Despite countless words written on the subject all over the internet, the issue of cracking a rock-solid SMM strategy remains as complex as ever.

It’s 2018, and social media has changed considerably throughout 2017. New SMM trends are on the rise, which means that your brand or business may need to make some changes due to the fast-paced environment that social media has become. If you’re not taking your SMM seriously yet, now is the time to start – especially since 98% of digital consumers are social media users.

Ad prices are still going up, and since this is a trend that will likely continue to occur in the near future, having a good SMM strategy is now more important than ever.

If you’re interested in devising a successful SMM strategy in 2018, then here are 10 handy tips to get you started.

1. Research your audience on social media

Social media networks offer unprecedented depths of audience segmentation. And when it comes to finding a target audience, the more you manage to narrow your audience, the better the results will be. When you’re marketing with your target audience in mind, you’ll be able to make your content more personalized to their tastes — a tactic that’s bound to bring in a better return of your investment.

In saying all that, however, gaining the attention of your targeted prospects and acquiring new customers will grow more complex and expensive. In order for your marketing strategy to keep up with the growing complexities, each piece of content you post will need to play a specific, measurable role in guiding prospects down your conversion funnel.

This means that if a particular step within your strategy doesn’t work, you’ll have to retarget and pivot to ensure that your target audience is only exposed to content that completely resonates with them.  Social media lets you utilize user behavior (such as visiting a particular page, requesting a download, clicking, viewing an ad or playing a video) to drive more relevant ads to those who respond to your marketing positively.

2. Don’t take on every social media channel possible

Not every social media network will be equally effective for your business. There are reasons for why LinkedIn is renowned as the best network for B2B marketing, Instagram (and Pinterest) as an oasis of beauty, lifestyle, health, and fitness influencers, and why Twitter and Tumblr are more suited for businesses working in media and publishing.

Branching out to every social media network in existence is the best way to spread your resources thin. Instead, work on finding the networks your audience uses, focus on building a presence there and be consistent.

3. Track your social media strategy success

Likes and follower counts are a good signal of how your social media strategy is doing, but they are not essential. Don’t limit yourself solely to vanity metrics. Instead, measure reach, clicks, and engagement. Driving engagement is going to get your business noticed, and engaging back with your audience will create a positive image.

Monitor how your hashtags are performing to see whether you’ve made good decisions and supplied your users with another powerful way to find the conversations your brand started.  

4. Don’t forget about mobile

Mobile phones are rapidly becoming the primary gadgets for browsing and engaging on social media. More and more people are thrusting their mobile phones with bank account info, engagement with branded content is higher when users view it on their phones, and users check product reviews on social media before they make purchasing decisions.

Optimizing your ads for mobile devices is becoming an essential tactic for your social media strategy, and social media ad managers are making it easier than ever. Facebook even has mobile-oriented ad formats such as the Canvas or the Collection ad type.

But even if you’re not using them specifically, always make sure that your ad specs and sizes are optimized for mobile devices. If you don’t, you’ll be giving your competition a serious advantage.

5. Research the best content formats

Social media algorithms are constantly changing, and effective ways for content marketing in the past can easily become outdated in the blink of an eye. Facebook started demoting clickbait and engagement bait content in 2017 and early 2018, and this particular development shows how important it is to stay updated when it comes to social media.

Keep an eye on social network algorithms

While bait-content is now getting demoted, other types of content are receiving more organic reach than others. When a social media platform wants to promote a new feature, they have the luxury to utilize their algorithms. Facebook is particularly astute in this regard: when it wanted to promote native Facebook videos, it pushed them to the top of users’ feeds. Now, it’s happening with Facebook live and audio broadcasting. Utilizing the live streaming feature is a sure way to attain more organic reach and drive a spike in user engagement.

Use visual content formats

If you don’t think you’re ready to live stream, think about what other content formats may work best for you. Video is always a winner on social media – in fact, it is estimated that in 2018, 82% of social media traffic is going to be through video. Its production cost is higher than any other content formats, but you can use Facebook slideshow creatively if you want to keep production costs down and still enjoy a video-esque marketing strategy.

Tip: Measure the time users have spent watching your video as opposed to video views to see how it performed.

However, what’s even more important than the issue of whether or not to use video for your SMM strategy is having a recognizable visual identity.

Don’t be too salesy

The old-school salesy approach to marketing is all but gone. Nowadays, people like content that makes it harder for them determine whether it’s actually marketing.

Don’t limit your social media channels to strictly promotional content such as paid offers, product links, and discounts. Use it to provide either educational and informative or fun and entertaining content – these are the content types that drive the most engagement.

A/B testing

When you start a new paid campaign on social media, do some testing to see what ads work best. All you need to do is create at least two variations of the same ad content (a different CTA, image or copy) and split it halfway between the people in your target audience. The analytics and insights tools on social media can then help you gauge which ad performed the best.

6. Consider social messaging and customer support

People tend to rant about their experience with brands on social media first. When they contact a business page they expect instant feedback. You should devote a healthy chunk of your SMM to leveraging social media potential for customer support.

Twitter might be the go-to platform for customer support at the moment, but more and more businesses turn to chatbots when it comes to resolving consumer issues.

Chatbot AI is rapidly becoming a huge market, and Facebook is already working on supplying businesses with a way to automate their responses via social messaging and chatbots. Chatbots give you a way to automate greeting messages, FAQs and “away” messages, but the list of services is growing by the minute.

7. Nail cross-channel posting

You probably have multiple social media channels if you’re a business or an entrepreneur in 2018. In saying that, you may find yourself repurposing or reposting content in the hopes of getting maximum exposure. To make things simpler for you, you can use social media automation tools, like Amplifr, to share your content on various platforms.

People consume content on different networks differently. User behavior varies a great deal from platform to platform, and thinking about what your users want to see on a particular platform is a very tactical strategy.

Let’s say you’ve made an awesome 10-minute video and your first instinct is to post it on all your social media channels.  While the video may be super informative, shorter videos perform better on Facebook. You may want to consider breaking the video into a few shorter, eye-catching clips and upload them to different platforms separately. You can do a 10-second playful quote video for Instagram, or make it a Story.

Don’t just merely re-upload everything you post. Instead, give your followers what they want to consume most on different platforms. And don’t forget to link to your main piece of content, your initial Youtube video.  

8. Organic vs. paid strategy

Organic reach is generally on the decline, but consider the specific platform you’re marketing on to decide whether to pursue an organic or a paid strategy. Facebook has become notorious for the way it cuts organic reach, but other networks, such as LinkedIn, are not. Its algorithm isn’t nearly as punishing as Facebook’s, and you can still drive a generous amount of traffic with just an organic strategy. But don’t forget: if you’re doing things organically, content is the absolute king.

9. Reach out to micro-influencers

2017 saw a significant rise in influencer marketing, and with ad prices rising even more in 2018, this trend is likely to continue throughout the year.

Influencers have risen to popularity for a reason – marketers report that micro-influencer marketing is an amazing investment. A relevant influencer marketing your product to their audience (if it’s your target audience) can result in 11% increase in ROI, which doesn’t really come as a surprise – 49% of people refer to their favorite influencer before making a purchasing decision.

An increasing number of people are influenced by what they see on social media, especially emerging audiences such as generation Z. That makes influencer marketing a must for every brand marketing on social media.  

10. Find out what your competitors are doing

General guidelines for social media marketing strategies will never cover every little detail of how your business can grow on social networks. That’s why you have to look at your biggest competition and investigate their own social media tactics.

How often do they publish content? What types of content do they publish? What are their go-to platforms?

You can answer all your digital marketing-related questions by analyzing competitors’:

  • Websites and SEO strategies
  • The social channels where they focus to build their brands
  • Reports and statistics about the businesses in your industry
  • Content marketing strategies

Nate is the founder of Amplifr, a service that assists individuals and businesses by automatically scheduling their social media posts, helping them to earn more money. With a background in product managing, business development, and international growth, he aims to help individuals and businesses by showing them how they can continue to grow their audience profitably and efficiently.

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