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The Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing

One of human nature’s most universal traits is the tendency to get ahead of ourselves. Carts come before horses, chickens come before eggs, and marketers Tweet without knowing why. In such a fast-paced, constantly changing industry, it’s not surprising that some social media marketers might launch feet first into day-to-day work, without a clear strategy of how they will achieve their goals.
Social media marketing is a language all of its own. You wouldn’t expect to ace your advanced Spanish class without taking a beginner’s course, so you can’t be too hard on yourself for not gaining thousands of followers or meeting other business goals if you haven’t built a foundation of knowledge. We’ve created the following guide as a first step for any new social media marketers, and to help seasoned pros get back to basics.


What is social media marketing?

In the last decade, social media has grown from a maybe-use to a must-have in any marketing strategy. According to the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 96 percent of marketers are using social media in their marketing plans. So what exactly is social media marketing? For one, it’s probably a big part of your job, if not your main job.

Hootsuite’s 2015 Social Media Glossary defines social media marketing as “The use of social media by marketers to increase brand awareness, identify key audiences, generate leads, and build meaningful relationships with customers. Social media marketing should be well coordinated with social customer service, community management, and social selling activities to create seamless relationships with customers across their life cycle.”

Keep in mind, the most effective social media marketing programs are also integrated into multi-channel strategies. Why is social media marketing important?

For those in higher positions, the introduction of social media to an established marketing plan can take some convincing. But social is essential to any strategy in 2016. When you think of all the contributions of social media to your personal life (the ability to connect with your friends and loved ones, greater access to information, etc.) and think of benefits from a business perspective, it’s obvious that social media marketing is important. Some of these benefits include:


Getting to know your audience and market through constant, high-value social media interactions. Responding to customers and your community, saving yourself time (in comparison to having a phone or in-person conversation with numerous people with the same inquiry).
Keeping up with or staying ahead of your competition (who are also on social media).
Building your customer base.
Increasing your sales and revenue (through building your customer base, raising your positive customer sentiment through social customer service, etc.) The ability to tell your brand’s story.
Cutting marketing costs (in comparison to traditional print advertising or advertorials).


Social media statistics


To truly grasp the significance of social media marketing and how much it impacts businesses, the following statistics paint a pretty clear picture.


As Social Media Examiner shares, 92 percent of social media marketers said that social media was important to their businesses
Social Media Examiner’s report shares that 84 percent of marketers have integrated their social media strategy with their traditional marketing strategies
64 percent of marketers are using social media for six hours or more a week, 41 percent are using it for 11 or more hours per week, and 19 percent for over
20 hours per week

90 percent of businesses said that social media has increased the exposure of their business
77 percent of businesses said that social media has increased site traffic
Over 50 percent of marketers say that social media has directly increased sales
As Entrepreneur states, 69 percent of marketers said that social media has helped them develop loyal fans
Forbes reports that three out of four consumers say that social media impacts their buying decisions

FastCompany explains that when CEO’s post to social media, 70 percent of senior professionals report that it makes the company seem like a better place to work
Social Media Examiner reports that 66 percent of social media marketers see lead generation take place via social with just six hours of use per week (or less)
As explained in FastCompany, “McKinsey researchers estimate that $1.3 trillion in value stands to be unlocked by companies who figure out how to apply social technologies in the years ahead.”


Your social media marketing plan


Once you recognize the importance of a social media marketing strategy, it’s time to devise a social media plan. A sailor wouldn’t expect to navigate the seas and arrive at their destination without a map, and a social media marketer can’t expect to achieve all of their goals without a plan. As a guide to creating a social media marketing plan explains, “social media marketing plan is the summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve for your business using social networks. This plan should comprise an audit of where your accounts are today, goals for where you want them to be in the near future, and all the tools you want to use to get there.”

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