Advanced Social Media Training:
Learn Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies
You’ve mastered the basics and you’re approaching legendary SMM status. Now it’s time to turn your social media marketing campaigns into uber-powerful lead generation machines with this Brainy advanced social media training guide. Packed with highly-advanced strategies to maximise your campaign performance, this professional-level guide has all the hints and tips you need to overtake the competition and convert your ideal audiences. Prepare to enter the dojo and receive your SMM black belt.
Maximising performance with advanced social media marketing tactics
Welcome, friends, to the social media marketing (SMM) big leagues. The skills, hints, tips and best practices we’re about to uncover have been formulated for optimal campaign success, turning both you and your marketing team into bonafide SMM maestros.
The knowledge contained here isn’t what Sherlock might call ‘elementary;’ you’d expect nothing less from an Advanced Guide to Social Media Marketing, right? If you’re just starting out in your SMM journey, get stuck into our Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing, or if you’re a few steps beyond that, but not quite ready for the elite level, check out the Intermediate Guide to Social Media Marketing.
The approaches outlined in this guide are proven to garner ROI-busting, lead-generating, award-winning results. In fact, they’re the very same strategies our own Brainy SMM aces deploy, so we can vouch for their effectiveness.
So, if you’re looking for a professional-level, industry-tested, best-in-class SMM walkthrough, you’ve come to the right place. Let the knowledge commence!
The world of SMM can be a tricky place to play – and that’s exactly why we at The Brains invest so much time, energy, creativity and all-around Braininess into crafting winning campaigns that deliver results
Social Media Marketing Specialist
Need expert support with your social media marketing?
Book a free consultation with our Brainy experts.
If you’d like our social media marketing Brains to review your campaigns and help you improve performance, give us a call. We’ll provide a free consultation to help you boost results.
Competitor content analysis in social media
No matter how good you get, analysing the competition is always a good idea – and when it comes to social media marketing, there’s a heap of insights you can take simply from making lookalike audiences, examining post creative and crossing off types of content on your potential approach list.
Make a social media audit list of questions and figure out who your top 3 competitors are for visibility and reach in your niche – keyword research can help with this.
You’ll also want to take a look at the ad library of various social media platforms, to get the lowdown on your competitors’ ads. This way, you can clue yourself in as to where they’re investing their ad budget, the marketing pillars they’re targeting, and the kinds of results it all yields.
How to find your competitors
Before you complete a content audit, you’ll need to find your top 3 competitors from within your industry.
- Use Keywords: if you’re an intermediate or advanced social media marketer, you’ll likely already have an idea of the organic keywords your brand is trying to rank for, or the keywords you’re targeting with PPC campaigns. You can search for these keywords in search engines, and use the social media search function to discover your top competitors for each keyword.
- Look at who your followers interact with: you can use Facebook Audience Insights to see which other pages and brands your followers follow.
- Find influencers within your industry: look for paid partners from within your industry by using social media search functions, or tools such as Ufluence. Then, look at the brands these existing influencers create paid content for.
- Look at ‘related pages’ suggestions: searching for your target hashtags, your brand name or competitor brand names will always bring up related content suggestions. Use this to inform and augment your own content strategy.
Conducting a social media audit of competitors
Once you understand your key competitors and know where they live online, you can begin to audit their social media content. We recommend auditing 3 competitors – it’s enough of a spread to be a good litmus test of the industry, but not so wide that you’ll be stretched across too much competitor analysis. You want to leave yourself the time and headspace to execute your own strategy, after all.
The trick here is selecting the right competitors. Aim to audit ‘goldilocks’ brands: ones that are not too big, not too small, but are just right, given where your brand currently sits and where you want it to be. You’ll want at least one local competitor that you have a reasonable chance of competing with, and one big-fish multinational brand you can use to develop longer-term aspirations.
When conducting a social media competitor audit, these are some key questions you should aim to answer:
- What social channels do your competitors use?
- How many different types of content are they posting? (i.e. videos, images, text posts, reels, polls, competitions)
- What are your competitors’ most commonly used hashtags, and how many do they use per post?
- Which type of content or topic generates the most engagement?
- What ads are they currently running, and which ones are boosted?
- Are your competitors working with any influencers or partnerships?
- What audiences are competitors targeting? How do their audiences overlap with yours?
- Are there any audience demographics you aren’t currently targeting that could be beneficial to you?
Brand reputation monitoring and customer sentiment analysis
Use sentiment analysis – essentially, ‘opinion mining’ – to determine the emotions of commenters and clarify their opinions on a brand. If a competitor puts out a string of ads that don’t go down well with the public, that’s something you’re going to want to know about.
Sentiment analysis is about way more than surveying opinions. Yes, that comes into it – but we’ll also leverage NLP, linguistics and biometrics to identify and interpret status quo opinions across entire, distinct demographics on any given topic
Social Media Marketing Specialist
Your goal should be to precisely understand your brand reputation, get an accurate read of online narratives around your brand, and illuminate different ways to improve customer experience.
To do this, you can use tools such as Brand24. This AI tool scans the web to find online conversations about your brand and uses emotionally compelling, sentimental words such as ‘great’, ‘amazing’, ‘poor’, ‘disappointing’ etc. to determine the online consensus surrounding your brand.
Take advantage of your competitors’ audiences
By this point you’ll probably have a good idea of the kinds of audiences your competitors are targeting. Chances are, there’ll be significant overlap with your own target demographic. But since this is an advanced guide to social media marketing, you’ll want to crystallise that hunch into pure data. Time to do some digging and find out for sure which audiences your competitors are targeting.
Step one: grab your Inspector Holmes detective hat. OK, check.
There are a number of competitor insights tools you can use here. Aside from the analytics and insights offered by the various social platforms, you might want to have a look at tools like Iconosquare, TrendTok, Socialinsider or Storyclash.
But honestly, a lot of your best investigative legwork will be done by scrolling and clicking around your competitors’ social accounts.
Like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, look for patterns. Top fans, frequent tags, competition winners, as well as language usage and imagery, will all inform you of what kinds of people your competitors are chasing.
Perform a social media SWOT analysis
You’ve heard of SWAT teams, right? Well, in social media marketing, we have SWOT. A SWOT Analysis is a type of audit that allows you to gather data on both yourself and your competitors. It is designed to determine:
You can use these categories to benchmark yourself against any competitors in order to identify areas for growth; while they’re busy snoozing, you can get ahead of the game.
Below is an example of a SWOT analysis template for social media audits:
Turning business goals into social media goals, and turning those into tasks
It’s great to have goals – they’re like the galaxies of success we steer our brand starship towards. But if they aren’t linked to actionable tasks, you can’t improve performance. It’s like knowing where you want to go but having no idea how to get there.
For instance: if your business goal is to secure 20% more MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) from social media this year, then you’d need an actionable task to help you generate more engagement and reach… like posting more regularly, boosting budget on posts with strong engagement, and securing strong influencer connections.
Break these tasks down into smaller chunks that can be completed by your marketing team and set milestone KPIs, like increasing MQLs by 10% by month 3, to help guide you along the path to success.
SMM success is like growing a tree – doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a way longer game than that. Think of it like a marathon, or a mission: it’s all about making incremental gains toward your final goal
Social Media Marketing Specialist
Setting SMART goals
When setting your goals for social media, do it SMARTer. This means that everything you aim for should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive. Don’t you just love a snappy acronym?
- Specific: You may already have your general direction, but what exactly is it you want to achieve? Put a number on it.
- Measurable: How will you know once you’ve hit the target? Make it something you can quantify.
- Attainable: You need ambition, it’s true. But don’t set unrealistic goals. Go for something you can achieve.
- Relevant: Each individual goal should be like a jigsaw piece that fits into a bigger picture. How do your goals contribute to wider business success?
- Time-sensitive: Goals with no end date rarely get realised. Give yourself a timeline to make the magic happen.
Let’s say your business goal is to use your social accounts to secure about a 25% increase in MQLs by the end of summer.
Right off the bat, this is not an appropriate goal. It’s not exactly laser-focussed, and it’s too ‘big picture’ – especially if you don’t already have a large social media following, or if you’re a newer brand that customers in your industry haven’t yet heard of.
The advanced social media marketer would break this goal down into bitesize items with actionable steps and specific KPIs. As an example, there are a number of goals that you might need to hit before you start achieving increased MQLs, such as:
- Goal 1: create a downloadable lead magnet, like an ebook
- Goal 2: set up a lead gen form
- Goal 3: establish a social media competition
- Goal 4: craft high-conversion landing pages
- Goal 5: send out a regular newsletter
Now, we’ve got a series of well-defined steps that’ll pull us towards that MQL uptick. But we can refine them further, by using the SMART philosophy.
So let’s do that, taking Goal 1 as an example:
- Create an informative 30 page ebook built specifically around one key marketing message, with ‘follow our social accounts’ as the main CTA.
- Put the technical infrastructure in place to measure exactly how many users download the ebook, and how many click the ‘follow our Insta/Facebook/TikTok etc’ buttons.
- Don’t aim for 500,000 downloads with an 80% conversion rate; no way is that Instead, let’s go for 80-100 downloads, and look to convert between 5-10 users.
- Target the ebook directly at users who are relevant to our niche; not just anybody. Frontload the lead magnet with the stylisation, language, imagery etc. necessary to make that happen.
In terms of a timeline, we’ll aim to have this ebook created by the end of the month, and achieve the above KPIs by the end of this quarter.
For more information on setting social media goals that align with your business and marketing objectives, you can read chapter 3 of our
Once you’ve set SMART social media goals and couched them in the context of your wider business ambitions, the next step is to turn those goals into actionable tasks.
Let’s say you’ve set the goal of gaining 10,000 relevant followers by the end of the year. What can you actually do to accomplish this?
Well, you might run a giveaway competition that encourages entrants to follow your social media page, or start a weekly podcast that promotes your social accounts and entices listeners to follow.
The point is, you can’t just set a goal and expect it to happen on its own. That’d be like staring blankly at your brand new Squirtle, waiting for it to, somehow, evolve into an all-conquering Blastoise of its own accord. Not going to happen.
Instead, work backwards from your end goal. Figure out each step along the way you’ll need to complete in order to make it happen.
You’ll likely have your own project management process, but you can use tools such as Trello or Asana to track ongoing tasks, and even sync your content calendar to keep track of your progress. In chapter 3 of this guide, we’ll talk more about creating a comprehensive social media task plan.
What happens if you don’t hit your goals?
You may as well hear it from us: you probably aren’t going to meet every single social media goal you set yourself. You just won’t. That’s not realistic; and, let’s face it, if you do, you aren’t aiming high enough!
However, this shouldn’t deter you from trying again. In fact, you often learn more from the goals you don’t hit than the ones you do.
If you’re struggling to hit your targets, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- Was the goal unachieveable? Do I have to lower my expectations?
- Was there something preventing the goal from happening?
- Are there any factors outside of my control that prevented success?
- Am I breaking my goal down enough to make it as specific as possible?
Take this proactive, constructive approach, and pretty soon you’ll find yourself regularly surpassing the challenges of social media.
And, for the ones where you don’t quite make it, remember Michael Jordan: “I’ve failed over and over and over in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Plan well in advance
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The most effective social media campaigns are planned well in advance (excluding those viral posts that react to developing news, of course).
You should aim to produce a quarterly content calendar that provides an overview of all activity, with details of copy, imagery, hashtags, landing pages, KPIs, goals, which posts will be boosted – all the vital info. You’re going to need that one-stop reference point.
As a social media marketer, your content calendar is like your Bible. It’s an absolutely integral ingredient to success – a one-stop shop for everything you need to know, when you need to know it. Don’t make it up as you go along – that’s a recipe for disaster.
it’s important to craft out the social media metrics that are important to your business and track those every month. From brand awareness metrics to leads/sales conversion goals, writing those metrics down and comparing your performance against them is key.
Don’t wait for every quarter to review your social calendar – update it at the end of every month, factoring in new data that has become available and then adapting your content strategy by using the data in a creative way to support your organic and paid social efforts
Social Media Marketing Specialist
There are various tools available for social media content planning, or you can whip up something yourself using Excel. You should scope this out monthly as a bare minimum, but quarterly planning is standard if you want to be extra well-organised.
Your social media content calendar should include:
- One square for every day
- Clearly defined briefs for each type of content or action
- The name of the person the task has been assigned to
- Dates when content will be posted, or the action to be taken
- Deadlines for revisions and edits
- Which goal each task is aligned with
- KPIs that will be used to measure success for each task
- Any copy briefs, visuals or hashtags that will be included in each task
- A clear indicator of whether the content is organic or paid
- Dates for content and goal review
A note on content planning:
Whilst it’s important to map out your content strategy well in advance, it’s definitely not a case of ‘set and forget.’
You’ll need to regularly keep up-to-date with your industry, posting relevant, trending content. You’ll also need to be ready to pivot on any existing strategies if industry updates occur. This is your space, so aim to be across every corner of it.
You should also be logging into your social media accounts regularly in order to reply to customer comments and encourage two-way conversations with your followers. You don’t want to leave your prospects hanging. So, always make sure you leave enough time to do this when planning your social media tasks.
Schedule your content effectively
Like overripe avocados, your social media content has a limited shelf life, and is only visible in users’ feeds for a fleeting moment (unless, of course, someone is viewing your profile page to see all your posts). In the majority of cases, content is consumed mid-feed as and when it is posted.
Schedule your content to be published at optimum times for engagement, and consider when your target audiences are most likely to be active online, browsing their favourite social platforms.
Content on social media goes off, and therefore invisible, incredibly quickly. Picking your moments to post is a fine art, with a little science thrown in. Yes, you want to post good content whenever you come up with it – but, for maximum engagement, timing is key
Social Media Marketing Specialist
Find the best times to post
According to Post Planner, the majority of Facebook posts receive most of their impressions within the first 2 hours of being posted.
In addition, depending on the hashtags you use, your Instagram posts may appear at the top of the search grid for just a few brief minutes. It’s mega-important to know the best time to post, in order to have the best chance of reaching your audience.
So, how to find the perfect time to post? Glad you asked.
The answer largely depends on who it is you’re targeting, where they live, and what platforms they use. Since most social media platforms prioritise recency, it’s a smart play to post when your users are likely to be active.
You can also glean some insight from your top-performing posts historically, analysing when your competitors tend to post, and testing a few different timeframes to see which one gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
With that said, there are some very general guidelines which can serve as a good jumping-off point. Hootsuite analysed tens of thousands of social media posts and found that broadly speaking:
- The best overall time to post is 10am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
- Facebook posts published at 8am-12pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be more successful.
- Instagram posts published at 11am on Wednesdays tend to be more successful.
- Tweets published at 8am on Mondays and Thursdays tend to be more successful.
- LinkedIn posts published at 9am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be more successful.
Stagger the types of content you release
You want to have a healthy mix of different content types to keep your social media pages looking clean n’ fresh, and to drive engagement.
If you continuously put out a stream of posts that look basically the same, your audience will quickly disengage – plus, it just comes across as lazy. Your users want to be excited by your brand, so keep things original for maximum engagement.
Post frequency is another thing you’ll want to give some thought to. Post too much, you’ll be spamming the feed; post too little, and you’ll fade into obscurity. It’s all about finding that sweet spot.
There’s a lot of conflicted opinion over how many posts per day or week represent ‘just right.’ The various platforms’ algorithms have a hand in this question, and some audiences will want more interaction with a brand than others. Then again, it might be a question of seasonality.
In other words, there are a bucketload of variables that make it tricky to slap a precise figure on post frequency. It all just… depends. We’d recommend testing, analysing, and testing again to find your own groove with social posting. And be brave about it – nothing ventured, nothing gained, and you’d be surprised at what you might find.
Use automated post scheduling to help you out
Let’s say you find that the optimum time to post on TikTok is 11pm on Sunday nights. Rather than dozing off over your laptop (when, let’s face it, you’d much rather be watching Stranger Things), utilise automated posting services to ensure your content posting remains both optimised and touchless.
There are a whole host of various post schedulers to make sure you’re publishing content at the perfect moment. Many of the major platforms have their own scheduling tools, such as Meta’s Creator Studio (which you can use for both Facebook and Instagram), TikTok’s Video Scheduler, or Twitter’s Scheduled Tweets.
Beyond that, you may want to invest in some third-party software such as Brandwatch, Loomly or NapoleonCat, which usually have the bonus of enabling quick scheduling across multiple social media platforms.
As we mentioned in the last chapter, make sure to regularly check in on your socials to stay reactive, reply to customers, and contribute to industry news.
Boost engagement on each platform
Engagement: the very lifeblood of the advanced social media marketer. It’s the yardstick each of us measures performance against; the barometer we turn to before all others; the bellwether we need to determine…
You get the picture.
The point is, in social media marketing, engagement matters. A lot. Anything that drives action in your users – likes, shares, follows, comments, messages, pins, retweets – is good news for your brand.
The best ways to boost engagement on each social media platform
Not all social media platforms are created equal, and you’ll have to finesse your strategy slightly to yield increased engagement in your audience. Below, we’ve broken down the best practices to boost engagement, based on the various platforms.
- Use ‘Facebook Page Insights’ to understand more about your audience
- Infotainment-type content usually does well on Facebook. Aim to both inform and entertain the crowd
- Make use of Facebook’s many different post types, including polls, stories, reels, events, and keep mixing it up
- Upload video content straight to Facebook, rather than sharing from another platform, as Facebook prioritises this
- In general, keep posts short n’ sweet. A high quality picture with a couple of lines of caption is often enough
- Utilise at least some video content, as this invariably draws better engagement rates. Additionally, consider live broadcasts
- Pose questions to your audience, and when they answer, respond
- Create a Facebook group, or join some others relevant to your niche, and aim to be an active participant
- Get your Facebook account verified. Trust us. It counts
- Don’t ‘engagement bait’ your audience (directly asking for likes, comments, shares etc.), as Facebook considers this foul play and penalises brands who do it
- Prioritise mobile-compatible, visual content
- Use carousels when you want to include more content depth
- Use a balanced mix of highly-competitive, high-search volume hashtags, as well as lower-competition, more niche-specific hashtags to reach more users
- Get personal – content that humanises brands always performs well on Instagram
- Write captions between 50-100 words with compelling copy and a clear call to action
- Make use of Instagram’s Live feature
- Utilise features such as Instagram Shopping and tools such as LinkTree to link your content on other platforms
- Images and videos have got to be super high quality. Grainy, pixelated visuals will quickly send your audience packing
- As with Facebook, video content usually draws good engagement
- Use your captions to tell a story – but break it up into 2 or 3 line chunks and/or bullet points
- Make your content saveable
- Where it’s appropriate, of sufficient quality, and aligns with your brand personality, share audience content
- Spend some time creating custom, branded stickers and filters
- Engineer your content so that it vibes with trending or seasonal topics, and experiment with a good mix of hashtags
- Perform some Pinterest ‘keyword research’ to find the most appropriate names for your Pinterest boards
- Create branded cover photos for your Pinterest boards to keep your visual branding cohesive
- Thoughtfully curate a lot of boards, but don’t go overboard building boards exclusively around your own products/services
- Follow other boards that are relevant to your niche
- Add contributors to your boards
- Use Pinterest’s built-in analytics function to understand what drives engagement
- Use high-quality imagery and descriptions
- Research suggests that Pinterest photos without human faces are likely to have higher engagement rates
- Create Rich Pins for content such as recipes with these Pinterest Rich Pins Guidelines
- Offer discounts and special events, eg. £5 price reduction for every 50 likes
- Explore infographics, ‘how-tos’ and lists. This type of content is extremely repinnable
- Post with a higher frequency than other channels – you can Tweet multiple times per day without coming across as spammy
- Conduct hashtag research to understand the optimal hashtags to use in your posts – however, avoid using more than 2-3
- Keep an eye on trending hashtags to join relevant conversations
- Post images and videos as well as text – Twitter Business research shows that Tweets with a GIF get 55% more engagement than tweets with just text
- Retweet good quality or valuable tweets from relevant accounts
- Turn the occasional tweet into a quiz, game, contest or challenge
- Run a targeted giveaway
- Use predominantly text-based posts, with occasional visuals
- Post largely professional, businesslike content, with the odd personal touch here and there
- Comment on relevant posts to join trending conversations from within your industry
- Make use of the LinkedIn Articles feature to create long-form, informative content – but avoid pitching your sales message here. The goal is to come across as an industry expert rather than plugging a product or service
- Use native video – like Facebook, LinkedIn prioritises videos uploaded directly to the platform
- Include as much information as possible in job postings, including salary and hours
- Avoid overuse of hashtags – your best bet is to stick to 2-3
- Aim to build relationships that go further than exchanging likes, and don’t be afraid to take communication into other channels like email or Twitter
- Take initiative by showing an interest in others first
General social media tips to boost engagement:
- Don’t expect the same content to perform well across all channels. You’ll need a differentiated content strategy to drive real engagement
- Stay consistent with a regular posting schedule to build familiarity and brand awareness
- Measure results on an ongoing basis to understand what content drives the best levels of engagement
- Run competitions that require entrants to take an action such as following you, liking your page, or adding the competition post to their story or feed
- Keep visuals high-quality, always
- Encourage a two-way conversation with your followers. Make sure to reply to comments
- A/B test content to analyse what works well in visuals, copy, CTAs and more
- Use monitoring tools to understand the best times to post content based on engagement rates
- Add social media widgets to your website
To note: quality over quantity
When considering social media engagement, it’s much more important to think about the quality of engagement rather than the quantity. In this case, numbers can lie.
Many brands make the mistake of paying for online comments, likes and follows, which might seem great – but only as a vanity metric. They don’t actually mean anything, in a practical business sense. Chances are, these ‘followers’ won’t match your brand’s persona, vision and values, and they won’t ever become real buyers.
You have to ask yourself, what is the point of social engagement if it doesn’t lead to real engagment? You know – more leads, more sales, higher LTV, lower churn rate, increased net promoter score or other important bottom line business KPIs?
Consider that I could get you 20,000 likes on your Facebook page by boosting your post exclusively in the poorest countries in the world, where cost per engagement is tiny; but what good is that for you, if you only sell products in the US or in Europe? An engagement for engagement’s sake is pure vanity, and if you aren’t careful that’s exactly what some agencies will do with your hard earned marketing budget.
You should have a clear goal out of social, and build social KPIs that ethically measure your progress towards achieving real improved business outcomes
The Brains Co-Founder
If you’re a company specialising in retro trainers, and you gain 1,000 followers, it’d be easy to think – ‘awesome!’ But look a little deeper. Just exactly who are those followers? Sneaker heads, fashion aficionados and sportswear fans? Or unrelated audiences, spammy users and inactive accounts?
Or, worst of all, automated bots? (You can read more about the dangers of bot accounts in Misinformation: The Role of Social Media on The Spread of Fake News ).
Meaningful engagement is the takeaway point here. Big numbers are great – but don’t let them flatter to deceive. Make sure you’re focussed on the right kinds of engagement.
Fully leverage your brand partnerships
No brand is an island. For effective SMM, building out valuable networks is an integral ingredient for success. That means collaborating, sharing, liaising, communicating, fraternising, cooperating – in a word, partnering – with other brands in your space.
Cue The Beatles: “I get by with a little help from my friends…”
Note the emphasis on ‘friends’ there. You don’t want to partner up with just anybody. That’s not smart.
Brand collaborations are a win-win only when you team up with the right partners. That means finding people who are aligned with you values, vision and voice. Users judge a brand on the quality of the connections. In the social media space, it’s important to keep good company
Social Media Marketing Specialist
Think of it like the so-called alliance between justice-seeking Captain Marvel, AKA Carol Danvers, and shady trickster Dudley H. Dudley, the not-so-stellar Uncle Marvel. (One for the old-school DC heads, there).
Ultimately, they weren’t aligned in their goals or values, and that’s why “Uncle Dudley” was dropped from the Marvel Family – as well as a commercial failure, among fans of the franchise.
On the flip side, consider the partnership between Flash and Green Lantern: an alliance for the ages. They’re believers in the same mission, share a sense of humour, and have a dynamic, energetic relationship. That all adds up to an effective, long-lasting, productive – and profitable – partnership.
Why are brand partnerships important?
The research and business advisory giant Forrester reports that over 75% of companies view partnership as an essential element of their marketing. Brands, when they’re on their game and operating in a shared space, can cover a heck of a lot more ground. They just can. Immediately, both brands will have at least twice the resources to draw on, including budget, creativity, audiences and expertise.
It may be that one of your brand partners speaks to a whole audience demographic – one that you’ve so far been unable to capture. In one fell swoop, brand partnership opens the door to that entire untapped audience, and you’ll gain access to whole new user groups.
And, since the very same thing may happen inversely – you’ll help build awareness for your partner brand among your own audiences – brand partnership is a true win-win. What’s not to love!
Furthermore, working with the right influencers allows the audience to imagine your brand in their own lives, so to speak. And it could be that your brand partner has access to the specific software you’ve been needing; or, that by workshopping together you come up with a whole raft of shiny new marketing campaign ideas.
Whatever it may be, the value of brand partnership lies in its capacity for unlimited marketing potential. If you want your brand to work fast, work alone; but if you want your brand to go far, work together.
Types of brand partnerships
There are a lot of different ways you might decide to squad-up with another brand, and a lot will depend on your respective product/service offerings, plus the niche(s) you occupy. Below, we’ll walk you through some of the most common styles of brand partnership.
- Very ‘in vogue’ in today’s marketing landscape.
- As a brand, you’ll collaborate with an influencer who enjoys a significant following within your niche. These influencers are known as opinion leaders.
- You’ll deliver your product or service to this influencer, and request some promotion.
- Oftentimes, you may have an influencer offer a special discount or exclusive privilege to their followers, to incentivise their participation and encourage extra engagement.
- Two (or more) brands collaborate to create something new or improve an existing asset.
- The objective is to produce something valuable for all audiences.
- This might take the shape of a joint product, a cooperative service, or collaborative content.
- Both brands will promote the campaign, improving SEO performance and increasing ROI.
- Essentially, this refers to any relationship between an ‘advertiser’ and a ‘publisher’.
- An advertiser is any company or brand offering a product or service; a publisher is any organisation with a promotional platform (eg., a blog, a video subscriber list, ad hosting services, etc.).
- The advertiser uses the publisher’s facilities to promote their offering, in exchange for a share in the profit.
- This involves cross-promotion: marketing activity driven at promoting products/services from different brands with similar audiences that are not in competition.
- One brand may give another the right to use, market, sell, promote etc., the original offering, but to a wider audience.
- This helps get the original brand’s offering out into the market.
- The promoting brand may take a commission, or can sometimes be rewarded by the sheer increase in traffic this yields.
Building strong brand partnerships
Building a strong partnership almost always comes down to picking the right brands to work with. First and foremost, you’ll want to select brands that share some relevance to the audience you want to connect with.
It’s no good marketing your matcha brand with a vintage fashion influencer, for instance. Even if they agree to it, their audience is unlikely to represent enough of an overlap with yours to make it worth anyone’s while.
Make a shortlist
Selecting partners with a strong relevance to your brand, primarily through consideration of the audience, but also through niche, industry, values and voice, should be your first step.
Having drawn up a shortlist of potential partners, analyse them using the KARMA model. This is an efficient and practical way of figuring out the very best candidates from your list:
- Known: they must be an established voice within your space and/or respected by your audience
- Additive: they must bring something new to the table, capable of contributing to your partnership in a meaningful way
- Rare: they must have that element of exclusivity, not associated with any (or, at least, tons of) other brands
- Matching: you need to make sure they’ll be on the same page in terms of price, as well as values, vision, scope of work, etc.
- Attractive: they must have that special something that’s going to motivate followers, and turn them into buyers
Get in contact, and explore the possibility
Don’t ask, don’t get: if you want to strike up a brand partnership, and you’ve come as far as selecting your perfect partners, it’s time to pick up the phone – or, more likely, send an email or a DM, but you get our point.
And don’t be too speculative about things; ‘hey [influencer], wanna collaborate?’ messages tend to end right there. It’s fine not to have the entire partnership mapped out to the finest detail, but you’ll want to present some preliminary ideas, at least. It shows you’re serious.
Sure-up the Ts & Cs
Now comes the boring part. Don’t forget this is a business negotiation, so you’ll want to get some key dates, deliverables and timeframes down on paper.
It’s fine if you want to keep your partnership more of a casual agreement than a legal contract, but it’s definitely worth putting the most important points on paper, at the very least. If you ask us, it’s good practice getting the professionals involved, and drawing up some legal documentation.
Our top tips
Brand partnerships are one of those things that your company will get better at, the more familiar you become with them. Moreover, you’ll find that many influencers have had some previous experience with this work, so they’ll know more or less what to expect.
With that said, here are a few extra tidbits of Brainy know-how to set you off on the right foot:
Know your influencer
There are a heck of a lot of influencers out there – you may have noticed – so it pays to know what kind of punch they pull. In general, view influencers through this prism:
- Nano-influencers: audiences of 10,000 or fewer
- Micro-influencers: audiences of 10,000-100,000
- Macro-influencers: audiences of 100,000 to 1 million
- Mega-influencers: audiences of 1 million+
Make sure your decisions are based on your goals
A lot of brands tend to think they’re looking for influencer marketing by default. While it’s definitely one avenue of possibility, it’s not the only one. Influencer marketing is most commonly used to expand brand awareness and reach more potential customers – if those aren’t your goals, you’re probably after a different kind of partnership.
Always consider your personas
Whatever shape they take, brand partnerships can get expensive. You should always have air-tight, data-based personas that drive your decision-making. Never stray too far from the clearly-defined path you built when you nailed down your brand personas.
Follow industry guidelines & regulations
In accordance with the Advertising Standards Authority regulations regarding paid content and influencer marketing, any paid content needs to be obviously and clearly identifiable. There needs to be a prominent ‘ad’ label for content you have paid any amount of money for.
Use UTM parameters to measure results
Create unique links with a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) code to understand how much traffic is being driven from each paid partner. These, basically, are five URL-based metrics used to track the performance of campaigns. This is a best-practice strategy for any paid marketing, not just social media!
Craft a powerful multichannel strategy
We’ve covered a lot so far around social media marketing, and it’s more than enough to wrap your head around; no doubt about that. All of it, though, is just one wheel, one cog in the great machine that is digital marketing.
Just as Bruce Wayne’s garage isn’t limited to the Batmobile, but also includes the Batcopter, Batcycle, Batboat and so on, a truly powerful digital marketing strategy incorporates multiple channels – PPC, SEO, content, you name it – all pulling together in a shared mission. This is the expansive scope of professional, advanced marketing.
What is multichannel marketing?
As you may have guessed, multichannel marketing involves promoting to an audience across multiple touchpoints. Think of it like a full court advertising press. So, while you’re delivering your sales message across social media, you’re simultaneously interacting with your audience via email, SERPs, paid placements and in-house content, for example.
Your core message will be the same across all channels, but the nature of that message may adapt, depending on the channel. What is effective in one medium, might fall flat in another. The heavy word count, informational style of a blog would not work well via email, for instance.
In this day and age, multichannel experiences have become a must-have for effective brand marketing. Users in every industry expect an organisation to deliver good quality wherever they meet, not just in a select few channels.
This is a modern phenomena in customer experience (CX), and also holds true in marketing. If your brand is really on top of its social media game, but your marketing emails look like they’re straight from the era of Windows 98, for example, the overall impact of your brand will not be optimised. And that, basically, represents a patchy marketing strategy.
To note: channel vs platform
Before we dive in any further, it’s important to make super clear the difference between a channel and a platform. It’s a simple distinction, but something good to have on the record.
- A platform is an individual site or service within the realm of social media. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram etc. are all platforms.
- A channel is a wider, distinct stream of marketing communication, different to all others. Social media is one channel; PPC is another, so is SEO, email, and so on.
In general terms, if you hear the term ‘omnichannel’ bandied about, you can take it as meaning essentially the same thing as ‘multichannel.’
Some marketers get hung up on high-minded (and convoluted) distinctions, declaring that ‘omnichannel’ centres more around user journey, while ‘multichannel’ is predominately all about brand experience.
You can make things that granular if it helps you, but honestly, we’d recommend not muddying the waters. Digital marketing and SMM can get overly buzzword-y, but there’s no need to overthink things. Multichannel, omnichannel, cross-channel… we’re talking about marketing to an audience across various mediums.
Sympathetic channels are those advertising channels that complement and work well together, elevating your overall marketing effectiveness.
Getting various channels to harmonise is the key to crafting a killer multichannel strategy. SEO and content fit together nicely, for instance; each channel has unique characteristics that complement the strengths of the other. PPC is one medium that is an extremely effective partner to SMM, although social media can also dovetail nicely with other digital channels.
How can SMM work with other digital marketing channels?
Depending on the various channels, social media marketing may operate alongside them in various ways. The important thing is to get both channels vibrating on the same wavelength; that’s the essence of sympathetic marketing and multichannel communication.
PPC and SMM
PPC, or pay-per-click, is an essential tool for any brand wishing to advertise on social media.
The really great thing about PPC is that you have so much flexibility in terms of audience targeting. By this point, you’ve already got a crystal-clear picture of your ideal user; that is information you can plug directly into PPC to laser-guide your ads to exactly the right types of people.
PPC and SMM go hand-in-hand. Both are powerful performers in their own right, and together, they harmonise to produce stunning results. Developing a solid strategy across all fronts will create the conditions for digital marketing success
The Brains PPC lead
Another payoff to social PPC is that it’ll return really valuable insights into which ads are performing well, and which need a little tweaking. These learnings can be used to further optimise your ad effectiveness and improve ROAS.
SEO and SMM
A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) exists solely within the Google vacuum; that its work is focussed exclusively on improving results on Google SERPs, or those of Bing, Yahoo, Badoo etc., at a push), and that there’s no real crossover with SMM.
While Google is unlikely to ever come out and outright deny the connection, there does seem to be a lot of evidence in favour, and it seems highly probable that Google includes social signals as part of its ranking factor – just look at how often the social accounts of top brands rank highly in search results.
Saying that to say, if your brand has a well-executed social media offering under its belt, you’re likely to enjoy a little booster in your search engine rankings; how much of one, though, we may never know.
SEO and SMM complement each other because social helps drive traffic, whilst also providing a second life to content on your page. If you create a blog post to drive organic traffic, it may be impacted by seasonal trends, whereas uploading your blog as a link on social media provides a new channel to drive traffic. Both are important elements of a multichannel strategy
Social media represents huge backlink potential for your brand. Publishing content across social media means increased visibility, and that visibility leads to links – or helps you foster relationships with other voices within your niche.
And don’t forget that your social feed itself can be a significant driver of organic traffic. When you promote a new blog on Facebook, say, the blog will receive a traffic increase, and yield new visitors.
Content marketing and SMM
Social media marketing overlaps with content strategy in a big way. If ‘content’ refers to an original item (blog, video, podcast, infographic…) produced to engage a target user in some way, then ‘content strategy’ is the thought that goes into its execution.
While social media posts are often short and sweet, that isn’t to say those few words don’t need to be powerful and full of personality. Quality content can provide great support for your social media posts, making sure they’re punchy and can stand out from a sea of others.
As with any marketing copy, the specific channel, audience, topic and tone will all need to be considered when crafting your social posts, so make sure you have someone outside of your social media team ready to jump in and make those essential adjustments
At the most basic level, each and every post you publish across social media is a piece of content. In this way, we could understand content marketing as a tactic involved in effective SMM.
But it runs deeper than that – social media is a crucially important supporter of your other branded content. Let’s say you create an awesome ebook, with a clear CTA, strong marketing narrative, aligned with your brand persona and targeted at your ideal audience; that’s something you’d be remiss not to promote heavily across all of your social media channels.
Multichannel marketing: the Brainy way
Here at The Brains, we’re a full service marketing agency that prides itself on crafting multichannel campaigns with optimum ROI. Our dedicated SMM team, along with our Brain-powered PPC, SEO, content, email and web design/ development teams work in harmony together, utilising their unique skill sets and collaborating in innovative ways to produce award-winning, results-delivering marketing campaigns that our clients love, and that each and every Brain is immensely proud of.
By pulling together sympathetic channels into a holistic marketing strategy, we can help you to fully optimise your social media marketing campaigns and ensure you’re securing as many views, visits, clicks and conversions as possible.
Get in touch with our Brains today for a chat about the future of your online marketing.
Social media marketing glossary & next steps
You’ve finally made it. It’s been a long road, and we’ve delved deeply into every possible element of social media marketing. Along the way you’ve absorbed an incredible amount of knowledge, and here you stand at the summit.
Advanced. Professional. Accomplished.
A true master. Kudos to you, SMM Jedi, and may the force be with you.
Of course, you won’t want to stroll boldly forth into your results-boosted future without our Brainy SMM Glossary of Terms close at hand. This awesome little document will be your best friend throughout the entirety of your entire SMM marketing journey; use it to keep on top of unfamiliar terminology, and as a periodic refresher to keep your skills sharp.
We’re super excited about the future of your SMM campaigns, and we can’t wait to see what exciting new galaxies you explore!
Now, the final step in this saga is to join up with our Brainy experts – we’ve got the smarts, the skills, the expertise and the facilities to make even your wildest social media marketing dreams a dazzling reality. Get in touch today to find out more.
Again, respect and congratulations to you for the journey so far. We’ll see you on the other side.