How to get more website traffic: Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing.
What is social media marketing? What are the benefits? Who does it apply to? How expensive is it? How long does it take to notice results?
Before you proceed, I may use some terms within this article that are slightly “jargonny” if you are not already working in the digital space, so be sure to check out our ultimate guide to SEO jargon to learn all of the key terms you may need to know to be successful at social media marketing.
Identifying your audience
I think that this is pretty obvious when it comes to marketing in general, but it’s crucial that you identify your target audience before you begin social media marketing. This will allow you to make the best decisions about your content, the platforms that you choose to use and your marketing methods. The main things you need to know about them are their age, gender, location and income. In a future article, I will outline the best platforms to use and go into detail of why these platforms are so great based on the research you conducted, and your findings.
Understand how your audience use social media
Your competition is the best way to get an idea of the content you need to produce, the way you need to use social media, which platforms to use and then they are ultimately something to measure your success against. Identify who they are and then analyse the way they are using social media. Pick-up on the things that they are doing well and use this knowledge to inform the way that you are using social media or the way you interact with your audience.
Understanding suitable content for your budget
Some of our clients have huge monthly budgets that can be used to create videos, to pay the best graphic designers or hire content managers for their social media accounts whereas others, not so much. What’s important is that you can identify the best content that you can make with the budget you have. It is better to work to your means than it is to bodge something because you don’t have the funding to pay the right people.
Create a schedule that’s suitable for you
This is the same thing I mentioned in our Ultimate Guide to Blogging, but with social media, being consistent is the key to success. After identifying both your audience and your competition; you will have a decent understanding of the typical scheduling for social media content within your sector. For some (like in fashion) you will benefit most from short and frequent posting, whereas people in construction may notice more success from lengthier and less-frequent posting. When you have a schedule, stick to it. Humans are creatures of habit and you will notice a decline in engagement if you get complacent with social media. Sticking with your schedule is far more important than the schedule itself.
Deciding what to post
When you have completed all of the above, you can decide what to post. Like with most things, we always recommend the following formula. 75% inform 25% sell. You can utilise the tools at your disposal to create content and create a schedule to produce the best results via social media marketing. What I mean by the formula is that 75% of your posts should inform your audience about something (be it your industry, products or other information) and the other 25% of content should aim to convert them into customers or sell your products/services to them directly. You need to remember that social media marketing can be a huge waste of both time and money if it is not leading to sales.
Create a consistent online presence
Having a consistent online appearance is crucial to maintain the brand credibility you have worked so hard to produce. Simple things like properly-designed banners and profile images, a professionally written bio/description and a consistent brand image on different platforms will help you gain some brand awareness and consumer trust. If you don’t have a great knowledge of design, you can likely hire someone on fiverr.com or similar who will be able to help. The great thing is, you only need to do this once and then you will always have the files to re-use as you begin to expand your digital marketing operations.
Organic vs Paid social media
As I mentioned above, every business has a different set of tools which mean they will need to optimise social media according to them. There are two types of social media marketing – organic and paid. Organic social media is creating brilliant posts, optimising your accounts, engaging with customers, creating social experiences and otherwise communicating with your audience in order to grow it, whereas paid marketing is where you spend money to make your content appear in-front of your target market and grow your following in the form of Ads. It’s worth noting that Ads are clearly visible, and in some sectors actually ruin the credibility of a business that is using them. There is no right or wrong option, and in fact a combination of both may work brilliantly. You will notice quicker results from Paid advertising however organic results may prove more fruitful over time. Below I will outline the paid and organic features of the various platforms that you may choose to use.
Understanding content: Static Posts
Still the most popular post-type, static posts are typically comprised of the main content and then supplemental text. The main content can be text, a quiz, an image (taken with a camera or a bespoke design), a video or perhaps an audio file. Static posts are displayed in chronological order on your profile and remain there indefinitely unless removed by your page, or the social media platform if you are in violation of their terms of usage. The great thing about static posts is that they can continue to drive sales for you for the entire duration of them being published, much like a blog. On some platforms, you even have the ability to tag another user or company in the post and then your content will be viewed by their audience too! On top of that, static posts are great because they allow you to add hashtags, and therefore increase your overall transparency online. A hashtag is a key term that people can follow on social media to see all of the content related to that subject, from every account that uses the hashtag.
Understanding content: Stories
Stories are post types first devised by Snapchat; however, they have now been replicated across the major social media platforms (and for good reason). Stories are non-static content that you can publish and they are typically displayed on your profile for 24 hours. These can be really good for quick engagement with customers and are often far quicker to create as you can be more personal. Most platforms allow you to add polls, quizzes, music or even past images to a story so they really are a great way to promote something on the fly without needing to produce a-grade content. With a lot of our social media marketing customers, we will post static content according to a schedule and then fill in the gaps with stories to increase social engagement, and with some clients the results have been outstanding.
Understanding content: Live Video
Live posts only really came about in the last couple of years, but since the coronavirus pandemic they have become a fundamental part of social media. A live video a really good way to interact with your audience with real-time, and perhaps give them a behind-the-scenes look into the metrics of your business. Live videos boast huge engagement rates and add a level of credibility to your online presence. Chester Zoo has recently noticed considerable success from live video, with 250,000 people watching them feed their animals via Facebook.
Organic social media
When it comes to social media or digital marketing as a whole, organic marketing refers to processes that take place without payment. For instance, organic search engine ranking refers to how a website ranks based on its content and usage rather than how it performs based on paid marketing or Google Ads. Organic social media is fundamental if you want to be successful with social media marketing. You need to get to a point where your content and level of social media management generates sales rather than just throwing money at ads and expecting sales to increase.
If you want to grow your social media presence, hashtags are a great way to start. A hashtag is a key-term, and when used your content will appear in searches for that key term. Another thing about hashtags is that users can follow them to see all of the content posted by accounts that use that hashtag. The more popular the hashtag, the more content it will be used on and therefore the more reach you will notice whereas using niche hashtags might not actually do anything until you already have a strong social presence. Take a look at the tags used by your competition and use them within your posts too – if it’s working for them it will likely work for you.
An example of a niche hashtag: #tarbuckdigital
An example of a common hashtag: #digitalmarketing
With social media, engagement is key. The brands that absolutely nail social media are the ones who constantly engage with their audience. This can be as simple as responding to messages, posting polls and quizzes on your story all the way to following that account back and proving something for free. A high rate of engagement is a great way that you can out-perform your audience on social media – as most brands are really poor at it. Did you know, on Facebook most people expect you to reply to them within 6 hours, but in reality, the average response time from brands across social media is a huge 35 hours! I’m sure you can do better than that.
Using different media-types
As-well as being creatures of habit, it’s crucial to keep in mind that us lowly humans bore quite easily. If you continue to throw the same content out at your audience, you will eventually notice a decline in engagement. So, to rectify this you can share lots of different media types within your posts, to keep things zingy. You can experiment with gifs, video and audio as well as the normal images or text. You can also try and use google forms to make a simple quiz which will both engage audiences, and allow you to collect data based on your sector (and perhaps, even increase your email marketing audience).
Selling on social media: E-Commerce Tools
In the last couple of years, with the e-commerce boom, many social media platforms (Namely Google, Facebook and Instagram) have built their own tools for generating sales online. You can actually upload your products to Facebook or Google and then have them feed into your website! If you need help with that, contact us. The reason this is so powerful, is that you can generate sales from your audience within a controlled environment that is familiar to them. Sometimes, they don’t even need to fill out an order screen as their data is already saved within the social media platform. This really shortens the user journey, and some businesses have actually noticed better results selling on social media rather than on their website! Most of these platforms also offer great analytics so you can monitor the sales generated from each platform, and perhaps compare it to that of your website! Google are favouring business that use Google Products, as they are are still well in development of the Google my Business platform and are actively rewarding those who have adopted it first with increased online presence.
Social Media Management tools
95% of businesses who use social media for marketing have accounts on more than one platform. Using more than one extends your reach and also means that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket. This is important because if you just use Facebook, and then they update their algorithm, this may break your existing efforts and you will be back to square one. Spreading your content across multiple platforms also spreads the risk. As with everything social media, different businesses will notice more success by using different platforms – so do some experimenting and see what works best – again, see which platforms are being used by your competitors. You can also use a scheduling tool like Later or Hootsuite to schedule all of your social media posts. What’s more, you don’t need to produce additional content for different platforms, more often than not you can actually share the same content and notice great results. Just make sure that the content works well and looks great on each of the platforms.
At Tarbuck Digital, we use a brilliant lightweight platform by Zoho, aptly named Zoho Social which allows you to post content to multiple platforms, view the performance and manage analytics. Plans start at $8 per month and are worth every single penny.
Automated messaging “robots”
This mainly applies to LinkedIn, but automatic responses or bots are becoming more popular on different platforms. A bot can message people automatically and inform them about something, collect data from them or otherwise advertise your business. If you use LinkedIn, you probably notice messages flood in as soon as you connect with someone who works in recruitment or accounting. This can be really powerful, but make sure you keep your bots up to date as during the coronavirus pandemic lots of them have been asking to meet for a coffee – which makes it obvious that its not a real person. We don’t use them for our clients, but some of our competition have noticed success from using bots.
Creating a call-to-action
Remember why you are actively marketing your business – to drive sales. There is absolutely no shame in adding a call to action within your social media content. Just make sure that you stick within the boundaries of your brand guidelines and don’t be too “salesy” as your audience will quickly stop engaging with your brand if they are being sold to.
A relatively new, but very powerful, feature of some social media platforms is the introduction of more on-demand media. A live video is a great way to engage with your audience live, and for them to engage with you. The power of live media was realised during the coronavirus lockdown when Chester Zoo had over 300,000 kids watching them feed their animals live on Facebook. You can bet that this has retained engagement with the public who will be booking tickets to enter the Zoo as soon as the restrictions allow them too.
We have also noticed some great success from linking externally to a YouTube video, as most social media platforms actually recognise the link and embed the video into the post for you. This will offer a huge increase in engagement, and also adds a backlink to your YouTube content! For clients with a healthier budget, we have even had bespoke videos produced – but in other cases we record an impromptu video right in the office (with an iPhone) or repost something another brand has made (just be sure to credit the brand and make sure the content applies to what your doing). Not only will this increase your engagement – but other brands will begin to form a relationship with you.
Using social media stories
As I mentioned earlier, another gem that has surfaced in the last couple of years, is stories. These are essentially less-polished posts that only stay on your profile for 24 hours. You can use them to make service announcements, like temporary open hours or a product being out of stock, but you can also use them to inform your audience about your work or use them like live video, to have retain a level of user interaction without having to perfect a post. Instagram have actually done this most effectively, with stories now having the ability to be pinned to a page so your audience can view them after the 24 hours have elapsed.
The great thing about these new types of content is that variation will help you to beat them pesky algorithms, as any changes to one type of content are unlikely to affect others. What’s more, we have noticed some patterns of social media platforms increasing the exposure of brands which use these new post types, so it’s even a good way to increase the authority of your brand on a given platform.
Optimising your usernames & url slugs
You can actually increase your social media reach by optimising your username and slugs. Make sure you have a username that directly resembles your brand, and avoids using punctuation where possible. If someone already uses your name, you can approach them and offer to buy it! A slug is the ending of the web address that links to your profile, for instance, instagram.com/tarbuckdigital (/tarbuckdigital is the slug). Some platforms, like LinkedIn, allow you to update this manually so try and make it consistent with your brand so it is easier for both people, and search engine bots to find your social media profiles.
Adding alt tags to your images
A lesser-known feature of social media is that much like SEO for a website you can optimise your images and videos by using an ALT tag. Look into the advanced settings of each post and you should be able to add one there. Want to learn more, check out our Ultimate guide to SEO jargon.
Using graphically designed content
Budget permitting, a graphically designed template for your content and marketing material on social media will result in increased conversions. This will also reinforce your brand and make your content stand out amongst the competition. If you cannot afford to pay agency rates, support a freelancer our outsource oversees on fiverr.com
Optimising your account bio
Another thing that you can optimise, is your social media bio. Remember, these are typically limited to a short number of characters so you really do need to use them wisely. You can use this to include your businesses core values, information about your products, links, hashtags and more. Look at what your audience is searching, optimise your bio properly and it will help your company to get found within social media searches.
Measuring your impact & improving on it
Many people would assume that you can measure your success based on the number of followers you gain, whereas in reality – this is not the case. Would you rather have 500 followers, who constantly engage with your brand, re-post your content and purchase your products or 5000 who like your posts once or twice and then never engage with you? The measure of success is the engagement : sales ratio. How many people who engage with your brand and later become customers? There will inevitably be some outliers, for instance, customers who don’t use social media or people who like your content but are not in the market to buy from you, so don’t worry about these and try to exclude them from your analysis where possible.
The rate of engagement is the amount of followers you have compared to the amount those followers who engage with the content you post, or perhaps become customers. If you have 100 followers, and roughly 20 of them engage with your content, then your engagement rate is around 20%. If you manage to increase your engagement rate through clever social media marketing, then it is likely that you will increase your sales too.
The conversion rate is the number of people that engage with your content, compared to the amount that sign-up to your mailing list or buys your products. The same math applies as with engagement. Increasing your conversion rate is more important than generating new leads if you cannot convert your existing leads into customers, then what good is more leads?
Measuring your ROI (Return on Investment)
I think it’s pretty obvious that your sales are a good way to measure the success of social media marketing. If you begin using Social and your sales begin to increase, then you are obviously doing something right. Just be sure to make sure that your ROI is worth the expense you are footing to generate those sales from Social Media.
Measuring success via followers, likes & connections
We work with a number of clients who have previously outsourced their social media marketing. They say that the previous agency generated 1000 new followers per month, or perhaps doubled the likes on each post however nothing much came from it. The reason for this? Followers and Likes are just superficial bullsh*t used to inflate people’s egos. I always say I would rather have 500 followers and 500 customers than 5000 followers who only engage with my brand once or twice.
Measuring success via analytics
This is often over-looked when people try and do social media from within their own businesses, but using the Analytics tools provided by the major social media platforms is truly fundamental to understanding how your content is received, and which changes you can make to improve the success of your brand via social media.
I hope you have found this article somewhat useful, and you can take something from it to enrich your brand’s presence online. Remember, I am going to cover which social media articles you should use, why and how in a future article, so join the mailing list or connect with us on social media to get notified when that goes live.
Obviously, there is a lot more to social media marketing that hasn’t been covered, otherwise, agencies like mine would be out of a job! If you’re looking to accelerate your social media growth, then speak to the team and they will gladly help. You can also connect with us on social media using the buttons in the website footer! As always, thanks for reading!
Written by Luke Tarbuck, Managing Director.
“I have worked in the general technology sector, as a consultant, since 2016. I love working with such a diverse range of companies to help them grow. I am passionate about emerging technologies, new legislation and drinking copius amounts of tea.”
If you want to learn how I can help your business grow, email email@example.com
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