What is Social Media Marketing: Everything You Need to Know in 2021

Dec 12, 2023

If you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed with social media marketing, let me first say that I can totally empathise.

No one understands the confusion of dynamic social media marketing and platforms quite like those of us who work it every day.

New apps and platforms spring up overnight. Algorithms change. Trends shift. Audiences move to different platforms.

Yeah, it’s a lot.

Don’t panic. Let’s break it down piece by piece so you can figure out where to start with your social media marketing strategy and reach your goals.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing, according to Wikipedia, is:

…the use of social media platforms or websites to promote a product or service.

While it sounds pretty straightforward, it’s really anything but.

Go ahead. Try promoting your products and services on social media apps and see what happens.

Unless you establish yourself as a trustworthy source and provide engaging content, no one will appreciate your product promotions – much less buy from you.

Here’s the thing: Social media marketing must be subtle. You need to give people a reason to follow your page that has nothing to do with selling them stuff.

You need to treat your brand like a content creator.

That’s why we see so many brands using their social media channels to share interesting web series, recipes, inspirational stories, and more.

In that respect, social media “marketing” has evolved into something much more modern and interesting.

Social Media Marketing Basics Every Marketer Needs to Know

First things first. Before you jump into a social media marketing strategy, you need to know a few things about how to use social media in general and what’s expected.

You Should Assume Your Audience Uses Social Media Daily

Over 3.6 billion people around the world use at least one social media platform at least once a month – about half the global population. By 2025, that figure will rise to a whopping 4.41 billion.

You should automatically assume your audience already uses at least one platform daily. No matter their age or demographic, almost everyone has access to a smartphone and social media apps these days.


Your Brand’s Profile Details Matter

Every social media platform gives you the ability to set up a comprehensive profile page for your brand. Granted, some platforms offer more extensive customisation options (looking at you Facebook) than others.

Don’t neglect this step. Optimise your profile for searches, clearly explain your brand’s mission and purpose, and include a clear CTA.

No One Likes a Broadcaster

What’s a broadcaster you ask? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like: someone who just pumps out content to their page without engaging their audience in comments or sharing content from other pages.

The keyword here is social. People expect brands to respond to their comments, like their follower’s content, and curate useful media from relevant sources.

People Use Social Media for Instant Customer Service

For many customers, social media platforms like Twitter have morphed into their first line of defence for customer service needs.

This is one reason it’s so critical not to spread your resources too thin across a dozen social media apps.

People expect you to respond to messages promptly, answer their questions in comments, and address complaints via social media.

Tracking Your Mentions is Critical (Yet Often Ignored)

You’d be surprised how many major brands with huge budgets ignore their mentions. Whether someone is raving about your product on Instagram or blasting a complaint across Twitter, it’s always good PR to acknowledge and address it.

Don’t forget branded hashtags either. You’ll find valuable info about how people perceive your brand here as well.

Where to Start: How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy Step by Step

Now that we have the social media marketing basics covered, let’s jump into strategy.

A coherent strategy will keep you focused on results and help you develop the best techniques for each platform. It’s truly a skill.

1. Research Your Audience and Choose Your Platforms

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) try to be everywhere at once. Research your customer base to figure out where they have social media accounts en masse.

Consider the demographics you target and who you’d like to reach as well. For example, Facebook is popular for millennial and older audiences while TikTok might be better for younger audiences.

2. Nail Down Your Social Media Marketing Goals

You want to set a goal or two for each platform. Some platforms, like Facebook, are better for directing traffic to your website. However, platforms like YouTube reward you with more reach if you can keep people on their app.

Depending on your platform, some of your goals might include:

  • Driving brand awareness and messaging
  • Converting social media followers into subscribers
  • Getting followers to download lead magnets
  • Selling products directly through the app
  • Boosting traffic to your website
  • Sharing content and establishing thought leadership

3. Choose Your KPIs for Each Platform

You can’t just publish, comment, like, and hope for the best.

Once you have your goals mapped out, you’ll need to assign tangible metrics and key performance indicators to track your performance.

Consider the content you’re publishing on each platform so your KPIs stay relevant and achievable.

One more thing: Beware of vanity metrics. Follows, reach, and likes might make you feel warm and fuzzy, but they don’t translate into any action or $$.

Instead, consider things like how many people you reached compared to how many clicked your CTA.

4. Familiarise Yourself with Each Platform’s Features

You’d be surprised how many brands don’t even bother using each platform’s best features in their social media marketing strategies.

Instagram Stories and Reels, for example, aren’t optimised nearly as much as they should be among brands. Spend time researching the cool features of every platform and how your brand’s content can fit in.

Just beware of one thing: cringe. Think of how you’d feel if you saw a brand publishing the same content in your newsfeed if you’re uncertain.

5. Create a Content Calendar for Social Media Marketing

You can’t go in without a plan. Create a content calendar for about a month or two out with posts to plug your videos, infographics, and blogs.

A calendar will keep you on track and ensure you publish content consistently which is extremely important for keeping up engagement.

Keep in mind though, your calendar should leave room for random trending topics too. That’s the nature of social media marketing.

6. Develop Consistent Brand Guidelines for Social Media Marketing

You have well-developed brand guidelines for your blog and website (or at least you should). You need comprehensive guidelines for an effective social media marketing strategy too.

Your brand guidelines should:

  • Define what your brand “sounds” like on each platform. Make sure to consider the unique natural voices of each platform too.
  • Provide examples of dos/don’ts for tone and voice.
  • Include guidelines on your logo usage.
  • Explain brand colours for graphics and images.

Guidelines ensure that your brand stays consistent on every platform – no matter who’s writing your social media content.

7. Prioritise Media with Low-Production Value

Most social media platforms are shifting away from link sharing in favour of multimedia content like video, audio, and graphics.

Take Facebook, for example. Over the years, they’ve debuted live streams, watch parties, video monetisation, and comprehensive video creator tools.

Instagram too. They’ve introduced IGTV and Reels.

Globally, over 27% of people watch over ten hours of online video each week and guess what…most of that is Lo-fi, made on a phone video content!

You really can’t afford to neglect just getting good content out there, produced rapidly. Invest in more content on a regular schedule rather than low-frequency high-production-value content.

8. Set Aside an Advertising Budget

Face it: You need to spend money on paid ads.

Although most platforms give you a wide range of tools to reach audiences organically (some more than others), paid ads are necessary for making a bigger impact.

The secret is to set aside a dedicated budget and stick to it. Huge brands have a bad habit of blowing their paid ad budget on stuff that doesn’t deliver results. Make sure your content is always super targeted and relevant for your audience.

9. Assign Someone to Customer Service

People expect your brand to be available on social media 24/7. That’s the reality.

If someone sends your page a message, you need someone available to respond. Bots are useful but they should only serve as placeholders until a human can take over.

Make sure each platform has someone working full-time to monitor your:

  • Brand mentions and shoutouts
  • Comments on your page
  • Messages and replies

Your social media manager should also be prepared to respond to complaints and comments professionally, appropriately, and “in character” for your unique brand voice.

Figure Out What Effective Social Media Marketing Looks Like to You

There’s no one-size-fits-all social media marketing strategy – not even between the same industries and platforms. Every brand targets a unique audience and offers a unique value prop. Why would they have the same social strategy as anyone else?

It takes time to get social media right. Don’t get discouraged. Just adapt and keep going.

Chris Kubbernus

As CEO of Kubbco, Chris leads the company's vision and uses his 20 years of advertising experience to drive results for our clients.

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