Everything you need to know about social media marketing in 2019 including a handful of our most successful everyday hacks and strategies
Disclaimer: At our digital marketing agency located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, we are NOT defined as strictly social media marketers. As digital marketers, we deploy social media strategies within broader, integrated digital marketing campaigns, but rarely ever social on its own. Throughout this page, we often reference Social Lite’s Customer Value Journey methodology, which utilizes various digital marketing strategies at the different stages of the customer relationship. Nine times out of 10, social media is a strategy that takes place at the early stages of the customer relationship. If you have the time and interest, we encourage you to first read more about our Customer Value Journey methodology, which is at the heart of every digital marketing campaign we deploy four our clients, and ourselves.
First, what is social media marketing?
You may have an answer, and others will have answers. But I want to paint a picture that strips back the fluff to understand the core intent of social media marketing. Before I paint this picture, let’s first explore our agency’s meaning of marketing.
Marketing versus Communications
Communications professionals and marketers are similar in that both craft, publish and promote messages to specific audiences with an intended response and outcome, or measurable objective.
But what differentiates communications and marketing is that when marketers promote messages to specific audiences, the intended responses and outcome is always, always, always the same — to qualify sales leads and drive revenue.
With communications, your message has an intended goal, which may or may not be sales.
So, when we discuss social media marketing on this page, and as an agency, we only consider how social media can be utilized to compliment and amplify sales revenue. Specifically, how can we attract buyers on tools like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, or Tumblr?
The finicky thing about social media, however, is that if you narrow your activity to only sales messages, nobody will care to hear what you have to say.
Your audience doesn't care about your sales pitch
Have you heard of the classic social media strategy book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vanerchuk? The takeaway is that in order for you to build raving fans on social media who may become buyers, your strategy requires interesting and undeniably engaging content and storytelling. You need to build likability, readership, and community, before your audience will care enough to enter a sales conversation with you.
Back to our definition of marketing tho — if we are social media marketers, and we succeed to build a robust social presence and grow our followers, these ambitions only support our greater marketing goal: to reach and engage target customers and begin sales conversations (Aware stage of the Customer Value Journey).
Note: Later down the customer journey, once you convert new customers through your online marketing efforts, you will again use social media to nurture and re-engage leads and customers, upselling and cross-promoting your products and services to maximize profits (Ascend stage of the Customer Value Journey).
“Any trained chimpanzee can update a Facebook page. Successful digital marketing and revenue growth requires integrated strategy.”
Let's finish this section with an important reminder: if we are using social media as a tool to spread messages and ignite some aimed outcome, but that outcome is NOT a sales goal, then social media in this instance is a Communications function, not a marketing one. Any trained chimpanzee can update a Facebook page, but successful digital marketing and revenue growth requires integrated strategy.
What’s the difference: Digital Marketing versus Social Media Marketing
Digital marketing is about creating a strategic campaign for your business that will generate predictable sales leads. It’s a multifaceted approach to online marketing that integrates several digital strategies at the various stages of the customer journey. Digital marketing includes social media, search engine, email and content marketing. It includes SEO, AdWords, email automation, and website development.
Digital marketing encompasses your entire online strategy. It’s about developing an integrated campaign that attracts targeted customers to your website and transforms those visitors into qualified prospects and customers. It's a methodical approach to marketing that relies on intentional strategy, as well as measurement, analysis, and continual optimization.
What’s the difference: Social Media Marketing versus Content Marketing
Social media marketing and content marketing have similarities, they complement one another, and there’s certainly some overlap, but a few subtle differences distinguish them.
- Social media is a channel where you distribute content, and therefore, social media marketing occurs when you market content on just social media with the aim to attract buyers and drive revenue. You may use social media to drive traffic to your blog, website, products or services, but social media is the sole driver of new traffic, leads and customers for your campaign.
- Content is at the heart of all marketing; it’s where the message lives, and it manifests various forms, such as copy, video, photography, graphic design, and podcasts.
Content is what you distribute on various channels, which go far beyond just social media, such as search engines, blogs, emails, and affiliate websites. Therefore, content marketing occurs when the campaign is focused on creating content assets that will be distributed through various channels to tell a cohesive story, but again with the aim to ultimately drive profitable customer action.
The sole driver of new customers in this instance is the content, which relies heavily on multiple distribution channels including social media.
Click here to see one of our case studies, where our team helped an RV accessory company grow through a branded content marketing campaign that reached beyond only social media (although social media played an imperative role!).
Why is social media marketing important?
Social media isn’t important if you have too many customers and you don’t need new leads, sales, or revenue.
If you are interested in promoting your products and services, like most businesses are, in this section I will outline why you don't exist if you're not on social media — and if you are on social media, but you’re not active, you cease to exist.
Customers like researching before buying
Here in 2019, if your customers are interested in purchasing from you, there’s an extreme likelihood they will investigate your website and social media pages before committing to you. An active presence that tells your story is the bare minimum you need on social media.
Your customers are online, guaranteed
But, maintaining a bare minimum only caters to those researching you. If we take it a step further with social media marketing, our intent is to actively reach new audiences and convert customers. If you feel I need to explain why social media marketing is important, I will in a brief statement: no matter what industry you are in, your customers spend significant time on social media.
And, if you know what you’re doing, you can find them, build relationships and trust, and attract buyers to your product or service.
I’ll get more into the “know what you’re doing” part later, but remember, if you want to use social media to get new customers, it’s key to develop a cohesive lead generation strategy before ever lifting a finger on Facebook.
You'll need to advertise, guaranteed
To reach audiences on social media you will need to run an advertising campaign (we’ll talk about this in the next section), and you will need to pre-determine where to send potential buyers after they interact with you on social media (we’ll discuss this one later).
What do I need to know about advertising on social media?
The power of digital marketing — which encompasses search engines, social media, websites, email, blogs, and other online channels — is that we can enter markets virtually anywhere on this planet and get our messages in front of potential customers. But to do so, it’s important to first understand that you need an advertising budget.
And, before launching a social media advertising campaign, you need to know a few things about the platform and the audience.
Social media advertising is significantly different than search engine advertising (for example, Google AdWords).
- With AdWords, you are paying to get your message in front of people who are actively searching for your solution, today. These users have a high intent to purchase, and will click on your advertisement if you can demonstrate value. They are researching the best solution, and you pay for the opportunity to prove its you.
- With social media advertising, you don’t pay to get your message in front of high intent users who are actively seeking a solution. You pay to get in front of latent audiences who are killing time on social media, but who will interact with an advertisement if it speaks directly to their pain or passion points.
Worth noting, your ad isn’t competing against similar products and services (unlike AdWords where your ad competes against your competitor’s ad) — you are competing for the user’s immediate attention. Social media users are presented with dozens of ads each day, and they aren’t required to click on any ad, but they will voluntarily engage with an ad if it provides undeniable value to them — again, if it speaks directly to their pain and passion points.
The takeaway is that when advertising on social media, you need to know your target customers better than they know themselves. They are on social media for entertainment, and aren’t actively seeking your solution, so what’s going to make them pause amongst a sea of content and pick you? There’s a phenomenal marketing book by Seth Godin called Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable that highlights this concept very well.
We'll finish this section with great emphasis on the fact that you need to understand your customers for social media advertising to be effective.
First, you need to know their pain and passion points, then craft your ads and content around providing solutions to them.
Second, you need to know which social media platforms they spend their time on. Build your campaign around what keeps them up at night, and where they spend their time online. Note that when you develop advertising lists in your Facebook Business account, or on any other social media advertising platform, you will need to choose demographic information and interests. Intimately knowing your customer will help you create these lists.
What social media platforms, tools and strategies are the best?
The social media platform you commit to needs to be determined by where your customer segment congregates online. If you are a B2B company, it’s likely you will be on LinkedIn and Twitter, but we have had a lot of success with our B2B clients marketing on Facebook and Instagram. The determining factor is understanding your customer’s social media habits before you commit blindly to any platform.
Our team at Social Lite put together a handful of random social media hacks and strategies that have proven to work incredibly well for our campaigns, time and time again. Note that it was tough limiting this list, which include both B2B and B2C strategies. And remember — what works today, may not tomorrow — the key is perseverance and agility. Commit, test and adapt!
Advertise on Reddit.
Google and Facebook don’t always let you advertise your content, especially when your subject surrounds certain hot but cautionary topics like blockchain, cannabis, or investing. We learned the hard way with one of our campaigns, and although we had more than enough dollars to throw at advertising, we were blocked by the big dogs (Facebook and Google). Being the persistent marketers we are, we tested dozens of alternate advertising platforms and directories. Low and behold, we found success advertising on Reddit, where we landed one of our clients a $160,000 project (with further opportunity to upsell this customer!). To be sure this wasn’t just luck, we tested reddit advertisements with other projects and campaigns, where we also walked away happy.
Increase touchpoint frequency with your audience using Facebook pixels and retargeting.
Facebook pixels have been around for quite some time, so this isn’t necessarily a hack, but our advise it to ensure the ads you re-target to your website visitors continue to get deeper and deeper in value. If a user first hears about you through an awareness advertisement on Facebook, and as a result they visit your website, the next ad they receive shouldn't be the same message as the original ad. The next touch point needs to get deeper in value and specific to your audience’s needs and desires.This article we published on Facebook pixels is an oldie, but certainly still a goodie, and pixels are as essential today as they were then. Frequent touch points with your customer is key, especially when each interaction continually provides undeniable value.
Treat your Instagram profile like an editorial magazine.
Instagram stories are all the rave right now, which are most-often used to tell real time stories for your brand. However, audiences will always visit your profile to get to know you, so your page should be treated like a magazine. You need to look good, look interesting, and look like a leader in the social space. This point is so important, I could write a book on it. Oh wait, my colleague Ivana already did: this ebook is the must read of the year if your mission is to create a dedicated and engaged community on Instagram.
For more inspiration on Instagram profile themes, also check out this article.
Link Instagram stories to your blog posts.
Instagram stories aren’t only for real time posts. Brands are using stories to drive traffic to their promotions and sales campaigns by linking stories to website content. Only a year ago you needed 10,000 Instagram followers to do this, but now any business who pays to promote content can do this.
Integrate influencer marketing into your social media marketing mix.Below is a snippet about influencer marketing from a full content marketing case study we published. View the full case study here.
If you are a lifestyle brand, or you are selling products, piggybacking off the popularity and reach of social media influencers can be a successful way to introduce your brand to the right audiences.For most businesses, celebrity social media influencers are out of reach, like Kylie Jenner, for example, who now charges 1 million dollars to feature your product on her Instagram page. But, micro-influencers, those with less than 100,000 followers, are much more attainable financially, and can still help grow your following and reach, and most importantly, connect you to new networks of like-minded consumers.
Contests are still a powerhouse.
One of the few very effective ways to reach new customers without advertising is the good old fashion social media contest. If you have a limited advertising spend, contests best replacement to engage the masses. Try giving away something highly desirable to anyone, that your company doesn’t sell, like concert or sport tickets. We have had a lot of success with this strategy for our clients, as it introduces your brand to consumers outside of your current customer base.
Feature a YouTube video in the top fold of your website.
This is as much a website design tip as it is a social media hack. The top section of your website needs to build instant credibility with your website visitors, and video is the best immediate way to showcase your products and services — as we all know, video is beginning to dominate the online landscape as the most consumable form of content. Knowing that website visitors will be inclined to watch your video if it’s in the top fold of your site, this is a great way to drive a ton of views on your YouTube channel!
Publish a video directly through Facebook, not YouTube or Vimeo.
Following up to the previous point about video dominating content, Facebook knows this, and is competing with YouTube to be the top video platform. As incentive to get you publishing videos directly on Facebook, and not on YouTube or Vimeo, Facebook rewards you by opening up the audience-reach flood gates. Theoretically, unless you are a YouTube star or you have an active YouTube channel, you video will reach more people organic if published on Facebook versus YouTube. Pro tip: publish the same video on both platforms, in the same way you would post the same status update on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter back in the day.
Add long, positive descriptions when pinning on Pinterest.
According to BuzzFeed, pins that include descriptions around the 300 character mark are most likely to be repinned and saved by other users, and descriptions with a positive tone also increase success. Just remember to link your pins to your website! Pinterest is a powerhouse for driving website traffic through Google image search.
Create content that addresses problem-based keyword searches instead of solution-based.
One of the newest, most significant strategies you can deploy with Google AdWords is to target problem-based keywords instead of solution-based. Although this is a search engine marketing tip, and not a social media marketing tip, it speaks to the nature of how online users search for and resonate with online content. If you can demonstrate to your target audience that you understand their pain and passion points, they will be more inclined to engage with your social advertisements and posts in general. Show them that you understand their specific problems, and get as granular as possible.
Invite people who like your Facebook posts to like your page.
If you get a lot of likes on a Facebook post, click to see who liked your post. If they don’t already like your page, you will have the option to invite people to like your page, as shown in the image below. This is an effective way to build your following with people who are already familiar with you and your content!
Curate a photo post and a series of stories that revolve around one topic.
Everybody knows the age-old trick to garner more followers on Instagram: perform a mass following of like-minded individuals. This works so well that Instagram has had to implement a rule that caps users at a maximum of 160 account follows per hour. This is a simple strategy that I feel can be greatly improved upon.
In order to properly attract prospective IG followers, one should curate a photo post and a series of stories that revolve around one topic. Let’s say, for example, the attractive architecture of Edmonton, AB. So you post a picture of Edmonton’s new bridge with the Stantec Tower in the background and then toss up a couple of cool stories of sweet building projects around town. Great. From there, you search for accounts related to the architecture of YEG. Use your first 100 follows this hour on these accounts. From there, find a recent picture on the most popular account with the lowest engagement of those 100 accounts and follow the first 60 people who liked that low-engagement photo. I realize this sounds counterintuitive, but following the people who like the least engaging photos means if they follow you back, there is a greater chance they’ll follow even your least interesting posts. Following over-likers (and having them follow you) means a higher rate of engagement on your photos.
Follow 20 people on LinkedIn every morning (especially if you’re a b2b company).
Pre-build a list of targeted contacts you would like to meet based on the companies they work for, the industries, and the job titles. Then make it a daily habit to reach out and invite individuals from your list connect with you on LinkedIn. In no time you will grow your list with new contacts who may find value in the content you routinely share. The key in this scenario is to not immediately spam new contacts with sales pitches. Demonstrate through your contact that you add value to their LinkedIn feed.
The best marketing that you can do is free and organic but it requires unparalleled creativity and quality of content.
Viral content marketing is still very much a thing in 2019 and it always will be. For content to go viral, you need to not only think creatively about how your target audience will perceive your message, but how you can impact and intrigue society as a whole. Think outside the box, then think outside this planet. There’s no limit to creativity, and the further you reach and risk outside of standard norms, the greater your potential to spark interest from wider audiences.
Utilize user-generated content to boost engagement.
There’s no better way to build brand advocates and demonstrate your credibility than through social proof. Get customers to provide case studies and testimonials, especially the video and photo kind. You want to demonstrate to new audiences how other customers found value in your product or service, because customers believe and trust other real customers. And, publish these case studies and testimonials everywhere, not just on social media (like your blog and email campaigns).
Publish consistent messaging with consistent branding across platforms and content categories.
In 2019, content is branding. Your audience follows you because they connect with your brand, whether it’s a company profile or your personal account. If you switch your voice, you risk disconnecting the consistency of your brand voice. Consider creating a new account or using a different platform if you are keen on posting off-kilter content or sub categories for your business.
For Facebook posts, Include a link in your copy above the 477-character “see more” link.
Your goal with social media marketing should always be to drive customers to your website and to your offer. Nowadays Facebook cuts off your text once it is longer than 477 characters and automatically generates a “see more” link so that customers can choose whether or not they want to read the entire post. By including a link to your website and offer in the first 477 characters, you give users the option to access your website and/or offer without the extra step of “reading more.”
Get comfortable with Pinterest ads (and yes, that includes video ads).
You probably already know you can run ads and promoted pins on Pinterest, but did you know you can now also promote video content on Pinterest? Plus, they recently (and by recently, we mean like November, 2018 recently) launched carousel ads. Carousel ads are great if you want to showcase different angles of a product or if you're working up to a big sale and want to show some variety. But the good news doesn't end there. You can track page visits, sign-ups, purchases, and custom conversions like saves and closeups with Pinterest's conversion tracking tag. The Pinterest Business YouTube channel provides all the tutorial content you need with step-by-step instructions on how to get started.
Publish blogs directly on your personal profile on LinkedIn.
This is another one of those instances where the social media platform incentivises you for publishing on their platform. If you publish a blog post directly on LinkedIn (instead of publishing the blog on your website and promoting it on LinkedIn), you will be rewarded by reaching wider audiences. LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to publish blog post on LinkedIn business pages, so you will need to publish on your personal profile, but hey, LinkedIn is a personal branding platform, so embrace it and get ready to make new contacts.
To build your company LinkedIn profile, first post on there, then encourage your team to share on their personal pages, habitually.
I’ll be honest with you. It’s a lot of work building a following on your LinkedIn business page. To do it, publish all your LinkedIn content on the business page, then ensure you and your entire team shares each post, adding your own commentary when you publish. As long as the business page adds enough value to the audiences you reach through team sharing, the page likes will follow.
Bring out the colleague brigade again on LinkedIn to significantly boost your organic reach.
This is not a groundbreaking, mind-boggling strategy. It is a simple tactic with a significant impact. Back in the wild, wild west days of Facebook business pages (2007 till the algorithm launched), if people liked your content, it spread like wildfire to new audiences. Well, with LinkedIn, every single piece of content that you like will show up on your network’s feed. This ensures that people are selective with what they endorse (through a like), but it also gives us an opportunity to get our content on a lot of LinkedIn feeds. The best way to do so without cheating the system or being tacky is to band together with your colleagues and endorse (like) each other’s content to multiply your reach. In the examples below, which are both posts promoting our involvement at marketing events, where we presented, you will notice the image on the left was viewed by 4-5 times more people that the image on the right (987 vs 234 views). With the image on the left, I asked three colleagues to like the image to see if it would spread further, as compared to the right image, where no colleagues like it. This was a test on my part to prove this strategy works. Consensus: it DOES.
Who uses social media marketing for their business?
It’s rare you’ll find somebody who doesn’t spend time on at least one social media site. Older CEOs may only use LinkedIn, and young teenagers may only use SnapChat. And in between, many of us spend time on several platforms. As our generations get older, it’s safe to presume everyone all be wired into at least one social network.
So, the answer is obvious — whether you are a B2B or B2C company, and whether you are a small business or 50-million dollar company, your customer uses social media, and if you would like to connect with your customer, you’ll be there, too.
Does social media marketing work?
It works when you integrate your social media activities with your company’s sales process. Before you launch a social media campaign, you need to understand your customer, and map the 8 stages of their Customer Value Journey. By doing so, you will understand how incredibly important social media is, because it’s often the first touch point with your customer, and the first impression. It’s not difficult — it’s more a medium challenge — to grow an audience who is engaged in your brand. You need to tell great stories; you need to know your customer and speak to your customer, not blab on about yourself; and you need to commit for the long haul.
But for social media to “work,” according to our definition where our goal is revenue growth, it is of the utmost importance that we strategize how we will deepen the customer relationship beyond your social media community. You need to plan how you will ascend your customer from someone who is getting to know you on social media, to someone who is buying from you.
Can social media marketing really help my business?
Not over night. Before you think that you will hop on social media today and start generating customers tomorrow, you need to determine how you will integrate social media into your daily operations. It needs to become part of your everyday culture. Who will develop the strategy? Who will manage the content schedule? Who will be responsible for advertising, and tracking and reporting success?
But if you align your strategy with your company’s existing sales process, and you deeply understand your customer, social media marketing will help you measurably attract new leads. I say that confidently, and although I can’t guarantee the rate of impact, or amount of new leads you will gain, you will succeed to find a customer (or more) if you commit, measure and adapt.
If you are uncertain that your team has the capacity to do it well, hold off, or consider consulting a professional. There are several ways you can develop a social media marketing campaign — you can hire in house, you can hire a freelancer, or you can hire an agency. There are pros and cons to each, which you can learn about here.
How much does it cost to get started with social media marketing?
If you hire an inhouse social media employee who is a recent college or university grad, you may pay this person a salary of $40-$55k per year, for just social media management. If you hire an agency like Social Lite to build, launch and manage your entire digital marketing campaign to drive measurable leads and sales revenue, you’re looking at a price of approximately $50-$70k per year.
I shared this article in the section above to highlight the pros and cons of different marketing solutions, but it also compares costs for each solution. I highly recommend giving it a read if you’re not sure where to start!
If you are a small business or startup, and you don’t have this type of budget, try building the base yourself. Or consider hiring a freelancer with proven experience.
For more info on our services, download our pricing guide.
Where do I start?
I mentioned Social Lite’s Customer Value Journey methodology more than once on this page. Before you start wasting thousands of dollars on a new social media employee, or on social ads, it’s essential to map out your customer relationship first.
If you don’t know where to begin with your customer mapping exercise, we offer a standalone Customer Value Journey Workshop where we will plan your digital marketing campaign strategy with you. It’s the same exercise we complete for every single campaign we deploy for our clients at Social Lite.
For more info on the workshop, contact us today.
More about Social Lite.
We are a digital marketing agency. And yes, we are a social media marketing agency. Whatever you want to call us, our focus is driving leads, customers and revenue for our clients using the latest digital tools and strategies.