Every business relies on marketing in order to succeed because without it, a company cannot sell what it offers; marketing determines and creates consumer need. However—whether it is advertising, consumer research or product design, among others—it usually comes at a very high price. Netflix, for instance, uses The New York Times as one of its messengers, but not everyone has the streaming giant’s budget. Thankfully, in today’s world, there are ways a company can spread the word at a low-cost basis or nothing at all. One of those options? In Al Pacino’s voice please: say hello to social media!
I am a very proud Millennial, but that is not why I am suggesting social media as one of the most cost-effective and shortest paths between a brand and its customer base; it just is. Social media has become an essential part of the consumer experience and successful companies are incredibly active and involved. Oreo, for example, used Vine video series as part of their marketing campaign strategy (as if milk’s favorite cookie needs marketing, am I right?!). As for entrepreneurs who are just starting out, social media serves as the perfect brick to start building their reputations on.
Therefore, what is social media marketing and what tools are available to us? Let us jump right in.
Social Media Marketing Plan
According to Digital Marketer Neil Patel, social media marketing “is the process of creating content that you have tailored to the context of each individual social media platform in order to drive user engagement and sharing”. There are many social media platforms so in order to create content that works well on each one, you need to know the purpose each of them serves. A social media marketing plan uses these platforms to reach audiences, which is why this type of plan needs both a content plan and a content calendar. Content is everything when it comes to social media, so entrepreneurs must know the type of content they intend to post, the target market, how often content will be posted, who will create it and how it will be promoted. For inspiration, companies should look at what the competition is doing, interact with consumers on the different networks, and gain knowledge from industry leaders.
It is important for entrepreneurs to establish objectives and goals that are aligned with a broader marketing strategy while creating a social media campaign. It is also important to assess current social media use in order to know if the sum of all social media actions are generating value for the business. Social media goes beyond retweets and likes, therefore, companies must measure generated leads, web referrals, and conversion rates, among others. If a company realizes its social media tactics are not working, it should analyze its audience on a geographical and demographical level to discover which platforms that audience prefers. Once the company pinpoints its strengths and weaknesses in the social media department, it should hone its online presence and choose networks that will complement the brand and best meet its social media goals. After the social media marketing plan is in place, the company has to keep up with it and make adjustments when necessary.
Social Media Toolbox
There are many social media platforms out there, but you need to choose the ones your customers use the most. Because of this, knowing your audience is critical and the 5 W’s are here to help:
1. Who is the audience for each platform?
2. What is the best way to get your message across in order to reach your goals?
3. When and how can you engage with your clients?
4. Where in the social media sphere can you showcase your brand?
5. Why does your reach need to be carefully selected?
Now, let us take a look at some of the top social media tools available:
Facebook: Facebook is the social network where people— approximately 79% adults —come to stay connected. However, for entrepreneurs, it is much more than that. Facebook’s audience is a captive audience, which means people are browsing for an extensive period of time. It offers marketers the most data and the most targeted ads. Because of this, it is a great way for companies to reach their clients due to the exposure. With Facebook, besides coming up with an advertising campaign specifically for the platform, companies can also set up a business page and connect with customers through Facebook Live and Facebook Groups.
Instagram: When it comes to the food, fashion and fitness industries, Instagram is the platform to use. It has 300 million daily active users and is all about visuals. Entrepreneurs use Instagram to showcase their skills, expertise, products and/or services. In this platform, people can create videos that reach their followers, which is a great way to connect. There is also Instagram advertising,—which can be done by creating content videos—hashtags strategically used to reach prospective clients, and Instagram’s business page, which lets users integrate an email system. Instagram has the highest engagement rate.
Twitter: While Twitter is mostly all about news and political discourse, for entrepreneurs it is an excellent way to check in with their customers. When Twitter is done right, you get responses and engagement. Many businesses stay in touch with their customers through Twitter since you get instant feedback and connection. It is a great social media tool that keeps your hand on the pulse.
All in all, a couple of social media goals for an entrepreneur who is just getting his or her feet wet should be to increase brand awareness, create a loyal client base through content, and stay in touch with the industry. Establish a social media presence wherever your audience is and come up with a social media marketing strategy that will take your business to the next level. Remember, social media is only the first brick that will start building your reputation; make sure that brick is as flawless as Beyoncé.
Mayra Nadal Luciano
Mayra holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Marketing with a Minor in Law from Bentley University and a Juris Doctor degree (JD) from Inter-American University of Puerto Rico Law School. She is currently working in Puerto Rico’s Finance Industry.