Social Media Marketing 101

Attracting new clientele through networks has proven to be more than a just passing trend. Today it’s estimated that nearly 73% of Fortune 500 companies are active on Twitter, and of the biggest brands have an Instagram account. Small businesses have also been driven towards social media as one of the most cost-effective methods to market themselves. Not only is this type of marketing cheap, it’s also relatively simple to perform effectively on your own.

But like any “do-it-yourself” project, your results will be better if you carefully follow the directions, better known as a social media marketing plan. Just like how you wouldn’t go into television marketing without detailed and exhaustive planning, so should you carefully plan your marketing efforts online.

Know Thy Audience

Broadly speaking, the leading social media sites at the moment are Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. While most businesses will end up at one or all of these big three, some of the other social media networks have a few distinguishing features that may be pertinent to your business, depending on what you do. Tumblr has the youngest audience of any social media network and is showing astronomical growth, according to Forbes; Google+ is , and so on. One of the reasons that social media is such an excellent way to market a business is that being able to target specific demographics always generates strong ROI. Therefore, knowing exactly where the demographics that interest you tend to reside is a thoughtful first step towards your plan to reach your target audience online.

Science, Not Just Art

As soon as you have a social media profile with content posted, it’s important to define realistic results for your social media marketing and keep a close eye on its performance. If you post an infographic to promote a blog post, how well did the performance of that content compare to previous work? Are you reaching your realistic goals?

How should you measure your expectations? Many make the mistake of placing an over-emphasis on gaining more followers, views, likes, and so on. Most of these metrics merely correlate with page views, which aren’t nearly as important to your efforts as getting your audience to actively engage with the content.

You can try and measure engagement through metrics that require users to do something more than simply loading a page, like posting a comment or sharing the page.

The Bottom Line

Many small businesses make the mistake of being fooled by the apparent simplicity of social media marketing and ultimately spend enormous amounts of time for disproportionately small returns. Many more believe they’re doing well because they base their evaluation on unreliable metrics. At their core, however, social media plans are as simple as identifying a way to reach your target demographic and measuring how well you do that.

As a final word of warning, it would be wise for your marketing plan to coincide with your overall marketing efforts offline and online between the different social media networks you use. Creating a seamless experience and sense of continuity between all your marketing efforts can be vital to the integrity of brand identity.

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