At the beginning of 2022, there were just under 4 billion—that’s billion with a B—social media users across all platforms. And of those, each individual user spent an average of 95 minutes per day perusing several networks. Needless to say, if a social media marketing strategy isn't already part of your growth plan, it certainly should be. Otherwise, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to connect with people who could become regular customers.
That said, social media marketing can be quite intimidating if you don’t have a plan. That’s why we put together this timely guide to refining your social media marketing strategy for 2023. Not only will we cover the various platforms so you can find the target audiences that best suit your brand, we’ll show you how to build a strong presence that helps you connect in an authentic way.
What is social media marketing?
Before we deliver all the juicy tips promised, let’s take a step back and really outline what it is we’re talking about. Social media marketing, simply put, is the use of social media accounts and content to promote your brand.
If you want to use social media as part of your content strategy, you will need to do the following:
- Create quality content that’s relevant to your audience members
- Curate content created by other people
- Interact with key stakeholders via comments, direct messages, and other channels
- Measure your engagement rate and track other key metrics
- Partner with online influencers to promote your company’s products or services
- Identify gaps in your existing social media content
- Track all social media management costs for accurate ROI calculations
And while certainly time-consuming when done correctly, the good news is that you don’t have to do everything alone. If your company is too small to have a dedicated social media team, you can easily hire a freelance social media manager to create content and connect with your ideal customers.
What are the top social media platforms?
The World Wide Web has more than 100 social media platforms where people exchange ideas, updates, and pictures of their pets. That’s a lot. But before you start panicking, you should know that only a handful of them (the social media giants, if you will) get the bulk of the traffic. If you establish a solid social media presence on any combination of these platforms, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with current and potential customers.
As of March 2022, Facebook had more than 2.9 billion monthly active users. That’s nearly 40% of the planet’s population. Sure, many of those users are more interested in connecting with their close friends and family members or sharing memes than they are in learning about your company, but that doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t a valuable marketing tool. In fact, because of its size and therefore its dataset, it’s arguably one of the best.
Many of those 2.9 billion users are people who need your help solving their problems. If your product is designed for women between the ages of 21 and 23 who have purple hair, green eyes, and an interest in knitting—a small audience, to be sure—it’s still likely that many of them use Facebook regularly.
Facebook also has the dataset and built-in tools to help marketers do a better job of reaching their ideal customers. For example, Facebook advertising makes it possible to get your product or service in front of users who meet a long list of criteria, including age group, gender, profession, personal interests, and a whole lot more. If you want to reach male lawyers between the ages of 30 and 40 who drive muscle cars and love to play pool, Facebook can make it happen.
Neil Schaffer, founder of PDCA Social, reports that Instagram has more than 1 billion users—not quite as many as Facebook, but still a lot. Although you can use Instagram to promote almost anything, the platform is especially helpful for showcasing products with a high level of visual appeal. Think clothing, jewelry, shoes, and accessories over software and standard office supplies.
Instagram is useful for building brand awareness because it focuses on storytelling. Rather than posting a bunch of random photos and videos, you should be publishing content that helps users understand your brand image. Use the platform to tell a cohesive story about your company and you’ll be able to build authentic connections with your followers.
For more on Instagram, check out our list of great Instagram marketing books.
TikTok is one of the newer social media platforms, but according to several trend reports such as this one by Hootsuite, its popularity continues to rise. As of March 2022, the site was adding approximately 650,000 new users daily. If your product or service is designed for younger people (particularly Millennials or Gen Z’s), TikTok is where you need to be. After all, nearly 70% of all users are under the age of 40.
Like Instagram, TikTok is helpful for promoting visually appealing products, including handbags, shoes, clothes, jewelry, hair accessories, and home décor. Short-form TikTok videos are also useful for demonstrating product features or sharing short ‘how-to’ sequences.
On the note of video, streaming giant YouTube should still be very much on your radar. While it officially launched in 2005—that's nearly 20 years ago, similar to Facebook—it currently has 2.1 billion monthly active users around the world, making it the second most popular social media network worldwide. These days, YouTube keeps up with the Jones' through updated features like YouTube shorts, Live, SuperChat and Shopping.
Of course, one of YouTube's biggest strengths is the fact that long-form video content reigns supreme. While Instagram and TikTok prioritize shorter videos between 15 and 90 seconds, the ideal length for YouTube is 5 to 15 minutes—perfect for all those high-quality (and often high-budget) videos your creative team worked so hard on. With visitors watching around 6 billion hours of video every month, chances are you'll get plenty of views.
Despite all the chaos that occurred when Elon Musk took over as CEO in 2022, hanging out on Twitter is still a viable way to increase brand awareness. Users communicate via tweets—short-form messages comprised of 280 characters—posted to their feeds. While it doesn’t have the visual component that Facebook, Instagram and TikTok do, Twitter also has direct messaging (DMs), making it a great place to connect with current and potential customers.
At the beginning of 2022, the “bird app” had approximately 400 million users. Some of those users have since moved to Mastodon, Truth Social, and other networks, but Twitter is still one of the top platforms for content creation and social engagement.
Pinterest started out as a virtual bulletin board where people could save information about cooking, home design trends, wedding décor, and other topics of interest. Now it has more than 400 million active users, making it one of the top platforms for marketers.
The key to social media success on Pinterest is to get good at creating visually appealing content. According to Hubspot, 85% of the site’s users prefer visual content to text-based content, making it critical to use images and other visual elements effectively. Consider creating an infographic for your product or writing an informative blog and then pinning the feature image with a title. There are ample ways you can get creative to make Pinterest work for your brand.
LinkedIn is a little different from the platforms we mentioned previously. Although it has fewer users—875 million—than Instagram and Facebook, many of those users are decision makers at some of the top brands in the world. If you sell B2B products or services, that makes LinkedIn an absolute goldmine for your marketing team.
Of course, let’s not forget that the purpose of LinkedIn is far more professional than the other platforms. If you decide to incorporate LinkedIn into your marketing strategy, note that your social media posts should have a different tone than they do when you post them on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. You may want to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry or share carefully selected content that’s likely to interest the people in your network.
So, how do you refine your social media marketing strategy?
Now that you know where to spend your time, it’s time to find out how to spend your time. Follow the tips below to reach your social media goals.
Know Your Target Audience Demographics
Have you ever started speaking in a Zoom meeting only to realize that your microphone was muted? That’s kind of what it’s like to spend time on a social media platform where the community doesn’t align with your target audience. No matter how much you speak or how interesting what you have to say is, the people you want to reach won’t be able to hear you.
To avoid wasting time, make sure that each platform’s demographics line up with the demographics of the people you’re trying to reach. As we mentioned earlier, TikTok skews young. If you’re trying to reach senior citizens, TikTok probably isn’t the right place to market your business, but Facebook might be. LinkedIn is highly effective for marketing B2B products, but it may not be the best platform for someone trying to sell hip-hop albums or tricked-out tennis shoes.
Before you publish a single post, take time to create buyer personas for each segment of your audience. Get to know their hopes and dreams, their greatest triumphs, and their most significant challenges. Collect as much information as possible about each segment, from how much money they earn each year to how many pets they have. Once you have the data you need, use it to pick a platform and start posting content.
Keep Social Media Channels Consistent
Variety may be the spice of life, but trust us when we say consistency is key when it comes to your social media marketing strategy. Make sure that you have a consistent social media presence across all platforms. When possible, use the same profile images and account names (also called handles) to ensure social media users can easily find you across multiple networks.
I recommend marketing planning software to visualize your content strategy across all platforms and align your team on projects and tasks.
Understand the Types of Content
Another reason we love marketing on social media is that each platform supports several content formats. Instead of trying to come up with 1,000 words on why a small business should use your software, you can get far more creative with images, videos, links, and more.
Here are some of the most popular types of content available on social media networks:
- Reels: Instagram Reels are multi-clip videos that—as of June 2022—can last up to 90 seconds. You can even add special effects, creative transitions and music to make your content more memorable.
- Static content: Static content can mean two things: a static post (as in a regular photo or carousel of photos) or content that stays on your profile for long periods of time. A good example is your Facebook profile. You may add new posts every day, edit previous posts, or experiment with different post formats, but the content of your profile generally stays the same from month to month.
- Videos: Some companies use more traditional video content in their social media campaigns, and on platforms such as LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook, there's much more flexibility to the length. Videos are ideal for introducing staff members, giving tours of commercial spaces, or showing off your products. Just remember to put out high-quality videos with excellent sound, and pro tip: include closed captions if someone is speaking.
- Stories: Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are a few of the platforms to offer Stories, which are photos and videos that disappear from your profile after 24 hours. Posting stories can help you form real-time connections with other users and help them understand what makes your brand so special.
- Text: Although visual content is popular, don’t get so caught up in posting photos and videos that you forget about text-based posts. Text is helpful for SEO, and it can also help you connect with audience members who’d rather read than listen to an audio message or watch a video. Be it a caption or a Twitter post, the power of the written word is not to be underestimated.
Create a Content Calendar
Content calendar, editorial calendar, social media calendar—no matter what you call it, you need a calendar to keep track of your social media content. If you’re looking for something low-tech, try a spreadsheet with columns for topic, post type, and publication date.
Some marketing tools are designed specifically with social media content management in mind. Using one of these tools can help you keep track of your content without having to spend time entering everything in a spreadsheet. Hootsuite is one of the most popular options, but you can also try MeetEdgar, Buffer, or SproutSocial.
Once you have a content calendar, start planning out your social media marketing efforts. Aim to do some planning at least once per month. Any less than that and you run the risk of being unprepared; any more than that and you may find it difficult to take advantage of current trends or changes in the marketplace.
As you plan your content, aim to achieve a good balance of content types. Instead of posting the same type of content every day, make sure you have a mix of text, videos, and photos. Finally, be consistent. Social media marketing isn’t quite as effective if you post every day for a week and then post nothing at all for two months.
Save Time with Templates
Whether you’re promoting new products or announcing a contest, social media marketing is easier if you don’t create every post from scratch. To save time and avoid tearing out your hair, create branded templates for each type of content you use. These templates will serve as the foundation of your social posts, eliminating the need to stare at a blank screen and hope for the best.
In addition to your favorite social media management tools, make sure you have at least a few tools that make it easier to design your social media content. Canva, Google Fonts, Venngage, and Giphy are some of the most popular options. You can also use social media scheduling tools to upload once and post everywhere on set dates and set times.
Consider signing up for a stock photo subscription to make it even easier to develop your social media content. Stock photos make great backgrounds, and you can even combine multiple photos to create something completely original. Just make sure you understand the terms of the licensing agreement that comes with each photo.
Post Original Social Media Content
Your social media marketing strategy is uniquely yours. Instead of copying your competitors or continuously reposting from other accounts, set your company apart by posting fresh takes that are sure to impress your audience. Create polls, post the results of surveys, publish photos of your staff members, or do whatever else you need to do to be original.
Know Your Hashtags
Hashtags make it easier for social media users to find content that’s relevant to their interests. To make your social media marketing campaigns as successful as possible, use trending, relevant hashtags in your posts.
Instagram doesn’t have a list of trending hashtags, but it does have an auto-complete feature, making it easier to identify current trends. If you’re using Twitter on a desktop or laptop computer, look on the right side of the page to see a list of trending topics.
There are also third-party tools available to help you identify appropriate hashtags for your social media content. When you enter a search term into BuzzSumo, for example, the tool makes recommendations for related tags. BuzzSumo also makes it easy to track mentions of your brand across social media. Hashtagify is also designed to suggest hashtags based on real-time data from Instagram and Twitter.
Track Business Goals with KPIs
KPIs, or key performance indicators, help you determine where you are, where you want to be, and how close you are to reaching your social media marketing goals. To make your campaigns as successful as possible, make sure you include KPI tracking among your most important social media activities.
Here are some of the most common metrics to track:
- Follower count: This is the easiest metric to track, as it represents the number of followers you have on each platform.
- Growth rate: Your audience growth rate helps you understand whether you’re gaining or losing followers.
- Social share of voice: This metric tracks how many times your brand is mentioned on social media compared to how many times your competitors are mentioned. You’ll need to use Hootsuite or another social listening tool to track brand mentions.
- Engagement rate: Your engagement rate represents your comments, shares, saves and likes divided by your total number of followers.
- Conversion rate: Your conversion rate represents the percentage of people who performed a desired action compared to the number of clicks the page or post received. If 100 people see a post and 10 of them take a desired action (e.g. signing up for your newsletter), your conversion rate would be 10%.
Understand All the Metrics
It’s important to track KPIs, but don’t forget to track other metrics as well. You need to know how many people are visiting your social media profiles, how much user-generated content you have, and how many people are visiting your website from your social media posts, among other metrics. Use reliable social media analytics tools to gather the data you need to make informed decisions.
Optimize as You Go
'Set it and forget it' works for kitchen gadgets, but it’s not a great approach to social media marketing. Once you implement your strategy, keep an eye on your analytics to determine how well each post performs. If you notice that users like one type of content better than another, adjust your strategy accordingly.
If something isn’t working, let it go. It’s more important to appeal to your audience than it is to stick with what you have planned.
Work Your Social Media Magic
And there you have it! A complete social media marketing strategy for 2023. Continue your learning by reading our article on social media management.
Now that you understand how to use social platforms effectively, it’s time to make social media a major part of your digital marketing strategy. The CMO newsletter is packed with tips and recommended tools to make social media marketing a breeze. Subscribe today to take your social content to the next level.