What is Social Media Marketing?Social media marketing is the process of gaining online traffic and attention through social media websites. It is a powerful way for a business of any size to increase lead flow and sales while also increasing customer retention.

The term “social media” is a catch-all term for websites that offer users the opportunity for different forms of social interactions. For example, some sites let users post short messages or updates. Other sites, like Facebook, also allow users to post photos and videos, in addition to a variety of other activities.

Your current and future customers are on social media interacting with others. Some of those interactions may very well be with your competitors. You’re missing out if you are not speaking directly to your prospects and customers through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

In This Article:

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks to achieve your marketing goals. Social media marketing activities include posting text and image updates, videos, and other content that drives audience engagement. In addition, a business can purchase social media advertising.

Begin with a Social Media Marketing Plan

Before creating a social media marketing campaign, it is vital to consider what you want to accomplish. So, a solid strategy is necessary.

You must have a properly defined social media marketing goal. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want to achieve? Do you want to increase website traffic, leads, or conversions? Do you want to raise your brand awareness or improve brand loyalty?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What social media does your target audience use?
  • What message do you want to send your audience?

Identifying and understanding your business vertical or niche will help you determine some of your social media marketing goals. For example, if you sell a product, your goal may be to increase sales (conversions) or get more customers into your store. If you are in a service industry, your goal might be to increase leads. If you write a blog, your goal may be to drive people to your website.

Setting SMART Goals

An excellent way to define a marketing plan is to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for five steps to help guide you in setting each goal you want to achieve. Each goal should be clear and meet each of the following criteria:

  • Specific: Is the goal simple and precise?
  • Measurable: Is the goal something that can be measured?
  • Achievable: Is the goal realistic and attainable?
  • Relevant: Is the goal reasonable and realistic?
  • Time-based: Do you have a specific time within which you want/need to reach the goal?

Without clear goals, you have no way to measure the success of your marketing (your return on investment – ROI).

An example of a SMART social media marketing goal for a blog might be: During the next two months, we want to increase our website traffic by 10% by focusing on re-optimizing our cornerstone content and increasing high-quality backlinks.

  • Specific: Increase blog website traffic by 10% during the next two months.
  • Measurable: We will re-optimize our five best articles to make them even better and aim to secure 3 high-quality backlinks to the articles.
  • Attainable: This goal is realistic by focusing resources on content optimization and obtaining high-quality backlinks.
  • Relevant: Search engine traffic is the most valuable traffic source for our blog. This plan is the best way to increase our organic traffic, so accomplishing this goal translates into business success.
  • Time-based: We will accomplish this during the next two months and measure our performance on increased blog traffic.

Some other things to consider as you prepare your marketing:

  • Research: Building a social media marketing plan includes keyword research and competitive research. These will help you brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience and discover what similar businesses do to drive engagement on social media.
  • Content: The content that you share on your social networks should include good visual content that includes images, videos, infographics, how-to guides, etc. Be consistent in your message and post regularly with valuable information that your ideal customers find helpful and interesting.
  • Measuring Success: Track data to determine the success of your social media marketing strategies. Analytics will help you discover which strategies work and which should be abandoned. Use tracking tags so that you can accurately monitor them. In addition, the analytics within each social platform will help you decide which site is performing best with your audience.

How to Choose Social Media Platforms for Marketing

With your goals in place and a plan for the content you want to share, which social media platform should you use? Here’s a brief overview of some of the more popular social media sites and each platform’s unique user base and environment. Each site will require a slightly different approach, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.


Facebook is a casual, friendly environment that requires an active presence. It is a place people go to relax and chat with friends. Therefore, your tone should be light and friendly. A cost-effective Facebook ad strategy can have a significant impact on your organic Facebook presence.

Facebook Facts:

  • Facebook users: 52% Female, 48% Male.
  • Millennials and Gen X are most likely to share content.
  • 30% of retail shoppers who recently made a purchase discovered a new product on Facebook.
  • A typical user spends 38 minutes per day on Facebook.


Owned by Facebook, Instagram is a photo and video sharing site. After its launch in 2010, Instagram rapidly gained popularity, with one million registered users in two months. Millennials are the largest demographic. Users under 35 make up more than 70% of Instagram’s more than 800 million active accounts worldwide. In addition, there are more than 25 million business profiles on Instagram.

Instagram Facts:

  • 800 million active monthly users and 500 million daily active users.
  • 53% of teens say Instagram is the best platform to learn about new products.
  • Instagram users: 58% Female, 42% Male.
  • The typical user spends 15 minutes per day on Instagram.


Pinterest is an online pinboard for organizing and sharing digital media. This fast-growing social media site is image-centered and ideal for retail; however, anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes or sales-driving ads. There are 200 million monthly active users on the platform. Pinterest allows businesses to showcase their product offerings while developing a brand personality with eye-catching, unique pinboards.

Pinterest Facts:

  • Pinterest users: 60% Female, 40% Male.
  • 80% of millennials say Pinterest helps them find things they want to buy.
  • 67% of users consult the mobile site for research and reviews while shopping in person.
  • The typical user spends about 14 minutes per day on Pinterest.


Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you post short 280-character updates about your industry and business. Mix up your official tweets about specials, discounts, and news with fun, brand-building tweets. Retweet customer’s positive comments and always answer people’s questions quickly. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible and follow others in your industry or related fields to gain a steady stream of followers in return.

Twitter Facts:

  • 317 Million monthly active users.
  • Twitter users: 54% Male, 47% Female.
  • 29% of Americans with a degree use Twitter.
  • 35% of users are 18-29.


YouTube is the number one place for creating and sharing video content, and it can also be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create a video hoping it will “go viral,” but those chances are pretty slim in reality. So focus instead on creating helpful, instructive “how-to” videos if this is a good fit for your product or service. How-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google.

YouTube Facts:

  • 1 billion monthly active users.
  • YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • YouTube users: 55% Male, 45% Female.
  • Many consider YouTube as the best place to reach a male audience.
  • More than 50% of views come from mobile devices.
  • The typical user spends 40 minutes per day on YouTube.

Location-Based Social Media

Yelp and Foursquare are great social media platforms for brick-and-mortar businesses looking to implement social media marketing. Visitors to these sites tend to do so on smartphones and tend to write and post reviews. A lot of good reviews can significantly help sway prospective visitors to come in and build your business! Consider offering extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts on these sites.

Create a Posting Schedule

A social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish on each channel. Use the calendar to plan your social media activities, including images, link sharing, blog posts, and videos. It should include both daily posting and content for your social media campaigns. In addition, making a calendar ensures posts are spaced out appropriately.

Your calendar should reflect the types of posts you will make to each social media platform. Plan your content mix based on your business goals.

Scheduling different types of posts in your content calendar will help ensure you maintain the ratio you’ve planned. If you’re beginning and not sure what types of content to post, we suggest the 80-20 rule:

  • 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience.
  • 20% can directly promote your brand.

You could also try the social media rule of thirds:

  • One-third of your posts promote the business, convert readers, and generate sales.
  • One-third shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • One-third involves personal interactions with your audience.

Once you are comfortable planning your posts and using the various social media platforms, you can be more varied in your posting schedule. As an example, you may decide that:

  • 50% of the content will drive traffic back to your blog or website.
  • 25% will be curated from other industry sources.
  • 20% will support your business goals (selling, lead generation, etc.).
  • 5% of your content will be about the people and activities of your business.

Finally, purchasing social advertising is a cost-effective way to expand your social media reach. It allows you to get your content and company offers in front of a huge audience at a very low cost. Most social media platforms allow you to focus your budget on a geographic area and audience most likely to be interested in your product or service. The websites have step-by-step instructions for building an ad and placing it in front of your prospective customers.

Track Meaningful Metrics

You might get 100 retweets, which is a metric that is easy to track, but it’s hard to prove the actual value. The best results are those you can measure, such as leads generated, website referral traffic, and conversions or sales. What you track will depend on your goal.

In the end, the goal of your social media marketing should be in line with your overall marketing strategy. The following chart can help you start developing your social media marketing plan by helping you determine what to track based on your business objectives and social media goals.

Objective Goal Measurable Metric
Grow your brand Awareness Followers, shares, etc. – those that illuminate your current and potential audience
Turn the customer into an advocate Engagement Comments, likes, @mentions, etc. – those that show how audiences are interacting with your content
Drive leads and sales Conversions Website clicks, email signups, etc. – those that demonstrate the effectiveness of your social engagement
Improve customer retention Consumer Testimonials, social sentiment, etc. – those that reflect how active customers think and feel about your brand

Take Away

Social media marketing is a necessity for most businesses if they want to be competitive.

Social media can help you drive more traffic to your website and increase foot traffic in your brick-and-mortar locations. The result is increased lead flow, higher sales, and higher customer retention.

Image Building Media

Image Building Media is an internet marketing company based in Tampa, Florida, serving clients in various industries throughout the U.S.

We specialize in SEO, local SEO, automated marketing, social media marketing, website design, website management, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, paid search, pay-per-click (PPC), display advertising, mobile web marketing, mobile apps, online reputation management, CRM integration, EHR integration, ADA compliance, and HIPAA compliance. We also provide consulting services, including conversion analytics.

To learn more about Image Building Media and our services, book a free consultation or contact us direct.

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