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The Guide to

Social Media Marketing


It is a challenge to define the audience for a guide to social media marketing today.
Some of us have been using social media personally and professionally for more
than 10 years. Writers know to put themselves in the mind of the reader, and
we hope to provide some value with this guide. 2.307 billion
Perhaps you are not active on social media yourself. Therefore, it may be hard active social media
to wrap your arms around using it for business purposes. That makes sense, users globally
but 2.307 billion people globally are active social media users. That number
was reported in January 2016. And it’s still growing.
There is a big difference between connecting with friends and family on social
media and using it for business, so that’s the approach we will take. Posting
and engaging with customers and prospects is not like re-kindling that old high
school flame.
The first thing to know is that it is very easy to get caught up in the vanity metrics
of social media networks like how many people like your posts on Facebook or
how many followers you have on Twitter. While you definitely want to build an
audience on these channels, you need to have real goals for these efforts. Start
by looking at your business goals. If you are looking to drive leads for a B2B
company, online sales for a B2C company, or store traffic for a retail establishment,
you need to do the same thing with social media. And don’t forget about building
an email list.
Again, engagement and audience building are important, but your overall goals
need to align with the rest of your company. This way, when you succeed,
it is done in the same context as others in the marketing department.
Before we dive into our topic for the day, there are a couple of social media
marketing topics that are beyond the scope of this guide. We will focus on
traditional social media channels, but the growth of messaging apps like Snapchat,
Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp are significant. We are also in the early days
of marketers using those platforms. If you are trying to reach a younger audience,
or have a significant presence in Asia, seek out information about those platforms.
The second big topic we will not be covering in this guide is social media
advertising. Even though many brands have seen their organic reach decline
over the years, and have used paid posts to get their updates in front of their
audience, it is more important to first understand the basics of social media
publishing and engagement.

So let’s begin with social listening.


Improve your success with

social listening by answering a
business question or solving
a business issue.

1. Social Listening
How many of your customers and prospects are posting to social media? Do you
know what they are saying? Do you know what networks they post to? These are
some of the questions you need to answer before you create a social media plan
and start posting on behalf of your business.
There are those who tell you to pick a site and jump right in, but you could be
wasting a huge amount of time if you are talking in a place where your customers
are not paying attention. The way to overcome this is by using a social media
listening tool to find the right conversations that will inform your plans.
According to the Altimeter Group, 49% of social media professionals used social
media insights to make business decisions.

Company Mentions
The most basic level of listening is to focus on the mentions of your company or
brand names across the major platforms. The first time you fire up a listening tool
and discover conversations about your company is a huge surprise. Well, it could
be a small surprise, but there are very likely some comments out there.
Start by categorizing these conversations by things like customers versus
prospects, positive versus negative sentiment, recommendations versus
complaints. You should also determine which social networks have the most
comments or questions. It might not be what you think.


This information will help you get started creating a social media marketing plan.
The word plan was used instead of strategy, because your strategy lives at a
higher level. Remember the ultimate goal of your social media efforts should
align with business goals. Keep that in mind as you are listening.

Your listening will be much more successful and focused if you try to answer
business questions or solve business issues. One example of this is if you are
looking to improve your customer service or customer satisfaction. You can listen
for company mentions and words like “problem,” “issue,” “broken,” “doesn’t
work,” “complain.”

Once you have a handle on your company mentions, or if you discover that there
just are not any company mentions, it is time to focus on keywords. These are
the terms that your customers and prospects use to describe your products and
services. These could be very different than the terms your organization uses to
describe what you do.

These are industry terms, categories, and generic terms for your products. While
this is still important for a customer service approach, as many people might talk
about your company without mentioning the company name, it is more important
if you are approaching social media to generate leads or acquire new customers.
With an understanding of the most common keywords used, you can add search
terms like “want to buy,” “recommendation,” “looking for,” and “best” to find
conversations that indicate the beginning of a buying process.

You must be sensitive to how prospects want to interact with you. Imagine you
are sitting in your living room talking to a friend about a 10-pound bag of potatoes
you just bought and the doorbell rings. It is someone selling potato peelers.
Whether it is the world’s greatest potato peeler or not, this feels like an intrusion.
How did the salesperson even know you had potatoes?

One way to approach these kinds of situations is to offer to answer any questions
or provide an educational resource that can help the prospect learn more about
topics related to your products. Still a little creepy, but at least you are providing
value to help in their decision.

Social media listening is also a great way to get competitive intelligence. You
should start by paying attention to your main competitors’ owned channels, like
their Facebook page and their Twitter stream. This will not only help you know
what’s important to them, but it will also give you insight into how they are
marketing their products.

Next you can listen to their customers’ complaints and understand how they are
responding. Customer service is really becoming another marketing channel,
and how companies respond on social media is becoming a bigger part of how
customers build or break relationships with brands.


And finally, there are the executives and other public figures who work for the
company. Sometimes executives will not post their activities online, or even
pictures, for fear that their competitors are paying attention. If a high level
executive is visiting a small town, and there’s one big company there, it can be
clear to anyone else in the industry what is going on. And it can be a competitive
advantage to know that your competitors have called in the big guns.

Now it’s time to take all of this intelligence and create some content.

2. Social Content
The sheer amount of data generated every single day is mind blowing. How mind
blowing? Consider that every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. And
social media users are doing their part… and then some.

Consider what is shared every minute of every day:

• Facebook users share 2.4 million pieces of content

• Twitter uses Tweet 277,000 times

• Instagram users post 216,000 new photos

These are just some of the mind-altering stats that highlight the astonishing
amount of social content generated around the world. That’s a lot of noise and
clutter to cut through and stand out from.

Here’s some help on how to do just that.

Facebook users share

2.4 million pieces of content
every minute of every day.


Written Content
When it comes to the written portion of social media marketing, less is
unequivocally better. Far too many brands still include far too much in their social
media posts and content. Get to the point quickly. And by all means be human.
Yes, that sounds obvious but we all have experienced social media posts that
were presumably written by a robot.

So be human, please, but also be business-savvy. Start by using the data from
your social listening efforts and write about things that your customers and
prospects are interested in. This is a conversation, so you don’t want to dominate
it with details about your products.

Even if you are focused on generating leads or sales, every post will not require
a call to action (CTA). Those that do should be crafted in a seamless fashion.
If you are writing a Facebook post to download your latest content, be Visual content is more than
40 times more likely to be
conversational and segue into the CTA with language as to why the reader
shared than other types
should download it in the first place.
of content. —Buffer
What problem does it solve? Don’t assume the reader knows why they need
to download your latest masterpiece. Tell them why. But be human.

Visual Content
With the rapid proliferation of sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, it should
come as no surprise that the inclusion of photos or images in social media posts
is a must. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared than
other types of content.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when including an image in a

post is relevancy. This cannot be overstated. Another key aspect when selecting
an image is to evoke emotion whenever possible. There will be times when you’ll
want to include a chart, but that might evoke a different kind of emotion.

But for the most part, tug on the viewer’s emotional side and use an image or
images that elicit an emotional response.


The single most

important thing in
content marketing
today is video.
Whether it’s video
on Facebook,
Twitter, Snapchat
or YouTube, the
content you need to
be thinking about is
video. Period.
Video Content
—Gary Vaynerchuk
From April 2015 to November 2015 the number of videos viewed every single
day on Facebook grew from 4 million to 8 million. B2B and B2C marketers across
the world name video as one of their top 3 most effective social media tactics. Of
course there are many more stats just like these but you get the point.

Videos go a step further than images, however, in that they help you tell a story—
and we all know storytelling is paramount for any brand’s success in today’s world.

What are some examples of the type of videos to share? Social Media Examiner
identified some ways to combine storytelling, video, and social media marketing.
These include user-generated content, interviews with guests or influencers in
your space, behind the scenes stories, and How-To videos.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life, literally and to—yes—show your
human side.

Offsite Content
Offsite content simply refers to content that is not on a brand’s channels, such as
their blog, website, or social channel. A great example of offsite content is guest
There’s no way
blogging on relevant industry blogs. Publishing on sites like Medium and LinkedIn
are other ways to attract an audience beyond those who visit your channels. around it: effective
It is a great way to leverage your content via other sites while establishing yourself offsite content
and your company as thought leaders in your given field or industry. The key is marketing these
relevancy. Do not offer to be a guest blogger on a site that has nothing to do with
your industry. days takes time, a
Guest blogging also provides you the opportunity to include links back to your
generous budget
content—provided you have an arrangement with the editor of the blog you are and true talent.
writing for. One tip is to offer a reciprocal guest post on your company’s blog in
exchange for a guest spot on another blog.
Now let’s talk about what to do with that content.


3. Social Publishing
Here are some best practices and things to remember when it comes to social
media publishing.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Ignore those reports that tell you
You know those studies out there that proclaim to tell you what is the best day
what day and time to post to
and time to post to Facebook or Twitter to achieve maximum engagement? Forget
social media.
them. You and you alone will know what works best for your audience, especially
if you are properly reviewing your social listening data. Your audience may engage
the most on weekends. And global companies need to take multiple time zones
into account.

Cadence Consistency
One of the biggest mistakes brands make is not establishing a consistent cadence
of publishing. It is vitally important to have a consistent message going out via
the social media platforms that work best for you and your brand. See the next

Platforms Aplenty
There is a veritable plethora of social media platforms to use, including the big
boys: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The key is to know what platforms work
best for your audience—what platforms help you achieve your goals. Don’t dive
right into Snapchat for example. Test it out. But if it’s not the right fit, it’s not the
right fit. Period.

Be In Sync With Marketing

A huge part of social media publishing is to share content that your company
created. And the best way to do that is ensure your social media publishing
calendar is aligned with all content and demand generation marketing objectives.

Metrics and social media can be complicated. But they don’t need to be. Just
determine what key performance indicators (KPIs) matter to you most in terms of
aligning with your overall goals and go from there. If over time, your KPIs change,
fine. Then change them and measure and track accordingly.

Mobile, Mobile, and More Mobile

According to comScore, 76% of all time spent on social media channels in the
US is logged with a mobile device. Canada and the UK are close behind with 70%.
This should come as no surprise. Your website and blog should be optimized for
mobile, but make sure your share buttons are too.

Now let’s look at the reason you are publishing this content in the first place.
To generate engagement.


4. Social Engagement
It can be difficult to qualify the value of this thing we call engagement on social
media. And yet, engagement is the name of the game. If you’re not engaging with
Haters aren’t your
the people following you, then really you should just delete your account now. problem. Ignoring
Brands need to not only post engaging content, but also stoke the fire of them is.
conversation around topics their customers care about. For the most part,
companies have finally gotten over the hump of using social media channels as a —Jay Baer
broadcast system, and have now realized the importance of talking back to their
fans and followers. Social media offers brands the opportunity to keep it real-time,
show transparency, and share the things that your brand is passionate about

Authenticity creates loyalty.

Let your fans see behind the curtain. Create a dialogue with your fans to let them
know that they are an important part of your brand’s culture. Being authentic—
celebrating exciting events, and even apologizing when you make a mistake—is
the surest way to not only grow your community on social media, but to keep
them coming back.

Organize a Q&A with your brand. Allow people to ask questions about an
upcoming product release, or have a direct conversation with someone on your
executive team.

Fans want to feel like they are part of something special.

Activate their desires. Make every fan moment matter. Create a community that
supports inclusion and belonging based on common goals and interests that offers
your fans a way to relate to your brand. Ask them questions, get their feedback,
and most importantly, respond to each an every fan interaction.

Tag your fans in content, Retweet them, and follow them back on their personal
social channels. Make them feel like they are a valued member of your community
and that you care about what they have to say.


Every customer tells a story.

Stop telling your story, but rather let your customers tell your story instead.
Use the feedback you’re hearing online to create new posts. By allowing your
accomplishments to shine through the voice of your customers, you’re creating a
much bigger impact on potential prospects, as well as a stronger bond with that
customer or fan.

Encourage your fans to create content. Use a unique hashtag and ask them to
contribute their story, opinion, or experience. Try incorporating this into a larger
integrated marketing campaign for optimal results. (Check out Lane Bryant’s
#ImNoAngel campaign.)

Embrace the negative.

Many companies were initially hesitant to join social media because of the
potentially negative feedback they would receive online. Well, those conversations
are going to happen regardless if you have a Facebook page or not. As Jay
Baer puts it, “Haters aren’t your problem. Ignoring them is.” Don’t be afraid of
a negative review or comment, but rather learn from it and allow it to make you
better. Not only does this help make your brand more transparent, but also more
approachable. In fact, in a recent report done by Jay Baer and Edison Research,
responding to complaints via social media can actually increase customer
advocacy by 20%.

If you work at a company that receives a heavy amount of customer complaints
on social, you can follow KLM Airline’s lead by updating your social media cover
photos with an estimated wait time.


Keep the focus on your customers, not on you.

With two thirds of the buying cycle now happening before sales even gets
involved, it’s important to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and using
social media can help achieve that. However, all too often, we put the needs of our
brand first, and the needs of our customers second. Make sure that you make the
conversation about what matters to your followers, not what matters to you.

Connect your content with a cause or current event.

By keeping these engagement tactics in mind, you will not only raise your game
on social media, but you will become more aligned with your customers and
followers, and create a positive perception of your brand.

Make sure you also create a benchmark for your engagement rates. This allows
you to keep a pulse on the levels of engagement you’re getting, as well as
determine the success of the content you’re sharing on social. Perhaps funny
memes and photo albums of customer events are the key to creating great
engagement on Facebook, whereas your fans on LinkedIn engage with you most
when you share your company’s blog posts. By creating a benchmark, you’re able
to much more accurately determine the best kinds of content to share on each of
your owned social media channels.

And now, how to measure success of social media marketing.


5. Social Analytics
As more and more of the buying cycle falls into the laps of marketing teams,
marketers are increasingly being asked to prove the ROI of their efforts. The good
news is we’ve seen a big shift over the last few years for social marketers. Just a 55% of marketers are using
mere two years ago, Social Media Examiner reported that 89% of marketers didn’t social data to dictate future
know how to measure the ROI of their social media efforts. In a report we did in marketing campaigns.
coordination with Social Media Today, we found that social marketers are not only
capturing social data, but 55% are actually using that data to help dictate future
marketing campaigns.

So just how do we measure what we’re doing with social media marketing?
Unfortunately the fact is that not everything related to social media is quantifiable.
However, when you start to track what you’re doing on social media, you’re able to
get a much clearer picture of your ROI.

Here are some practices to follow when developing a strategy to calculate the ROI
of your social media marketing efforts.

Align with the goals of your business.

First and foremost when it comes to analytics, metrics, and KPIs, your social
marketing strategy needs to align with the goals of your business. Are you a new
startup and trying to build brand awareness or establish yourselves as thought
leaders? Do you need to field a lot of customer service questions and complaints?
Are you trying to establish a community? Or do you want to use social media
marketing to capture new leads?

Make sure that you’re aligning with specific business goals and choose to
establish a presence on the channels that have the best chance of achieving those
goals. Simply put, go where your audience is: if your audience isn’t on Facebook,
then don’t create a Facebook page.


Define relevant metrics.

Once you’ve decided which business metrics matter most to your organization,
you can then figure out which metrics best showcase how your social activity
is helping to achieve them. For brand awareness, look at reach and impressions
across the web. For customer service, look at response time and sentiment. It’s
also important to tie these metrics together so you’re telling the overall story of
your social efforts. Individually these numbers may not give you the best picture,
but when told together they have a stronger meaning. There are tons of different
social media technologies available today that offer everything from listening
and publishing, to reporting and customer support. Make sure you invest in the
tools that will provide you with the metrics you’ve already defined based on your
business goals. Even if you can’t afford a social marketing tool, the majority of
social channels today come equipped with analytics to give you an idea of how
your posts are performing.

Social + Marketing Automation = ROI

Track all your URLs. If possible, integrate your social tool with your marketing
automation or cross-channel orchestration tool to ensure you’re capturing all the
data on your social fans and followers. Even if these tools don’t integrate, it’s
important to still create unique URLs within your marketing automation platform
for all your campaigns. This allows you to track traffic and attribution to your social
channels on all downloads and registrations.

Once you’ve captured data on your social fans and followers in your marketing
automation system, you can track what other interactions you’re having with them.

Integration of your social tool with a CRM system can help here. A record of
a conversation with a prospect should get entered on the account profile so
your sales rep is aware of it in further conversations with that prospect. Similarly,
knowing that a customer is having issues and is Tweeting to you about them
should be in the CRM system so their account manager can better serve them.


Ultimately there are a number of various metrics that you can capture when it
comes to your social media efforts. Between number of mentions of your brand,
number of impressions, sentiment, engagement rates (likes, shares, comments,
etc.), traffic, and marketing qualified lead (MQL) contributions, there are tons of
metrics that you can capture to report on. The important thing is to be able to
focus on the metrics that help you understand the effectiveness of your content,
and how your efforts are helping to progress and accomplish the goals of
your business.

If we have inspired you and today is the day that you decide to jump in with both
feet and bring your business into the world of social media marketing, let us
offer our congratulations. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, there really still are lots of
companies not embracing social media marketing. And of those who are, many
are not doing it so well.

The customer has more power in the marketing relationship than ever before.
They want to hear from you on their terms, when and where they want. And
increasingly, the where is social media.

Just remember that it is marketing after all, and if you understand who your
audience is, what content or message will resonate with them, what action you
want them to take, and how you will measure your success, you will make great
social strides in this digital world.


About Oracle Marketing Cloud

Modern Marketers choose Oracle Marketing Cloud solutions to create ideal customers and increase revenue. Integrated
information from cross-channel, content, and social marketing with data management and activation along with hundreds
of app and data partners enables them to target, engage, convert, analyze, and use award-winning marketing technology
and expertise to deliver personalized customer experiences at every interaction.


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