18 Instant Tips to Smarter SMM strategies

Realizing that it isn’t a trend going away anytime soon, more and more businesses are starting to utilize social media for marketing. Social Media Examiner recently released their 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report that takes a close look at how marketers are embracing social media and even utilizing it to grow their businesses. The report offers quite a bit of insight into what businesses can do to better use social media for marketing, so in this article we are going to take a look at the report and some quick tips you can use starting today.

2800 expert marketers took the time to answer Social Media Examiner’s questions about what is working for them. The 50-page report, written by Social Media Examiner’s founder Michael Stelzner, breaks down the ideas from these marketers into manageable pieces that even the most novice promoter can implement.

The report uncovered some interesting statistics on marketing.

  • Businesses are seeing social media as more important and the statistics are rising. In 2013, only 86% said social media was important to growing their businesses, but the 2014 report saw a rise to 92% seeing SSM as important.
  • Google+ seems to be the focus of many marketers, but they don’t quite understand it as well as Facebook and Twitter. About 65% say they want to understand Google+ better.
  • Most marketers (58%) feel that original written content is still vital.

Whether you already have a social media marketing plan in place or you are just getting started writing one, these 18 tips will make your strategy smarter and more effective.

Tip #1: Analyze What You’re Doing with Social Media

68% of the marketers surveyed indicated that they measure the effectiveness of social media marketing. You can easily repeat this by creating landing pages specific to different campaigns and utilizing A/B testing of which landing pages work best for different forms of social media.

Tip #2: Don’t Get Stuck on Facebook Marketing Only

The majority of marketers reported that they either aren’t sure or they don’t feel that their Facebook marketing is working very well. The larger the business, however, the more they felt their efforts on Facebook were working. About 52% of businesses with over 1000 employees thought their Facebook marketing was on target but only 34% of small businesses felt their efforts were working.

The takeaway from this is that you should try different types of marketing and not only limit your efforts to Facebook. Programs like HootSuite can help you preschedule posts to different social media and may be a good solution for small business owners.

Tip #3: Go Mobile

State of Mobile 2013 (view full infographic here).

More and more people are using mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Internet Project 58% of Americans have a smart phone and about 42% own a tablet. The marketing report shows that marketing experts are starting to embrace this trend. About 43% of marketers surveyed said that their blogs are optimated for mobile readers. This is still a minority, but that percentage is up 15% from 2013.

Another market study by Super Monitor states that:

  • The average age for the first cell phone is now 13.
  • Mobile web adoption is growing 8 times faster than web adoption did in the 1990s and early 2000s.
  • 50% of the average global mobile web users now use mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online.
  • Mobile-based searches make up one quarter of all searches.
  • 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis.

What you can learn from this is that mobile browsing is on the rise and you should work toward a mobile-optimized blog.

Tip #4: Invest a Little Time

Screenshot from Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report

The average time marketers spend on social media each week was 6 hours.

About 37% were engaging in social media for 11 hours or more. Even if you have a very small budget, you need to allot some time to social media marketing. If you can afford to hire a social media marketer to do this work for you, however, it will free up your time for writing and other marketing efforts and increase the time spent on this endeavor.

Tip #5: Develop a Fan Base

The report states that 92% of marketers feel one of the biggest benefits of social media marketing is that company exposure is increased. They feel they gain new followers and that these followers are loyal fans. You can use this information to change the way you interact with your own followers. They are loyal friends to your business. Do you treat them that way? Do you engage them and post snippets that will interest them?

Tip #6: Use Three or More Networks

The majority of marketers promote on at least three social networks. The big three are Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but there are dozens of others out there. Does your site sell products crafters would be interested in? Then getting engaged on Pinterest is an excellent idea since the user base on Pinterest is women.

Tip #7: Plan Ahead

70% of marketers state that they post content on social media at least one time per day.

In order to keep up that type of pace, marketers must plan ahead. You should have an idea in mind for how you plan to promote for the month or even the quarter, content should be written ahead of time and posts scheduled to go up on social media in advance.

Tip #8: Partner with Other Businesses

The report also showed that those who have been marketing for a year or more tend to build more partnerships with other businesses. This increases your social media exposure, because these partners will promote your products and vice versa. Once you’ve been marketing for a bit, you may be approached about a partnership or decide to approach someone else. Keep in mind that the other business should be complimentary but not competition. In addition, make sure you want to put your name behind the product. Ask for a sample, test it out, check out reviews of the business to make sure there are no serious complaints. When you recommend a product to your readers, they expect you to have done a bit of research on that other product.

Tip #9: Get Engaged on the Top Platforms

Screenshot from Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report

As mentioned before, there are dozens upon dozens of different social media platforms to get involved in. However, one thing this report showed was that there are seven that are most frequently used by marketers. Those seven platforms were:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • blogging
  • Google+
  • Pinterest

There is a reason these are the top seven and that has to do with the number of users they have and how much those users utilize the site. Make sure you utilize these platforms first before moving to others for the best results.

Tip #10: Videos Are on the Rise

Since 2013, blogging has slipped in rank slightly and YouTube has bumped it down. According to Invisia:

  • Video was the fastest growing form of ad format in 2012.
  • According to ComScore, 45.4 percent of users viewed at least one video online over the course of a month.
  • 86% of colleges and universities have a presence on YouTube, according to the University of Dartmouth.

Smart marketers are utilizing videos to engage readers. From how-to videos to funny viral videos, there are a lot of different techniques you can use to engage your readers. If you aren’t already on YouTube, set up a channel for your business and figure out what you have to offer viewers.

Tip #11: Facebook Is Still Vital

Even though marketers aren’t always sure how effective Facebook marketing is, they still see it as the most important social media platform currently available. In a pie chart in the report, Facebook gets 54% as for it’s marketing importance while its closest competitor gets only 17% rating for importance. What this means is that your business simply must have a Facebook presence. Facebook has actually increased in importance even since 2013 when it was at 40%. That is a 14% increase in one year of how important marketers think Facebook is to your SMM campaigns.

Tip #12: Balance Your Marketing Efforts

The report also took a look at what social media marketers plan to do in the future. 68% of them plan to blog more and 67% plan to use YouTube and Twitter more. Apparently, they are seeing the same trends with YouTube that other marketers are seeing. The value of a strong blog with solid, unique content is and will remain vital going forward.

Tip #13: Just Tweet It

Twitter Stats from Mention (info source)

Twitter has moved up from number five in importance to marketers to number three in one short year. About 67% of marketers plan to increase their Twitter efforts. If your business doesn’t have a presence on Twitter, you should at least give it a try. Keep in mind that people can favorite and retweet, which can increase your reach with no additional effort from you.

Tip #14: Add Podcasting

Podcasting seems to be an untapped social media market. Even though the survey showed that only 6% of marketers are using podcasts for promotion, 21% stated they plan to add this SSM method in the near future. Podcasting seems to be growing and you could get in ahead of the next big trend.

Tip #15: Save Snapchat for the Teenagers

Snapchat Statistics & Demographic (original source from Marketo)

Snapchat is a social media site where users can take a quick picture and post it. As soon as the other person views the photo, it disappears within seconds, depending on settings. While there were over 400 millions snaps per day; the app doesn’t seem to be a very viable marketing option at this time. Only 7% of marketers have any plans at all to use Snapchat for marketing with 85% shying away from it at the current time.

Just in case you are keen to dig deeper – here’s how 8 brands are doing it right with Snapchat.

Tip #16: Paying for Ads

Screenshot from Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report

The report also surveyed marketing professionals about whether they pay for ads on social media sites. It seems that here Facebook is still very much king. About 90% use Facebook when paying for ads with only 20% using Linked in and even less for other social media networks. You could look at this two ways, actually. Perhaps Facebook has a better system for targeting your ads. On the other hand, if nearly everyone is using Facebook for advertising, it might benefit you to be one of the few advertisers on a different social media site. Some A/B testing could help you see which is most effective for your business.

Tip #17: Use Other People’s Content

Interestingly, while marketers plan to increase original content, they also want to increase their usage of other people’s work. This can include pulling upon reports, as we are doing with this article, and breaking them down for the reader or getting permission to use another writer’s original content (with credit given, of course).

Tip #18: Use Other Forms of Marketing

While SMM is on the rise, the best marketers know that you should never ignore other forms of media for a single type. In addition to increasing SMM, they also plan to use email, search engine optimization and events to pull in new site visitors. Interestingly, female marketers were more open to event marketing than their male counterparts, with 62% using event marketing and only 56% of males using events to market to new clients.

Wrapping Up: Common Sense Wins

At the end of the day, using what works best for your company is always the wisest approach. While knowing what professional marketers are doing to promote on social media is beneficial, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Each business is unique and the customer demographics for that business are unique. Test the different marketing methods you use, pay attention to patterns and keep working on your social media campaigns.

The Internet is ever-changing and to be truly successful you must be flexible enough to figure out what works best for you.