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In 2023, Sprout Social reported that there were 4.89 billion—that's billion with a B—users across all platforms; a number up from just under 4 billion in 2022. Needless to say, if a social media marketing strategy isn't already part of your growth plan, it should be. Otherwise, you’re missing a massive opportunity.

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 2024. Not only will we cover the various platforms so you can find the right audience, we’ll show you how to build a strong presence and share some of the best social media management software out there.

Understanding the Basics of Social Media Marketing

Put simply, social media marketing is the use of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X, TikTok and LinkedIn—and the creation of social content—to reach your target audience and promote your brand.

Key Components of a Robust Social Media Strategy

If you want to use social media in your content strategy, you will need to:

  • Create quality content that’s relevant to your audience members
  • Post consistently and identify gaps in your existing social media content
  • Curate content created by other people (user-generated content)
  • Interact with users via comments, direct messages, and other channels
  • Measure your engagement rate and track other key metrics
  • Potentially partner with online influencers to promote your company
  • 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.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Brand

The internet has more than 100 social media sites 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. These are:

Facebook: Reaching a Global Audience

As of 2023, Facebook had 3.03 billion monthly active users worldwide. That’s an enormous number equal to 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 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 three 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. Not only that, but Facebook has the dataset and built-in tools to help you reach them.

Instagram: Leveraging Visual Storytelling

According to Oberlo, A recent survey on Instagram users' statistics shows that the number of Instagram users is expected to hit 1.4 billion worldwide in 2024. While that's not quite as many as Facebook, it's certainly 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, home decor, and accessories over software and office supplies.

As I've learned through reading a lot of Instagram marketing books, the social channel is particularly useful for building brand awareness because it focuses on storytelling. Rather than posting several random photos and videos, you should publish content that that tells a cohesive story about your company.

LinkedIn: B2B Marketing and Thought Leadership

LinkedIn is a little different from the platforms we mentioned previously. The platform itself states that it has 1 billion members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and 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 clearly addresses pain points.

More Platforms: TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest

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TikTok

With over 1.2 billion monthly active users globally, Search Engine Land hails TikTok as one of the fastest-growing social networks on the planet. If your product or service is designed for a younger age group (particularly Millennials or Gen Z’s), sharing short-form video on TikTok should be a top priority.

YouTube

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—Oberlo forecasts that in 2024, the total number of YouTube users worldwide will hit 933.39 million, a 7.5% increase from 2023. 

Twitter (X)

Due to the changes that occurred from Elon Musk taking over as CEO in 2022, Twitter (now 'X') has not seen the same growth as other platforms (in fact it's set to decrease by 5.1% in 2024 to 335.7 million). That said, if your product isn't visually-appealing enough to work well on Instagram or TikTok, Twitter's way of communicating via short-form text (or tweets) may be better for you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin board where people can save information about cooking, home or wedding décor, and other topics of interest. With 482 million users worldwide, consider creating an infographic for your product or writing an informative blog and then pinning the feature image with a title.

How to Identify and Reach Your Target Audience

social media marketing strategy infographic

Now that you know where to spend your time, it’s time to find out how to spend your time to reach your intended target audience. I recommend:

Understanding Demographics and Psychographics

Make sure that each platform’s demographics line up with the demographics and psychographics of the people you’re trying to reach. These include:

DemographicsPsychographics
GenderValues
AgeGoals
IncomeAttitudes
Marital StatusBelief Systems
Examples of demographics and psychographics

For example, as TikTok skews young, it probably isn’t the right place to market your business to senior citizens, but Facebook might be. LinkedIn is highly effective for marketing B2B products, but less for tricked-out tennis shoes.

Creating Buyer Personas

Take time to create a buyer persona—a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience—for each segment of your audience. Get to know their hopes and dreams, greatest triumphs, and most significant challenges. Collect as much information as possible about each segment, then use it to pick a platform and start creating relevant content for that person.

Creating a Content Calendar: Planning for Success

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.

Of course, some marketing tools are designed specifically with social media content management in mind. Using one of these tools (which we'll get into a little further below) can help you keep track of your content without having to spend time entering everything in a spreadsheet. For now, check out some great marketing calendar software options we've ranked by best use case.

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 jump on current social trends or changes in the market.

Types of Content to Consider

As you plan your content, aim to achieve a good balance of content types. Here are some of the most popular types of content available on social media now:

  • 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.
  • Videos: 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.

Tools for Effective Content Planning

There are a few different types of tools I recommend for content planning, and for using social media as part of your overall marketing strategy:

  • Marketing planning software can help you visualize your content strategy across all platforms and align your team on projects and tasks. 
  • Social media management software can enable scheduling and publishing across various social platforms, plus track engagement and interactions.
  • Social media scheduling tools can help you work more efficiently and stay consistent. Upload once and post everywhere on set dates and set times.
  • Social media analytics software gathers the data you need to make informed decisions. Track KPIs and Metrics to optimize your strategy.
  • Social listening tools scan for specific keywords, phrases, brand names, or topics, providing real-time insights into public sentiment and feedback.

Types Of Social Media Strategies

Whether you're a small business just starting out or an enterprise company with every tool in your arsenal, there are a few different social media strategies you can take. To simplify, the top three are organic, paid, and partnerships:

Organic

Organic social media marketing means that you're not paying to promote your content. You still follow all of the steps involved with creating and posting—and continuing to monitor your published content to engage with your audience—but stop short of allocating a budget to push things further.

While algorithms are designed for pay to play, an organic strategy is not a lost cause. Strengthen your organic strategy by posting consistently, developing themes or regular installments for followers to look forward to, and post at times your audience is online and active for your best shot at reaching them.

According to Hootsuite, the best times to post on social are as follows:

Hootsuite's guide to the best time to post on every social media network.
The best days and times to post on every social media network, from Facebook to TikTok.

Paid Advertising

As I mentioned above, social algorithms are specifically designed to show your content to more users when you pay for it, and there is naturally a correlation with results. More consumers report finding the perfect product by seeing a targeted ad (49%) over an organic post by a brand (40%), and social accounts are likely to see far faster growth over time when they're paying for more reach.

As with managing a Google Ad campaign, social advertising is a bit of a science. There is a lot of help and resources out there for managing campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, but you'll want to a/b test different approaches to find what really works for you and your audience. Calculating ROI can also help you determine if this use of your marketing budget is really worth it.

Partnerships & Influencer Marketing

Rounding out your social media marketing strategy is the option of partnership or influencer marketing. According to Sprout Social, working with influencers is one of the best inbound marketing strategies being used today, with 67% of marketers significantly increasing their spending on influencers in 2024.

So, how do you give influencer marketing your best shot? Here are a few statistics to consider:

  • Instagram offers the highest ROI to influencer marketers, followed by YouTube and Facebook.
  • The average ad spend per user in the influencer marketing industry is $5.78
  • 81% of marketers say macro-influencers (100,000 to 1M followers) top their list of ideal influencers, shortly followed by micro-influencers (74%).

While most Influencers do charge a rate (making it technically a paid strategy), there are a number of ways you can cash in on ROI. From account takeovers to contests and good old UGC, here are the top goals that marketers are pushing:

graphic from Sprout Social showing marketers' primary goals when working with creators.
Marketers' goals when working with creators are primarily to generate more engagement and reach new audiences.

Key Performance Indicators: Measuring Your Social Media ROI

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.

Some examples of KPIs you can track include:

  • Likes
  • Followers growth
  • Engagement rate
  • Traffic conversions
  • Social interactions
  • Social sentiment
  • Social shares
  • Website visits from social

Understanding Follower Count and Growth Rate

  • 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.

Tracking Engagement and Conversion Rates

Of course, the above can be seen as vanity metrics without the right engagement. You want your content to resonate, and result in conversions.

  • Social share of voice: This is how many times your brand is mentioned on social media compared to how many times your competitors are mentioned.
  • Engagement rate: Your engagement rate represents your comments, shares, saves and likes divided by your total number of followers.
  • Conversion rate: This is 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%.

Advanced Tips for a Refined Social Media Marketing Strategy

Utilizing Hashtags for Greater Reach

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 computer, look on the right side of the page to see 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. Hashtagify is also designed to suggest hashtags based on real-time data.

The Role of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is defined by Hootsuite as original, brand-specific content created by customers and published on social media. With 84% of consumers saying they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising, you can see how UGC humanizes your marketing. 

To encourage your customers to create their own content, you can:

  • Ask for feedback from users and encourage them to show you. What do they love most about your product? What problem did it solve for them?
  • Create a unique hashtag customers can use for a shot at being featured on your feed. If you have a high follower count, this is often incentive enough.
  • Launch a contest and use UGC as the way to enter.

A/B Testing for Optimized Results

Have two versions of your ad and not sure which one to launch? Or better yet, not sure which one to trust the bulk of your marketing budget to?

Perform A/B testing, where you separate your audience into two random groups. Each group is shown a different variation of the same ad so you can compare the responses to determine which variation works better for you.

Work Your Social Media Magic

And there you have it! A complete social media marketing strategy for 2024. 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.

If you enjoyed this article or learned something new, be sure to subscribe to The CMO newsletter. It's packed with tips and recommended tools to make social media marketing a breeze, and is sent straight to your inbox.

By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.