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Guides

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Your Business

There are as many ways to create a social media strategy as there are users.

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From the content itself to the platform to advertising... it’s a lot to consider.

In this guide, we’ll take you through choosing the right platforms and how to create a growth-focused strategy that leaves room for engagement. Every company is different, which means Facebook and Twitter may not be the best choice for you!

We’ll also cover the basics of paid advertising to boost your brand’s awareness on your chosen platforms, and how to use reporting as a way to gauge performance and overall strategy success. But let’s start at the beginning.

Guide - A Beginner's Guide to Social Media for Your Business

CHAPTER 1

How Do I Choose the Right Platform?

One of the most common questions we’re asked is how to choose the right platform. There’s no one best answer, as all platforms have their strengths and weaknesses.

Chapter 1: How Do I Choose the Right Platform?

Bringing Clarity to a Complex Choice

One of the most common questions we’re asked is how to choose the right platform. There’s no one best answer, as all platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. For this reason, we recommend a targeted social media marketing strategy.

This means finding where your audience is and investing in the top two to three platforms. If you have resources to post regularly and engage with followers on more than those platforms, then go for it! But be wary of stretching yourself and your team too far and letting the quality on all platforms decrease.

For example, a technology-based lifestyle brand targeted to millennials would do best on Instagram and Twitter. Working with influencers and investing in high quality photography will help the brand stand out on Instagram, which is built on engaging visuals. Twitter plays to their technological background, and is where many tech-focused millennials reside.

A third option is LinkedIn, as this is a growing platform among professional millennials. Once known as a dying platform for executives, it’s flourished among millennials looking to connect with likeminded professionals.

In contrast, an insurance broker working with families will do best on Facebook and YouTube.

Facebook is ideal for sharing articles and relevant industry updates, while YouTube is a great way to connect with an audience visually while breaking down the complex issues of the insurance industry.

If you have a website already, great! But without optimization it will offer lackluster results.

Optimizing your website for SEO will help increase discoverability, improve lead generation, and convert those leads into sales.

Determine the Best Platform for Your Brand with These Questions

Bring clarity to your choice with these questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where does your target audience spend their time?
  • What type of content are you best at creating?
  • What type of content is a weakness?

With these answers you can begin selecting the platforms that work for your brand. For example, if you excel at photography but struggle with blog posts, then Instagram will provide more value than Facebook.

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CHAPTER 2

Pros and Cons for Each Social Platform

By considering the pros and cons of each platform, you can choose the ideal options for your company.

Chapter 2: Pros and Cons for Each Social Platform

Finding Your Perfect Match on Social Media

Each social media platform has pros and cons, and we’re here to break it down. While reviewing this list, though, it’s important to remember that there are times to break the rules on social media. Experiment, find your niche, and engage with your audience, wherever you find them.

By considering the pros and cons of each platform, you can choose the ideal options for your company.

Facebook's Pros

  • Large user-base centered around 35-44
    year

  • An ideal platform for sharing articles.

  • An extensive advertising platform.

Facebook's Cons

  • Increasing cost for brands that advertise.

  • Low post exposure for organic posts.

  • Shaky public perception, leading to an
    uncertain future platform.

Instagram's Pros

  • An emphasis on quality images.

  • A favorite platform among millennials.

  • Experiences better organic exposure
    than its counterpart.

Instagram's Cons

  • Growing number of bots making
    engagement hard to verify.

  • Difficult to link to content for profiles
    under 10,000 followers.

  • Organic reach shrinks as soon as a user
    boosts their first post.

Twitter's Pros

  • Recently increased character limits.

  • A thriving tech presence.

  • Ideal for conversations with customers.

Twitter's Cons

  • A very short tweet lifespan.

  • Limited user base for non-tech, political,
    or journalistic industries.

  • Shaky growth which may point to an
    unstable future.

Linkedin's Pros

  • Is currently experiencing a resurgence.

  • Tech and marketing communities are
    growing.

  • Growing native video capabilities

Linkedin's Cons

  • Public perception is slow to change.

  • Advertising costs are higher than other
    platforms.

  • LinkedIn limits personal posts and some
    may be taken down without warning.

Pinterest's Pros

  • Link-based content is ideal for inbound
    marketing.

  • Great opportunity for niche brands.

  • A highly visual platform.

Pinterest's Cons

  • Typically viewed as only containing
    recipes and decor.

  • Requires specific and unique designs.

  • Increasing amount of spam pins.

YouTube's Pros

  • Ideal for building a connection with
    audiences.

  • Visual medium for new products.

  • Google ownership may improve search
    performance.

YouTube's Cons

  • Difficult for brands with limited video
    capabilities.

  • Slow to grow audiences.

  • Trolls are active and can quickly get out
    of control.

By considering the pros and cons of each platform, you can choose the ideal options for your company.

CHAPTER 3

What Content Should I Create?

The best content for your brand depends on your abilities and the platforms you’ve chosen. If articles are the easiest content to produce and you’ve chosen Facebook and Instagram, then blogging two to four times a month lays the foundation.

Chapter 3: What Content Should I Create?

Blending Form and Function to Reach Your Audience

The best content for your brand depends on your abilities and the platforms you’ve chosen. If articles are the easiest content to produce and you’ve chosen Facebook and Instagram, then blogging two to four times a month lays the foundation.

You can take pieces of each article to share in the captions on Instagram, pairing it with photography. If photos aren’t your strong suit, consider hiring an agency or photographer to deliver photos each
month.

LinkedIn is another suitable platform for sharing articles. If your audience is on LinkedIn, commit to regular blog posts and a consistent posting schedule. Research common questions in your industry
and look for the type of industry content people are posting, then tweak your content based on industry changes and how your own content performs.

If you have strong visuals and your audience is on Instagram and Pinterest, focus on imagery that fits the required image sizes. (Particularly for Pinterest.) These images are the first thing many users will see of your brand, making this an important investment.

Content creation is highly individualized, so it’s important to find what works for you. Marketing is an ever-evolving task! Don’t be afraid to change in a few months if it’s not working. Social media is always changing, making testing and refining a crucial component of a company’s social media
strategy.

CHAPTER 4

How Often Should I Post?

So you have the platforms, but now you need to determine the best posting frequency. Again, this depends on your content development capabilities and which platforms you’ve chosen.

Chapter 4: How Often Should I Post?

Building a Content Mix for Consistent Success

So you have the platforms, but now you need to determine the best posting frequency. Again, this depends on your content development capabilities and which platforms you’ve chosen. If you can manage creating four blog posts and 15 to 20 photos every month, then this gives you a foundation to post three to five days per week on Facebook and Twitter.

We recommend not dropping below three posts per week on social media, because an active platform can help increase discovery on these platforms.

Twitter and Pinterest require more content because of how they’re structured. With a tweet’s average lifespan at 18 minutes, you’ll need to tweet multiple times a day to see traction. Growth on Pinterest requires one to three pins per day.

YouTube is ideally once a week, though two times a month can still help you grow an audience. Video can be expensive, which is why we also recommend reposting Facebook Live videos (if you host them) to YouTube for a useful repurposing of content.

So how can we keep up with these content production demands? Content recycling and content curation.

CHAPTER 5

Alternative Ways to Create Content

Content creation can easily become overwhelming, which is why we have two great ways to reduce your strain while remaining active on content-heavy websites like Twitter and Pinterest.

Chapter 5: Alternative Ways to Create Content

Save Your Time, Sanity, and Resources

Content creation can easily become overwhelming, which is why we have two great ways to reduce your strain while remaining active on content-heavy websites like Twitter and Pinterest.

 

Recycling Content

Don’t be afraid to re-share your content! Evergreen blog posts, ones that don’t point to a specific month or event, can be re-shared to increase the amount of available content. Use photos to fill in the gaps on Facebook with product tips and customer shoutouts.

This is particularly helpful with Twitter. Due to the shortened lifespan, you can re-share content more quickly than on Facebook or Instagram. Share evergreen blog content as well as tweets with an abbreviated tip from previous blog articles.

Curating Content

Curating content involves sharing other users’ content as a way to build relationships and decrease
the pressure of content creation. On Twitter, this could include quotes from others in the industry, and links to relevant articles and guides.

Pinterest followers grow via re-pins, which is like sharing curated content. So while this does require more posting, it doesn’t necessarily require more new content. Many companies have found success on Pinterest by creating new boards every month then re-pinning content already on the site each
day.

CHAPTER 6

Organic and Paid Social Media

As social media has continued to evolve, two distinct types of content has arisen: organic and paid. Organic posts are regularly scheduled posts that are not promoted or “boosted”.

Chapter 6: Organic and Paid Social Media

Creating a Mix That Converts Fans Into Customers

Posting Organically on Social Media

The best organic posts are those tailored to your audience, ideally with original content. This includes images, videos, and articles on your website. When considering what to post, ask yourself, “Is this what our ideal customer would enjoy seeing?” It’s perfectly fine to post any PR stories and other industry mentions, but make sure 95% of your content on social media is focused on your customer.

This can include:

  • An article answering a frequently asked question.
  • A lifestyle photo showing your product in use.
  • A customer repost with a quote about their experience.
  • A blog post reviewing your product.

When every piece of content you publish is sent through the customer filter, you’ll notice better engagement and a more successful social media campaign.

CHAPTER 7

Using Paid Media for Your Business

Due to recent changes in how social media platforms organize users’ content, paid advertising has become a necessity for brands looking to grow online. Search engine marketing also offers a way to improve website traffic, but both can quickly become an expensive experiment if not done correctly.

Chapter 7: Using Paid Media for Your Business

Reaching Your Audience with Highly Targeted Advertising

We recommend businesses invest into both organic and paid media, because it has become increasingly difficult to gain good organic reach. Only 1 to 2% of your followers are seeing your posts on Facebook, and it’s become a pay-to-play platform. Other platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are trending the same way.

The best social media ads are those that are targeted towards your ideal consumer, perfectly reflect your brand, and are designed with each step of the marketing funnel in mind. You wouldn’t ask a stranger to buy your high-end product without sharing the benefits, and you wouldn’t share about your brand to someone familiar with your company and ready to buy.

 

Facebook and Instagram Ads

We’re focusing on Facebook and Instagram Ads because it’s where we see the most success, but remember to view each platform through the eyes of your consumer.

Here’s how to use Facebook and Instagram’s Ad Objectives to better reach your audience on Facebook and Instagram:

  • Use Awareness objectives like Brand Awareness and Reach to reach those new to your brand with ads that introduce your brand.
  • Use Consideration objectives for middle of the funnel ads that encourage users to learn more about your brand. This includes Traffic, Engagement, Video Views, Lead Generation, and Messages.
  • Use Conversion objectives to drive traffic and purchases. This includes Conversion ads for signups, Catalog Sales, and Store Visits for brick-and-mortar locations.

Your audience is another crucial piece of a great Facebook and Instagram Ads campaign. Awareness objectives work best with Core or Lookalike audiences. Core audiences are built out using Facebook and Instagram’s geographic and interest-based targeting. Lookalike audiences are built off of Custom audiences, and are designed to reach users with similar characteristics to the Custom audience.

Custom audiences work best with Consideration and Conversion objectives. Built from email lists, customer databases, and website traffic, these audiences have already heard about your brand and are further down the marketing funnel.

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Creating Engaging Facebook and Instagram Ads

The best Facebook ads are memorable and concise. People are scrolling quickly, and they typically don’t look for ads. Which is why your content needs to be thumb-stopping. Video created for silent viewing, bright images, and copy that supports the visuals are key.

We recommend testing three to six different ads per campaign, then turning off the low performing ads to further optimize the campaign’s performance. Change the copy and imagery slightly for each one, and monitor how each is performing. This clues you into what type of ads perform best with
your audience.

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Other Paid Advertising Opportunities on Social Media

While Facebook and Instagram are the most powerful social media advertising option available today, other platforms also offer advertising opportunities that can reach your ideal consumer.

These platforms offer a way to reach your target audience with a small or large budget:

  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube

 

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads, also known as Promoted Tweets, increase your visibility on the platform while offering objectives similar to Facebook and Instagram’s platform.

Twitter Ads objectives include:

  • App installs
  • Promoted video views
  • In-stream video views (pre-roll)
  • Followers
  • Website clicks or conversions
  • Awareness
  • Tweet Engagements
  • App re-engagements

The best promoted tweets are concise, filled with your brand’s personality, and we recommend testing ads with and without an image or video. Create eight to ten tweets per campaign to test what type of ad creative performs best, then turn off low performing ads to optimize the campaign.
 

Pinterest Ads

Pinterest is for more than food and beauty bloggers. In fact, it’s a valuable way to drive traffic for product-based companies.

Pinterest Ads formats include:

  • Promoted Pins
  • Promoted Video Pins
  • Promoted App Pins

Use engaging imagery to catch viewers’ attention, especially because your promoted pins are in the flow of many other pins. Use videos to showcase your product in action, further enticing users to click.

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LinkedIn Ads

Advertising on LinkedIn was a black hole for some time, but recent changes are making it a valuable option for companies looking to target professionals. SaaS companies, tech firms, and similar companies are all seeing improved success with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Ads include these objectives:

  • Sponsored Content
  • Text Ads
  • Sponsored InMail

Sponsored content is similar to boosted posts on Facebook or promoted tweets, and are the most visual choice for advertising on LinkedIn. Text ads are on the right sidebar, and don’t have as large of a footprint and therefore are less thumb-stopping. Sponsored InMail is similar to Messenger ads on Facebook, and we recommend using it sparingly.

You’re probably catching a theme here: create multiple variations for each  campaign, and use the data to optimize the creative for the best results possible.
 

YouTube Ads

YouTube Ads roll before, and at times during, videos. As the largest video platform for those 18 and older in the United States (including television), YouTube is a go-to for many companies looking to showcase their video assets.

With geographical and interest-based targeting, you reach users who are interested in yourproduct or service where they’re spending time. And instead of paying for impressions, you pay when users show interest by watching at least 30 seconds or clicking to learn more.

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CHAPTER 8

Growth-Based Reporting

No social media strategy is complete without reporting. Taking time each month to see how your posts and ads performed will help you shape a strategy that works for your brand.

Chapter 8: Growth-Based Reporting

Growth-Based Reporting

No social media strategy is complete without reporting. Taking time each month to see how your posts and ads performed will help you shape a strategy that works for your brand. At the very least, your reports should include:

  • Follower change
  • Engagement rate and change
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Top performing posts
  • Cost per Click (if advertising)
  • Cost per 1,000 Impressions (if advertising)

It’s important to look at both the individual posts and the overarching performance for each platform. Individual posts help you see which types of content perform best with your audience, while the overarching look at performance provides insight into how the platform is working for your brand.

Use an Excel spreadsheet to track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so you can watch for trends. If there are negative trends each month, then it’s time to rethink your content and possibly a platform change.

While numbers aren’t everything, they are helpful. They help quantify a largely qualitative process so you can grow your company through a successful social media presence.

CHAPTER 9

Conclusion: Creating a Winning Strategy

No social media strategy is complete without reporting. Taking time each month to see how your posts and ads performed will help you shape a strategy that works for your brand.

Chapter 9: Conclusion: Creating a Winning Strategy

Breaking down what you have, what you need, and where you want to go is the key to a successful social media marketing strategy. It begins by choosing the best platforms based on your needs, not another’s. There are pros and cons for each platform, and choosing the right ones paired with the right content will help take your brand further on social media.

Choosing a posting frequency is just as important as your content, and it sets the tone for your creation process. This means creating enough content to grow, without burning your team out. Creating a strategy utilizing curated content supports your goals while keeping realistic goals.

Once you have your content ready to go, it’s time to balance organic and paid posting to increase your company’s reach. Organic and paid posts are mutually beneficial, making the right combination a social media essential.

And lastly, reporting on your efforts so you can shape your future strategy based on what is and isn’t working. Without monitoring, you’ll be unable to tell what was the winning piece of creative to  replicate the results. Social media is a creativity and number-crunching endeavor, and with persistence you can create and implement a strategy that works for your team and your brand.

If you’re ready to commit to a strategy but are still unsure what’s the best fit for your brand, give us a call at (415) 640-8009. We would be happy to talk through how our team can help you achieve your goals.

I’d love to see your social media profiles. Send me an email and let me know how to find you. I promise to write back with a few tips to help you get the most out of what you are doing.

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Can I help you with your social media?
Call me directly at 415-640-8009
Email me directly at marc@forwardpush.com

Can I help you with your social media?
Call me directly at
415-640-8009
Email me directly at
marc@forwardpush.com

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Guide - A Beginner's Guide to Social Media for Your Business