do instead of their personal lives.
You can target attributes like Work Industry, Experience Level, Job Function, Job titles, Member Interests, Member Groups, Company Size & more.
Check out this infographic on LinkedIn Detailed Targeting
Let’s understand LinkedIn Ads better by decoding the anatomy of this advertisement on LinkedIn.
This is an advertisement by BloombergQuint, in this ad, they are urging people to subscribe to their research product named BQ Blue. That is their Call-To-Action which they are selling out for ₹48 per month.
The reason why it absolutely makes sense to advertise this product in LinkedIn & position it in the way they did is rather simple.
LinkedIn is the largest professional network, people come here for knowledge & insights. BQ Blue is an answer to the very question people on LinkedIn are looking for.
Professionals & students would want to acquaint themselves with fresh knowledge and insights, getting hands-on research is the best way to do that.
This is direct communication, it’s a conversion campaign. This advertisement will redirect prospects to an opt-in page where they will drive sales with opt-ins.
What started as a Question Answering community has fought really hard to overcome mediocrity that the fallen Q&A community bore.
Quora is no longer just a Q&A forum. It’s so much more than that. Yahoo Answers can be classified as just a Q&A forum.
After 9 years of customizations & upgrades, Quora has proved itself to be a very popular social media marketing platform that attracts various kinds of crowds.
It’s definitely not a hybrid social media marketing platform.
Quora supports only two forms of content, the text-based content that we put out as answers and link shares.
Quora is a pretty solid tool for personal branding & establishing thought-leadership. If you want to accomplish these 2 goals on Quora, you just have to answer the question related to your industry.
For example, if you cater to the sales industry and you wish to establish your credibility in that field then that requires you to answer questions related to quora on a daily basis.
Keep Learning: Use Quora as a Digital Marketing Tool
Answering the question that your industry asks is literally like educating your prospects, in doing so you attract people from the top of the funnel, you are educating them while promoting your value proposition appropriately.
Your profile on Quora has credentials which appear as anyone reads your answer. The credential can literally include your Website URL or your company name.
The more you answer the more view time your credentials get, that’s how you create a recurring reputation.
This is Balaji Viswanathan.
He deserves no formal introduction, every Quoran recognizes him, he is like Iron-Man on the Quora Universe. He is the most followed Quoran on Quora with a following of staggering 512.5K.
For a tiny audience that is oblivious to this gentleman, he is CEO of Invento Robotics as I have highlighted in his credentials.
The point of sharing the snapshot of his profile is to help you understand the power of having relevant credentials on your profile. Now every time he answers on Quora, you can see his credentials.
Human curiosity compels people to look-up the credential you share, provided that if you agree with the answers on a consistent basis.
In fact, here is a fact that is super relevant, Invento Robotics & Balaji Viswanathan also has topics catered to them that is the amount of conversation & buzz they have garnered.
The Topic Balaji Viswanathan has more than 95K followers.
Reddit calls itself the front-page of the internet and rightly so, there can be no better description than this.
Reddit boasts 442,858 subreddits, by the time I publish this article the number of subreddits is only going to increase.
What are subreddits anyway?
Reddit is a virtual community that features lakhs of subreddits, every subreddit has a purpose and norms, you can post content to specific subreddit only. If you are posting social media content then you can do so in r/socialmedia.
You cannot randomly post any content as you please. Reddit is very serious about you following norms that every subreddit defines.
Spamming the subreddit with shameless self-promotion can mean immediate termination from the subreddit altogether.
Some subreddits are monitored by bots that automatically removes malicious content.
Oww!! Okay, but how do we market?
Marketing on Reddit is very targeted and defined which means a great deal for marketers, after all, we want to reach the defined and targetted audience.
The reason why marketing will be hyper-targeted and defined is because of the exclusivity of subreddits.
For example, let’s say Black Friday is around the corner and you have determined your target and want to meet the targeted sales by the black Friday, so what you will do is put your offers and giveaways in r/blackfriday.
The only people in this thread would be the people interested in Black Friday deals and that way you will tap the targeted audience instead of communicating to an unverified audience.
And here’s the catch, you will generate sales organically without spending a dime.
check out the above screenshot I have shared.
This dude has shared a deal on this subreddit and 25 people have responded to it and this has happened without spending a dime.
Reddit is a great source to drive tons of referral traffic and clicks would be the dedicated ones.
I know I mentioned that self-promotion is prohibited but there’s no contradiction here. If you are sharing a link to an educational highly valuable social media marketing blog post in social media or marketing thread then people will see value in it click through the link.
There are threads dedicated to blog post sharing you can share your blog posts there.
Pinterest is a female-dominated social network, the ratio of female to male on Pinterest is significantly higher. What this means is that if there is a female segment that your product or service caters to, then it only makes sense to market and position your brand on Pinterest.
What if, your brand caters only to female customer segment?
That is even better, just think about the amount of thought-leadership & brand recognition you can earn through this visual content sharing platform.
Pinterest supports vertical images and video as content, you can add a link to your visual content to drive referral traffic.
People will see a compelling rich pin that promises value and knowledge while also making the curious, so curious that it urges him/her to click the pin so that he can land on a resulting page where he will absorb all the contents that the pin promised.
What maximizes the outreach of your pins is pinners actually pinning your pins in their board.
As part of Pinterest domination strategy Pinners on Pinterest Pins relevant pins to their custom boards, as a result, more people are drawn towards your board and as a result, they will follow your board and see your pins in their feed the next time they log in.
What Pinterest means for actual business, what about sales?
Rest assured you have got that covered. Pinterest actually features product pins. Pinterest is also an ad platform meaning that you can actually promote your pins to gain more reach from your defined target audience.
Let’s first get into Pinterest Product Pins. Pinterest Product Pin is not significantly different than general pins that contain a hyperlink.
In general, you will find educational and promotional pins over Pinterest. The educational pins will redirect you to the blog post landing page.
Product Pins, on the other hand, will redirect you on the product’s landing page where you are supposed to either purchase the product or at least add it to the cart.
This image above will clarify your doubts.
Coming to promoted pins, you can promote your pins using the targeting criteria which every PPC Platforms has.
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In this guide, I have covered 7 most dominant social media platform from where you can drive enormous business.
Taking a birds-eye view, it will seem overwhelming, the sheer amount of effort and content that you need to produce and distribute. It only makes sense to automate processes every step of the way.
As a rule of thumb, spend maximum time in research, strategizing and execution. Automate and outsource the menial tasks to obtain maximum productivity.
Make use of tools that help in scheduling, research and automating workflow.
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