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Part of Western Governors University

August 27, 2019

Business

How to use social media to market your brand.

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Wendy’s, Red Bull, JetBlue, Hello Fresh. These companies may not seem to have a lot in common, but the reality is that they are all top performers when it comes to social media marketing. They utilize Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and all kinds of social media marketing techniques to help them appeal to audiences in a new, unique way. Beyond TV ads and reviews, these companies utilize social media ads, and the interactions they can have on social media to further their brand messaging.

Social media channels like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, just to name a few, are vital for your success as a marketer. Different audiences use all of these social media channels differently, and a sound digital marketing strategy will find places for all these social networks inside their social media marketing strategy.

If you’re a marketer for an organization, or if it’s your ultimate goal to do marketing after you finish school, you can learn from these organizations. This guide will help you understand what top organizations do right when it comes to social media strategy, and what you should implement as a marketer in your company to find success.

Set a goal.

Goals are vital for social media strategy success. If you don’t have a clear goal when starting a social media marketing campaign you can miss your KPI’s, create confusion, and mean a general lack of understanding of how to utilize social media marketing strategy.

Your social media strategy goals should be specific and clear, vague goals such as “increase followers” won’t help you when it comes to social media marketing. Clear goals, numbers, and specific details will help you create goals that can be attainable and attainable. You need everyone on your team to understand what the goals are and how to accomplish them. Examples of smart goals include “Get 400 people to use the coupon code,” or “Increase followers by 20%,” or “Get 5,000 likes on this post,” or “Sell 40% more stock this weekend in conjunction with our campaign.” Specific goals that can be tracked and measured will help you find success.

Determine metrics.

The first thing to do when preparing to set goals is determine the metrics for your campaign. Are you hoping to increase your brand awareness? Are you trying to drive foot traffic in to a physical store? Are you hoping to build a loyal audience of fans? Knowing what the end goal is for every social media marketing action will help you create a campaign that can help you reach those specific goals. You also need to be prepared to learn about the analytics for your social networks so you can compare and contrast what is working with your target audience, and what isn't. Digital marketing is all a numbers game when you come right down to it, and the analytics element of your marketing strategy is key to ensuring your strategy is actually working.

Recognize that different social media channels will have vastly different KPI's and advertising standards. LinkedIn and Pinterest could not be more different when it comes to the type of audience and strategy that will create success. LinkedIn is all about business, networking, and career focus. Pinterest focuses on lifestyle, crafts, and recipes. While the same people might utilize both of these social networks, the marketing and advertising behind each of them should be very different to clearly appeal to what the audience is looking for inside that social media channel.

If the science behind social media marketing strategy and the metrics that will best improve your organization interest you, you should consider going to school and studying marketing or data analytics. At a school like WGU, you can learn about the value each metric can have on an organization and which campaign will work best with specific metrics. While each industry and organization are unique, knowing the underlying marketing principles and the best options can give you a great starting place to try marketing techniques. 

Social media icons on phone

Start early.

Social media marketing should be one of the first things you do for an organization. If your company isn’t already established, don’t wait for the grand opening to get going. Drum up hype before your doors open or before your site even launches. Social media marketing is a great avenue for hitting the ground running by ensuring that you’re not on square one when your company actually is ready for business. The earlier you start, the more likely it is you’ll already have an engaged following to work with.

If your organization is already established, you can still utilize social media strategy for hype about an upcoming announcement or event. Work with social media strategy on Instagram, Linkedin, and Facebook to really get people interested and invested in the future of your organization, not just the present. Similarly, you should plan out your content early so that it’s not stressful or pressing to get something up right now. Planning out and scheduling your content early will make sure you’re prepared, and last minute updates are the exception not the rule. 

Being proactive about social media strategies is one of the best things you can do to create success. Opportunities are born where there is available time, flow, and creativity with a campaign. Starting early to get social media accounts going, and starting early on specific campaigns and scheduling will help your organization find success in social media marketing.

Do audience research.

Before you begin a social media marketing campaign, it’s vital to know who you target audience is, and what they want. Without this strategy, your job as a marketer may be short-lived. Understand who buys your products and who you want to have buying your products. Once you get a good, specific handle on who your target audience is, you can market directly to them. A vague idea like “young adults” won’t be helpful to you when building social media marketing campaigns. Get specific. Do the research to determine that your audience is, for example, mainly male sports enthusiasts from 24 to 35. Once you’ve determined exactly who your social media audience is, it becomes much easier to tailor make content especially for them.

Knowing who your audience is doesn’t mean you know what they want. Do further research to understand how they interact with your website and with other social media accounts. What social media platforms do they use? Are they looking for information or entertainment? What stage of the buyer’s cycle are they in?

Look to successful accounts to see how they interact with their audience. For example, Red Bull has content all about extreme sports. They’ve narrowed down their audience to know that they would appreciate that kind of content, and give it to them. They also utilize specific social media platforms that are newer and tend to work for younger audiences. They understand that younger consumers are the ones really enjoying their product, and work to serve content specifically on mediums they know those younger audiences enjoy. Start now to define your audience and start preparing content specifically to serve them.

Perform competitor analytics.

If you don’t understand your competitors social media marketing strategy, you won’t be able to beat them. Even if their strategy isn’t a strategy you want to use, you want to understand how they’re reaching their audience and figure out how you can pull those same people. See what your competitors do that work, and what doesn’t work. Figure out how to improve upon what they’re doing, or take a completely different direction to get the same, or better, results. 

It’s important not to steal ideas and content to try and overlap with your competitors. Researching what similar companies do isn’t about stealing ideas, but instead it’s learning about their audience and how they’re reached and figuring out what you can do differently to appeal even more to that audience. 

Especially in niche industries and niche companies, competitor analysis is vital to finding success. Observe campaigns, interactions, events, and more to understand how your competitors utilize their social media marketing strategy for their benefit.

Man looking at computer screen with analytics

Create content.

Now that you’ve done extensive research and have a great idea, it’s time to create social media content. Work to create something that will directly appeal to your chosen audience inside your niche. Create it, post it, and if everything is done correctly, watch it get shared, retweeted, and commented on. The content you create can be funny, informational, serious, or entertaining. Whatever you believe will work for your chosen audience is the direction you should take. It’s valuable to be somewhat consistent in your tone and voice of your social media content. For example, Wendy’s utilizes a sarcastic, witty, and competitive humor inside their platforms. This works well for them and makes their chosen audience laugh and want to share the entertainment.

Be regular in creating and sharing content so there is always plenty of new content for your audience to consume. In today’s world, more is more when it comes to social media posts, and lots of content can keep your audience entertained or engaged for long periods of time.

Similarly, interaction with your audience can be extremely valuable. People are known for tweeting companies with questions instead of emailing or talking to customer service, so being responsive and helpful using a social media profile can be a smart move to help customers feel heard. Engaging with comments, responding to questions, and having fun with your audience can be great ways that Instagram or Twitter can make your company seem more approachable and real. 

Curate user generated content.

It’s valuable for organizations to utilize user-generated content in their own social media as well. Retweet content related to your organization, share statuses or mentions of your company. It makes the audience member feel excited, and they’re likely to show their friends and family, and it helps other audience members see that real people enjoy your organization, and encourages them to talk about you so they could get shared as well. 

This is why social media influencers are so popular when it comes to social media advertising. Hello Fresh is a great example of an organization that regularly utilizes users to create content, reviews, and posts about their products. There are dozens of social media influencers who use YouTube or Instagram to share their experiences making a Hello Fresh meal. These social media influencers bring more awareness to your organization and give you plenty of content to share from people who have used your product or service. 

 

If you’re in marketing or are studying marketing at school, never underestimate the value of social media as a marketing tool. It is a vital part of any marketing strategy in today’s day and age and can be crucial in your success as a company.

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