Social media marketing is now a crucial element of any business’s marketing strategy. The following information will allow you to take full advantage of the many opportunities offered by social media. Many business owners assume that social media marketing is easy – they post a few statuses and pictures on Facebook and call it a day.

A marketing strategy that promotes genuine engagement and leads is more complicated than simply posting a status, but Focus on Growth can help. Enrol in one of our marketing training courses or read on to see the key elements of a successful social cycle, one of the most important tools for a local business creating their marketing strategy. 


The Social Success Cycle 

There are four stages that are crucial for achieving social media success: listening, influencing, networking, and selling. The first stage informs all others and allows you to create and implement a marketing strategy.  


Social Listening 

The first step of social listening is identifying the people or audience, that is speaking about you on social media and the internet. Customers and prospects will be speaking about your products, their experiences with your brand, or even asking you questions. Some comments will be positive and others negative, but both need to be listened to and responded to; your followers and potential customers can see that you are present, accessible, and care about their feedback. Not responding to communication on social media is akin to having an unanswered customer helpline – it can damage your reputation. Most importantly, social listening will give you a greater understanding of your customer profile. 

Social listening will inform the remainder of your marketing strategy, and the goals of this phase include: 

  • Determining how the public views your brand; 
  • Identifying the topics, your brand should be discussing; 
  • Monitoring your industry including where it’s going and how it is perceived; 
  • Customer and competitor research. 

From the information you gather during these stages of social listening, you can monitor crucial metrics and anticipate any issues that may arise. 


Social Influencing 

The next stage involves directing the opinions, attitudes, and behaviours of your followers as defined by your marketing strategy. Following your research during the social listening phase, you should be able to contribute to trending discussions with your followers. 

If your social influence is growing, you will see greater engagement with your brand, increased traffic numbers, people sharing your links, and become an authority in your industry. Success in this stage is not possible without effective social listening first, but there are a few goals which you can aspire to: 

  • Increased engagement with your brand and content; 
  • Sparking conversations surrounding your business; 
  • Boosting traffic to your website and networks; 
  • Building awareness of products and services. 


Social Networking 

The third stage of the social cycle involves sharing information and connecting with influencers and authorities in your field. The social networking stage is simple – each time you create new content or publish a blog, it provides an opportunity to engage with your followers. Depending on your industry, your followers may have a varying degree of knowledge about your brand or niche, and it is important to cater to people at different skill levels. 

Your goals in this stage should be to increase media mentions and the number of inbound links. You can work towards building goodwill with other brands that share similar values and work towards furthering those relationships to strategic partnerships. 


Social Selling 

The final stage within the social success cycle is social selling. In previous stages, you have listened to your audience, established yourself as an authority in your industry, and created a strong social network. In social selling, you can present your offers to potential clients and, hopefully, convert them. 

New customers can be attracted through multiple channels. Successful social selling involves a social media marketing funnel – or the path that customers travel through. Your main goals for this stage are to increase the number of new customers and also their buyer frequency – see if your customer can come out of your funnel as a true ambassador for your brand.  

Some metrics to watch when monitoring the success of your social selling stage are: 

  • The number of leads you create – your subscribers, followers, or email list should grow.
  • Conversion rate – are your offers being converted to sales? 
  • Your buyer’s recency and frequency – you want your customer to engage your services repeatedly and often. 


Seeker versus Engagement Platforms 

Different platforms can be utilised in various ways across the social success cycle – some platforms are better for transforming leads into customers, while others are perfect for social listening. “Seeker” channels are ideal for social selling – for example, YouTube users are generally in “seeker” mode. YouTube searches are usually for a specific type of video to answer a specific question, which means it is easy to optimise advertisements to appeal to different audiences. Pinterest is another seeker channel, as users will typically search for a particular topic such as arts and crafts, recipes, or wedding planning as some examples. 

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great “engagement” channels which can give you an insight into the customer profile of your leads. These engagement channels are home to online users who share content and opinions – perfect for social listening, as they revolve around conversations and user-generated content. 


Important Notes

A common mistake for a business owner is trying to focus on too many platforms at a time. If you try to be everywhere, your message will be fragmented, and it is harder to keep up a consistent presence. Between one and three platforms is a good starting point for any business and should be chosen based on the needs of your particular company. 

Before commencing the social success cycle, ensure that the business owner and marketing team have completed the Customer Avatar worksheet, which you can download here. This will allow you to choose the most appropriate platforms to focus on, dependent on your customer profile. We have demonstrated that anyone can learn the basics to a social media marketing strategy and harness the social success cycle. For more in-depth marketing training and knowledge from experts, Focus on Growth offers a range of Digital Marketing Courses.