The term social media has only been in existence for around 20 years, yet depending on the person, it evokes an entirely different emotional response. For a baby boomer, social media platforms are often a way to stay connected with old friends and share images of their grandchildren. Compare that to a Gen Z’er that has never been without social media, and it forms a substantial portion of their social construct.
The wide array of responses is comparable only to the growing number of platforms that keep popping up and fading away just as quickly, similar to a twisted game of whack-a-mole. Companies looking to traverse the minefield can be left frustrated and abandon social media altogether, without ever realizing the power that it can bring to their overall marketing strategy.
The Four “E’s” of Social Media
From a marketing perspective, there are four pillars of social media that need to be recognized. Should any one pillar be ignored, companies can spend valuable time and resources in the wrong places. Within our team, we refer to these as the four E’s of social media marketing. The following cornerstones form a cycle that drives the social media engine.
Like any great adventure, many companies that are looking to adopt a well-rounded social media strategy need to explore a variety of platforms to find their audience. Most will start with well-known platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Over the years, these communities have become a playground for marketers with advanced internal tools to help marketers hone in on their audience and increase their social footprint.
While these stalwart platforms receive the lion’s share of marketing attention, emerging platforms can hold a great deal of value. Early adopters can be at the forefront and have access to the same audiences at a fraction of the customer acquisition cost. Budget-minded businesses might opt for low-cost paid advertising on emerging platforms and a more organic approach where ad space is at a premium.
The key is to test the water with a variety of platforms and see which yields the greatest ROI for your company.
Once you have settled on platforms that you are ready to explore, the next pillar focuses on exposure. Starting out, you are a relative unknown. What you might not realize is that each social media platform has its own tools to help new users gain exposure. This could come in the form of paid advertising discounts that will skyrocket your post to the top of the algorithm, or the ability to distribute a set number of invitations to the company page each month.
While these two are vastly different in approach, they are ultimately different sides of the same coin. Exposure is also built through consistency. Each social algorithm is different, but most place a high priority on consistency and with most companies failing to post more than once per week, the sky's the limit when resources are dedicated to your social media strategy.
Think of exposure and engagement as twin brothers. They are essentially tied to the hip and they play off of each other to help grow your overall presence. When you hear the term “gone viral” you should immediately think of engagement. Engagement can come from a variety of different avenues, but it is important to remember that it is a two-way street.
It should come as no surprise that most companies are great at promoting their own business. If every piece of content that you post is selling something, you might as well be driving down a one-way street. Otherwise, you just become that creepy stalker that no one wants to be around.
Engagement MUST be reciprocal. The majority of your interactions with the greater social media community should be as a resource, or bringing value to the conversation, outside of selling your specific product. The challenge(and the reason most fall short) is that this path needs additional resources to be executed properly.
When you think about social media, data is generally not the first thing that comes to mind. For marketers, it should be priority number one. Data holds the key to allowing your social media marketing strategy’s evolution. That’s right, social media will never be a set it and forget it marketing tool.
If you only leave this article with one tip, it is to leverage the analytics tools that social media platforms provide as much as possible. Those inauspicious data points hold the key to helping you increase your ability to grow your audience and in turn drive traffic to your business.
Failing to regularly examine and pivot based on real-time data is one of the fastest ways to limit your overall ROI on your social media marketing efforts.
Creating Winning Social Media Marketing Strategy
Think beyond cat memes and the occasional post promoting your company, the time is now to expand your social media strategy. Whether you have 10K followers or are just getting started, having a well-rounded social media strategy for your business should be a top marketing priority. Consistency is critical, and for most businesses, it is one of the biggest hurdles to growing their social media presence.
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