In today’s day and age, social media marketing is a must-have for any brand that wants to compete. Over 90 percent of businesses in the U.S. use social media for marketing purposes, and there’s a good reason for that: 3.48 billion people are on social media, and if you want to make sales, you have to go where your audience is. Ready to create a social media strategy that will help you expand your brand awareness and generate more revenue? Check out these 10 user-friendly tips that will help you succeed on social media. #1. Define Your Social Media Marketing Goals The first step to any social media marketing strategy is defining your goals; you need to have a solid overview of your strategy in place before you ever begin posting. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you figure out your goals. Who Is My Target Audience? You can find your target audience by thinking about your product or service, who it benefits, and why. This is a hugely important question to answer — after all, you need to know who you’re selling to before you can start selling. What Are Their Pain Points? To discover your target audience’s pain points, go to where they are — whether that’s a certain social media platform or a real-life location — and listen. You can also ask them directly by creating a survey. Who Are My Competitors? Do you know which companies are your competitors? Many brands don’t. Do some research on Google or social media to find companies that are comparable to yours. Once you have a list of names, check out their social media to see what they’re doing. How Much Time Do I Have? There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but when it comes to actually set goals, you need to make them attainable — that way, you’re much more likely to get them done. Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given time frame. What Are My Overall Brand Goals? Your social media marketing goals need to align with your brand’s big-picture goals. For instance, if you want to begin marketing your product to a younger demographic, you may set a goal of learning to use Instagram and all of the popular features (such as Instagram Stories and IGTV) that young adults enjoy. What Social Media Platform Do I Want to Focus On? There are a lot of social media platforms out there. You don’t want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, so choose just one platform at first to really focus on and build your following. Instagram has brought in the most success for businesses, and with the advent of features such as shoppable posts, it’s only growing — so this social media platform may be a good choice for you. #2. Focus On Content Creating high-quality content is absolutely essential when it comes to social media marketing. Here are a few ways to up-level your content creation. Images and Videos Create intriguing images for your social posts; it’s common knowledge that social media posts with images receive far more engagement than those without. But how exactly can you create photos and graphics that people want to see? When it comes to photos, it may be worth investing in a photography course (and, of course, a good camera) if you take your photos in-house. Otherwise, consider purchasing a subscription to a high-quality stock photo site to find royalty-free photos. With graphics, the same principle applies: If you’re doing it yourself, learn to do it well. Use a website such as Canva to educate yourself about graphic design principles. Otherwise, consider outsourcing this job to a professional. Videos should also be a huge component of your social media marketing strategy — marketers who use video grow their revenue 49 percent faster than those who don’t. Create engaging videos that educate your users about a relevant topic, or share a behind-the-scenes look at your office to get more engagement. Copy Your copywriting is every bit as important as the visuals you produce, if not more so. What are some of the best practices when it comes to social media copywriting and why are they important? First, you can use your copy to encourage followers to do something, such as join the conversation or purchase a product (we’ll talk more about this in a minute). Second, use your copy to evoke an emotion in your readers. A caption that reads “Last call for our 50 percent off sale,” for instance, can make your readers feel a sense of urgency. You can also use copywriting to reinforce your brand voice and brand awareness, infusing your posts with a sense of personality. And finally, keep things concise — for most social media platforms, shorter is better. CTA’s Your followers can’t actually make a purchase on most social media sites, so instead, your goal is to actually get them off of social media and onto your website. You can do this by adding shoppable posts to your Instagram, including a link to your website in your profile or bio, and adding CTA’s (call-to-action) in your copy. A CTA might read something like, “Check out our new sneakers in the link in our bio!” #3. Get Paying Customers Once you have a large social media following, it’s time to take the next step: converting those followers into paying customers. Here’s how: Use A Growth Service One excellent way to get high-quality leads is by using a growth service such as Kicksta to support your social media marketing efforts. Kicksta targets users that are actually interested in your brand, which means those users are more likely to become paying customers down the road. A quality growth service can help you increase your brand awareness and generate more leads — and after the growth service helps you grow your following, it’s up to you to follow social media marketing best practices and convert those leads into customers. #4. Engagement Are your followers buying into what you’re selling? You can tell by measuring your engagement rate. Engagement Rate Your engagement rate measures how much engagement you receive on a particular piece of content. Engagement is highly important — you can have thousands of followers, but if they aren’t actively engaging with your content, they probably aren’t going to do you much good. Each social media platform has a different engagement rate, and generally, Instagram’s the highest. Two to seven percent of users interact with each post on Instagram. Compare that to Twitter, which gets an average of 0.2 percent engagement per post, and it’s clear Instagram is the way to go if you want to up your engagement rate. Stay Active Getting engagement from your followers takes some work on your end too. It’s important to be active on social media and posting consistently so you can create relationships with potential customers. You also need to interact with individual followers by always responding to DM’s (direct messages) and comments. This is an excellent way to get feedback from your followers. #5. Utilize Hashtags in Your Social Media Marketing Hashtags are another way to increase your reach on social media — they help you gain visibility, letting your posts reach a wider audience. Types of Hashtags There are a few different types of hashtags you can use. Industry hashtags help categorize your posts, such as using #fitness if you offer a fitness product. Location hashtags (#atlantarestaurants) help local customers find you. And finally, branded hashtags are unique to your business, such as Aerie’s hashtag #aeriereal; these hashtags are a good way to curate user-generated content. Best Practices When it comes to hashtag use, there are a few best practices to follow. On Instagram, you’ll want to use about a dozen hashtags with the most important ones listed first. It’s also generally best to not use hashtags that are too popular because your content doesn’t have a good chance of being seen. Do Your Research What hashtags are your competitors using? What hashtags is your target audience looking at? Asking these types of questions can help you figure out which hashtags are best to use. A hashtag generator can also be helpful as you work to figure out what hashtags fit your social media marketing strategy. #6. Tap Into Influencer Marketing Influencer marketing, a method of promoting your product or service through a social media influencer, is quickly gaining popularity. And for good reason — it works. Influencer marketing has a good ROI and can help increase your audience and generate sales. If you want to run a collaboration with an influencer, you have two options: Work with either a big influencer or a micro-influencer. Micro-influencers have fewer followers (typically between 1,000 and 10,000), but more engagement. To begin an influencer marketing collaboration, identify some influencers that might be a good fit for your brand; use an influencer marketing tool’s database to save time. Once you have some ideas in mind, reach out to the influencers via email, offering a free sample of your product. Hopefully, the relationship will grow organically from there. Ideally, you can partner with the same influencer multiple times. They’ll create content based around your product and you can measure the results of the campaign by analyzing metrics such as the number of leads generated. #7. Include Social Advertising Generating more sales is not just about social media marketing — advertising works, too, and social advertising should be included in your marketing plan. How Does Social Advertising Work? With social ads, you can strategically expand your reach by targeting people from your ideal audience. You can choose how many people you want to target, the specific demographic you want them to be in, and more. Think about your goals with social advertising and which social media platform would be the best fit. For instance, Instagram ads can increase brand awareness and help you get more web traffic sales, so it’s the best platform for those goals. As you create your ads, make sure they’re high-quality visuals and that they aren’t too salesy. At first glance, your ads should look like any other post. That way, they’ll fit in with the other content on the platform, and people will be less likely to scroll on past. #8. Keep Up with the Latest Social Media Marketing Trends If you work in social media marketing, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on what’s working and what’s not. Stay abreast of the latest trends by following educational websites such as Hubspot on social media; subscribing to email newsletters with industry news, or even just subscribing to Google alerts for the term “social media marketing.” It’s also important to have an active presence on social media outside of work, regularly interacting with social media as a consumer and not a brand. In addition to keeping up with the overall trends, keep a close eye on your competitors and what they’re doing as far as social media marketing. Doing this can help you understand their strategy, and can reveal places where you need to step up your game. It can also give you important information on what your target audience is looking for. Finally, although it’s important to stay on top of the trends, don’t blindly follow them — stick with your theme and your branding when it comes to content creation. #9. Constantly Analyze Your Progress Regularly check-in to see if your social media strategy is working by measuring your analytics and statistics. Use Analytics You can use analytics to track your ROI or return on investment. Important metrics to track include: Reach. Your potential audience size. Impressions. The number of times your content is viewed. Engagement. Likes, comments, and shares. Likes. How many people “like” a given post. Comments. The average number of comments you receive. Clicks. How many people click through to your profile or your website from a certain post. In general, the higher these numbers, the better. A high click-through rate, for example, is a good thing because it means more people are visiting your website after finding your social media profiles. A/B Testing A/B testing is a method of experimenting to discover what strategies work best. When you run an A/B test, you divide your audience into two groups and show a slightly different piece of content to each one. Then, you compare the responses you receive to figure out which variation worked best. You can run an A/B test on any social media platform. #10. Work with the Algorithm Social media algorithms sort content in a certain order in each user’s feed; the algorithm chooses which posts it thinks are the most relevant and places those first. You’re never going to beat the algorithm since it’s always changing, so instead, just work with it. Use your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not — that way, you can get more users to engage with your content, notifying the algorithm that your content is worth seeing. These 10 tips can help you improve your social media strategy and generate more sales. Is there anything we missed? Let us know your best social media marketing tips in the comments!