Social media marketing is a key component of your digital marketing strategy, and indeed of your entire marketing plan. But what is social media marketing? How do you do it successfully? As part of the release of our free and updated, Marketing Almanac, here’s a quick step-by-step tutorial to better marketing via Social Media, with basics for newbies and some fantastic tools for experts.
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Watch Social Media Marketing Tutorial 2020 on YouTube
Step #1: Never Stop Learning
Our first step is really about attitude. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot to keep up with when it comes to social media marketing – not just in general, but in particular with respect to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social platforms. I’m a huge believer in “lifelong learning,” so here are some basic learning resources:
- The Social Media Marketing Tutorial by Tutorialspoint. OK, it’s basic. And OK, it’s a bit out of date. But it covers the basics and like any good baseball or football player, the basics matter. A lot. “Point, step, throw,” as they taught my daughter in softball camp.
- The Social Media Examiner. This is THE industry blog on social media marketing and the producer of THE industry tradeshow each spring, Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. Bookmark their blog, sign up for their emails, and pay attention as they do a fantastic job explaining the details. Also, scroll down about halfway down their homepage and you’ll see tutorials on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., #Excellent.
- The Social Media Marketing Workbook. Shameless plug for my own workbook, which grew out of my class at Stanford Continuing Studies. I update it twice a year, and check out the companion Marketing Almanac with hundreds of free tools. It explains the basics and has pointers to hundreds of tips, tools, and techniques. #Massive. (In fact, I’d recommend for sure that you get my Marketing Almanac as it’s a free mega resource).
At the end of Step #1, you’ve bookmarked key tutorials on social media marketing, signed up for the freebies at Social Media Examiner and hopefully purchased my book. You’re learning and you’ll never stop. Good job!
Step #2: Identify Goals
Social media marketing gets a bad rap, as many managers either a) think it’s magic and can do everything for free, and/or b) think it’s unmeasurable and thus unworthy of investment. Neither is true. So the second step is to set up basic goals for your entire social media marketing plan and for your individual plans such as your Facebook marketing plan, Instagram marketing plan, Twitter marketing plan, MySpace marketing plan, etc. OK, don’t do MySpace. It’s dead. But failing to plan as the platitude goes is planning to fail. Here are some good, common goals:
- Brand Building. Use social media to “build your brand,” that warm and fuzzy feeling around your product, service, and/or company that says you’re trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kin, obedient, cheerful, thrify, brave, clean and reverent. Oh, oops, that’s the Boy Scout motto, but you get the point. You’re awesome Facebook Page, Instagram Account, LinkedIn profile tells your customers you’re fantastic and can be trusted. Building a better brand – a huge goal on social media.
- eWOM or electronic Word of Mouth. You want your customers and fans to talk about you. You want them to share your message with their friends, family, colleagues. Getting word of mouth to spread across social media is yet another common goal.
- Move Customers along the Customer Continuum. Prospects become customers, customers become fans, fans become superfans. By “going social” you can grow your customer base and build out those superfans. #Awesome.
These are just a few “big” goals, but you can have (and should have) specific goals for each network, such as growing your Facebook Page “likes,” or encouraging comments and interactions with your Instagram posts. You can do the same on YouTube – growing the likes, comments, and shares of your videos. So there are general goals or specific goals, and you can set them up to be measured. Take that cruel, even, horrible boss that believes it’s either free and magic or crazy and unmeasurable!
Step #3: Content Marketing
Content is King, Jack, Queen, and the deuce of Spades when it comes to social media. You need a lot of content! You need a lot of content! Did I say you need a lot of content? Yes, you do. There’s a) your own content, b) other people’s or curated content, c) interactive content, and d) UGC or user generated content. Yes, please. Brainstorm a content marketing strategy for all your platforms such as blog posts, images, photos, videos, comment strategies, etc. Here are some awesome tools to help you with content marketing –
- Answer the Public. Visit this website, and ignore the creepy man. Wow, he creeps me out. But type in a “seed keyword,” that is something your users might be talking about or interested in, such as “healthy pets” or “hair loss” and see what people are talking about, searching for, etc., and then use these “questions” to create your “answers” whether those be in the form of blog posts, videos, images, infographics, etc.
- Buzzsumo. Wow! I love love love this tool! I have a paid account, but “for free” you can still do a lot. This tool tells you what’s being searched for, talked, about, where, and who’s sharing what, especially on Twitter. Useful to find trending topics and see where the engagement is vis-a-vis a keyword. You can even use it to “reverse engineer” a domain. Try typing in “geico.com” or “progressive.com” to see the most shared content by a competitor.
Content marketing is critical to social media, and so let me recommend another fantastic trade show, Content Marketing World. Run by the Content Marketing Institute, it’s fantastic. Check out their guide to content marketing as well. My approach to social media marketing puts “content marketing” at the foundation, so you have to figure out what your customers want to talk about, learn about, engage with, etc., and then you have to systematically and efficiently (cheaply) produce great content – your own content, curated content, interactive content, and UGC content.
Step #4 – Better Blogging and Email Marketing
Blogging and, to a greater extent, email marketing, don’t get the respect they deserve. Everyone is fascinated with the flashy new toys of Instagram stories or Facebook live, but really a basic, robust blog and a related email list is a fundamental asset in your social media marketing system. So become a better blogger and learn a bit about email marketing. Here are some tips and tools on each.
As for blogging, you need to research what topics people want to learn about using Answer the Public and Buzzsumo. You have to create content that people WANT to read, #DUH. Then as you write your blog post, you need to brainstorm your “angle,” your unique, “Man Bites Dog,” pitch. (Dog bites man – not news. Man bites dog – news). A tool I like to use here is Portent Content Idea Generator. Input some keywords and it spits out funny headlines that are “click bait,” or at least pretty interesting, fun things that I’d like to read or learn more about. Another good tip is to research blog posts on your social network of choice, and dive into what’s getting engagement. To do this on LinkedIn, for example, you can use Google (click here), or you can sign in to LinkedIn and then search by keyword, paying attention to content on a topic that’s driving engagement. For instance, try going to LinkedIn and searching for bioengineering, or small business. You can also search by hashtag on Twitter or LinkedIn, for instance, again to see what content is getting engaged with and thus would make a good blog post.
As for email marketing, it can build off of your blog. Often you can use your email newsletter as the “headline service” that points back to blog posts, videos, infographics, and other content that is engaging to your audience. And the great thing about your email list? You own it – not Facebook, not Twitter, not LinkedIn. Here’s a tip – considering using a service like AWeber, Constant Contact, or MailChimp and creating a DRIP campaign. That’s where a person signs up and then receives a series of “automated” email messages across a time frame (a day, a week, a month) that hopefully gives him or her just the info that they want and keeps them engaged. For a good overview to what a DRIP campaign is, click here. And for a nifty tool to pre-check your email against spam filters, click here. But in sum, for Step #4 think about better blogging and better email marketing as working hand-in-glove for your social media marketing strategy.
Step #5 – Facebook and Facebook Advertising
Facebook, of course, is the Big Daddy of social media marketing. Everybody’s on it, and of course since it owns Instagram it’s doubly powerful. Well, guess what? It’s confusing and it’s changed a lot. First and foremost, let’s face reality. Organic reach on Facebook of Business Pages is dead. Dead, dead as a door nail. Unless you have an UNBELIEVABLE brand and UNBELIEVABLE engagement, you’re just not going to reach very many people with business posts to Facebook. You have to a) create incredible content, and b) rely on your customers, fans, and superfans, to share that contact with their friends, family, and colleagues. So my 2020 strategy here is two-pronged. First, create great content on Facebook – pictures, photos, images, videos, even Facebook live – that is truly awesome and engaging. Don’t sell sell sell, but rather create content that people are going to LOVE and then oh by the way guy our awesome fill in the blank “x” or “y” product or service.
Second, then use Facebook advertising to “boost” your posts and “push” your message to your fans and superfans. The easiest way to do this is to create a great post, and then simply click “boost.” Find or define an audience – usually a good one is people you who like your Page and their friends. These are folks who have ALREADY indicated that they like your content. Just make sure that your content is highly engaging and even highly shareable. Learn more about how to boost a post on Facebook, here. Facebook also has an incredible tool called Creator Studio which allows you to manage your posts and content on both Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about it, here. And the massive Facebook Ads resource is here; just remember don’t think it’s organic OR advertising on Facebook but rather it should be organic AND advertising on Facebook. That’s my tip and to-do #5 for you.
Step #6: LinkedIn – Go Interactive, Go Native!
I like to think of LinkedIn as the “stealth” network for social media marketing. By this I mean that all the big press goes to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., but for many B2B businesses or professional service businesses, LinkedIn is “where it’s at.” I love LinkedIn and I thank God every morning that heretofore Microsoft hasn’t ruined it, as is so often the case when a dynamic company gets acquired by a big stuffy company. Do you ever wonder how American capitalism works, like how is it possible that all the small companies innovate and create great stuff (e.g., Instagram!), and then are acquired by the big, dumb, blundering but much, much more successful companies like Facebook or Microsoft. I mean how does that work? Microsoft can’t make Bing succeed for its life, but fortunately it hasn’t crushed LinkedIn and in fact LinkedIn is thriving!
OK, back to LinkedIn. So here, I would have some key recommendations. First, go native. By this I mean either post to LinkedIn’s internal blog network (formerly called Pulse), because LinkedIn favors its internal network for blogging. You can do a quick search of LinkedIn Pulse here as an example for engineering. That is, go to Google and type in site:linkedin.com/pulse and then your keyword as in site:linkedin.com/pulse engineering. That way, you can figure out what’s buzzing on LinkedIn internal before you create your own native post. Then after you have your draft ready, sign in to LinkedIn and click “article” to post something. Note: only personal profiles can do this, not business pages. You can also post native video to LinkedIn, and – not surprisingly – native video outperforms pretty much everything else on the platform. Follow Goldie Chan on LinkedIn as she’s the “guru” of LinkedIn native video. For a sample of a native video post by me, click here.
Second, go interactive. LinkedIn has really beefed up its hashtags and you can use a “post” search on LinkedIn to quickly find content in your industry. For example, go to LinkedIn > Search > enter ‘small business marketing > and content to find content on ‘small business marketing’ or click here. You can also search for hashtags on LinkedIn, here. What I do is then use Start.me to create a personal “start page” and bookmark key searches and hashtags on LinkedIn. That way, I can quickly check what’s buzzing on LinkedIn and interact with folks, thus building my personal brand and efficiently interacting with fans, prospects, and customers.
Step #7 – Drill into Content on Twitter and Instagram
I like to think of Instagram as if Twitter and Facebook had a baby. It has features of both, and clearly for consumer marketing it’s the #1 social platform these days. It’s owned by evil Facebook, but really you can learn more if you approach Instagram as a photo-centric version of Twitter. They’re very similar. In both cases, content is king, jack, queen, and the deuce of spades, so you want to easily find trending content on the networks. There are a lot of great hashtag tools, primarily for Twitter but they work pretty well as surrogates for Instagram.
- Hashtagify.me. This incredible tool is the best hashtag discovery tool out there. The free version will help you identify hashtags on Twitter, and the paid version will work with Insta. Enter a starter keyword and browse what hashtags are out there, and you can then use them in your own tweets or posts. An alternative is Hashatit.com.
As for Instagram, they don’t allow links in posts, so you have to use the old “link in bio” tactic. A free service for this is Linktree. You set up an account and then can have multiple links from that one “bio” link. You can see examples of it in action, here. Take that Instagram with your stupid no links policy ha ha. Begin evil laugh.
Back to content on Instagram and Twitter you want to be a fantastic searcher. Twitter has a rather hidden advanced search, here, and Instagram can be searched via Google by using the site:instagram pattern. For example, try site:instagram.com “pet supplies” on Google to find Instagram content on that topic. As is true throughout social media, you want content for Instagram and Twitter that is engaging, so engaging that your users not only love it (or like it), but also comment on it and share it. So do your homework before, during, and after you create content.
Step #8 – YouTube Tools and Learning Resources
YouTube continues to dominate online video, despite the growth of native video on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It remains the “goto” network for everything video and of course it’s a homebase where you can put your content and then share it on other networks. The #1 YouTube tool that every YouTuber of salt uses is TubeBuddy. It has a Chrome extension that really gives you extra data on your own videos and those of competitors, for free. So check that out, and remember that research is the best pre-step towards social media success not only on YouTube but everywhere. Also, I’d check out the free YouTube learning resources such as their creators channel at https://www.youtube.com/creators. YouTube creator resources and learning tools are second to none. Another good YouTube tool is the VidIQ Chrome extension.
Step #9 – Pinterest Tips and Tricks
Last but not least, Pinterest is a focused social platform best for reaching the “shopping” and “DIY” crowds. It’s where people go to post idea boards about stuff they want to buy or build, and it’s e-commerce friendly. Even if you’re not on Pinterest, it has two cool features that can help your (0ther) social media marketing efforts.
- Image Search. Search Pinterest by keyword to find an image. Then click the square icon on the bottom right. Try it for “sexy man,” here. OK, ladies (and perhaps men), calm yourself down. But you can do this with an image. It’s the best image search on the Web. Pretty cool.
- Browse by URL. You can also browse by URL to see what’s being pinned by a (competitor) URL. You do this by typing in the URL https://www.pinterest.com/source/domain as in https://www.pinterest.com/source/nytimes.com/ or https://www.pinterest.com/source/rei.com/
Pinterest isn’t the biggest social media marketing platform, but if it works for you, it REALLY works. And it’s a great resource for everyone else to investigate image and shareability issues for free. Check out PinGroupie if you’re looking to see what has a lot of interactivity on the group level.
Wrapping it all Up: Making a Plan
Tutorials are all about teaching you step-by-step what to do. Obviously for a topic as big as social media marketing, I can’t do that. And I didn’t promise to do that. But I hope I’ve given you some great tips and tools, and even better an attitude of “never stop learning.” Start with the basics and then dive in. Before we go I want to share my top secret, most favorite site for social media marketing at a technical level.
Wait for it.
It’s called GOOGLE. Bookmark it. Here’s why it’s awesome. If you know the QUESTION, you can GOOGLE the answer. So for instance, if you want to know what’s the size of a Facebook cover photo, you can Google it (here). The point I am making here is that as you work on your social media marketing, pay attention to what others are doing, and then “reverse engineer” it for yourself. If, for instance, you notice that competitors have reviews on their Facebook page, you can Google – how to get reviews on Facebook and voila! You’ll find helpful articles, videos, and the official help files on how to do that.
But most of all, have fun. We live in an AWESOME time as marketers, and social media is an incredible fun, opportunity to build your brand, work with your superfans, and sell more stuff.