The Tool Shed Blog

Social Media 101: Understanding the Basics

Digital marketing is like fine wine – it only gets better with time.

The internet, particularly through social media marketing, continues to evolve as an optimal platform for engaging your audience. It provides the unique advantage of connecting without the overt push of sales tactics.

Social media is a platform companies use to do just that. It’s also likely because 37% of consumers find purchase inspiration from these channels.

When done right, you can use social media to grow consumer trust for your brand. Once you do, you can become an influencer of buyers’ choices.

You can use social media to grow your brand in two ways: organic and paid promotions.

But if you’re unsure how to use social media networks to increase your visibility, reach, and conversions, continue reading!

What is social media?

In case you’re new to social media, we decided to give a quick overview of what it’s all about.

Social media networks are sites people use to communicate and engage with one another on the web. It’s grown in popularity for both consumers and businesses over the past decade.

Social media is a term to describe how these platforms are used. They allow you to publish different media types, including blog posts, videos, and photos. And the purpose is to do it socially.

So people can like, share, and comment on your posts (aka media). Users are also able to follow your profile to stay tuned in with the posts you make.

Those with the most engaged followers get the most visibility and conversions. But it takes a well-planned and executed strategy to pull this off.

Why should businesses use social media?

Although there are many businesses witnessing success on social media, there are still some entities that aren’t using social media. Some believe it’s a waste of time and money or that it’s just a fad.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the past 15 years, social media has done nothing but grow. From the days of Myspace, we’ve witnessed dozens of platforms sprout and grow.

The only trend we see is users switching platforms that better meet their needs. Yet, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are still holding strong.

The stats make it easy to see why businesses are scrambling to create their social media marketing strategies. For example, Facebook has over 2.2 billion users, YouTube has 1.5 billion users, Google+ has 111 million users, and Instagram has 1 billion users.

And it’s not just the young people using social media. Those between 55 and 64 are 2x more likely to engage with branded content than someone 28 or younger.

With billions of active and engaged users on these social platforms, it’s plain to see why companies spent $8.3 billion on social ads in 2015. This increased substantially in 2016 to $40 billion spent on social advertising. By 2021, this number jumped even higher to $153 billion spent on social ads. Plus, by 2026, we are expected to spend over $252 billion on ads on social platforms.

But does it work?

Non-customers are 3x more likely to visit a retailer after seeing their social media ad.

Next, consider how to use social media to grow your online presence.

How can I use social media for my business?

When you approach marketing with a traditional mindset, you’ll wonder whether social media is a venue that’s right for your company.

But as you’ll find, businesses across all industries use social media to promote their product or service in some form or fashion. It’s all about using the right strategy to reach your target audience (and engage them).

Social media is unique because it enables brands to participate in the customer experience. Most of today’s consumers spend much time online conversing with others, learning new things, entertaining themselves, and buying products or services.

You can take part in all of these moments using social media. These platforms allow you to converse with, teach, entertain, and sell to consumers.

But you have to do it in a way that’ll resonate with them. Otherwise, no one will want to consume your content and information.

The key is to earn the trust of your audience so that they become customers and loyal advocates of your brand. Social proof means everything to today’s consumers.

If others aren’t buying your product or service or giving it raving reviews, you will likely struggle to convert prospects.

There are three key areas you can use social media for:

  1. Building relations: Not only do you establish and build relationships with consumers, but with influencers as well. This is important for getting a social proof to grow sales and followers.
  2. Getting feedback: Many people use social media platforms to reach out to brands to complain, praise, or ask questions. This feedback can improve your product, service, and/or customer experience.
  3. Integrating with other marketing efforts: If you’re blogging, creating YouTube videos, hosting webinars, and doing other forms of marketing, you can integrate it with social media. This will help build awareness for your other content and branded happenings.

Next, let’s review some of the popular social media types and social networks.

Facebook 101

With billions of active users on Facebook, it makes sense for every business to consider using it at some point.

You can look at Facebook as a hangout spot for consumers. They come here to socialize, share their experiences, and catch up with people and brands they follow.

It’s also safe to say that people trust the information they find here. So much so that 52% of online and offline purchases were influenced by Facebook content in 2015. And now, 74% of consumers are more inclined to shop through social media post-pandemic.

The most popular posts on Facebook tend to be those with visuals. So if you can consistently publish content with images and videos, this is a great platform.

It’s ideal for B2C companies. However, there are some B2B companies effectively using it also.

You can create a brand page on Facebook that people can like and follow. You can display your company hours, mission, products or services, phone numbers, and address.

Some go as far as to connect their online store so consumers can shop directly through their Facebook page.

Then you can promote your posts, which is when you pay to have one of your posts advertised to target audiences. Combining this with Facebook ads is a great way to gain visibility for your brand page.

LinkedIn 101

Now, if you’re in the market of selling to other businesses, then you’ll find LinkedIn to be an optimal choice. It’s what professionals use to connect and network with other professionals.

Businesses from all over the world (200 different countries) use this platform. Altogether, LinkedIn boasts more than half a billion users.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn lets you publish informative social media content, including images, blog posts, and videos.

The difference is that your profile focuses on your business. You can add details about your job history (like a resume), schools attended, skills, and hobbies.

Plus, your clients can leave recommendations (aka reviews) to help earn you more business. Those in your connection circle can endorse your skills to help further promote your expertise.

This isn’t to say that B2C companies can’t use LinkedIn. You can use it to recruit influencers, perform market research, and more.

You can also start LinkedIn ad campaigns to help grow your reach and visibility.

Instagram 101

Say you’re in a highly visual business – for example, you own a floral shop, real estate business, fashion design company, or the like.

In this case, Instagram (a visual social media platform) is great. This is because it’s 90% visual. You can include text with the images and videos you post (plus, you should do so).

This platform is for those who find visual content appealing vs. text. It’s a wall of images posted by all the members you follow.

As a business, you can use this to promote your brand through visual storytelling. For example, you can showcase your products or services in action. You can create moving pictures to demonstrate your product or service.

Or you can create Instagram Stories, videos you publish that are only visible for 24 hours. This makes this effective because it creates a sense of urgency to watch it.

Social media users don’t like missing out, so you can play on this to get more visibility for a post. Just make sure it counts. For example, use it to promote a flash sale, a new product/service, or behind-the-scenes access.

Also, include hashtags in your posts to help non-followers find your content.

Twitter 101

Twitter is a lot like a hot press feed. You use it to get information quickly and in as few words as possible.

This platform was previously limited by its short character count. Before, it was only 140 characters per post. But they recently doubled this to 280 characters.

To make the most of Twitter, you must master the art of being clear and concise. You can use this to make company announcements, start conversations, and comment on events in real-time.

You can also include links to blog posts and videos and share images and infographics. It’s a more fast-paced social platform, so your posts quickly become irrelevant.

This is why you’ll find some brands tweeting consistently throughout the day, every day.

If you’re tweeting high-value ever-green posts, you retweet these for those who may have missed them days, weeks, or months ago.

Creating a social media strategy

Now you understand social media basics. You need a marketing strategy to make social media work for your brand. This will detail which platforms to use based on your business goals and target audience.

This will include analyzing your customers to learn everything possible about them. For example, their demographics, pet peeves, problems, favorite platforms, age range, location, etc.

It’s also critical to look at your competitors. Analyzing their social media presence will give you an idea of what you must do to compete.

Maybe it’s to offer better customer service or implement better features, such as chatbots, “shop now” buttons, etc.

One mistake many businesses make initially is trying to be in too many places at once. Or worse, being on platforms their audience doesn’t frequent.

With the help of social media marketing experts, you can ensure you’re only marketing on the social channels that will benefit you the most. It’s ideal to use a handful of channels your audience uses the most.

At gardenpatch, we conduct thorough research to develop a solid social media marketing strategy. If you’d like to get started developing a campaign to establish your brand as a trusted authority, reach out to us today!

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