Social Media Marketing: The Giraffe Guide
Social media marketing and traditional ways of marketing used to be two very different things. Now, both are very much combined to give businesses the best chance to get potential clients to see their brand.
Social media has changed the way businesses market their products and services for good, so it’s time to understand what it all means for you and your company. Here’s our Giraffe guide to social media marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing?
If the definition of social media is ‘the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration,’ then social media marketing, should essentially be marketing on these platforms.
However, if you search the definition of social media marketing, you’ll find lots of different meanings and explanations. For example, Search Engine Land defines social media marketing as ‘the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites.’
On the other hand, Buffer describes social media marketing as ‘the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience to build your brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic. This involves publishing great content on your social media profiles, listening to and engaging your followers, analyzing your results, and running social media advertisements.’ Nevertheless, like defining social media, just a few sentences describing the term is rather redundant.
Here’s our former social media manager Shelly’s understanding of social media:
No matter how you describe it, there’s one thing for sure, social media has changed the way we do marketing forever. According to Hubstaff, ‘Nearly 97% of all Fortune 500 companies use at least one social media network, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, in order to establish a good communication line with stakeholders and advocates.’ If you want to market your business successfully in this day and age, there really is no escaping it.
Our Operations Manager Kate defines social media as ‘a multi-purpose tool that can be used for so many different things. Whether you’re someone living abroad and it’s a way to keep in touch with your family back home or you’re a small business trying to succeed in a busy market, social media has the ability to help you achieve your goals.’
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing
McKinsey & Company reports that ‘over 70 percent of companies surveyed are trying out social customer care as a way to further connect with and support their audience. And, they’re reporting significant benefits from using these platforms.’ But how can social media marketing help you and your business? Why should you bother with it?
Simply, it’s what everyone else is doing, and if you haven’t got a presence on social media, you’ll get left behind.
- It helps build relationships with current and possible customers and clients
- It can build a community, so you can get feedback and improve products or services
- People are far more likely to go to social media to complain, then to say it there and then. However, through complaints, you can learn and evolve your service.
A Social Media Strategy
Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy is the first step before you start carrying out your social media journey. You have to gather your tools and resources and work out how you’re going to make it from one end to the other. It’s a lot easier said, then done. Often it can be tempting to start posting on platforms, but without brand guidelines, campaign ideas, set objectives or goals in mind, your creativity will soon die out, along with any interest from your audience.
In your social strategy you should identify a main goal, you want to achieve from your presence on social media. This could be brand awareness, more sales, increased engagement, getting your values out there and helping people or gaining leads. When you’ve achieved one goal, you can begin looking at the others.
Next, set three or four objectives that will help you achieve your goal. They should be measurable, so you can see the results. For example, if you wanted to build brand awareness, you could make your objectives: ‘Reach 1,000 people with organic posts’, ‘Engage with ten people a day on Twitter’ and ‘Use the reach option on promoted posts’. These would all be appropriate to your goal of brand awareness and will aid you in attaining it.
Now you’ve got the basis of what you want to achieve, you have to analyse what aspects of your current social media are helping you to do this, and what parts aren’t. Make a list of things you like, things you think don’t work and aspects you’d like to introduce. For example, you could dislike that you just post at any time during the day on Facebook. If this is the case, you could then start optimising your scheduling times, so your posts go out when your audience is online and active.
However, it’s a whole different story if you’re setting up new pages and have had no previous social media presence. In this case, look at other social media pages you find engaging and would like to emulate.
Your next step will be identifying your competition. Look at what other brands and businesses in your industry are doing on social media. Highlight what you like and things they are doing on social media that are working on their pages. Facebook even lets you set up a ‘Pages to Watch’, so you can constantly keep an eye on their post and engagement levels.
Lastly, you can go on to pick the best platforms, select the most appropriate hashtags, identify key dates for campaigns and create sample posts. You then need to put a social media policy in place – you can find out more about what a policy is and what you need to put in it here.
The Social Media Platforms
The world of social media is endless, so we’ve chosen to focus on the four platforms we think are the most important in the social media marketing world. They all have extremely beneficial features that help to get a company’s products and services out to the right audience.
But, where do you start? How do you know where your marketing strategy will work best? And what do you even post on the platforms you want to market on? Giraffe is here to help!
We live in a world where social media marketing cannot be ignored. Brands are judged on their social presence and new brands have been created through social alone. Everyone is listening and we now spend on average 2.5 hours of our day on social media. With this in mind, my top tip for SMM is to proof-read! Keep it fun, keep it interesting, but don’t forget to check what’s going out before hitting “post”. It will take a fraction of a second for someone to notice a mistake and they won’t be afraid to share it.
Here’s Shelly again, but with her top tip for social media marketing:
Facebook is one of the biggest social media sites, especially for social media marketing. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, claimed that the platform ‘now has more than 2.2 billion monthly actives, with almost 1.5 billion using it every day’. Facebook is one of the best platforms for advertising, sharing quality content and engaging with your community. Thus, Facebook can aid in social media objectives such as website traffic and brand awareness. However, Facebook can also be incredible for engagement and building a community.
With Facebook, there’s lots of different post types you can share to keep your audience engaged and interested. Using different post types also varies up your platforms’ feeds, so it doesn’t look like you’re just spamming your audience with the same salesy post.
You can do the usual single image with copy post or add in more than one picture with a caption. You can create carousels with multiple images showcasing your products, which is a more interactive experience. If you upload an external link, Facebook will add pictures in your carousel for you directly from the website you’re citing. Then choose to add or remove images accordingly.
Other Things You Can Do on Facebook
You can go Live and share your products being used in real-time. You can answer Q&As live and get your audience involved. It also makes your brand appear more human and personal as you’re introducing the team and putting faces to the names.
You can create a Facebook group, which will allow you to post to your audience on a more personal level. Facebook groups also let you do a more different and advanced post types, than the usual Facebook business page features will allow. This includes multiple options for polls, instead of just the usual post restriction of two.
Facebook is also great for sharing videos as they increase engagement on your platforms. The recordings could be of anything, from your customers trying out new products at home, or never-before-seen footage of your shop.
Another bonus of Facebook is that it allows you to schedule, so you won’t have to log on every day if you’ve got a busy week ahead. Simply log on Monday morning, figure out what you want to say and schedule away!
Insights is another nifty feature on Facebook that will give you an analysis of your time on social media. From the Insights feature you can see what post was engaged with the post, or even check when your audience is online the most. It will help you improve and evolve your social media presence.
Twitter is another one of the big platforms for social media marketing. It has 126 million daily active users. As of 2014, 83% of the Fortune 500 had a profile on Twitter and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the percentage had risen in five years.
Twitter is great for finding potential customers to interact with and for engaging with your current audience. You can use hashtags to find news that’s going on in your industry too. Matched with Tweetdeck, you can schedule tweets to go out throughout the week and create lists to keep an eye on partners or competitors. You can respond to complaints and feedback too.
There are less post types available on Twitter, then Facebook, but they are still good at getting engagement. For instance, you can share single image with copy, or two photos, share a poll with two to four optional responses and share videos and GIFs too. Twitter even shares its own invaluable advice on how to share video content on the platform too.
Polls and videos are especially engaging on the platform, but GIFs are great for responding to your audience with. It’s important to hashtag on the platform too, to make sure potential clients are seeing your posts.
Here’s a great tip from George, one of our incredible social media assistants – ‘My number one tip for social media is to know each platform and identify the ones that work for your product, brand or business. It’s no use being on very single platform when you spread yourself to thin – focus is key, so doing 2 or 3 really well is much more beneficial!’
Next up is the photo and video sharing app Instagram, which has now become usable through desktop too! One billion people use Instagram every month, with more than 500 million using the site every day. It’s a great alternative to the other platforms as it lets you show the more fun, visual and human side. You have to put a lot more thought into your graphics, as Instagram is based on visual content. Forrester found that Instagram was still the best when it came to social engagement across the board. It had a higher percentage of user interactions than other sites like Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn. It was launched in 2010 but was bought out by Facebook in 2012 due to its increasing popularity.
Instagram is getting constantly updated and has provided users with lots of new and exciting features over the years. For example, direct messaging on the app was only recently introduced. However, for businesses, one of the most useful features is Instagram Stories, which allows you to post content. The post will appear at the top of users’ feeds and is available to watch for twenty-four-hours. It will then disappear. With Instagram Stories, you can post different kinds of things than you would on your feed, as it won’t permanently exist. This means you can do behind-the-scenes photos that don’t have to be high quality or clips of your team explaining a product. You can also use Instagram Stories to go live and showcase your services or products in real time.
Like Twitter, hashtags are also useful on Instagram. You can add up to thirty hashtags in either the caption or a comment. They are a great way to get your posts reaching more and new people. Instagram have even given the ability for users to follow hashtags. Therefore, if you get the tags right, your posts will show up in lots of different people’s feeds. Furthermore, you can tag your location, so people know where your store is. Alternatively, tagging your location can also help you reach people in a certain city or area.
LinkedIn is a little different to the other social media platforms mentioned above. It’s more designed to help B2B companies, because of its features. However, it can be a great benefit to any business that wants a professional profile.
LinkedIn has now become a platform to share company news, network with like-minded individuals, generate new business leads and nurture trust with your current clients and customers. It’s labelled as a ‘professional networking site’ and has over 575+ million users, with more than 260 million monthly active users. It’s really easy to set up a company page too.
What you post on LinkedIn will be different than the content you share on Facebook and Twitter. Video content works well on the platform because of how engaging it can be. Articles from your own blog or external links that are interesting and add value to a user’s feed should also be shared. Another great thing about LinkedIn is how easily your employees can become brand ambassadors through the platform. All they have to do is put their workplace in their personal profile, talk highly about the company and engage with posts the business shares!
Of course, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn aren’t the only platforms social media starts and stops. There are others like Youtube, Snapchat and Pinterest, where social media marketing can all take place. New social media sites pop up every day, and because of the success that marketing has had, all will have features that allow for products or service to be marketed in some form or other.
Vicky, one of our amazing social media assistant shares her advice – ‘My number one tip for social media marketing is to spend time on your interactions. The key to being successful on social media is to engage with the community in a meaningful way. Spend time following, liking and paying attention to other people’s posts. When you reply, make sure you’re saying something of value, rather than just generic, ‘great photo’ comments. Oh, ask plenty of questions to open up discussions and encourage future engagement!’
Social Media Marketing Case Studies
With social media, the proof really is in the pudding. There are lots of brands that have benefited from using social media to market their products or services, with companies turning over profit because of their digital marketing techniques.
Here are a couple of our favourite brands that have risen like a Phoenix on social media:
Domino’s already have a huge following on social media – with over a million likes on Facebook. The company play on popular film quotes, incorporating the word pizza to make the quotation relevant to them. On Twitter, Domino’s are constantly interacting with customers and dealing with complaints. They are constantly relevant and keeping on top of modern trends.
Innocent approach their customers like humans with a personal, friendly tone. They’ve found the right balance of humour and product sharing that often businesses struggle with. They focus more on the content of their posts than messages telling their consumers to buy their smoothies. It’s a hard place to make it to, but Innocent have somehow managed it through their satirical and playful posts.
Dominic our resident social media manager shares his expertise: ‘My number one tip for social media marketing is to be sure you’re interacting with your audience. The purpose of social media is to be social and engage with other users. This is a great opportunity to receive feedback and build a lasting relationship/loyalty for your brand.’
The Future of Social Media Marketing
Social media is constantly evolving and changing. Within seconds, what was once popular won’t be. It’s vital to stay on top of new trends and work out how you can utilise new features on the social media platforms.
Social media is not going anywhere anytime soon, so neither is social media marketing.
Should I Outsource My Social Media Marketing?
Having a good social media presence takes time, which often, a lot of businesses do not have a lot of. Many outsource their finances and expenses to an accountant to handle, because it takes time and expertise. The same should be considered for social media.
If you’re a big company, chances are you won’t have time to make a detailed social media strategy, analyse competitors, keep social media accounts up to date every day, keep track of any conversations happening in the industry and reply to incoming comments from customers or your audience. If you’re struggling, it’s time to outsource your social media marketing.
Here’s Helen, another of our brilliant social media assistants, with another top tip: ‘We live in a world where Social Media Marketing cannot be ignored. Brands are judged on their social presence and new brands have been created through social alone. Everyone is listening and we now spend on average 2.5 hours of our day on social media. With this in mind, my top tip for SMM is to proof-read! Keep it fun, keep it interesting, but don’t forget to check what’s going out before hitting “post”. It will take a fraction of a second for someone to notice a mistake and they won’t be afraid to share it.
How Giraffe Can Help You
Giraffe is here for all your social media marketing needs. As social media specialists, we help businesses all around the world reach their digital marketing objectives. If your business needs help with social media marketing on any social platform mentioned in this article or not, please get in touch today.