The absolute beginner’s guide to social media marketing

The basics you need

Social media isn’t just a place for sharing funny memes, it’s also a powerful lead-generation tool for those who know how to use it. In this post, we’ll explore how anyone can use social media marketing to promote their small business.

Social media is a two-way street so be ready to interact.


Whatever products or services your business offers, chances are your customers are out there on social media. Services like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to reach millions of potential customers, whether they’re across the road or across the world.

Look before you leap

Before you dive into social media, you’ll want to identify the people most likely to buy from you. This includes things like where they live, which languages they speak, how much they make and which social networks they prefer.

Next define your goals for your social media marketing. This makes it easier to decide:

  • What you should post online
  • Where you should post it
  • Which numbers you should watch to measure your success

Goals might include building general awareness of your business, directing people to a particular page on your website or generating sales. Social media is also a great place to casually engage with existing customers and forge closer relationships.

Social Media Marketing Sticky Note Saying Contact Us
Roughly one-quarter of your posts should ask readers to take an action.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to use social media as a customer support channel.

If the answer is yes, someone will need to keep a close eye on the social networks you use and respond to questions or complaints promptly. Done well, this can improve customer retention and turn customers into advocates.

Choose your social platforms

Different social media platforms attract different kinds of followers. You might choose to use several, but take the time to appreciate the differences between the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest.

The idea is to be active on the networks your target customers use.


Services like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat lend themselves to short, punchy communications and tend to be very visually focused. You’ll want to add eye-catching images to every post.

Social Media Marketing Photo Gallery
Adding images to your posts increases clicks.

Meanwhile, Facebook and LinkedIn lend themselves to more long-form content, with the latter more likely to reach business professionals.

Make sure you study the details of how each service works, such as how to use Twitter hashtags and the difference between Facebook profiles, pages and groups.

Put controls in place

It’s generally not a good idea to wing it on social media. When businesses get themselves into trouble, it’s often because they’ve fired off an off-the-cuff remark without thinking it through or considering the consequences.

You’ll want to decide who exactly:

  • Will have access to your social media accounts
  • Is authorised to post content on behalf of the business
  • Will sign off on posts before they go live

Some social media services include workflows that let different staff members access your account. There’s also a wide range of business-friendly tools to handle this.

Make a plan

It helps to plan your social media posts in advance, sticking with the process you’ve established to ensure they go through all the appropriate checks and balances.

Favour quality over quantity and don’t bombard your followers.


Instead, tailor the frequency of your posts to what’s appropriate for the platform. If you’re a public company or in a tightly-regulated industry, you should know your obligations when it comes to making public statements.

Services like HootSuite allow you to schedule posts in advance, so you can create several weeks’ worth of posts at once.

Find your voice

It’s important to establish the right tone for your particular target audience.

A fashion brand might take on a friendly character, personal tone and whimsical language with the purpose of engaging followers.

Meanwhile, a financial services provider might lean towards more of an authoritative character, matter-of-fact tone and simple language for the purpose of educating.

It’s good to mix things up, alternating informative posts with entertaining ones. You don’t want followers to become bored or they’ll stop clicking.

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Learn how to advertise and boost posts

Some social networks give you the option of paying to run advertisements or put your posts in front of more people. It’s important to understand how these work, and how to measure the results to ensure that you’re getting value for money.

All the social networks track and report metrics such as number of:

  • Views
  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Engagements
Social Media Marketing Person Recording on a Smartphone
A smartphone is all the equipment you need for social media marketing.

The more likes and shares you get, the more your followers enjoy what you’ve posted. Greater engagement means more people taking the desired action, whether that’s requesting a quote or signing up for a free drawing.

You’ll also want to define the various subsets of your audience, as it’s often possible to target your ads to very specific types of consumers.

Be ready to act on sales leads

If one of your social media goals is to bring in new customers, then you need to have a plan in place to turn those leads into paying customers. This might include integrating your social media efforts with your customer relationship management platform, as well as creating website landing pages for different types of leads.

When evaluating the effectiveness of your social media campaign, you’ll also want to examine the quality of leads generated to determine whether your efforts are worth the money.

Social media marketing in summary

Social media can be a powerful business-building and lead-generation tool, but don’t dive in headlong. Take the time to plan your approach, identify your audience and determine how you’ll measure success to ensure that your efforts pay off. Now go socialise!