Social Media Marketing: Essential Advice For Startling Success
Did you know that more 16-24-year-olds research research new brands or products on social networks than on search engines?
I was amazed, although not surprised when I heard that.
Its an important reminder of how buyer journeys are evolving all the time and why its so important that businesses keep up with their preferences through effective stragegic social media marketing. Failing to do so will only mean that your current and potential customers will find what they’re looking for elsewhere. Your loss will be your competitors’ gain.
Social media is so important for brands because customers expect to have conversations and relationships with them, there’s no better place to facilitate this at scale and at a one-to-one level. It’s also important because it’s a place where experiences are shared, this include experiences with brands and their products.
People will share branded pages they find helpful, stories about their experience trying to place orders, returning faulty goods, change bookings, unboxing products (I really don’t get that one…), using products, customer service calls, etc.
And so the start of one person’s customer journey has become integrated with many other peoples’ journey. The influence is immense.
So, if you’re just getting started with social media planning, or if you’re already well under way, I hope the advice provided on this page will help you to plan and execute award-winning social media campaigns that help you to tap into your buyers’ journeys now and in the future.
Do this well and you will see startling success.
Social media integral for product research
22% of digital consumers have liked or followed a brand on a social network in the past month, and more than 4 in 10 use social networks to research new brands or products, making it the second-most important channel of all.
Among 16-24-year-olds, social media comes top, having overtaken search engines towards the end of 2017.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
#1: Critical Things You Should Know About Social Media Management
Too often, small business owners try to do everything in-house, and while it’s true that DIY can save you money, it can take a lot of time, and since time is money, it’s often a zero-sum game. The time you’re spending on complicated or time-consuming tasks is time you’re not working on your business, and that’s not good for your bottom line.
Then there’s the learning curve. Very often, things that involve technology require a detailed understanding, and it can take time to learn that too. If you skip the learning and jump right in, there’s a chance you could make a mistake, and when it comes to social media for business, that’s a very public mistake!
The answer, for many busy small business owners, is social media management, but what is it, and how can you take advantage of this service?
What is social media management?
Social media management is a turnkey solution to social media outsourcing. A social media manager will take control of your current social media accounts, from content creation and posting schedules to engaging with fans and growing your follower base.
In addition to managing all of your existing social portals, a social media manager will also help you to identify new strategies and practices that might improve your social media marketing ROI.
What is social media account management?
Social media account management refers to multiple channel or account management. So instead of one of your channels, a social media account manager will take control of all of your accounts or channels.
Why is social media management important?
Social media management is part art, part science, and all about relationships. Whether it’s the perfect time to post or the ideal number of posts per day, there is, very much, a magic formula.
Getting the right style, substance, and tone to get the most out of your social media accounts can take a long time, not to mention keeping up the pace of posting to be consistent and attract new followers.
You can’t be too advertising driven, but you also need to find ways to introduce your products and services (it is marketing, after all!). Then there’s the trick of turning followers and fans into paying customers, which is no small feat.
Social media is the perfect way to reach large groups of engaged, interested fans in your area, but it’s not simple by any means. It is definitely not a case of “if you build it they will come,” and if you don’t have the skills (or the time to learn them), outsourcing social media management to a company that knows what they are doing is a shortcut to the head of the class.
What is a social media manager?
A social media manager is a Twitter ninja. They’re a Facebook Sherpa, to guide you through the social media wilderness. An Instagram guru.
They might be an individual in your company, but often, particularly in small businesses, hiring someone simply to manage social media simply isn’t feasible.
That might mean taking it on yourself, having an employee manage it in addition to their other tasks, or, like many small businesses, choosing an external service provider to take care of things for you.
What does social media management involve?
Do you still think social media management is simple? That it’s something you can do in the half hour you have your morning coffee? What if I told you there were dozens of different functions involved? Here they are:
Creating a Social media strategy
Marketing success always starts with strategy, and the role of the social media manager starts with this crucial planning.
Some of the specific strategic functions your social media manager might handle are:
- Creating personas to describe your target audience.
- Creating content plans and calendars to reach that audience.
- Developing a social media budget, including paid advertising.
- Plan your campaigns.
- Outsource content creation, whether that is writing, graphics or other types of content.
- Develop specific marketing campaigns with specific stakeholders. For instance, if you are launching a new product or service, a social media manager might create a specific campaign.
- Educate and involve your existing team in your social media.
Integrate social media with other marketing activities.
Social media implementation
Planning is great, but at some point, you need to execute your plans to see if they work, and get the benefits you hope to out of them. A social media manager implements your plans in several ways:
- Manage day to day social media activities, including automation strategies where possible.
- Ensure that your brand has a consistent presence on your social media platforms. The only thing worse than not being on social media is having long breaks in your presence!
- Recruit and manage brand ambassadors and influencers.
- Community building, and developing relationships with your existing and prospective customer base.
- Start conversations, answer questions and offer interesting and useful information.
Content Creation for Social Media
Content marketing is not just about blogging. Social media is an important part of your content marketing too! Social media managers will:
- Identify and use other channels and platforms to get your brand maximum exposure. Because if your channels aren’t built up yet, the best way to get eyes on your content is to go where they already are.
- Create content for your blog that is designed for maximum social sharing.
- Create video content for your channels by repurposing your best-written content.
- Comment and post on related groups, pages, and blogs.
Social media monitoring
Without data to measure the results of your efforts, any marketing plan is a shot in the dark. Social media managers collect and analyse your social media data too.
- They create goals and targets for your platforms, in the short, medium and long-term.
- Collecting data from your social media pages and campaigns.
Analyse data regularly to determine what’s working and what’s not.
- Create reports on your social media marketing, so you don’t have to wade through the raw data.
Identify and capitalize on new trends in social media.
- Cross-reference social media activity and website traffic.
- Observe competitors social media strategy, and incorporate successful tactics in your strategy.
These are just the most common tasks a social media manager handles. There may be many more involved in your company’s strategy and implementation.
What skills does a social media manager need?
The role of the social media manager is a new one, and it’s constantly evolving, but there are some basic skills you will want to look for in your social media manager.
They should be an image whiz…
Social media posts with images are viewed more than 90% more often than those without. Your posts need images. Because of copyright issues, and for branding purposes, you need to post original images whenever possible.
This is why it’s important to find a social media manager that can handle graphics production on your behalf, so you can avoid paying another service provider.
… and a word ninja
Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but your words are just as important, and while your social media manager might not be writing full-length blog posts, they will be engaging with your fans and followers a few hundred characters at a time – and that’s tough.
Great writing is a critical skill for social media managers, not just in style and content, but to avoid embarrassing grammar and spelling errors, and potential problems in getting your message across.
They should live for customer service
Your social media manager will be the first line of contact with your customers on social platforms, so it’s crucial that they have a customer-focused outlook. While they might not be solving problems on your behalf, it’s important that they pass those issues along as quickly and clearly as possible, so that your customers stay happy.
They should know their SEO from their SEF…
While your social media manager might not take care of SEO and blogging, they are a big part of the picture, so it’s critical that they understand how it all works, and their part in the puzzle.
… and their way around social advertising
Social advertising is a great, targeted PPC option for small companies. If you don’t have a standalone advertising role in your company or a third party who handles this, your social media manager will need to do this too.
Understanding how this type of advertising works will allow them to maximise your bang for your advertising buck, and get you the best possible results.
You need someone with camera presence
Social platforms these days include a number of live, video-based possibilities, like Facebook Live and Periscope. If your social media manager is going to get the most out of these platforms, they’ll need to take care of this too, and that means being able to perform live, with confidence, in front of your followers. Not only is confidence critical, but the right accent and product and service knowledge are important.
Who knows how to build relationships…
Sales these days are all about relationships. Most consumers engage with brands online long before they buy, and when they do, it’s likely to be on social media. Your social media manager will literally be your first line in online marketing in many situations, so they had better be a customer service and community engagement rock star!
… and what makes audiences tick!
People are creatures of habit. While the platform might change, and the content evolves, we tend to do the same things over and over again. Your social media manager should be comfortable to analyse the psychology behind this behaviour, identify patterns, and leverage them to get the best possible results.
They should love to analyse data…
Data is deeply unsexy. There are no bells and whistles. But analysing it is still the most important part of your social media strategy.
Your social media manager needs to understand the importance of analytics, and how to interpret data. They need to be comfortable using that data to determine what’s working and what’s not, and to make recommendations for changes to your strategy.
… and know how to get things done within a budget!
Budget is a big part of any marketing and advertising for any small business. So while your social media manager doesn’t need to be an accountant, they should have the ability to create and stick to a budget, and to calculate the ROI you get from specific tasks like advertising campaigns.
Why outsource social media management?
Social media for business is very different from social media for fun. It’s so much more than memes and cat pictures. It takes dedication, consistency, and commitment. If you aren’t willing and able to devote time every single day, then you won’t get the results you hope for.
If you believe that if it’s worth doing something, it’s worth doing it right, and you can’t commit to the daily grind that is social media marketing, then you absolutely need to outsource your social media management to someone who lives, eats and breathes social. Your business and your customers deserve no less.
Still not sure? Read these warning signs that DIY social media won’t work for you.
Signs You Need HELP!
Most people underestimate how hard social media for business can be. They’re convinced they can do it themselves, and that a little light tweeting will bring floods of new customers to their doors. The facts are very different. Here are some of the most common causes for concern.
- Fitting social media in when you have time.
If social media isn’t a priority, it won’t happen. Silent accounts don’t grow. In fact, they lose followers.
- Planning to use social media for selling.
We all know a guy who is always trying to sell something. We all unfollow him. Don’t be that guy.
- Piling the responsibility for social media onto another (already busy) staff member.
Social media really isn’t something you can do properly if you’re doing a million other things.
If you’ve thought any of these things, you’re not ready for DIY social media management.
DIY Saves Money… But Costs Results
Spending money on something you think you can do yourself can be painful for small business owners, but when it comes to social media, DIY can do way more harm than good.
1) Social media is all about first impressions.
You may only have one chance to tell your story on to a potential customer on social media. Don’t waste those seconds!
2) If you want to sell on social, you’re doing it wrong.
Social media is social. They don’t call it sales media. If you think this is a selling channel, you need someone else to do it for you.
3) If you don’t answer, people go elsewhere.
Nearly 90% of customer contacts on social go unanswered. Those customers go elsewhere. You have a day or two to respond before that customer moves on. So if you can’t commit to responding to customers 100% of the time, you need to find someone who can do that for you.
4) There’s a steep learning curve.
Social media success doesn’t come from throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks. You need a solid strategy, commitment, and accountability. All of which a social media manager will give you.
Why You Should Outsource
Large and small businesses can benefit from social media marketing. Here’s why:
- The person who handles your social media needs to know what to do, but also why they need to do it. If they aren’t sure, you should be outsourcing.
- Your message, tone and style need to be consistent. If you can’t maintain the “voice” of your brand consistently, you need to outsource to someone who can.
- You need to know your target audience in depth. If you don’t have detailed personas for your ideal fan or follower (or know what a persona is) you need to outsource to someone who does.
- What you post matters. When and how often matters just as much. If you don’t know exactly what type of content you will post, why, and how frequently, you will benefit from a professional who can develop and implement a content strategy and schedule.
- Do you understand marketing data? Do you know where to find your analytics? Do you know how to interpret it? If not, you probably need someone who does to take care of it for you.
- Can you devote time to social media every day? Are you prepared to work on social media on weekends or at night? Very often, social media is time sensitive, and if you can’t do this, you might want to hire someone who can.
- Do you know what split testing is? Do you know why you should test? Or how? Testing is important to social media success, and if you don’t know how to use this critical tool, you may need some professional help.
- Is there someone in your organization who already knows, in detail, how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and every other platform works? Once you launch a social media program in your organization, there won’t be a lot of time to learn on the job!
- Do you understand how to get the most out of paid advertising on social platforms? This is often critical to early traction for your pages, so if you don’t already have the know-how, outsourcing may be a good idea.
- Do you have the people, the time, and the resources to devote to getting social right? If not, you have two choices: don’t do it, or outsource.
If we’re outsourcing, what does social media management cost?
There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. The simplest and most honest response is that it varies a lot.
It will almost certainly be cheaper, however, than hiring a full-time person to deal with your social media channels.
It will definitely be cheaper (and less damaging) than trying to do it all in-house and making a mistake.
At Polkadot Communications we often manage our clients’ social media accounts as part of an overall communications strategy and therefore don’t typically specify a cost just for social media management. After all, social media management on its own doesn’t drive traffic, leads and sales. It takes the right bespoke combination of sustainable strategy-led marketing and communications techniques to grow a business.
Social media management isn’t for everyone. But if you can’t afford to hire a bona fide social media manager to take care of your channels in-house, it’s almost certainly the next best option.
So if you’re on the fence about hiring a professional third-party social media manager, find out what your options are. You’ll probably find that the ROI for going pro makes the investment worth your while.
Why not book a free social media strategy assessment to see what your options are?
#2: The Best Free Online Social Media Training Courses
A saturated market
98% of digital consumers are social media users, and adoption is high even among 55-64s (94%). An average of 2 hours 22 minutes per day is spent on social networks and messaging, although this figure has started to decrease in specific markets.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
Just a few years ago, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that social media was just another internet fad, that would be gone as quickly as it had burst onto the scene.
One area that no one could have predicted social media would truly shine in is marketing, but there’s no denying that with that massive reach, and the highly focused targeting possibilities social networks offer in both paid and organic advertising, they are a great marketing asset for businesses of all sizes.
However, whilst 72% of adult internet users are now using Facebook (Pew Research Center, 2015), only 45% of marketers think that their Facebook efforts are effective. (Social Media Examiner, 2015).
The figures are probably similar for the other main social media channels with regards to how well marketers think they are using them (if not lower). So, if you’re not already taking advantage of this vast, laser-focused marketing bonanza, or you don’t know where to start, it might be time to take a social media training courses.
Here I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the best FREE Online Social Media Training Courses. I hope they help! And if you would like to recommend any others, please leave a comment at the end of the post.
Quick Reference Social Media Training Courses Links
- HubSpot Academy’s Inbound Marketing Certification
- HubSpot Academy’s Business Writing Course: Master High-Impact Writing With Bestselling Author Daniel Pink
- HubSpot Academy’s Free Social Media Certification Course
- Facebook Blueprint
- Social Media Quickstarter
- DS106: Digital Storytelling and Social Media
- Educate Your Audience and Sell Your Expertise Using Social Media
- Social Media Courses on GFC Learn Free
- The Canvas Network’s Social Media: Various Modules
- Quintly’s Social Media Analytics Course
The Best Free Online Social Media Training Courses
About this Course:
This is absolutely the course to get started with. It provides the strategic context for all of your social media use – Inbound Marketing. Hubspot is a technology that is favoured by people who work in digital marketing, so it’s no surprise that their Inbound Certification course is very in depth. That being said, it’s never a bad thing to get the inside track on what the professionals are doing! This course covers a lot more than just social media, and, when you’ve worked through the videos and course materials at your own pace, you can take the exam and get certified!
Courses & Topics Covered:
- Inbound Marketing Fundamentals
- Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy
- Creating a Blog Post
- Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages
- Understanding Social Media Promotion
- Developing a Conversational Growth Strategy
- Understanding Conversions
- Creating a Conversion Optimisation Strategy
- Understanding Lead Nurturing
- Aligning Your Marketing With Sales
- Applying a Customer Marketing Approach
About this Course:
In a business context, if you want to engage with people on social media you need great writing skills. You’ll need to deploy those skills across the social networks you are using as well as on the website and/or app (e.g. in your blog) that you are driving people towards. So this is the course to do next. It’s fundamental.
Daniel Pink takes an author’s approach to writing, and he teaches the process well. From the concept through outlining, to first drafts, editing and second drafts, he covers everything the professional author would do to create polished pieces.
So while you might not win a Pulitzer after taking this course, you will be producing better writing! About Dan Pink Daniel Pink is a New York Times bestselling author of business books.
He also contributes to world-renowned business and tech sites like Fast Company and Wired, and he’s been published in print media like the Harvard Business Review and The New York Times. It’s safe to say that if you’re going to learn business writing from anyone, Daniel Pink is a good choice!
Courses & Topics Covered:
- Learn Prewriting Strategies with Bestselling Author Daniel Pink
- Learn Writing Tips with Bestselling Author Daniel Pink
- Learn Editing & Proofreading Tips with Bestselling Author Daniel Pink
About this Course:
Now to start diving specifically into learning about social media. It’s another course from HubSpot (our favourite marketing platform). This fantastic social media course covers everything you need to know in an easy to follow format.
Learn the basics and more, from strategy to measuring results, and discover how you can master social media marketing yourself. Then, get certified! It’ll help you test your understanding prove that you know your stuff to anyone that asks.
- Developing a Social Media Strategy
- Social Media Listening and Monitoring
- Building a Content Strategy for Social Media
- Extending Your Reach on Social Media
- Using Social Media to Build One-to-One Relationships
- Understanding the Basics of Digital Advertising
- Measuring Your Social Return on Investment
- Essentials for Continued Success with Social Media
About this Course:
Facebook is, without a doubt, the granddaddy of social networks, and this massive free course is the perfect way to get started driving targeted traffic from groups and pages to your website, and your door.
Since Facebook has shifted from a free for all in the past to a more commercially focused advertising platform in recent years, it’s a good idea to master the tricks and tips before you commit your credit card!
The Facebook Blueprint course is the perfect social media training course for this platform and will teach you the basics and beyond.
Courses & Topics Covered:
- Get started with Facebook
- Get started with advertising
- Learn advanced buying options
- Target the right audience
- Build awareness
- Drive consideration
- Generate Leads
- Promote my app
- Increase online sales
- Increase in-store sales
- Choose ad formats
- Get creative inspiration
- Manage Ads
- Measure ad performance
- Learn about Messenger
- Learn about Instagram
- Distribute and monetise content
About this Course:
If you want to get a great overview of all the big names in social media, then the Social Media Quickstarter social media training course is a good choice. It’s not as in-depth as some single network courses, but it does offer quick and not so nasty overviews of the big networks, with step by step guides and tips to hit the ground running. If you want to start as soon as possible, start here! Courses &
- Facebook Glossary
- Facebook Page vs. Facebook Profile
- Choosing the Right Type of Page
- Set Up Your Facebook Page
- What Should You Say to Create Better Facebook Content?
- How to Promote Your Facebook Page
- Adding Photos to Your Page
- Choosing the Right Facebook Cover Photo
- You as Your Brand Page
- How to Schedule Facebook Posts
- Introduction to Facebook Insights
- How to Show Up in the Facebook News Feed
- How to Find the Best Time to Post on Facebook
- How to Convert Your Facebook Profile to a Facebook Page
- Common Facebook Mistakes to Avoid
- How to Use Facebook to Grow Your Email List
- One Mistake You Don’t Want to Make When Running a Facebook Ad
- Facebook Advertising Ideas
- Setting Up a Twitter Profile
- A Simple Approach to Effectively Use Twitter
- Twitter Search Basics
- How to Use Hashtags
- Using Images on Twitter
- How to Create Twitter Lists Step-by-Step
- Twitter for Customer Service
- Twitter for Brand Awareness
- Twitter for Increasing Sales
- Hosting Tweet Chat
- How to Track Progress with Analytics
- Common Twitter Mistakes
- Getting Started on LinkedIn
- Adding Connections on LinkedIn
- Using LinkedIn Groups
- Adding a Company to LinkedIn
- Posting on LinkedIn Effectively
- How to Build Authority on LinkedIn
- How LinkedIn Can Help You Find Your Next Great Employee
- Common LinkedIn Mistakes
- An Introduction to Pinterest
- Getting Started on Pinterest
- How to Decide What to Pin
- How to Create the Perfect Pin
- How to Get Found on Pinterest
- How to Promote Your Pinterest Page
- How to Use Pinterest Analytics
- Top 10 Pinterest Questions
- Pinterest for Nonprofits
- Pinterest for B2B’s
- Common Pinterest Mistakes
- Pinterest Glossary
- An Introduction to Instagram
- Getting Started on Instagram
- Secrets to Instagram Success
- How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement
- How to Boost Your Brand Identity With Instagram
- Why You Should Switch to an Instagram Business Account
- What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories
- Instagram for Nonprofits
- Examples of Businesses on Instagram
- Why Use Google+?
- Getting Started On Google+
- Google+ Profile, Page, and Local Listing
- Google+ and SEO
- How to Participate on a Google Hangout
- Google+ for Marketing Consultants
- How to Upload a YouTube Video
- Getting Started on YouTube
- 6 Examples of YouTube Videos
- How to Promote Your Videos
- How to Embed a Video
- Common Video Mistakes
- YouTube Analytics
- A Beginner’s Guide to Snapchat for Business
- 7 Creative Ideas for Using Snapchat to Market Your Business
- 6 Easy Ways Your Business Can Get Snapchat Followers
- How to Master Your First Snapchat On-Demand Geofilter
About this Course:
One of the tricks to mastering social media marketing is to understand the nature of relationship marketing. This is not advertising the way it was done in the Mad Men era! In fact, it sometimes doesn’t look like advertising at all!
The Digital Storytelling and Social Media training course takes university-level creative writing skills and updates them for use in the modern world. Because by sharing stories on social networks, you build relationships with fans and leads, and that, in turn, creates more business.
Courses & Topics Covered:
- Getting Through Bootcamp and Personal Cyber Infrastructure
- What’s The Meaning of Digital Storytelling?
- Listening to Audio
- Telling Stories in Photos 6. It’s All By Design
- Advanced Audio And Radio Show Production
- Telling Stories Within the Web
- Reading Movies
- Making Movies
- Timer and Mashup
- Final Project and Wrap Up
About this Course:
Credibility, and building a reputation as an expert in your field has been a cornerstone of internet marketing almost as long as the internet has existed. Social media has just made it easier to find and connect with the audience who most needs your expertise.
This course helps business owners to tap into the “influencer” phenomenon, and build a reputation as the go-to person in their field.
Courses & Topics Covered:
- Empathise: Getting To Know Your Customer
- Define: Defining Their Problem and Unique Value Proposition
- Design: Ideation and Creative Brainstorming
- Prototype: Rapidly Prototyping Your Offer
About this Course:
If you’re a complete novice, then the courses on The Goodwill Community Foundation are the perfect place to start your social media training.
Courses include everything from blogging to social media marketing, Skype, Whatsapp and many other modern technologies.
They do start with the very basics though, so if you’re already somewhat well versed in these technologies, you may find them a little too simple.
Courses & Topics Covered:
- Blog Basics
- LinkedIn Basics
- Facebook for iPhone
- WordPress Resources
About this Course:
The Canvas Network is well known for its online learning offerings, and while the social media training course it was offering has ended for official students, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of this world-class resource!
All of the course notes and resources for this world-class training program are still accessible (FREE!) and they offer a great, broad-based look at everything from blogging to social media and even technologies like RSS feeds.
If you’re looking for information on how to integrate social media into an online marketing funnel, this is a great place to start.
Courses & Topics Covered: Modules on almost anything you can think of!
About this Course:
While most social media training courses focus on how to use the platforms in question, the Quintly course is much more concerned with how you track, measure and use the data and analytics information you get from using these types of marketing.
Since modern day marketing is based on S.M.A.R.T. goals, and since measuring, tracking and refining your marketing tactics is a big part of that, this course can definitely help anyone to get more bang out of their social media buck.
Courses & Topics Covered:
Introduction to Social Media Analytics
- Video: Welcome!
- Course overview
- What is Social Media Analytics
- Asset: Social Media Landscape chart
- Quiz: Social Media Landscape
- Why your business needs Social Media Analytics
Social Media Analytics Cycle: Step 1
- Situation analysis of existing footprint
- Video: How to approach situation analysis
- Compare your Social Media appearances and that of your competition
- Asset: Differentiation between Social Networks for data collection
Social Media Analytics Cycle: Step 2
- Identify your data-based goals
- Find KPIs that fit your goals
- Video: Show and explain different metrics
- Asset: Possible action points for your goals
- Quiz: Differentiate between metrics and decide
Social Media Analytics Cycle: Step 3
- Video: Build the foundation for reporting
- Decide on the audience for different reports
- Automating reports
- Video: How to automate reports
- Quiz: Which kind of report do you see?
- Video: Summary
- Asset: Social Media Analytics Cycle
Social media marketing is a fast-paced world, much like the internet itself. There’s always something new and exciting to master, and the tactics that worked last year are old news now.
While you might not be able to stop studying the art and science of digital marketing after just one course, there definitely are plenty of free, quality resources that can get you started, up the learning curve, and ready to take on this exciting form of marketing.
So take some time, learn some tricks, and maximise your digital marketing ROI.
If it’s too much to handle, then give us a call and our expert team can manage it for you.
#3: Social Media Experts You Need to Follow
Who Do They Follow?
More than a third of internet users say they follow their favourite brands on social media, while 1 in 4 follow brands which they are thinking of making a purchase from.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
Internet marketing has come a long way in a few short years, and social media is, without a doubt, one of the fastest growing (and changing) areas of digital media.
There’s no denying that social media marketing offers the reach, tools and relationship building potential that modern businesses need to survive and thrive, but it can be daunting trying to get started when you’re completely new to the game.
The trouble is, it can be a lot to take in, and even more to learn! Figuring out how to leverage social media to create a tribe, establish a brand, and build relationships can be tough, and if you don’t have an endless budget to do it with, balancing the need for traction with ROI can be even tougher.
The best way to do this is to learn from people who already know! Fortunately, social media experts are a chatty bunch, and there are plenty of experts willing to share their best advice for free!
But time is limited, we’re all busy people, so how do we filter out the noise and focus on the really useful advice?
Well, that’s where this post comes in. We’re here to help.
If you scroll down, you’ll find two lists.
- Our top five individuals to follow.
- Our top ten companies to follow.
We hope you enjoy your new bedtime reading and you’re able to use the recommendations these experts make.
TOP 5 INDIVIDUALS TO FOLLOW
Neil Patel is not only a social media expert, he’s also a technology success story!
In just a few years, Patel has created numerous million-dollar digital marketing companies, including KISSMetrics, HelloBar, Quick Sprout, and Crazy Egg. Along with his co-founders, he created these companies out of nothing, and they now work with some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Amazon, General Motors and even Google!
While Patel is obviously highly skilled at the technical aspects of digital marketing, analytics and growth hacking, he still has the ability to explain these complex concepts in ways that even the complete novice will find useful and relatable.
It’s this ability to avoid jargon and make technical topics easier to understand that makes Patel one of the best in the business and the reason he’s at the top of this list.
Not only is Neil Patel one of the best people to learn from, he’s also won all sorts of awards, including several Top Under 30 and 35 accolades.
Moz, formerly known as SEO Moz, has been a go-to resource for all things search engine optimization and digital marketing for a long time, and social media expert Rand Fishkin, otherwise known as “the Wizard of Moz” is the man behind it all.
He’s also the co-founder of another massively successful digital marketing resource: Inbound.org, and he has written several books about entrepreneurship, SEO and marketing, including Inbound Marketing and SEO: Insights from the Moz Blog. He’s appeared in stories by The New York Times and Newsweek, and he’s also won several prestigious awards.
Like Patel, Fishkin excels in making complex ideas simple, and his Whiteboard Friday videos are one of the best resources around, bar none.
Digital marketing is almost entirely about building relationships, and social media expert Liz Strauss has been called “the most influential relational blogger on the internet”.
Strauss combines her skill at digital relationship building with real-world knowledge of business, publishing and teaching, to help businesses to improve customer relationships and build a fan base who not only support them but love them too!
Ann Smarty is a social media expert, marketing veteran and the brand manager of the Internet Marketing Ninjas. She founded Viral Content Buzz, MyBlogU.com, My Blog Guest, and ViralContentBee.com.
Blogging is the hottest digital marketing trend, and it’s not going anywhere! So, if you’re looking for tips on what works and what doesn’t, what better way to find out than to follow the blog of someone who has literally created a living out of teaching blogging. That’s so meta.
Ann Smarty is that person. She founded Viral Content Buzz. She is the brand manager for Internet Marketing Ninjas. She manages the SEOchat community, and most importantly, she creates detailed, easily actionable posts about the art and science of blogging, that you can borrow shamelessly from.
Learn how to master keyword research, write killer content, and get guest blogging right.
You will find Smarty’s articles on many other sites too, such as Entrepreneur, Lifehack, Mashable, Moz, and Social Media Examiner as well as her own blog, and you can find not one but three Twitter accounts by this busy lady!
Finally, there’s Ann Handley. She’s a social media expert who has been involved in digital marketing almost as long as it’s been a thing, she wrote the Wall Street Journal Best Seller “Everybody Writes,” and she is the chief content officer for MarketingProfs. She also does extensive work as a live speaker.
Handley’s speciality is teaching people how to improve their writing, and to get better marketing results from it. She breaks a very broad concept into manageable chunks and offers actionable advice for writers of every skill level, and she knows what she’s talking about. After all, she is one of Forbes’ Top 20 Women Bloggers!
TOP 10 SOCIAL MEDIA FOCUSED COMPANY BLOGS TO FOLLOW
Social Media Examiner is a huge website, that’s been around since 2009. They focus on how businesses can become social media experts, and they publish a host of articles, videos and podcasts about all things social.
Hootsuite is THE social media automation tool, so it’s no wonder their corporate blog is a treasure trove of fantastic social media tips, tricks and tools.
Buffer is another social media channel manager, that lets you consolidate channels into one easy to use application. Their corporate blog is about all things social and digital marketing.
Pete Cashmore turned a blog he started in his bedroom in Scotland as a teenager into a multi-million-dollar corporation. Let’s just say the guy knows a thing or two about social media!
Social Media Explorer takes a newsroom-like approach to social media. Great for the latest and greatest tips, tools and tricks.
Sprout Social makes software for social media marketing. Their blog shares insights into what makes social media marketing work.
Wersm.com offers social media, digital marketing and many other kinds of internet news. It’s not as much into the how to as it is bringing you the latest tech news.
Social Media Week is an industry conference and news site for social media experts. May be a little technical for newbies, but a great resource nonetheless.
Social Bakers is a social media analytics company. Subscribe for access to their tools or read the blog for social analytics information and trends.
Social Media Today doesn’t sell anything. It’s simply a social media news site. But it does feature contributions from some of the biggest names in the business. Well worth a visit.
The internet is a bottomless resource for social media marketing tips, tricks and tactics. There’s free information everywhere, and everyone can learn what it takes to succeed.
The learning curve is steep in the beginning though, and if you’re looking for immediate results, it may be simpler to outsource, either while you learn, or while you focus on the business of business.
Don’t reinvent the wheel! Take a shortcut, by learning from the experts, and if you still find yourself having trouble, you can always trust an expert like Polkadot Communications to take care of it while you master the basics.
#4: A Social Media Marketing Strategy for Soaring Business Growth
Motivations for Using Social Media
The role that social media plays in the lives of its users has evolved. Digital consumers are now as
likely to say they use social to follow the news as they are to identify it as a platform for keeping
in touch with friends (40%). Entertainment also now plays a key role in motivating digital
consumers to engage with social media, ranking as the fourth most important reason for internet
Eased by the spread of smartphone, social media has become a default activity for consumers
looking to fill time. The opportunities for social engagement, at all times of the day and in
various locations, have facilitated the evolution of social platforms into entertainment and
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you know just how big an impact a great social media marketing strategy can have on business growth. You probably also know that it is one of the best marketing tools in terms of ROI that are out there today.
It’s always been the great disrupter, and the world of marketing is certainly not immune to that. In fact, nearly a third of millennials admit that they engage in commercial contact with a brand on a social channel at least once a month. Even Baby Boomers are using social to get deals!
But, just like traditional marketing, if your strategy is “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks”, you’re probably not getting the results you should be. You might even think that social doesn’t work, or that it costs more than it’s worth.
That’s because with social media, as with everything else, strategy matters.
The good news is that with the right strategy, you will see marked and measurable improvements in your business, without question. Here’s how you can get it right in seven steps.
#1: Know Your Goals
The first thing you need to do to succeed at social is to know what your goals are.
If you’re a brand-new business, exposure might be your immediate goal – just getting your name out there and building brand recognition.
If you’re an established company, you might want to educate customers about products and services that aren’t top sellers or keep them engaged with those that are.
You might want to get a fixed number of new followers every month, or you might want to send a specific number to your site.
Decide what problem you are trying to solve with your social media campaign, and create specific, quantifiable, measurable goals – and make sure you write them down. According to those in the know, just this simple act can increase your chances of success by between 20 and 40%!
#2: Focus on Engagement
Getting tens of thousands of likes on social media is sometimes seen as the be all and end all of social media marketing campaigns, but that completely ignores the most important thing about social: engagement.
However, if you’ve ever noticed that someone clicks and shares an article without actually reading it or looked through your own friends list and noticed people you don’t recognise, you also know that many actions we take on social media are done without conscious thought.
Engagement requires conscious thought, so you need to look at those follower numbers more closely, to see exactly how many of your followers are actually taking notice of your brand, and which ones clicked once and then rode off into the digital sunset.
Knowing the demographics of different social media channels is a good way to tailor your message and approach by platform so that you can increase the percentage of engaged fans and followers you have.
#3: Learn to Love Insights
Most social media channels these days offer some sort of insights into what your fans, friends and followers are doing on your pages and groups. These insights are invaluable to marketers because they can tell you:
- How many impressions your post got, and what your overall reach is.
- How engaged your connections are, by measuring likes, shares and comments.
- How many click-throughs your links got.
- Whether your hashtags are trending.
- How often your posts are shared or retweeted.
A big part of marketing is the follow-up. Make a habit of reading these metrics, and then considering what you can do to improve each one. Your marketing on social media will never be perfect, but you can learn what does better, and do more of that!
#4: Snoop Shamelessly
The great thing about social media is it gives us endless opportunity to see what our competitors are doing and to borrow what they’re doing best and make it our own.
Whether it’s looking at their follower list on Twitter to see how it aligns with yours, or periodically checking which posts do the best, looking at other people’s social media pages can help you to emulate the actions they take that are the most effective.
If your competitors are getting great results with how to videos, then you might need to start making some yourself. If contests are getting results, then those are something you should consider for your campaign.
You can’t copy their campaigns word for word, of course, but why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to?
#5: Create Great Content
Social media is supposed to be exactly that: social.
So, if your channels are all about advertising, and telling your followers to buy, buy, BUY, you shouldn’t be surprised if they’re dead quiet and mostly useless.
While you can get away with some subtle advertising (think artful shots of your products, or videos of completed projects rather than price lists and buy now buttons!) there are many other things you should be doing too. These include:
- When in doubt, choose video. Videos, whether they’re simple or professionally produced, get more likes, shares and click-throughs, and are one of the most important factors in making buying decisions today.
- Beautiful images are another big factor in social media engagement. Who hasn’t shared a motivational image on social media? But any images can double your social media engagement, so get snapping!
- BIG TIP!! Aim to teach. Brands that educate their customers rather than trying to force a sale tend to do better in sales. Write great blog posts that teach your customers something, link to it from social, and let your expertise be the salesperson.
#6: Be Present
It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people get this wrong.
If you are going to be on social media, you need to commit to being present and getting involved. This is not old-fashioned push marketing. You’re starting a conversation, and conversations have two sides.
Create a social media team, who are on hand to handle customer comments, complaints and praise at least during your business hours.
Make sure that you respond to messages that are sent to your pages promptly, even if it is simply to request that customers contact you in another way.
Join in on the conversation when it happens. If customers are commenting on your posts, they’re engaged. Use the opportunity to find out what they’re thinking. Because marketing and sales become a lot easier when you know what people want!
#7: Start Small, and Build
The truth is, most small businesses start out enthusiastic for social media, but when they don’t see immediate results, they lose interest, stop posting, and become another forgotten corner of the social media landscape.
Success takes time, even in the world of instant social media gratification, and you need to stick to it.
We recommend choosing two or three channels to master completely first before you try to build a presence everywhere. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals either. If you don’t have a team to devote to social media, you need to work within your means.
Try a few things out and see how they work. Do more of the things that work and forget the ones that don’t.
Or, if you find that you really don’t have the time to devote to building a social media marketing machine, you could always outsource your social media management to a company like Polkadot Communications.
The only thing you shouldn’t do is abandon social media. Just like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it, but unlike a game of chance, there’s an art and a science to social that can be mastered.
#5: How to Create a Killer Social Media Campaign Plan
Live video an essential asset
28% of users of four major social platforms outside of China engage with live streams each month on
any one of these services. Facebook takes the lion’s share, with the largest user base as well as the highest engagement rates with live video.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
Ask anyone these days, and they’ll tell you that a social media campaign is an answer to every marketing question you could possibly think of.
That sounds great… but if you have no idea how to get started with social media marketing, it doesn’t make it any less daunting than any other type of marketing. Fortunately, while there is a learning curve to social media marketing (as there is with everything), it is one that can be mastered relatively quickly.
Even if you have no idea how to create engaging content, build relationships with your followers to turn them into fans and then customers, attract qualified followers and then drive them to your website, you can master these skills.
Social media is the ultimate method of getting inside your prospective customers’ homes, phones and computer screens, and that makes it one of the marketing methods with the best ROI, so it’s worth doing just that.
We’re going to give you a quick and easy breakdown of the how, why and what of social media marketing planning, and since everything in business and in marketing begins and ends with planning, let’s start by looking at how to create the ultimate social media campaign plan for your company.
Why You Should Plan
No matter what business you’re in, you probably plan everything.
You have financial plans, growth plans, production plans and all sorts of other plans. You do this because planning things helps you get them straight in your head, and gives everyone a roadmap, so they’re all heading in the same direction, with the same stops along the way.
Your social media campaign plan is the same thing. It helps you to identify who you want to reach (your target market.) It helps to establish a posting schedule and calendar, so you can be consistent in your posting. (Because a flurry of activity followed by nothing won’t win the social media game!) It helps you to decide what type of content you will post, and how you will use it to drive visitors to relevant parts of your site.
Because just getting more people liking your social channels is not the goal of social media. The goal is to send them to your site and turn them into paying customers. Finally, it gives you something to measure, and in marketing, like in business, tracking and measurement is everything.
What Is a Social Media Campaign?
A social media campaign is a series of posts on your social channels that share similar appearance, branding or content, that is used to promote a specific event, product, service or element of your brand.
A good example of this would be a social media campaign to celebrate the launch of a new product line, or a sale to mark your company’s tenth year in business.
All of the posts and content you create and share will be centred around this idea, with the end goal of sending fans and followers to your website, app or your physical store.
Define Your Ideal Customer
As with everything you do in marketing, the first and most important thing you need to do is define who you are trying to reach.
If you already have buyer personas for your typical customer, you could use those, or if you are trying to reach a new market, you may want to generate new personas before you start.
You should know how old your customers are, where they live, what matters to them, whether they are on a fixed budget or more flexible, whether they are male or female, and so on. The more you know about who you are marketing to, the more detailed and accurate your social media campaign plan can be.
Choose Your Channel(s)
The next thing you need to do when planning a social media campaign is to choose your channels. A big part of this step will depend on who you want to reach.
B2B customers? LinkedIn and Twitter are probably your best bets.
Local community? Facebook’s targeting options put it ahead of the crowd!
Looking to reach young, trendy customers? Instagram and Snapchat are a must!
Consider who you are trying to reach, and where they are most likely to be found, and then narrow your campaign plan to include one to three channels at the most. If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t get the same results!
Decide What Your Goals Are
Not all social media campaigns are designed simply to gain followers.
In fact, most campaigns should have some other goal, since you are trying to grow followers all the time anyway, rather than as a targeted campaign. Good examples of goals would be:
- Getting subscribers for your email newsletter
- Signing up for a free trial
- Registering for an event
- Market a new product
- Promote a new website or location for your business
Whatever your goal is, it’s important to be specific, so that you can measure the results of your campaign later on.
Write down your goal in measurable terms, using figures or percentages, and assign a time frame to it, for example: Generate 100 new newsletter signups every month for the next three months.
Even if you don’t reach your goal, it will help to know exactly what it is, so you can gauge the success of your campaign, and build on that next time.
Now that you know where you are going to reach your target market, who they are, and what you want them to do after they see your campaign, it’s time to start brainstorming your concept.
Great marketing campaigns aren’t complicated. They’re short, simple and memorable.
Identify your ideal customer’s problem and build your campaign around offering a solution.
When to Post
But there is. Since you already know which networks you’re going to be posting on, all that’s left is to decide how long your campaign will run and to work out how many posts you need to create to run a campaign of that length.
Remember to take into account your budget (if you’re using promoted posts or paid advertising), and also work backwards from any fixed date (like a store opening) to determine when you would need to start your campaign to meet that deadline.
Decide how many posts you will be using on each platform, and then use that to create your posting schedule – but don’t forget to take other posts you might be taking into account. You don’t want to flood your platforms with too many posts either!
Once you know what you are promoting, what you hope to achieve, who you want to reach, and how and when you’re going to reach them, all that’s left is to put it all together.
Start creating your content.
If you will be incorporating blog posts or landing pages into your campaign, make sure they’re ready to go.
You want everything to be ready to go well before the start date for your campaign – because we all know how well last-minute efforts go! Keep it simple, use relevant hashtags to get found more easily, and wherever possible, try to include images or graphics that are relevant to your content and campaign – particularly if you can use custom graphics for your campaign.
It’s always a good idea to look at campaigns that have succeeded in the past too.
While you can’t copy them exactly, you can get some great ideas!
Of course, even with the steps laid out like this, planning a social media campaign might still be a daunting task, and if you’re busy enough to need to launch something new, you might be too busy to learn as you go. Hiring professionals like Polkadot Communications to create and implement your social media campaigns on your behalf is the quick and easy alternative that can keep you focused on what you do best, and still get the results you want.
#6: 10 Places to Find Awesome Free Social Media Marketing Templates
Close competition between top messaging services
While Facebook Messenger has a 5-point lead for membership, WhatsApp leads by 5 percentage
points in terms of visitors rates. Snapchat comes in on a distant third, though this service does see much higher figures in North America, especially among the Generation Z.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
While lots of businesses might have a social media presence, it can be difficult to know if you’re getting the most out of it.
It might be that you feel you’re struggling to really engage with your audience, to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to your website or get a good ROI from your social media channels. And on top of that, your time might also be limited. So we’ve put together our top 10 free social media marketing templates to help you get the most out of your social media. Fast.
Expect to find everything from strategic planning, auditing, ongoing management, analysis to reporting, so there should be something for everyone to have a try.
Social Media Plan Template
This detailed, helpful guide and template has been put together by the Australian Government and offers a six-step Social Media Planning Checklist to help you get started, before advising you on what you’ll need to include in a social media plan and how to do it.
As well as help with putting your social media plan together, there is also advice on creating a social media team, along with social media tips and resources for businesses too.
7 Social Media Templates To Save You Hours Of Work
Hootsuite has put together these handy templates covering all of your social media needs that promise to save you hours of work. Hooray.
Their social media strategy template is super easy to follow, as you simply answer the questions to find out what your goals are, how to achieve them and finally, how to measure them.
There’s also a template for carrying out an audit for your current social media, to see what’s working and what needs tweaking, along with an editorial calendar, which is super helpful for planning your content effectively. Finally, there’s an analytics template covering what you should record and to check you’re on track with your goals.
Plan A Social Media Strategy In 5 Steps
Follow these simple steps to find out what you want your social media to achieve and how you’ll be able to get there, with this social media strategy template. Why? Because marketers who have strategies in place are 538 per cent more likely to be successful. Quite a compelling stat.
And for some more top tips on creating a social media marketing strategy for growing your business, hop over to:
- https://www.polkadotcommunications.com.au/news/social-media-marketing-strategy-business-growth to find out why and how to put a strategy together.
50 Free Social Media Templates To Help You Get More Done
With 50 free templates, expect help with everything you could ever need to plan, deliver and measure your social media.
Free Social Media Templates For Excel
Especially good for any Excel fans out there, these social media templates can all be used in Microsoft Excel. There are templates for planning campaigns, content calendars, auditing and reporting. There’s also a template for influencer marketing, which helps you find key influencers that complement your brand and goals. As well as finding those all-important influencers, the template also helps you keep track of what they’re covering on their social media channels so that you can target them with relevant information.
How To Create A Social Media Marketing Strategy: A Beginner’s Guide
This free template is great for businesses that are new to social media, as not only does it offer a free strategy template, but it also offers a helpful beginners guide alongside it about the importance of a social media strategy and how to create one.
From picking which social media channels to use, to working out what is best to post for your business, there are simple fill in the blanks within this template, which aim to help you achieve your social media goals.
But if you feel you need to learn a bit more about social media more before getting started with a social media strategy, we’ve put together 10 of the best free online social media training courses to try.
Social Media Calendar Template for Small Business
Aimed specifically at small businesses out there, who might have limited time and resources, this template is aimed at you. The template creators have even given some handy tips on getting the most out of the template, such as how you can customise the template for your business and the importance of using automation for social media posts to save time.
13 Free Social Media Graphic Templates
Don’t have a snazzy graphic designer to whip up some social media graphics for you? Fear no more as the guys at inspiration feed have put together 13 free social media graphics templates to help you create everything from Facebook cover photos to YouTube cover templates.
How To Create Social Media Videos
If you’re like many businesses out there who are unsure how to create their own videos for social media, this could be the template for you. And it’s thought that by 2020, online videos will make up over 80 per cent of all internet traffic, so now is the time to get on board.
But if you don’t know where to start when it comes to videos, this post gives some top tips on what you could cover in a social media video from product demo videos or explainer videos, how-to videos, promo videos to event videos. There are also top tips on how to create a strategy for creating videos and helpful case studies to show you some examples of how businesses have successfully used social media videos in their campaigns.
4 Time-Saving Social Media Management Workflows and Templates
For the time poor out there, these free social media management templates might be for you. The 4 free templates cover everything to get you started quickly, including how to create a social media strategy, social media posts, a social media calendar and how to get the best social media management workflow to save time.
Hopefully, some of these free templates will help you either get started with your social media or improve what you’re already doing. But if you’d like some advice or support with running your social media, Polkadot Communications can help put together and run your social media campaigns.
Get in touch and we can talk about how we can make your brand famous.
#7: The Best Advice You Could Ever Get About Social Media Policy
98% of digital consumers are using social media
There’s practically no digital audience that cannot be reached via social media. 98% of digital consumers have used a social media network in the past month, showing how in virtually all demographics and markets, being an internet user means being a social media user.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
If there was ever any doubt about the power and reach of social media, that was certainly removed when Facebook broke the one billion users in a day threshold a few years ago.
There is nothing with the reach, the flexibility, the intimacy and the immediacy of social media in the digital (or any other) marketing sphere today.
If your business is not on social media yet, it should be.
But just like social media can get your brand in the hearts, minds and homes of your online fans immediately, it can also create instant problems. One badly thought out tweet. One slightly suspect Instagram post, and you could find yourself fighting to defend your business – even if you weren’t the one who made the mistake.
Proper planning is essential. So, read on to find out what a social media policy is, and how you can make it work for your business.
What is a social media policy?
Social media policies are an extension of any other company policy governing employee behaviour, but they’re specific to social media. They create guidelines for appropriate use, set penalties for misuse, and dictate the tone and content of your company’s social presence. They also usually include a social media specific non-disclosure clause, to protect company secrets.
Why is a company social media policy for employees important?
Every time your employees say anything to the public during working hours, they’re representing your company. The same goes for their social media activities on company accounts. If you don’t have a social media policy that is clear and concise, and gives them proper parameters, you may find that your staff are reluctant to get involved.
After all, they know their behaviour online will reflect on you, and they know that bringing the company into disrepute would be a problem. So, unless they’re sure what is and is not allowed, they might opt out completely.
It seems counterintuitive but having the rules in place from day one will go a long way to better social media marketing.
Teamwork wins the day
It takes a village mentality to create a digital presence, and getting your team engaged and sharing their passion for your company, products and services is the first step towards success. After all, if your own people aren’t passionate and engaged, how can you expect anyone else to?
A social media policy will help your employees to feel comfortable getting involved.
Fear causes inaction and mistakes
When we’re afraid, we naturally go into “fight or flight” mode. Neither of those is a good response to online conflict!
When you have a social media policy in place, your employees will know how to deal with difficult situations, and when to defer to senior team members. All that means a better experience for your fans and followers, and that leads to an expanded social footprint.
People are less trusting of official sources
Even in the age of social media, word of mouth marketing is key. If the only people active on your company social media accounts are your CEO, that word of mouth will have a very hollow ring to your followers.
A social media policy can encourage ordinary team members to get involved, and when customers and potential customers see that, they’re more likely to trust the message.
Not only can a social media policy help to drive positive engagement, it can also help to protect you from the fallout from poor choices. Here are a few ways a documented policy can do just that:
It can protect your company’s reputation
Social media has more reach than major newspapers. It’s faster than news channels, and if a post goes viral, it can literally reach millions of people around the world in a matter of hours.
Ensuring that your employees know exactly what they can post ensures that the things your employees post don’t get you all sorts of negative attention. Because no matter how little you had to do with what they said, if it was said on your behalf, it’ll be your problem.
Helps defend against, and avoid legal trouble and security risks
Social media seems like fun and games. But companies have been sued for not moderating comments on their pages.
Major corporate secrets have been leaked online.
There have been countless cases of copyright and privacy law infringement.
Get your legal team on board to safeguard against those situations, and to give your employees clear steps to follow if something does go wrong.
A great way to educate employees about social media
Corporate social media is so much more than cat pictures and hashtags.
A social media policy will help to educate your employees about appropriate corporate use of these platforms and keep them (and you) out of trouble, including trouble with the sites themselves. No one wants a banned account!
For reminding employees of hazy personal-professional boundaries
Since social media does sometimes blur the line between professional and personal use, it’s a good idea to address this in your social media policy too. While you can’t dictate what people do in their private lives, you can remind them to keep their personal accounts private, so their behaviour there doesn’t impact the company.
Educates employees that they should present views in a professional way
From the content you share to your spelling and grammar, presenting a professional front on social media can be tricky. Your policy should address the guidelines for professional social media use.
To ensure that workplace conflicts and gripes remain private
Office politics happen. But they should stay in the office. Never allow employees to take their gripes with co-workers online. Make sure your social media policy addresses this, and that there are clear channels to resolve problems.
Making it clear whose opinion is being presented
If your employees do have publicly visible profiles, make sure they include a disclaimer that their views are not necessarily the views of the company.
Clarifying that employees are representing an employer across ALL social media platforms
Make sure that your social media policy is worded to encompass all publicly available profiles where there is a link to your company.
Preventing confidential and proprietary information and data breaches
A specific non-disclosure or confidentiality policy in your social media policy is a must. Make sure your employees know what you consider to be company secrets, and what the consequences of a breach would be.
What should a social media policy include?
Putting together a comprehensive social media policy for your employees can be quite a big job. To help you with this, here is an outline of the sections that social media giant HootSuite recommend you should have:
1. Rules and regulations
- Brand guidelines: How to talk about your company and products
- Etiquette and engagement: Outline how — and if — you want employees to respond to mentions of your brand (positive and negative)
- Confidentiality: Defines what company information should not be shared on social media
- Consequences: Instructs employees and managers on the consequences of abuse of social media
- Social media for personal use: Lays out how and when employees should use social media, and what to avoid
2. Roles and responsibilities
Social media roles and responsibilities to assign might include:
- Message approval
- Crisis response
- Customer service
- Social engagement
- Security and legal concerns
- Staff training
- Social media monitoring
3. Potential legal risks
Some topics that this section should cover are:
- Crediting sources: Where did this come from? Your policy should specify how your team will credit original sources if they are reposting or borrowing content from an external source (an image, for example).
- Privacy and disclosure procedures: Define what is considered confidential and non-sharable, such as plans for a rebranding announcement or customer information.
- Employee disclaimers: Tell employees to include a disclaimer when publicly commenting on content related to your business that identifies them as an employee. For example, “views expressed are mine and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer.” You may also suggest employees add such a disclaimer to any publicly accessible bio, such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
4. Security risks
Your policy should provide guidelines on how to:
- Create secure passwords and set up two-factor authentication
- Keep software and devices updated
- Avoid phishing attacks, spam, scams, and other malicious threats
- How to identify an attack
- How to respond in the event of a security breach or attack
Immediately point the finger at the employee who went rogue.
But to avoid embarrassment in the first place, remind your people to exercise caution and common sense. Whether they’re posting on behalf of the company or on their personal channels, it’ll be the company’s reputation that suffers.
Social media policy template
Based on the recommended social media policy outlined above, we’ve created a handy (and editable) free employee social media policy template that you can download and edit to make it applicable to your organisation.
We hope that it’s helpful and gets you up and running quickly!
How to implement a social media policy
Get feedback. Employees will be more likely to adhere to policies that they help to draft.
Use broad strokes. Social media changes all the time. You cannot draft a policy that covers every possible scenario. So, set high-level rules that apply to everything, and review often.
Encourage involvement. Your social media policy shouldn’t scare employees away. It should make them comfortable to get involved. Make it easy and fun to get involved in building your social brand.
Policies aren’t universally loved by employees, but they are invaluable in ensuring that everyone knows where they stand.
Create a social media policy that’s reasonable, comprehensive and not too restrictive, and watch your online presence grow!
And remember, we’re always here to help make your brand famous!
#8: How to Find the Best Social Media Marketing Agency for Your Business
Social media influencers are essential for audience reach
The opportunity for brand ambassadors to reach vast audiences via social meeting is apparent – it’s 31% who say they like to follow actors and more than 1 in 5 who follow sports stars. Content
networkers – those who use social media to find entertaining content, watch sports or follow vloggers – are 1.37x more likely than the average internet user to visit a brand’s social network and like/follow a brand on a social network, and 1.4x more likely to click on sponsored posts.
Source: Social Flagship Report 2018 www.globalwebindex.com
Social media might seem like all fun and games and cat pictures, but if you’ve ever tried to really use it as a marketing tool, you might have realised that it’s a little harder than you thought.
Maybe you’re a small business owner, and you thought you could handle it on your own and save some money. Maybe you are a marketing manager, but you have so many balls in the air that you just don’t have time to do it justice.
Social media changes all the time. Major changes in privacy, algorithms and advertising standards happen without warning, and if you’re not on top of them, they can turn your marketing efforts upside down.
That’s not to mention that social media marketing demands consistency, favours a clear brand message, and is all about engagement rather than sales. It’s no wonder you feel overwhelmed, it’s an overwhelming sort of a thing!
Sometimes, you need a little help, whether it’s to get started or on an ongoing basis, and that’s exactly what this article is for: to help you find the right social media marketing agency to set and achieve your social media marketing goals.
1. Know Where You Are
Nearly a third of all SMEs use social media marketing agencies, but they don’t all need them for the same things.
Some are complete beginners, who don’t even have their accounts set up yet. Others need help with strategy and execution, while still others know what they want and how they want to do it, but they need someone to make sure things get done consistently and on schedule.
Knowing where you are can help you to figure out if you need an “all bells and whistles” service that does everything for you, or if you’re looking for someone who takes your ideas and runs with them.
2. Think About Which Channels Matter
The thing no one mentions about social media marketing is that no one does it all. There are just too many social media channels out there to do them all well, so you need to think about what you want to focus on.
If you’re a b2b company, you’ll need a social media marketing agency that is a whiz at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re more consumer-focused, you might want to look for someone who specialises in Instagram and Pinterest.
You don’t need to know exactly which platforms you want to focus on, but it’s easier if you have some idea!
3. Decide How Much You Want to Outsource
Some small business owners want to hand their accounts over to someone and only think about them when they get a report. Others want the social media marketing agency to take care of the strategy and content creation but want to handle some of the day-to-day posting and engagement themselves.
You need to find an agency that is happy to accommodate your needs and wants, and to develop a social media marketing plan around them.
4. Look for an Agency That Asks Questions
Social media is not one size fits all. It’s mostly driven by what you do, who you sell to, and what you want to achieve, and a good social media agency will ask lots of questions.
They’ll want to know about your business and your target market. They’ll want to know about your sales goals and your competition. They’ll ask about your team, what you already do in-house, and what you’re struggling with.
An agency that asks questions is one that is building a social media marketing strategy that is tailored to you, and that’s what you want.
5. Consider Their Process
A good social media marketing agency will have a process that helps you to set your goals, create a plan, and measure and review progress.
You want to work with an agency that will provide you with a dedicated contact person, and schedule regular update meetings. They should have tools to measure progress and have a process to provide you with reports.
Find out if they outsource any of their work, and if so, which parts and to whom. While this isn’t a huge factor, you do need to be sure that they are in control of quality, and that outsourcing won’t affect the final result.
Any good social media marketing agency should have been in the business long enough to be able to provide all of this information during their initial meeting, so be wary of any that are vague or don’t have any information available!
6. Look for Specialists
Most social media marketing agencies specialise in something. Some may focus on small businesses. Others may favour a few platforms. Some may even focus on a few core industries.
The more focused your agency is, and the closer the match between your business and their service, the better the results you can expect will be.
The agencies you’re talking to should be able to provide case studies, reports and other information about their previous activities and achievements in the niche they are targeting. They should also be able to provide a list of past and present clients, which should include at least a few familiar names!
7. Ask Your Network
A recent study showed that over 40% of businesses found their social network marketing partner via a referral.
There’s a good chance that many people in your professional network are already working with a social media marketing agency and can give you a referral or recommendation. They might also be able to tell you which agencies to avoid, and why.
Even if you are already talking to a few agencies, this can help you to whittle down the list or might prompt you to talk to some that you hadn’t considered yet.
8. Balance Cost and Value
In business, everything is a balancing act. You always have to consider the cost of a product or service versus the value it offers. But try not to make the number the only thing that drives this decision.
Consider how much time an agency is going to save you and your team, and what that time is worth. Then consider the results you can expect to get from the relationship.
If the agency you plan to work with is going to free up your time to focus on other areas of your business, and they can deliver more qualified leads or more repeat business, then the price tag for the service becomes less of a factor.
You don’t want to break the bank, of course, and your budget always matters, but remember that in social media marketing, like everything else, you usually get what you pay for, and any service that seems too good to be true probably is.
9. Review as You Go
As with any supplier or service provider, your relationship with your social media marketing agency starts on the day you sign the contract – it doesn’t end there.
Make sure that if you do sign a contract, there are performance standards built in, and that there is a regular review process, where you can gauge the impact of the campaign, and the performance of the agency.
A good social media agency won’t mind their work being regularly reviewed, and they’ll welcome the opportunity to make periodic changes to the strategy and execution of your campaigns.
As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into finding the right social media marketing agency than just reading online reviews (although you should definitely do that too!)
It all starts with a conversation though, so if you’re looking for someone to work with on your social media goals, we’d love to see if we’re the right fit.
It’s clear that social media should be an essential role in your marketing and communications mix.
I hope the advice covered here has helped with your understanding of how to leverage
Remember, if you need expert support to do this, you just need to get in touch and we can talk about how we can help you to use social media marketing for startling business success.
Book your Free Social Media Assessment and get started today.