The Gift Economy and Social Media Marketing

The term “gift economy” is one that has been floating around for quite a while, and although it used to primarily be used to describe a kind of new-age alternative to capitalism, it is now gaining ground with the expansion and growing importance of social media.

What is the Gift Economy?

To understand gift economy theory and how to apply it to your social media marketing, we’ll take a look at the beginnings of the theory and how it interconnects with the new standard of online branding and marketing via social media platforms.

The gift economy is also referred to as cultural economy. Instead of being based on an exchange of goods and services for money, the gift economy is based on trading objects or services for personal connection. It has its roots in ancient culture but is still used widely today, albeit in different forms.

Imagine giving a friend a gift for her birthday – you aren’t giving it to her to prompt her to give you money for the item, but rather to symbolize the importance of the relationship in the hopes that she will reciprocate with friendship. It’s similar to random acts of kindness and selfless giving with no expectation of monetary reward. Instead, givers are paid through increased personal connection.

How Does the Gift Economy Fit With Social Media?

Image via Flickr by Animated Heaven

Social media is, at its base, a gift economy. According to Ray Rahmati, people engage with each other via social media because “It’s less transactional and more relational. Status is something that is earned through dialogue, relationship building, and giving—it is social currency.”

Social media influencers – men and women who earn money often through lifestyle blogging on various platforms – have learned to monetize this social currency. They earn through producing personal and carefully curated content in an attempt to forge connections with their audience, and then direct them towards products and services they are paid to promote. This use of the gift economy is the perfect way to understand why it’s so important to take it into consideration when working towards creating an effective social media marketing strategy.

The gift economy is based on creating intimacy and transparency with an audience in the hopes they will spread your message. Relationships are the mainstay of the gift economy. Think of the ‘like’ button on Facebook. When a user clicks that button, he’s expressing a relationship, not giving actual currency. In doing this, he is expressing to the poster that he sees and appreciate their content.

As previously stated, social media runs off of this economy. People join these sites to cultivate and create relationships with others, not to participate in marketing schemes. This is why many social media marketing attempts fail; they aren’t able to tap into the gift economy but instead try to work like traditional marketing, using tools and strategies that aren’t effective when carried over to social media.

Social media marketing is often marked by funneling or getting the desired audience to visit a specific website or blog. This is a mainstay of the stickiness model, one that was particularly effective before social media and its gift economy began its radical transformation of how consumers, especially millennials, consume and spread information. Instead of looking to direct consumers to a specific landing page, engaging with the gift economy that powers social media use may provide a more direct and effective marketing strategy.

How To Start Engaging with the Gift Economy

One of the most effective ways to excel in a gift economy is to build relationships. This system is all about the social bonds between people. If your marketing strategy is more focused on broader pictures or rote information about your product or service, it’ll be difficult to tap into the gift economy.

Instead, creating translucency and cultivating a personal approach is a surefire way to gain access and therefore build relationships with your customer base. Authenticity is a cornerstone of the gift economy and customers will be able to tell if you lean too heavily on stock responses. Inauthenticity is one of the quickest ways to sabotage a social media marketing strategy.

The more your company builds its brand and engages with customers on social media, the more likely customers are to share information and posts your company creates on their social media accounts, creating a grassroots campaign that can only be achieved via building customer loyalty. Allowing your employees to become involved in branding and empowering them to engage in the online gift culture is a great way to show the personality of your company and present it as a group of individuals instead of a faceless corporation.

By fostering goodwill through authentic and personal online engagement, you’ve begun to tap into the gift economy. But that isn’t always enough to get customers engaged. Customers remember personal service more than anything and keeping tabs on the things your consumer base likes and catering your social media strategy towards that is imperative. Knowing your audience is always important, but it’s especially pertinent to social media marketing.

Once you have a good handle on what your customers are like and are looking for, it’s time to start giving back to the gift economy. Coupons, informational articles, events, competitions, and giveaways are all great ways to start really building customer loyalty. It shows your dedication to winning their support as well as your knowledge of them as consumers.

Once you have an online base, your audience will often begin sharing your contributions among their social media accounts, which widens your customer base considerably with built-in trust – the friends and family of your consumer base already have the trust of their social media connections, and they lend your business credibility through their support.

Just because you’ve implemented these strategies doesn’t mean your results will be instantaneous. Creating an effective social media marketing strategy via the gift economy can take a while. But the effort is worth it. The more you put into the gift economy of your online social media presence, the more your audience will begin to contribute to your monetary market economy, therefore creating a cyclical relationship that benefits both the business and your clients.

Real estate social media marketing that sells

In an industry that’s as competitive as real estate, having a strong social media presence is essential to finding new homebuyers. After all, real estate is about relationships. A strong social network helps establish brand identity and makes potential customers feel that the agent takes their job seriously. Real estate social media marketing just works.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 70 percent of agents use Facebook to build relationships and network, while 64 percent use it for visibility, exposure and marketing.

Here are some real estate social media marketing tips that will help you sell your services online.

7 pro tips for real estate social media marketing

Social networks are all about connections, a valuable commodity for any real estate agent. Follow these tips to excel at social media marketing.

  1. Make a plan.

  2. Decide which platform to use.

  3. Measure your efforts.

  4. Use hashtags.

  5. Include high-resolution photos.

  6. Engage with your audience.

  7. Follow the 80/20 rule.

Seems everyone uses social media for personal exchanges. But the rules around business use of social media are completely different. An endless stream of posts about how many houses you sold last month will only annoy people. Read these tips to do it right.

1. Make a plan

Real estate industry website RIS Media suggests you plan out the content you’ll post in order to stay focused on your goals. You want to establish yourself as a trusted, educated and well-respected professional in the real estate industry, so active and consistent posting is a must.

On Blast Blog’s 2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet shows how often (and when) you should post.

2. Decide which platform to use

Every social media site has a different purpose and serves a different demographic. There’s no reason to spend time posting on a network that won’t put you in touch with prospective buyers and sellers. Start with one network and focus on developing an active presence on it.

Use this infographic from 9Province to decide which network will work best for you.

3. Measure your efforts

Using multiple networks to promote your services? Social media management apps such as HootSuite make it easier to manage all of your social media accounts in one place and measure how successful or unsuccessful your posts are. HootSuite also shows insights such as demographics, reach, likes, follows and page views.

4. Use hashtags

Using effective hashtags will attract even more potential customers to your social media page and gain more views. Examples of hashtags could be of the city, residential neighborhood, your business name or slogan. Check out Zillow’s list of 30 Twitter hashtags every real estate agent should know.

5. Include high-resolution photos

The sharper and more colorful the image, the better it will attract the eye. Make sure the image also has a business watermark so it shows you rightfully photographed and own the photo. If not, credit the source. Refer to this handy cheatsheet to resize images for various networks. Looking for high-quality photos you don’t have to pay for? Find them here.

6. Engage with your audience

Do not just use a thumbs up on Facebook or a heart on Instagram or Twitter to show someone you like their post or appreciate their feedback. Instead, take the time to engage with them by writing back in the reply sections. Spark a conversation!

7.  Follow the 80/20 rule

Real estate social media marketing faucet
Four out of every five comments you make on social networks should be informative, instructive or entertaining. Photo: Dan Watson on Unsplash

According to HouseLens, the 80/20 rule for social media marketing says that 80 percent of your posts should be informative, entertaining or useful while the remaining 20 percent should be used to promote your business. This is the golden rule of real estate social media marketing.

Real estate social media marketing post ideas

What you post on social networks should provide value to buyers and sellers — this is the best way to attract their interest. RIS Media recommends posting the following content on social media pages:


If you really want to engage people, video is the way to go. Create videos to highlight featured homes or neighborhoods. You can also make a video with industry updates or interviews with leaders to discuss current housing or lending trends. Why not  broadcast from an open house or home show using Facebook Live?

Neighborhood listings

This is the No. 1 thing house shoppers look for online. Posting listings allows the prospective customers to see what is available in the area they are searching and what houses are current hot sellers (and how they’re priced).

Local events/landmarks/classes

This will show prospective buyers all of the activities in neighborhoods they’re considering so they’ll want to live there.

Highlight new homeowners

Congratulating a buyer on a new home purchase not only shows a level of interest, but also shows that you’re a connected real estate agent.

Start a blog

Starting a blog is another innovative idea. It’s a great way to reel in homebuyers while generating social media posts at the same time. Blogs don’t necessarily have to be just written content — they can (and should) also include photos with captions underneath them. You can check out real estate website Placester for 101 tips on engaging blog topics.

Start a real estate blog the hassle-free way: with GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress. 

Moving/buying/selling tips

Think about what prospective buyers and sellers are interested in reading — probably things related to buying and selling, right? These types of posts will motivate potential buyers to step up their house search or sale (and call you).

Share something interesting about you

Do you participate in a sport in the community? Volunteer? Attend annual events? Show connections something unique about you so they can get to know you on a personal level. This will increase trust.

Social networks: the lowdown

Given the number of social networks, you’ll need to be selective about which ones you spend time on. Here’s an overview of the top six networks for real estate social media marketing:


According to NAR, 77 percent of realtors use Facebook as their main social media outlet for promoting their businesses. Remember, only one out of every five Facebook posts (or ads) should directly promote your business — the rest should be helpful or interesting posts. Read “Five ways to make Facebook work for your real estate business” for more information.

Real estate social media marketing handshake
Relationships that start on social networks often spill over into real life. Photo: on Unsplash


Pinterest is a very visual network, which makes it perfect for real estate agents with houses to sell. Once again, just 20 percent of your Pinterest content should focus on your business, whether that be listings, awards or team photos. The rest should feature local home renovations, interior design tips or neighborhood information. Before you pin, make sure the description is understandable and that the link from the image matches the appropriately named board.


According to NAR, 51 percent of homebuyers use YouTube as the most popular video medium when researching listings. Placester suggests including your business website in the page content, along with a brief description. Also, don’t forget to include your YouTube link on your Facebook and Twitter profile pages.


Twitter is considered the most engaging social media platform, with NAR advising real estate agents to post up to 10 times a day with:

  • Industry-related articles
  • Pictures/videos of listing
  • Personal comments about real estate
  • Links to your blog posts
  • Retweeted real estate content
  • Replies to tweets on your page


In addition to posting informative and fun content (again, using the 80/20 rule), REALTOR Magazine recommends the following activities:

  • Liking photos
  • Commenting on other user’s pictures
  • Using hashtags
  • Following users who follow you

Instagram is also an appropriate place to highlight your personal interests.


A professional network, LinkedIn is a great place to join real estate groups and connect with other agents, mortgage brokers, home appraisers, clients and others for networking opportunities. Always keep your company profile page complete and up-to-date.

Start small and keep at it

Like personal relationships, a strong online presence takes effort and time to grow. With the right real estate social media marketing strategy — and your content, passion and enthusiasm — your business will be brimming with prospective buyers and sellers in no time.

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The post Real estate social media marketing that sells appeared first on Garage.


How to Create (and Carry Out) an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

Random tweets and pins might find a few customers here and there. To make the most of your social media marketing, however, you’ll want to develop a specific plan for reaching and converting clients. Here’s how to create and execute an effective social media marketing plan to help your business grow.

How to Create (and Carry Out) an Effective Social Media Marketing PlanDetermine Which Social Platforms to Use

Not all social media platforms are created equal. If they were, we wouldn’t have so many of them. Instead, each caters to a different audience by providing unique features. Use those differences to your advantage by carefully selecting which platform will help you accomplish your social media marketing goals.

  • Facebook: Stands out for its wide reach, targeting capabilities, and detailed analytics; skews toward a 35+ audience
  • Twitter: Great for direct communication with clients and customers; helps build relationships; analytics and demographic data are not as thorough
  • Instagram: Largely visual medium, which is excellent for building brand awareness; good choice for a younger audience (15-35); no clickable links, so not as good for driving traffic
  • LinkedIn: Allows for fine-tuned targeting by industry and position; works best for B2B marketing; can be expensive when looking at cost per click
  • Pinterest: Another great choice for visual marketing; helps drive traffic since pins automatically link back to source; skews female (nearly 70%); not as effective for B2B

Decide Who You Are Targeting on Social Media

Are you trying to get noticed by potential customers who have never heard of you? Or are you hoping to increase engagement with an audience who already follows you? These are some broad questions you’ll want to consider, but you can also dig deep into the details.

Once you’ve decided on a platform, you’ll want to identify specifically who you want to reach. The amount and type of data you’ll have on a potential audience will differ for each platform.

Facebook, for example, will allow you to refine your targeting with demographic and psychographic data. That means you can market to individuals who like a certain product, personality, or particular television show (or other entertainment). You can also use a tool like the Facebook Pixel to retarget an audience who has visited a specific page on your website.

While the data set from other sites is not as robust as Facebook’s, you will still be able to choose who you want to target. This allows you to send your message to the right group depending on what goals you have set for your campaign.

Set Your Social Media Goals

  • Identify metrics: Decide what you will measure and how. Are you looking for increased traffic? Do you want to grow your email list? Raise brand awareness? Each of these goals can be measured by specific metrics within the social media platform or your own site.
  • Commit to reporting: Often. You want to know what is happening so you can improve. At the very least, you want to know what worked and what didn’t after a campaign is complete. But if you report frequently, you’ll have the chance to adjust your strategy on the fly, boosting your reach and/or conversions.
  • Use what’s available: Even if you’re not an analytics expert, even if you don’t have a data scientist on the payroll, you can take advantage of the metrics provided by the social media platform where you’ve decided to market. While you should start collecting data from your site as well, you can learn a lot about your strategy with just the analytics basics.

Optimize Social Media Profiles on Each Platform

The qualities of a fantastic Facebook fan page are not necessarily the same as an effective LinkedIn company page. At the very least, you should complete your profile to 100%. The more information you provide, the more likely your audience is to find you and connect with you. Also keep in mind that many of these pages will be indexed by Google, so you’ll want to use long-tail keywords to reap any potential SEO benefits.

Consider the audience you are targeting on each platform. Then adjust your presence for that niche. You should stay true to your brand, of course, but tailor your profile to the platform.

Determine a Posting Timeline

Much like with a traditional marketing campaign, you’ll want to plan your messaging in advance. You might not need to have every post and every ad completed before you launch the first volley, but you will want to have a general idea of what the arc of your marketing looks like.

Consider the following for your social media posting timeline:

  • Frequency: How often should you post? This will depend in part on the platform and your goals. Remember that not everyone will see your message the first time, so it’s okay to repeat ideas or repurpose them.
  • Time of Day: While you can find general guidelines about the optimum time to post, don’t think of these as rules. Instead, find out when your audience is active. If you have an international fanbase, for example, you might need to post at multiple times to accommodate various time zones.
  • Be realistic: If you don’t have the bandwidth to tweet dozens of times per day, then don’t set a goal you know you can’t reach. Instead, do what you can. Once you start seeing results, it will be easier to devote more time and energy to social media marketing.
  • Use automation: Automate with caution. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can help you craft messages in advance so you don’t have to always post them live. Remember, that these automated posts can cause problems when tragedy strikes. You don’t want to seem callous or indifferent because you forgot to pause your automated tweets.

Follow Best Practices for Posting

Again, what works for LinkedIn might not be as effective for Pinterest. Each site has its own best practices, but some general rules apply to almost any social media marketing effort.

  • Use visuals: Images are more engaging no matter which platform you’re on. The best sizes for each site differ, though, so don’t forget to resize your visuals when necessary.
  • Optimize your text length: This will vary for each platform. Brevity for Twitter, obviously. But Facebook posts can be longer, assuming that they are engaging.
  • Use hashtags appropriately: Most social media platforms allow you to use hashtags, but their effectiveness will depend on the site. Twitter makes good use of hashtags, for example. They aren’t as useful on Pinterest, and most other sites are somewhere in between.
  • Be useful: There’s too much content out there for all of us to consume. If you want to engage your audience, make sure you provide valuable information and try to be entertaining when possible. Sometimes a light-hearted approach can stand out from the bland, serious marketing we see so often.

Social media marketing isn’t magic. If you want it to work for you, you’ll need to be intentional and ask some important questions about your audience and your goals. Follow the guidelines above for your next campaign and let us know how it goes.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

Perhaps one of the biggest human flaws is that we tend to be a bit impatient.

We speed date, eat fast food, use emojis instead of words, pay for overnight shipping, and get started with social media without knowing why or what to expect.

The world is moving faster than ever before. New trends and technology seem to appear overnight, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep pace. So, you get the temptation to jump on the social media bandwagon without a clear picture in mind of what you want to achieve.

But, diving in without a sense of what it encompasses and how it can benefit your business can do more harm than good.

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to build a social media marketing strategy that delivers value to your audience and helps your business grow.

Table of contents

The importance of social media for business

Not too long ago, businesses considered social media as just a passing trend, a distraction for kids with nothing better to do with their time than to scroll through endless news feeds.

Nowadays, it’s becoming clearer every day that social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools businesses have ever seen.

Get this: there are 3.77 billion global internet users, and over 2.8 billion active social media users. If social media were a country, it would be the biggest nation in the world.

Don’t forget that due to its gargantuan size, social media can provide you with more exposure and brand awareness than any other traditional marketing tool out there. Some of the most popular platforms have become such an integral part of our lives that we are willingly telling the world about our needs, preferences, problems, and burning desires.

Savvy businesses know how to benefit from the huge amount of data that users generate in real time. Sure, the numbers are overwhelming  – every day, people send over 500 million Tweets, upload 95 million photos and videos on Instagram, and like 4.5 billion posts on Facebook. But, behind this mammoth amount of information, there are valuable insights about your customers: who they are, what they like, and what they are willing to pay for.

Social media has made it easier for brands to eavesdrop on the conversations their customers are having and take part in the discussion. Social networks can also help you gather information about your audience and create better marketing messages that fit their profile.

So, there’s no question that social media can benefit your business greatly.

But what is Social Media Marketing?

Imagine you are taking your first scuba diving lesson. You are given the equipment without being told what each item is, how it works, and why you need it. You wouldn’t feel too comfortable diving into the deep dark depths of the ocean without knowing how to differentiate between your submersible pressure gauge and your dive computer.

The same stays true for getting started with social media marketing without understanding what it is or how it works.

According to Wikipedia, social media marketing refers to the use of social networks to promote a product or service.

That’s a rather broad and superficial definition, don’t you think?

Let me take a swing at it.

For me, social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms to identify and connect with key audiences in a meaningful way.

Sure, your goal is to increase brand awareness, generate leads, and promote your products or services. But, you can’t do that without building meaningful relationships with your network first.

Unlike traditional marketing, where you bombard prospects with sales messages – social media is a two-way process. You need to listen, engage, show empathy, become involved, and provide value if you want to create a seamless relationship with your prospects that can eventually lead to sales.

If you can’t do that, your social media marketing is likely to fail.

What are the benefits of Social Media Marketing?

Unfortunately, not all businesses seem to understand the benefits social media can bring. Recent studies show that about 50% of small businesses aren’t using social media marketing to promote their products/services.

More than that, 25% of those businesses say that they don’t even plan to use social media in the future.

Apparently, there is a big gap between those who understand the value social media can bring and those who still see it as a passing trend.

If you’re one of the few businesses that struggle to see the value of social media marketing, here are some benefits to consider:

  • Brand Recognition: Consumers tend to buy from the brands that they recognize. Social media can get your business in front of the right people and entice them to engage with your brand even when they aren’t ready to make a purchase.
  • Humanizing Your Brand: Social media makes it easier to show your customers that you aren’t just a faceless corporation that is only after their dollars. It allows you to build a voice and showcase your personality, or the personality of your team. For example, the team at Buffer do a great job of empowering their employees to be the face of their brand on Twitter by adding a personalized sign off to all their responses:
  • Establishing Yourself as an Authority: Social media is an excellent platform to share helpful content that proves your expertise. Respond to industry-related questions, participate in discussions, and share valuable resources with your network to become an authority in your niche.
  • Improving Your Customer Service: You may think that social media is a waste of time, but your audience expects you to be there. 67% of consumers go to social media for customer service. And, this statistic is four years old; you can only imagine that the numbers have increased since then. But that’s not all: consumers expect brands to respond to their request within 24 hours or even sooner. So, while you’re ignoring social media, prospects are talking about your business online.

This list could go on forever. Social media can also help drive traffic to your site, assist with link building for SEO, keep an eye on your competitors, and so on.

But the real question is how can you build and implement a winning social media marketing plan that will reap all of these rewards.

How do you create a Social Media Marketing Plan for your business?

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”– Benjamin Franklin

This quote has withstood the test of time, and it’s never been more relevant than in the world of digital marketing and social media.

Unfortunately, many business owners and digital marketers approach social media haphazardly with no clear direction. They “need to have a presence”, so they set up pages on every social platform out there, and start publishing inconsistent content.

If you want to make the most of the social media for your business, first you need to understand what you are trying to achieve. Then you need to create a structured and specific approach for moving towards that goal.

Here are the key areas you should consider when putting together a social media marketing plan for your business.

Social Media Research

You know that understanding your audience’s needs and expectations are vital to social media marketing success. So it’s important that social media research becomes a key part of your ongoing social media strategy.

And, it makes perfect sense if you think about it: the more you know about your customers, the easier it becomes to create content that caters to their specific needs.

There’s just one problem: the volume of conversation on social media is so big that it can feel like an insurmountable task to look for potentially valuable insights.

Don’t panic yet. With the right approach, social media research is doable.

First, start by asking the right questions.

Imagine that you are a web design company and want to know what people are talking about when it comes to photography sites. Some of the possible questions you may ask are: How are people responding to this topic? What themes are the most popular? What are the other web design companies mentioned when it comes to photography site themes?

Now that you have your questions and topics, create a list of the possible words and phrases your audience might be using to discuss this area of interest. Keep in mind that people often use slang on the internet or misspell words, so try to include some fringe key terms in your list too.

Jump on social media, starting with the most relevant platform for your audience, and use the search feature to see what people are saying about your list of topics.

Here is an example search using Twitter, where you can quickly filter the information by people, geography, language and so on:

Look at your results and refine the list. Exclude anything that isn’t relevant to what you’re looking for or doesn’t provide any useful information.

With your data at hand, try to answer some basic questions, such as what is the overall sentiment for websites in this space, what audience categories are the most vocal about it, and so on.

Don’t be afraid to take your research a step further and explore what’s beneath the surface.

This information can frame your approach to marketing your product or service offerings to this group of people.

Paid vs. Organic Social Media

If done right, social media marketing can help you grow your business without burning a hole in your budget. Of course, that takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work.

Perhaps paid social media advertising is a better option when it comes to increasing brand awareness, traffic generation, and customer acquisition.

Well, let’s find out, shall we?

Organic social media marketing can help you put your business in front of the right audience for free (apart from your time of course). That is if you learn the rules of the game and play by them.

Here’s the thing: just as with search engine optimization, the algorithm for each social network changes regularly. Facebook, for instance, has significantly dropped the average organic reach for businesses in recent years and it plans to lower it even more in the future. The social network has made it clear that it will only show content that is useful, relevant, and valuable.

Here is an interesting graphic from AgoraPulse that gives you an idea of the organic reach on Facebook broken down by industry:

It’s no surprise that retail is sitting smack bang at the bottom of that list, given the direct response nature of buying products online and how it can be directly attributed to Facebook advertising spend.

Yes, cracking the algorithm and getting your content in front of your audience is becoming increasingly difficult, but there are a few advantages to relying on organic social media rather than paying attention straight away:

  • Being consistent can benefit your business long-term by developing authority;
  • If you have a tight marketing budget, it’s much more affordable;
  • Your audience likely trust “organic” engagement and messaging, more than they do paid advertisements;

On the flip side, paid social media advertising can help you achieve your goals faster, but its longevity is limited. A paid campaign will stop driving traffic and leads the moment you switch it off, but evergreen social media content can generate ROI indefinitely.

In the end, there’s no absolute winner. You need to look at your metrics and budget to decide which option fits your business best. The reality is that each of the social networks is businesses themselves, and they need to monetize their audience to stay in existence. As this industry continues to mature, the ease of organic reach will continue to decrease. So if you think that social media is a “free” way to market your business, you will end up being disappointed.

Picking the Right Social Media Platforms

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is that they see“social media” as a homogenous entity. Sure, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all social networks, but they are so different that everything from the audience to the style is unique.

So, how can you ensure that you’re focusing on the social networks that benefit your business’ goals?

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Consider User Demographics: Size isn’t always important. Instagram may be one of the fastest growing networks, but if you are a B2B company selling SaaS services to logistics companies, then it would make more sense to focus your resources on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Resources: Do you have the skills or personnel to create the right content for the networks you’ve chosen? Instagram and Pinterest, for example, require creative images and videos while Twitter emphasizes quality articles.
  • Time: Unless you have a dedicated social media marketing department, you won’t be able to post on every social media channel. Keep in mind that you should aim to post daily on each network.

In the beginning, focus your effort on the social network(s) that are MOST relevant to your customer group, and give them your best shot. As a rule, I’d recommend picking your customer’s top 3 most frequented networks and sticking to them to start.

How Often You Should Post on Social Media

CoSchedule looked at 14 different studies and found the ideal social media frequency that allows you to engage with your network, drive engagement and traffic, and keep your business top of mind, without annoying your audience.

Here’s what that came up with:

  • Facebook: Studies suggest that you should post just once or at most twice a day to Facebook. Anything more than that can come off as spam;
  • Twitter: Neil Patel found that 15 Tweets per day is the sweet spot that gets you all the benefits of social media marketing;
  • Pinterest: Between 15 and 30 posts per day will bring you the best results on this network;
  • Google+: No, Google+ is not dead. In fact, it can benefit your SEO greatly. Just make sure to post relevant content at least twice per day;
  • LinkedIn: One post per day is more than enough for LinkedIn;
  • Instagram: Major brands post just 1-2 images per day on Instagram. If you have more content that you want to share with your audience, use the Instagram Stories feature;

That all seems like a lot of work, right? Posting consistently on social media is made far easier with social media scheduling tools such as AgoraPulse:

The Best Time to Post on Social Media

Just like everything else in life, timing is crucial to social media marketing success.

Picture this: you’ve spent hours working on an article that is insightful and packed with helpful information. Excited about the result, you share it with your network. But, to your surprise and disappointment, almost no one notices it.

That’s how important timing is.

So, what’s the best time to post on social media?

  • Facebook: The best time to post on Facebook is on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The best hours are 9 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM.
  • Twitter: The best time to post on Twitter is Wednesday between 5 and 6 PM;
  • Pinterest: Saturdays are your best days for connecting with your Pinterest audience. The best hours are 2 PM, 9 PM, and even late at night (2 AM;)
  • LinkedIn: Midweek posting (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) early in the morning (between 7 and 8 AM) or in the afternoon (5-6PM) is your ideal time;
  • Instagram: One of the things that make Instagram so great is that users are active throughout the week. But, for maximum engagement, make sure not to skip Mondays and Thursdays at any time except for 3-4PM;
  • Google+: The best time to post on Google+ is on Wednesdays, between 9 and 11 AM.

Again, you can pre-schedule content to be posted at these times rather than needing to be active all day every day yourself!

Using Social Media to Influence SEO

Google uses over 200 ranking factors to decide which content to show high in search engine results. Social media signals are among the less significant factors, but none the less can still impact your rankings.

According to Matt Cutts, the correlation between social signals and ranking position is extremely high. Sites that have numerous social signals perform better than those with fewer signals.

Sure, correlation is not causation, but the role social signals play in SEO is becoming more and more evident. If you create and share high-quality content on social media, people are more likely to like it, share it, and link to it. That builds your traffic, your credibility, and your reputation. All that can, in turn, lead to a higher ranking.

The other thing to consider is that your social media pages will most likely show up on page one of a search result when someone is looking for your brand. This is extremely important for authority and brand recognition.

Growing a Social Media Audience

By now, you probably understand that social media is a fantastic way to promote and grow your business.

But, how do you attract those first fans and followers? How do you get started when you have no audience?

  • Getting Likes, Followers, and Shares: You can do a lot of different things to increase your visibility. You can (and should) add links to your social media profiles to your site, engage with other people, leverage hashtags, add links to your social media accounts in your email signature, and so on. But, all your efforts will fail if the content you share with your network provides no value. Before anything else, ensure you create quality content on a regular basis.
  • Facebook: At the moment, Facebook is all about video. Reports have shown that live videos get 29% times more views than traditional content. That can translate into a broad audience reach that will kick start your social media strategy. But just be aware that these trends come and go, and you will need to adapt with the changing times.
  • Facebook Messenger: Messenger is trending at the moment, and a lot of marketers believe this is the future – a channel that could compete directly with email marketing. With Facebook Messenger you can use Chatbots to engage with prospects, and also expand your reach with Messenger Ads. It’s still evolving as a social media marketing tactic, but something you should keep an eye one.
  • Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups: Both Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups have their advantages and disadvantages. However, unlike a Facebook Page, where some of your audience might be there just to benefit from discounts and coupons, in a Facebook Group people are interested and engaged in a particular topic. By joining one, you can take part in the discussion and prove yourself as an industry expert. Facebook Groups also get much better organic reach, compared to Business Pages, so it makes a lot of sense to combine the two in your strategy.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a very interactive medium. Retweet, Like, Reply, and engage with followers and other users as often as possible to grow your audience. If you want to spark quick growth and sustain it over time, consider using a service such as Social Quant.

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn has evolved from a recruiting tool to a powerful publishing platform. Use this to your advantage and publish content that is likely to put your business in front of an interested and growing audience.
  • Pinterest: “Collaboration” is the key term to Pinterest success. Invite bloggers and influencers in your niche to contribute to your boards. That way, you can increase your exposure and network.
  • Snapchat: If you want to build an audience on Snapchat, then you should come up with a storyline. Don’t just post random photos or videos. Build a narrative that will keep users engaged.

Social Listening

Do you know what the most underestimated (and under-utilized) element of social media marketing is?

Here’s why: to be able to deliver high-quality content to your audience, you need to learn about their perspective. The only way to reach that level of understanding is to become a very good listener.

Everything from brand mentions, likes, comments, forum discussions, and even your competition can reveal something valuable about your prospects. This information can help you improve customer engagement, understand how your audience perceives you in comparison to your competitors, uncover pain points that no one is addressing, or identify industry influencers.

Make sure to monitor keywords, such as your brand name and handles, your competitors’ names, your product names, your campaign’s keywords, your hashtags, and the names of key people in your company.

Tools like Mention make this much easier than it was when social media first came about.

Social Media Community Management

You can’t build a successful social media marketing plan if you’re ignoring your fans and followers. Yes, answering comments, sending welcome/thank you direct messages, and linking and sharing posts is time-consuming, but it’s what social media is all about.

Carve out at least one hour per day to dedicate to social media community management. Make an effort to respond to those mentioning your brand – it will benefit you in the long run. Use tools such as AgoraPulse, or Mention to make it easier to schedule posts and to listen to conversations.

Social Media Advertising

I spoke briefly about the battle between paid and organic social media earlier, and it’s not a black and white outcome.

In fact, whilst most of my energy is put towards growing a social media presence organically, with the limitations of organic reach it is becoming more important to invest in social media advertising as part of your plan.

In reality, the customer journey is never a straight line. Prospects go through different stages before they decide whether they are interested in your products or not. If they encounter just one touch point, the chances they’ll convert are extremely low.

To get consistent outcomes from social media marketing, you need to create as many touch points as possible, and advertising provides the most controlled and measurable way of doing so.

Here’s an approach to social media advertising that makes sense in combination with quality content and an organic growth strategy:

  1. Create high-quality content and publish it on your website;
  2. Promote it organically to ensure it reaches the widest audience possible;
  3. Add a cookie (Facebook or Twitter pixel) to your website that captures the information of people who visit and engage with your content;
  4. Remarket your future content (and offers) to the audience that has shown interest in your brand;
  5. Generate qualified leads that already trust you;
  6. Rinse and repeat;

Social Media Management Tools

Social media can get pretty overwhelming. You need to create content, schedule it, engage with your network, promote posts, share other people’s content, manage your community, and so on.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools you can use to take some of the pressure off your shoulders. Some of the best one’s available today are: AgoraPulse, Buffer, HootSuite, and Social Oomph.

For a more comprehensive look at the best social media management tools available, read this post.

Social Media Reporting and ROI

The final piece of the puzzle to consider when constructing your social media marketing strategy, is to decide how you will track results.

A study from Convince & Convert found that 41% of companies had no idea whether or not their social media efforts were successful.

That’s unacceptable… Are you really going to invest all of that time and money into something that “might” be working?

Here’s a quick 3-step process for tracking the ROI of your social media marketing:

SMART goals are – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goals.

Eg. Increase customer conversions from social media by 10% this quarter

Step 2 – Understand the metrics that contribute to those goals

What metrics will tell you whether or not your goal has been achieved?

For this to work, you need to set up a baseline set of metrics that tell you where you are currently sitting.

In the example above, you could set up a “Goal” in Google Analytics that tells you when someone converts into a customer, based on an event they trigger or page they visit. Then, if you use the appropriate URL parameters in your social media sharing, you will be able to determine how many people have converted into customers directly from social media.

Read this post for an in-depth look at setting up Google Analytics goals.

Step 3 – Track those metrics

Use Google Analytics, or any number of 3rd party social media monitoring and reporting tools, to track these metrics and improve your strategy over time.

For example, AgoraPulse has some amazing reporting on your social media activity – such as post engagement, follower counts, interactions, impressions and clicks.

Should you outsource social media marketing or keep it in-house?

Choosing to outsource or hire in-house talent, to plan and execute your social media marketing strategy, can be a challenging decision.

There are a number of pros and cons to consider…

The pros of hiring in-house social media talent

  • They understand your business more intimately
  • They can take action (typically) more quickly when required
  • They are immersed in your culture
  • You have control of your marketing

The cons of hiring in-house social media talent

  • They may not have the expertise, specialization or experience that an outsourced solution has
  • The cost is more, and the risk is higher if you need to replace them
  • It prevents you from being able to scale quickly
  • It’s hard to find great talent

Summing up

Creating a social media marketing plan from scratch can feel both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

You know it will benefit your business, but there are so many factors you need to consider that it seems almost impossible to get started.

Hopefully, this guide will make it a little easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the end, what choice do you have?

Your customers are online, they are engaging on social networks and expecting you to do the same. So you can ignore that fact, or you can embrace it.

What questions do you have on your mind about social media marketing? Leave them in the comments below.