Updated: Feb 4
In order to grow your business online, you need to have people talking about you; both positive and negative perceptions and conversations are important. It is then that you have a chance to develop a good brand image organically. In this blog, let us try to understand why SMM is more important than ever today and what are some steps you can follow to get started with your SMM journey.
Why does your startup need Social Media Marketing?
One of the biggest reasons to get started with SMM is because social media is where the majority of your potential customers are today. 4.48 billion people currently use social media actively worldwide, with an average 12.5% year-on-year increase rate since 2015.
Having a powerful social media strategy helps you to build good relationships with not only your target market customers but also potential partners and other stakeholders of your business. By posting valuable content for your target audience, you are making your brand more familiar and easily accessible with call-to-actions and so.
Even your existing customers can be re-engaged with and thus, inspire repeat purchases. Consumers tend to be more receptive to your messages through social media. Here, you have a voice to deliver authentic messages and that too, to a larger number of people than through other offline channels.
Another reason is that you can increase inbound traffic to your website by promoting strategically on social media platforms. And lastly, the best part - it is really cost-effective for your startup. Yes, there are added paid advertising options, but those are comparatively lesser than the traditional marketing approaches. Even without the paid options, you can generate increased traffic with around 5 to 8 hours of focused effort and compelling content spent per week.
Did you know customers actually spend 20% to 40% more on products and services from companies who interact with them on social networks?
5 Steps to setting yourself up
1. Plan and list your goals -
The first step is to ask yourself what it is that you want to achieve from social media marketing. It could be about building a brand presence, a strong image, by building a good relationship with your network or generating leads. These goals will act as a roadmap for determining the kind of content you want to publish and perform other social media activities.
With this, build a social media mission statement to abide by. For example, “to empower the startup community by educating the customers with relevant business knowledge and skills”. This will help you decide what to create and share!
2. Research about the target audience -
Knowing key trends and preferences of your audience such as their likes, dislikes, time spent on different social media platforms, kind of searches performed on such different channels, where they usually search for a product/service or look for its review, and so on would help you formulate your whole activity strategies from content posting to regular engaging activities.
3. Determine which platform(s) would be the best for your audience and goals -
Pick the right social network for you. If you're a B2B, LinkedIn or Twitter would be an effective platform. For B2C, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube would work well. If you're good with video, start out a YouTube channel as people perform most of their video searches on YouTube. If your business focuses on the younger demographic, Instagram or Snapchat would be better. Every channel has its own uniqueness and hence, it is important to first learn the particular platform you think is fit for you, deeply.
4. Make a community -
This step is all about building the right connections with people who engage consistently. Rather than the number of followers or connections you have, an important metric is how many of them actually engage with your content. When they do so, social media platform algorithms tend to push such posts more on the feed.
It is also important to engage with your audience regularly rather than just expecting them to engage. In order to build an organic network of people, don't start promoting your business to them personally from ‘Day-one’; rather wait to build a good relationship with them first.
5. Design relevant content -
It is important to create content on a regular basis to keep your audience engaged.
A prerequisite for this step is to create a compelling profile, on LinkedIn or Facebook or so, filling in as many details as possible about yourself and how you help. Let them know about the benefits that they are going to get from following your page.
After that, you can start creating interactive and helpful content because no one is going to follow you for the long term if you don't provide them with any value.
Try to provide some knowledge through your content; it could be about a specific topic or about your brand and product.
Analyze the content of your closest competitors, what is working and what is not working for them.
Use hashtags to get easily discovered by people interested in a certain topic.
You should follow the standard principle of the 4 C’s of content marketing: Capture, Collect, Community, and Convert.
Create a content calendar or schedule which your online marketing team can stick to, which includes the ‘where, when, and what’ of content posting and sharing.
The content can contain articles, one-liners, blog posts, infographics or carousels, discounts, events you are offering or organizing, stories, and so on. Once you are set with the content and start gaining some audience, you can plan recurring and non-recurring campaigns to further reach people on social media.
Keep learning and revisiting your plans
It is important to modify your social media marketing plan as per the latest trends and analytical reports generated. Refer to relevant metrics like conversion rate, time spent on a particular page, no. of likes, comments, mentions, and shares, post impressions (no. of times your post is displayed), sentiment (perceived positive or negative mood) etcetera whenever necessary to identify what is and what isn’t working for you.
“If you cannot measure it you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin
Keep following the trial and error approach to track, analyze, and optimize your SMM plan. This is where you need to let the data drive your decisions. It should be a constant process of learning and progressing to continue to grow and the limit is sky here!
With the help of new SMM tools, scheduling content, publishing, monitoring, engaging & analyzing the metrics has become easier than ever. Read more to learn about some such useful tools.
Remember that the main approach of social media networking is the same as in-person conversations. The only difference here is that your potential audience is much larger and you are engaging with them online. Rather than just delivering simple marketing messages you need to make authentic connections. Curating a good mix of content including conversational, informative, and sometimes opinionated content is crucial. Sometimes it can be challenging to understand your target audience and design unique content for respective platforms but you will get better with things once you jump into the process, see what competitors are doing, and discuss with a professional. Finally, remember to integrate all your marketing efforts synchronously, both traditional and social media, with the company's long-term vision. Hope this blog helps you get a clearer roadmap of how you can set SMM for your startup in action!