Getting Started with Social Media Marketing: Tips and Examples

Getting started with social media marketingIn a world where a billion people are on Facebook regularly and Instagram boasts 100 million users on their platform monthly, there is no question that it makes good business sense to connect with clients and potential customers through social media.

What’s the best way to use social media for marketing? You can do it simply by asking your clients to “like” or “follow” you on Facebook and Twitter and managing regular posts in-house. Or, you could invest in a more comprehensive social media marketing campaign orchestrated by social media marketing experts that gets people excited about your products and services with elements such as social media contests or social media advertising campaigns.

However you approach social media marketing for your business, one thing is certain: You’ve got to do it to stay competitive! Using social media well can really make a difference for your brand.

Some people are skeptical that posting on social media accounts can translate into business success, but there’s a reason why North American companies spend billions of dollars trying to capture consumer attention online: It works.

Here’s some data that proves engaging in social media marketing makes business sense:

  • 57% of consumers say they’re influenced to think more highly of business after seeing positive comments or praise online. 
  • 90% of young adults (ages 18 to 29) use social media
  • 70% of the U.S. population has at least one social networking profile. 
  • 91% of retail brands use 2 or more social media channels
  • 38% of organizations plan to spend more than 20% of their total advertising budgets on social media channels in 2015, up from 13% a year ago
  • 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
  • In 2015 Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases 

Do you have to spend a fortune to make social media marketing work for you? No, of course not.

It’s not what you spend, it’s what you have to say and how you choose to say it, so don’t fret if your business is new and your online marketing budget is small. In fact, the arena of social media represents a coup for small businesses. In the old days, only the big companies with the big budgets could carry out the big promotional campaigns. Today, thanks to social media, everyone can play (and win!) and big budgets no longer dictate success.

Innovation is the key. Some of Stir’s clients, for example, manage their social media campaigns in-house and call on our experts for targeted strategic planning and analysis to complement what they’re already doing. Other clients have us manage all aspects of their social media marketing.

Steps you can take to get started or to improve your social media marketing results:

  1. Develop a budget and strategy: Review your budget and create a plan. Stay true to your company’s mission/vision and decide how you’ll support your social efforts. (An online advertising campaign? An in-store promotion tied to your social efforts? An online contest or sweepstakes? An email marketing campaign?) Then get started!
  2. Pick your audience: Do a thorough analysis of your target market. Who’s your target client/customer and where are they congregating online? That’s where you’ll want to start.
  3. Choose social networks wisely: You want to choose the social networks that your target audience uses regularly. There is a lot of good information online about the demographics of users for the top social networks, which you can use to reach particular age and gender groups. The last few years Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest have dominated the Internet
  4. Update your website: You want to use social media marketing to drive traffic to your website, so make sure your website is in tip-top shape. It should be useful, user friendly, and represent your brand well as it showcases your products and services.
  5. Create great content: It’s quality, not quantity. While social media posts can be done quickly, you want to create great content that is highly shareable and includes great visuals. Experienced social media writers are a good investment because they know how to write content that is interesting, relevant and timely (plus they use perfect grammar and spelling to reflect the highest level of professionalism). They also know how to employ keywords, keyphrases, and links to attract new traffic from search engines but still dazzle your readers.
  6. Build relationships: Think beyond promotional posts and a barrage of advertising copy. Social media marketing is truly effective when it builds trust for your brand and community among your target demographic. A savvy and skilled social media writer will know how to leverage content that will be useful or interesting to your audience and get them to share or comment on posts. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. Social media marketing at its finest is helpful, informative, fun, meaningful, and responsive.

Note: There can be a risk to assuming the free tools available on most social networking sites are enough — they’re not. In fact, platforms like Facebook are making it harder to reach your own Facebook audience without a paid campaign. So learn all you can about the benefits of paid social advertising and, if possible, budget for a media buy.

Social Media Monitoring

Through Social Media Monitoring you can hear what your customers are saying about your brand (and your potential customers, as well as competitors and industry insiders), analyze trends in online feedback, and then respond to it in a way that will drive sales and grow your businessperhaps by re-branding, changing service/product offerings, or refocusing targeted marketing campaigns.

Today there are a multitude of social media monitoring tools that will monitor internet traffic to social media sites, gather information, and produce reports for your analysis. (Most businesses will require the help of an online marketing agency to help analyze that data and recommend campaign changes to respond to any issues.)

Social media marketing (SMM) return-on-investment (ROI) isn’t an exact science you can start by looking at the kind of ROI you’ve been getting for your SMM efforts so far. When you start a fitness routine you need to know your starting stats so you can really see how far you’ve come. It’s equally important to track your baseline for SMM and watch your progress so you can stay on top of your game and ahead of your competitors online.

Keep track of the following:

  • likes, fan, and followers
  • retweets, reposts, shares, and comments
  • website traffic, leads and sales referred from social networks

Do you see growth? Can you attribute growth at certain times to specific social activities? Is the growth meaningful? That is, are new fans and followers members of your target market, potential partners, and industry insiders? If yes, you’re doing something right.

Make use of easy-to-navigate reporting tools like Google Analytics and measure the data they provide against annual sales volumes and new lead counts to show both campaign success and results.

Great Social Media Campaigns

Our friends at Hubspot interviewed several small business marketers and found 10 common traits among those enjoying success in social media.

Here’s what the successful small business marketers all do:

  1. Commit weekly resources to creating content and engaging in social media
  2. Have methods in place to understand how social media activity impacts business results
  3. Regularly generate content using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or other social platforms
  4. Focus their resources on the platforms and channels that drive the best results (they don’t use every platform available!)
  5. Use social media to drive participation in offline events
  6. Set clear expectations for customers regarding frequency and types of social media interactions
  7. Leverage social media to position their company as a thought leader within their industry
  8. Provide clear calls-to-action and opportunities to general leads using social media
  9. Use information and data from social media to drive business strategy
  10. Balance paid and organic search engine traffic

Social Media Case Studies

Stir is always watching for social media success stories like the ones below. It’s a great way to learn what works. You could do the same. Combining the inspiration they offer with the tips above will enable you to create a social media marketing campaign that will build your brand, boost buzz online, and improve your company’s bottom line.

West Jet: 12,000 Mini Miracles — from

“12,000 Mini Miracles” was a campaign by WestJet that won the 2016 Shorty Award for best use of social media. The goal of the campaign was to motivate 12,000 WestJet employees around the world to perform and submit videos (via social media channels) of 12,000 mini miracles (or random acts of kindness) over a 24-hour time period on December 9th.

The campaign was mentioned in 400 media outlets in 214 countries with over 2 billion media impressions! A campaign miracle indeed!

BC Guest Ranchers Association — from 

The BC Guest Ranchers’ Association (BCGRA) wanted to run a social media (Facebook) contest to promote its member ranches across North America, and needed an agency to help imagine, plan, create, and carry out all aspects of the campaign. So Stir combined strategic planning, graphic design, content creation, email marketing, and Twitter engagement with a Facebook contest to great effect. By the close of the campaign, Facebook “likes” had grown by over 1200%. And eight custom contest update newsletters were sent to thousands of targeted and qualified recipients, resulting in a contact list the BCGRA could continue to use for future marketing. See the full case study here.

Obermutten’s Facebook Triumph – from

The tiny Swiss village of Obermutten (population 79) wanted to increase their tourism industry but didn’t have a huge media budget. They turned to Facebook to try and grow their audience and through a charming combination of old school hospitality and modern social media savvy, in just a short time they grew an audience of thousands with more likes than popular tourist destinations like Saint Moritz, Helsinki and Florence. The campaign was incredibly simple. They promised to print out the photo of everyone who liked their Facebook page and post it to the village notice board. Before long the board was covered so they started pinning the pages to the sides of buildings throughout the village – 45 000 of them, and counting.

Love of the Big Screen — from Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

“Our voice is fun, witty, honest, deeply informed, and ideally engaging,” Warnick says. So, the company’s marketers share specific, in-depth recommendations and jokes based on movies they’re promoting that only an avid fan would likely get. ‘We make sure we’re not overly promotional and our brand voice is in every piece of material that we produce and share,’ she adds.

The result, Warnick says, has been huge growth in social media followers and interactions—plus, a better way to manage all of Alamo Drafthouse’s social audiences. “Four years ago, we weren’t even reporting [or collecting] anything from social media. So, I couldn’t even tell you how many followers we had back then. Today we have more than one million,” she says.

Next Steps

Still not sure where to begin? Contact us at Stir Marketing today for a free social media consultation or project estimate. We’ll be happy to do an analysis of your social media marketing efforts so far, and then make recommendations about where you might spend some of your marketing resources for the best result.