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How To Build Your Business Social Media Marketing Strategy In 2019

Do you have your social media marketing strategy for 2019?

If you don’t have, it’s okay.

Because 2019 is the year for you to focus on social media marketing.

Facebook was shrouded in controversy due to its algorithm changes and privacy concerns. Instagram finally came into its own by introducing analytics and instagram stories while also passing the one-billion user mark.

All the while brands got bolder, launching conscious and seemingly controversial campaigns as customers want to see brands get real.

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Perhaps what matters most is that you have a strategy at all. To keep your brand from sitting on the sidelines, we’ve broken down the steps to developing a social media marketing plan to carry you through 2019 with a sense of purpose.

1. Set your big goals

First things first: you need to figure out what you want out of your social media marketing.

Maybe it’s more online customers. Perhaps it’s a larger share engagement in your industry.

Either way, remember that social media planning is a process.

Brands should strive to set goals that are actually attainable. For example, aiming to have a million new Instagram followers in 2019 isn’t going to happen. By tackling smaller, realistic goals, you can scale your social efforts in a way that’s both reasonable and affordable.

And on a related note, your goals will influence everything from your budget to which social media marketing networks you’ll tackle.

Sample Social Media Goals for 2019

There are some actionable goals that brands of all shapes and sizes can divide and conquer.

Increase brand awareness. To create authentic and lasting brand awareness, avoid solely publishing promotional messages. Instead, focus on content emphasizes your personality and puts your followers ahead of the hard sell.

Achieve a higher quality of sales. Digging through your social channels is nearly impossible without monitoring or listening to specific keywords, phrases or hashtags. Through more efficient social media targeting, you reach your core audience much faster.

Drive in-person sales. Many brick-and-mortar businesses are on the hunt for a social media marketing strategy that drives in-store sales. Is your brand promoting enough on social to entice folks to come see you? Are you about alerting customers to what’s going on in your stores, including promotions and action shots of your store?

Improve ROI. Positive social media ROI doesn’t happen by accident. Taking the time to audit your social channels can help keep the cost of labor, ads and creatives down. The end-result is squeezing way more out of your social spending.

Create a loyal fanbase. Does your brand promote user-generated content? Do your followers react positively without any sort of initiation? Your customers can be your best cheerleaders and sources of fresh content, but only if you’re encouraging them to post on your behalf.

Analyzing the competitors. What are your competitors doing that seems to be working? What strategies are they using to drive engagement or sales? Such analysis can help you better understand how to position your own brand both on social media and off.

Any combination of these explicit goals is fair game and can help you better understand which networks to tackle, too. When in doubt, keep your social media marketing strategy simple rather than muddling it with too many objectives that’ll ultimately distract you.

2. Research your audience

Making assumptions is a dangerous game for marketers.

And thanks to the sheer wealth of demographic data and social media analytics tools out there, you really don’t have to anymore.

So much of what you need to know about your audience to influence your social media marketing strategy is already out in the open.

This demographic data isn’t bluffing. These numbers speak directly to which networks your brand should approach and what types of content to publish. Here are some takeaways:

  • Facebook and YouTube are both prime places for ads, perhaps due in part to their high-earning user bases
  • The majority of Instagram’s users are under the age of 30, signaling the strength of bold, eye-popping content that oozes with personality
  • LinkedIn’s user base is well-educated, making it a hub for in-depth, industry-specific content that might be more complicated than what you see on Facebook or Twitter

See how that works?

That’s why many brands use a social media dashboard which can provide an overview of who’s following you and how they interact with you on each channel. Most brands today are using at least some sort of dashboard.

However, does your dashboard tie in your specific goals? Brands should be where their target audience is hanging out: that’s a no-brainer. A robust dashboard like the one Sprout offers can help you double-check that you’re spending time targeting the proper channels.

Whether you’re an agency providing insights for your clients or an enterprise company discovering your own demographics, an all-in-one dashboard solution is critical.

3. Establish your most important data analysis

No matter what you’re selling, your social media marketing strategy should be data-driven.

That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter.

Because while “likes” and shares are nice to have, they amount to little more than vanity metrics if they aren’t resulting in meaningful engagement or sales. What good are your millions of followers if you can’t do anything with it?

Engagement data are essential to building meaningful, lasting relationships with your followers. Large audiences and likable content is great, but here are some additional metrics to keep an eye on in 2019:

  • Reach. Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post. How far is your content spreading across social? Is it actually reaching user’s feeds? In the face of ever-changing organic algorithms, tracking reach is arguably more important than ever.
  • Clicks. This is the number of clicks on your content, company name or logo. Link clicks are critical toward understanding how users move through your marketing funnel. Tracking clicks per campaign is essential to understand what drives curiosity or encourages people to buy.
  • Engagement. The total number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. For engagement, it’s about seeing who interacted and if it was a good ratio out of your total reach. This sheds light on how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
  • Hashtag performance. What were your most used hashtags on your own side? Which hashtags were most associated with your brand? Or what hashtags created the most engagement?
  • Organic and paid likes: More than just standard Likes, these likes are defined from paid or organic content. For channels like Facebook, organic engagement is much harder to gain traction, which is why many brands turn to Facebook Ads. However, earning organic likes on Instagram isn’t quite as difficult.
  • Sentiment. This is the measurement of how users reacted to your content, brand or hashtag. Did customers find your recent campaign offensive? What type of sentiment are people associating with your campaign hashtag? It’s always better to dig deeper and find what people are saying.

An effective social media marketing strategy is rooted in numbers. That said, those numbers need to be put into a context that circles back around to your original goals.

4. Dig into what your competitors are doing

Before you start creating content, you should have a good idea of what your competitors are up to.

Doing so involves might just require some surface-level analysis. Some brands might also look into third-party competitor analysis tools to dig deeper into their competitors’ numbers.

Looking at your competition’s presence will directly inform your own social media marketing strategy. The goal here isn’t to copycat or steal your competitors’ ideas. Instead, it’s to determine what’s working for them and how you can adapt your own campaigns accordingly.

Same industry, different strategies

For example, let’s take a glance at how two brands in the same space can take two totally different approaches to their social media marketing strategy.

The takeaway here is that brands have so much room to set themselves apart from their competitors in terms of content and voice.

Of course, you need to know who your competitors are before you start stressing over content creation.

How to spot your social competitors

The simplest way to find competitors is through a simple Google search. Look up your most valuable keywords, phrases and industry terms to see who shows up.

Then, you’ll want to take a look at who’s active on social media.

5. Create and curate engaging social media content

Your social media marketing strategy is obviously centered around content.

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what to publish based on your goal and brand identity. Similarly, you probably feel confident in which networks to cover.

Still overwhelmed by the specifics of what you should be posting?

We get it.

From picking the right creatives and captions to finding the balance between promotion and personality, there’s a lot to mull over. The pressure is certainly on brands in an era where 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand that’s overly promotional. Additionally, 41% of users say they’d unfollow a brand that shared too much irrelevant content.

To help narrow down the specifics of what you should be publishing, let’s start with 2019’s social trends and best practices. Consider any combination of the following as you put together the content piece of your social media marketing plan.

Video Content

The need for brands to produce video is greater than ever.

Across all networks, social media video content is among the most viewed and shared hands-down. Facebook and Instagram, in particular, are pushing video hard right now which is notable given how their respective algorithms will continue to evolve in 2019.

Live? Long-form? Short looping video? There’s no shortage of options for brands to play the role of producer these days regardless of your budget.

User-generated content

Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of curating user-generated content from branded hashtags. Customers today absolutely love authentic content that doesn’t always have that sort of professional, polished touch. If nothing else, curating User Generated Content means less work on your plate and less pressure to constantly be thinking of new ideas.

Build Content Themes

One of the toughest challenges to visual content is creating it on a day-to-day basis. 36.7% of marketers said their top struggle with creating visual content was doing so consistently.

This shows how important highly-visual content is to marketers and the people they want to reach. That’s why building content themes is a great approach to sectioning out your content. Instagram is one your premier channels to work off visual themes.

If consistency is a problem with your social media marketing strategy, think about how a theme can help.

6. Make timeliness a top priority

Timeliness is a two-way street.

Not only do customers expect speedier responses from brands in 2019, but also meaningful conversations on a regular basis.

Let’s start with the first point. Social media channels are built as networks. You know, a place to converse and share content.

Your brand can’t forget these core elements of “networking.” It takes effort to ensure conversations or engagement opportunities aren’t left unattended.

Through social media, you gain respect as a brand by just being present and talking to your audience. That’s why social customer care is so important to brands wanting to increase audience awareness. It’s all about engagement.

Through the right social media monitoring tools, you can find instances across all your channels to interact, respond and gauge customer service inquiries.

Designating teams to specific tasks can help your staff run like a well-oiled social media team, whether you’re a group of one or 100.

Post at the Best Times to Engage

When is your brand available to engage and interact with customers?

You might see some recommending times to post late in the evening, for example. But if your brand isn’t there to communicate, what’s the point of posting at the “preferred” time?

Instead, try to ensure your social media or community managers are available and ready to answer any product questions or concerns when you tweet or post. It’s smart to learn the best times to post on social media, but it’s just as critical to engage after posting.

Brand’s average response time is around 10 hours. But did you know that most users believe brands should respond to social media messages within four hours?

With all the updated algorithms, organic content has a tough time reaching the majority of your audience. The last thing you want to do is ignore those who engage and lose out on sending more down your marketing funnel.

7. Journal on what’s working, what isn’t and how you can improve

By now you should have a big picture understanding of your social marketing strategy for 2019.

However, it’s important that you’re able to adapt your strategy as you progress through the year.

Without continuously analyzing your efforts, you’ll never know how one campaign did over another. Having a bird’s eye view of your social media activity helps put things into perspective. This means looking at your top-performing content and fine-tuning your campaigns accordingly.

There’s no denying that a lot of social media is a matter of trial-and-error. Monitoring the metrics behind your campaigns in real-time allows you to make small tweaks to your social media marketing strategy rather than sweeping, time-consuming changes. This dynamic approach to marketing makes perfect sense in a day and age where social media is constantly evolving.

And with that, we wrap up your social media marketing plan checklist for 2019!

Is your social media marketing strategy up to snuff?

Hopefully this breakdown served as some much-needed inspiration and guidance for reaching your social goals for this year.

how to use linkedin to get sales leads

Ultimate Guide: How to Build More Sales Leads in LinkedIn

The rise of social media has changed the way we keep in touch with family and friends, and in business, has given us the ability to super-charge our online networking and sales prospecting.

The major social media networks include Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram. While these sites have some benefits for sales prospecting, with general consumers, the real powerhouse for business networking and prospecting is the business focused social media site, LinkedIn. In fact, when it comes to business, LinkedIn with over 360 million members world-wide is the top social media choice for business networking and sales prospecting.

For many, LinkedIn has been somewhat pigeon-holed as the go to social site when you’re looking for your next job. While it certainly has value for this purpose, and it is extensively used by recruitment specialists world-wide to find and contact prospects, looking at just this function is doing yourself a huge disservice! Astute business people are using LinkedIn more and more as a revenue generating, sales prospecting tool.

In fact, LinkedIn is a perfect tool to make lead and sales prospecting smoother, quicker, and ultimately profitable. More and more, LinkedIn is being used as a go-to source for generating new leads and tangible revenue. It is an extremely cost effective tool for business development. Modern sales techniques have changed and LinkedIn allows you to connect directly with and gather information on companies and prospects, as well as developing relationships and contacting decision makers directly.

Let’s look at some proactive, easy to implement strategies for using LinkedIn as a tool to turbo charge your sales prospecting and grow your business revenues!

1. Connect and Engage!

The first thing to do when beginning to get serious about using LinkedIn for prospecting is to take a long hard look at your contacts. Contacts are the bread and butter on the site. If yours are predominantly family, your college buddies, and friends, you need to do a little work!

Connections spawn more connections! Your primary contacts open a route to a wide range of second and third level connections. This is how to scale up your efforts. Whenever you meet anyone online or at real world events, always follow-up quickly with a note and a connection request, while you’re still fresh in their mind.

2. Target Your Leads

LinkedIn is a great site for mapping out your approach to a new prospect. There can often be numerous decision makers in a larger corporation that you will need to reach out to and engage with in order to make a sale.

LinkedIn users generally put a tremendous amount of information on their profiles. Everything from which teams they work with, what projects they are focusing on, which office they work out of and more. With a little research you can quickly determine who you need to be talking to, what they’re all about and what they’ve done before.

You can use this information to develop a map of who the decision makers are and how they can be reached and influenced to make the sale. (Start by checking out the “viewers of this profile also viewed…” box on their profile.)

3. Use LinkedIn Groups to Keep Up To Date and Engage With Prospects

Groups on LinkedIn are collections of people with similar likes, needs, skills and more. They are a great way to learn about the industries you target for sales and can be a great source for new prospects. Engaging with member questions is a great way to build trust and authority while raising your thought leader profile which can lead to sales inquiries. They are also a great “soft” way to make contact with a prospect. In additions groups can:

-Give you insights into what is happening within a prospects business, their activity, if they’re hiring, projects they may be planning etc.

-Give you a greater understanding of an individual’s details – their full name, and more, This is usually restricted to “first level” contacts.

-Group membership gives you a reason and the capability to increase connections. It’s one of the criteria you can select when requesting a connection.

4. Turn Your Profile Into A Lead Generator

Much of what we’ve touched on so far has been outbound information, where to go to find prospects, how to engage, etc. This is purely inbound. The prospects you’ve engaged with through connections and Groups will most likely seek out your profile to learn more about you. (Information flows both ways on LinkedIn!). So it only makes sense to optimize your profile to drive sales.

Make sure you have current links to your company site, your Twitter account and your Facebook page. Include some high-quality recommendations from existing happy customers – think quality, not quantity. This can give visitors a better idea of who you are and what you’re all about. Remember, effective sales is all about building trust and relationships! Finally, always add a photo to put a face to the name. It makes you more “real” and creates a good impression. Keep it professional (no need to put a shot of your last Cabo tequila party!) and make sure to smile!

5. Use LinkedIn Pulse to Publish Content

Publish on LinkedIn Pulse to establish thought leadership, address your target market’s pain points, provide solutions and engage with prospects. Content is hugely powerful as a tool for establishing relationships and trust. Pulse gives you the opportunity to share your insights through your professional knowledge. It also allows you to reach an audience instantly. The bonus is that when you publish on LinkedIn Pulse, everyone you’re connected to receives notice whenever you publish new content.

As with any social media site, you need to regularly contribute, make new connections to grow your network, engage with your groups, and publish content regularly to develop your profile. LinkedIn is a perfect vehicle for developing and managing your sales pipeline. While LinkedIn won’t make the sale for you, if you use it wisely, it can be a tremendous tool for developing the contacts, building relationships and increasing the authority and trust to move a prospect for the lead column to the sales column.

Using LinkedIn can give you a tremendous advantage over your competitors and offers you a tangible advantage for developing and growing sales. Effectively and efficiently working with the platform can give you the crucial edge that can translate into more sales and higher close percentages. So, get out there, explore, engage, and grow your business!