Creating a social media marketing strategy should be an important part of your overall marketing goals. Using social media for your business can help you meet some important objectives like increasing brand awareness and creating an avenue for building brand loyalty via positive customer interactions.
Megan Baker, Digital and Social Media Supervisor at Boston Beer Company, talked to Accion about how to create a social media marketing strategy. She also explained why a website is critical and why social media presence isn’t enough to sustain your brand.
Why You Need a Website
The main reason you need a website is for the purposes of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means that when someone Googles your product or brand, your website is optimized to return search results so you can be found online by customers and potential customers. While social media marketing is important, a social media presence isn’t enough. Having a website builds a greater sense of trust for consumers to know where they can find you online.
When someone Googles your product or brand, you want to have a trust-worthy online presence with a well-designed website. When people first learn about a brand or product, it’s common to Google it, and if you have a decent website, it lends legitimacy to your business. It’s also great for discoverability if someone Googles within your product market if your brand is surfaced in those search results.
If you’re wondering which website platform to use, Megan’s favorites include Squarespace, WordPress, and Tumblr. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do web design. These platforms have easy to use and beautifully-designed templates. Just plug in your content.
A website and your own domain name should cost around $150 per year or less, a small expense that’s worth it to have a website that will help people find your brand and to lend your products legitimacy.
What Should Go on Your Website?
It’s important to make sure your website has the following sections, pages, or information:
Tell us about YOU and your story. People like to know why someone went into business and the experiences and wisdom that went into it. They want to know why you went to the trouble to create a brand and its products, and what thought and intentions went into the customer experience. Then tell us about your product and brand and what makes it so special. Why should I choose you and your product?
What makes your product awesome? What sizes, styles, colors, flavors, or other product attributes and variations are available? Does your product have health benefits? Give us all the details.
Call(s) to Action
Do you want me to visit your store, brewery or restaurant? Can I purchase your product directly from your store or website? If your product is sold in grocery stores, national chain stores, or boutiques, how can I locate your product? Be specific about how people can get your product!
Social Media Handles
At the very least, share the links to your channels. At best, embed your social media content feeds right into the site. You’re already creating the content, so might as well use it!
How can people get in touch with you? What’s your physical address, phone number, and email address? A simple contact form is a great way to answer questions. Here are a couple good examples of websites that include all relevant business information on the websites: MacaBoston.com and RocBrewingCo.com.
Why Should Social Media Be Included in Your Marketing Strategy?
Social media marketing can provide things traditional marketing can’t.
Specific Audience Targeting: Through paid social media, you can specifically target the consumers you are trying to talk to via a variety of demographics, including age, gender, geography, and interests.
Real-time Feedback and Engagement: Want to know how your new flavor or style is performing? How about your new packaging? You can get solicited (and oftentimes unsolicited) feedback from your consumers on social media. Pay attention to what they are saying!
Social Media Is a FREE Consumer Relations Tool: Not only can you send out mass messaging, social media allows you to have one-on-one engagement with consumers. Address negative feedback appropriately ASAP and reward positive engagement whenever possible.
How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar
When you’ve got a business to run, it’s easy to backburner “unnecessary” tasks such as social media. By creating a social media calendar, you can batch-produce posts and schedule them out in advance so that you don’t have to create content on the fly or interrupt busy business operations to post on social media. To create a social media calendar, you’re going to:
Determine your Messaging Priorities: What are your top 3 product messaging priorities or brand associations? What are the actions you want your followers to take? Basically, you want to figure out exactly what you want your customers to know and what you want them to do with that information.
Capitalize on Existing Conversations: Determine what holidays and special occasions, culture trends, or current events make sense for your brand. How can your brand contribute to what’s happening already on social media?
Plan Ahead: Build out a quarterly content calendar that you re-visit and update twice a month. Be sure you are hitting on the priorities you have defined!
What Should I Post About on Social Media for my Business?
There are three main types of content you want to focus on when posting on social media for your business:
- Brand: Who are you and what do you stand for? You can post stories that highlight the values and lifestyle goals shared between your brand and customers. Posting about your product is secondary. You want to build an emotional bond with visitors to your page, rather than constantly shilling your products.
- Occasions: Focus on special moments and events and showcase when and how to enjoy your product and how it enhances your customers’ experiences in life.
- Product: Of course, you do want to sell products, so you occasionally want to mention what you sell and what makes it great. In these posts, you can make the product front and center. (Just be careful that this isn’t the majority of what you post about on social media.)
Purpose of Each Social Media Channel
Facebook is mainly a social network where users stay up to date with their friends and family, find entertainment, and follow their favorite brands. For business owners, your goal is to boost your brand’s discoverability, increase consumer awareness, and engagement through the use of custom content.
Instagram is an online photo gallery where users share great visuals and get inspired by brands and influencers. As a business owner, you can use Instagram to reach and engage with specific audiences and use it as a consumer relations platform.
Twitter is often used as a virtual newsroom where users stay up to date on the latest trends and news, both around the world and locally. You can use Twitter to build brand relevance and display thought leadership. Twitter is also used frequently as a consumer relations platform.
How Often Should You Post on Social Media?
Facebook: two to four times per week. A lower cadence is recommended for Facebook to ensure all content is of high quality. Your posts should have a clear call to action.
Instagram: three to five times per week. Most Facebook content can be re-purposed for Instagram, but Instagram can also feature more unplanned content, such as snapshots from behind the scenes at your business.
Twitter: five to ten times per week, not inclusive of responses. Instagram content can be re-purposed for Twitter. You can create Twitter content that’s a mix of original content and sharing content relevant to your audience that you found from news or blogs. You can also retweet others’ content.
If creating all that content sounds daunting, you can consider finding ways to source user-generated content to beef up your social media content strategy.
Sourcing User Generated Content (UGC) for Social Media.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to create all social media content yourself. Here are a few different ways to source user-generated content.
Ask for It: Put a slip in packaging (or on packaging) asking people to share content about your products. Be sure to provide the appropriate hashtags and ask them to tag your handle. Make it visible.
Engage with It: Be sure to search social media platforms for your branded hashtags and tagged photos of your handle and engage! Like, comment, and show the love.
Incentivize It: Offer discounts or prizes for posts that get featured, or randomly select a winner on a weekly or monthly basis.
Ask for Permission to Use It: You should ask for permission to use someone’s photo as a courtesy. Simply comment asking for permission and wait for the response. You may want to consider offering something in return for using their content.
Elements of an Effective Facebook Post
Always have a visual (either a video or a photo). Strive to use video whenever you can, as the Facebook algorithm, which often hides business page posts from followers, is more likely to show videos to your audience over any other kind of content.
Use clear branding. This way if a post ever goes viral, your brand is clearly marked or mentioned somewhere in the content. It doesn’t have to be branded so blatantly that people are turned off to sharing the content, but try to include your brand somewhere.
Keep copy concise so people take the time to read it. Use a conversational tone, and have a clear call to action. Here’s an example of a Facebook post from Samuel Adams, which included a video:
Elements of an Effective Instagram Post
The following post from Samuel Adams demonstrates all the elements of an effective Instagram post.
The creative elements should be of high quality. Be sure to use clear, sharp images or videos that can tell a simple story without distractions. Use a conversational tone and keep the copy as concise as possible. Try to use 140 characters or less (excluding hashtags). Use two to three hashtags in the caption. If you would like to add additional hashtags, do so in a comment. Tag your location to show up in location feeds.
Elements of an Effective Tweet
Here is another Samuel Adams Beer post that demonstrates all the right notes.
When composing a Tweet, remember the following:
- Whenever possible, include a piece of creative (video, photo)
- Use a conversational tone, especially within one-on-one conversations
- A #hashtag (keep hashtags limited to two to three per post)
- A link to related content on a website when relevant
- An @handle when applicable
Why Social Media Advertising Is Worth the Cost
Advertising on social media is a cost-effective way to reach targeted audiences. The best use cases are for event promotion and more evergreen content.
Facebook advertising is a great way to promote an event. You want to give yourself a minimum of two weeks for maximum impact, although a month-long advertising campaign is recommended whenever possible.
You can also run ads against product-focused content that is not tied to a specific moment in time. You should plan on promoting your best content that you’re especially proud of for a minimum of a week. Reserve this type of advertising for higher quality content such as video or higher-end photography.
How Much Should You Spend on Social Media Advertising?
A budget of $50 to $200 per campaign would be impactful, depending on the amount of time the campaign runs. If you have lower brand awareness or are trying to reach new audiences, then focus on reach and awareness as you compose and structure your social media advertising campaigns.
Now you should have a pretty good idea of how and why to use social media in your marketing efforts, utilizing the three biggest platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you create a content calendar, it will make it easier to brainstorm and batch create content, giving consumers a steady supply of posts from your brand. To take your social media marketing efforts to the upper limits of effectiveness, you want to spend a little bit of money on advertising so that your posts get seen by the right audiences.