How To Get the Most Out of Social Media Marketing for Your Business

09/08/2016 12:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

By Marty McDonald

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A successful social media marketing strategy takes into account your business's challenges and goals. It clearly outlines the steps needed to overcome these challenges and reach your objectives. At my company, we have helped clients create engagement and sales by leveraging their social media presence for over five years.

This may seem simple enough, but developing a realistic and effective social media strategy is the No. 1 challenge for enterprise companies in the United States, according to a survey on the state of social media marketing in 2016 (which my company participated in).

This phenomenon can be attributed to a number of possible factors:
  • Your company does not dedicate enough resources to social media.
  • Your marketing team does not understand which social media channels to use and what content to share.
  • You don't know which metrics to track to prove your return on investment (ROI).
With 75 percent of small businesses planning to implement a social media marketing plan by 2017 or later, it's becoming more important to develop more efficient and useful social media habits.

Below, I'll explore ways you can address your businesses' three pain points when it comes to crafting a social media marketing strategy.

1. Social media requires both human and financial resources.

First, your social media team must consistently share relevant content and communicate with customers. This requires hiring and training people who are familiar with your company's image and can speak your brand's voice.

Social media is a way for businesses to interact with customers on a personal level. If a customer can't find a direct phone number, email address, or contact form, they look to social media for help.

Interacting with customers on social media humanizes your brand. For example, Simple Mills, a company that sells baking mixes, shares and comments on recipes that Instagram users post featuring their ingredients. This habit not only raises awareness about Simple Mills's products, but it establishes customer trust and loyalty.

Second, although organic social media is an option for businesses with small marketing budgets, investing in paid social advertising ensures a more targeted result. For example, Facebook's Business Manager allows you to choose who sees an ad based on demographics and how a user interacts with your page.

2. Channel placement depends on audience and content. 

How do you determine which social media channels are best for your business? Some industry leaders argue that B2B companies should prioritize LinkedIn, and that B2C companies could get better results from Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.

However, social media channel placement depends on where your audience is, which platforms have the most users, and the type of content you have to share.

In fact, according to Clutch's survey, both B2B and B2C companies prioritize Facebook and Twitter. But B2Cs rank YouTube third (higher than LinkedIn) while B2Bs rank it fourth (just behind LinkedIn).

Additionally, the content you share should complement the platform on which you share it. For example, since 2013, Facebook has been improving its video streaming capabilities by launching Facebook Live then prioritizing these videos in the News Feed. Therefore, it makes sense to set aside resources to make short videos and share them on Facebook.

3.) You should be tracking metrics that prove ROI. 

The key to tracking ROI is focusing on how your social media efforts correspond to the goals you outlined in your strategy.

Instead of counting the number of posts you share or likes you receive, hone in on the outcomes that directly contribute to your objectives. If your goal is to improve your brand image, track engagement. If you want to build your email subscriber list, keep count of how many people subscribe through a Facebook form.

Social media marketing is an important part of digital marketing. Tangible benefits include increased traffic to your website, a stronger brand image, and improved audience engagement. But taking full advantage of these benefits requires effort. As a business owner, you should consider investing in paid social advertising, hiring and training staff to manage customer engagement on your social platforms, and learning how to direct content to your audience.

Marty McDonald is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Rhino at Bad Rhino Inc., a full-service social media marketing agency based in West Chester, PA.