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Start Social Media Marketing

A beginners guide

The basics of reaching people and building brand awareness

 This article was written by my daughter during the early stages of setting up our Accidental Mentor website.

What it is

Social media marketing is a type of internet marketing that utilizes social media networking websites as a marketing tool.

The main websites used for this are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. With social media marketing businesses aim to increase their brand exposure and broaden their customer reach.

A feature of social media marketing is that it makes the company seem more personable.

All social media platforms are interactive and in these areas, it gives the customers the opportunity to informally interact with the brand.

It allows customers to voice questions or complaints and for the company to respond quickly and make sure the customer is being heard.

Social media platforms allow people to comment on posts and for companies to respond, often these responses will be more informal than other forms of customer service and this creates a friendly image for the brand. 

Social media can be used to develop market research on products by getting feedback on products or new ideas.

Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have feedback tools in the form of polls and surveys.

Customers are often more likely to respond to these than an email that they are sent from a company asking for feedback because it is already present on their screen as they are scrolling through social media.

This customer feedback can be used for valuable insights into what their customers want from the company and also make the customers feel involved and engaged in the company.

Having the customers participate in this social media feedback will make the customers feel like they are engaged in the process of co-creation in which the business uses customer feedback to modify a product to suit the customer’s needs.

If a customer regularly engages with the company and also gets replies from the company they are more likely to be loyal to that particular company. 

How to Start

To get a following on these social media sights can be difficult for smaller companies who are starting with a smaller group of customers.

One method of getting followers fast is to do a giveaway style promotion.

In this, the company makes a post that shows one of their products and in the description put the terms of the giveaway.

The terms of entering the giveaway are usually that the user must be following the account and having shared that post.

This means that once a few people have shared the post their followers will see the post and the terms of the giveaway and also follow the company and so on and the company gains many new followers with the only expense being the product that the random winner will receive from them.

Also, businesses can use social media sites to encourage people to buy from the company.

Sometimes company’s post on their social media certain deals such as ‘20% of with this code’ or ‘free delivery’.

This will encourage social media users to follow the account because they don’t want to miss out on any future posts that include a deal and it also encourages people to buy from the company because they are getting a deal that seems exclusive to them. 

Alternative strategies

One way that social media marketing is utilized is through ‘influencer’ endorsement.

An influencer will have a huge audience and if a company has a target audience that overlaps with that audience they will often collaborate with that influencer.

In these brand-influencer collaborations, a company might give the influencer a product to review or post on their social media so that it reaches their thousands of fans.

Kylie Jenner who has 144 million followers on Instagram gets paid up to one million dollars per endorsement on an Instagram post because she has such a huge fan base that will be easily influenced into buying a product that she is photographed with.

It is important that the brand’s target audience will relate to the influencer used for example a makeup company would use Kylie Jenner because she is known for her makeup line but a company that sells bikes might use a popular sportsperson who has a large following.

In this method of social media marketing, the influencer has to make it clear that it is a paid endorsement and the blogger’s post must contain no misleading or unsubstantiated statements that break rules with the federal trade commission’s rules concerning unfair or deceptive advertising. 

Is it worth it

One of the reasons why social media marketing is so successful is that it can be done at a small cost to the company. If you have a fairly wide following then all it takes is one free post to the companies social media to reach the audience.

However, if the company has only a small following this type of posting will not reach a large enough audience and lead to only a few sales. 

On social media platforms as well as simply posting to reach the followers that already engage with your brand you can pay to have advertisements that will reach those outsides of the follower list.

All social media platforms will allow you to specify who these advertisements reach, your brand will be able to create a target audience that uses demographics to work out who is most likely to respond to the advertisement. 

Know your audience

Instagram has an insight feature called Instagram analytics that helps you learn more about your brand’s followers and which Instagram users interact most with your business Instagram, in terms of which of your posts and stories they see the most.

Analytics gives insight into a paid activity that you have paid to reach Instagram users and also organic activity – the followers that respond to your social media posts that have not been paid to be on their feed.

Once you have used Instagram analytics to see the details of your follower engagement and find out when your audience is online, where they live, their age and the manner in which they engage with your posts you can tailor future posts to a more strategic social media plan.

In this strategy, you will be able to target your posts to reach an audience that is most likely to engage with your content and be influenced by your posts. 

Don’t go overboard

Whilst social media is a great place to advertise to your followers and trigger sales in physical stores and online it’s important not to spam them as this will become annoying and often lead to them unfollowing the brand.

People don’t go on social media to be sold to but that doesn’t mean people won’t buy something whilst they are there.

You want your content to be interesting or useful as well as simply promoting your products, people won’t follow a page that is simply an endless stream of blatant advertisements.