Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing:
Social Media Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners
Looking to build better relationships with your customers, expand your brand awareness, increase your audience reach, and up your revenue? Our beginners guide to social media marketing is full of everything you need to know to do just that.
Introduction to social media marketing
There are lots of tried and tested marketing techniques that can help you elevate your business to the next level, but social media marketing has quickly proven itself to be one of the most valuable tools any marketer can have in their arsenal. It involves using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube to engage with your audience and advertise your business, mostly through interactive posts that use visuals, like photos and videos, to generate traffic.
There are over three billion social media users, with the average person spending around two and a half hours on social media every single day (Statista). Social media sites have fast become the place we go to check out new brands, see reviews, and air grievances with companies if something goes wrong. On top of this, it’s where we discover new brands, products, and services that we otherwise may not have come into contact with. In terms of business and customer service, it’s an all-in-one package, and it’s something that has become so intertwined with our everyday lives, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without it. Whoever your customers are, it’s almost certain that they’re on social media, so you need to be on there, too.
On top of this, social media is portable which means as a brand, you have the potential to reach millions of people every single day, whether they’re on the train to work or scrolling their feed before they go to bed. This makes social media marketing unique. With broadcast or print marketing, your reach is limited to who is tuned in at what time, and who picks up a certain publication that your business is in. Social media allows you to put your brand directly in the path of potential customers at every moment, without them having to pay or specifically pick your business out. With this in mind, the audience reach and potential ROI from paid advertising is exponential, and for many businesses, has proven to be the backbone of their campaign strategy.
Each social media platform is different, which means each channel needs its own bespoke strategy and approach. This can be somewhat daunting to a social media marketing novice, especially where paid social media advertising is concerned. Don’t worry, though, our Brains are here to help you. Our easy social media tips for beginners will put you on the right path and tell you everything you need to know to successfully get started with social media marketing, and it’s not as hard as you might think. In next to no time, you can learn the ropes and become a pro, going from the social media marketing equivalent of Quirinus Quirrel to Albus Dumbledore by the time you’ve finished this guide.
How Much Of This Guide Do I Need?
You might have scrolled through the length of this guide and asked yourself if reading the entire thing is necessary. Afterall, most online guides are full of repetitive tips and waffle, so you’d be forgiven for asking yourself which aspects you can skim read and which ones need your full attention.
Though it may seem long, our Brains have crafted this guide to include the fundamentals of social media marketing, leaving no stone unturned. With so many platforms and intricacies to cover, it’s imperative that you’re well versed across all aspects of social media if you’re going to be successful in your marketing endeavours.
With this in mind, we encourage you to get a coffee and settle in for an informative read to ensure you understand all the elements covered in our social media step-by-step guide for beginners.
Social media marketing 101
Social media marketing can be split into two aspects: organic and paid. In this sense, it’s not too dissimilar from traditional SEO marketing, although the way in which you approach each aspect will differ. Ideally, you’ll use a combination of both organic and paid to fuel your social strategy, which means creating content as you would if it were your personal page (except from a business angle), and paying for ads and sponsorships to get your posts boosted and seen by more people (a bit like PPC).
Even with paid content, social media marketing can be a low cost, high return strategy, bringing with it the opportunity to reach and interact with your target audience like never before. From a customer service perspective, you can communicate with clients about their orders, implement reward strategies to generate shares and further growth, garner reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations, and address any concerns your customers may have. Where customer satisfaction and loyalty are concerned, social media marketing can massively influence your reputation, which covers the aspect of marketing that refers to building trust. Without trust, the rest of your campaign will fail.
If you’ve got a product or service to sell, social media is the place to do it. Approximately 54% of social media users use the platforms they’re active on to research products and brands (GlobalWebIndex), so it’s important you have an active presence on social sites. Most people have bought something they’ve seen online, whether they were in the market for the product in the first place or not. Social media ad campaigns can be as expensive as you make them, but even a little investment can go a long way. In the same way, all it takes is one viral post or an influencer to organically endorse your product and you could find your product becomes the next big trend and your business thrives on social media marketing.
It might sound complicated, but it’s not. Making money on social media is one of the easiest things you can do for your business. Using this social media step-by-step guide for beginners, you can follow these six steps to successfully begin social media marketing:
- Set a goal (increased leads, better customer loyalty, more site traffic etc.)
- Define your target audience
- Select your social media platforms
- Soft launch organic posts to see what works
- Consider influencer marketing
- Determine a social media calendar
Unlike other forms of marketing, every brand has an equal chance at success on social media, provided they know how to harness the potential. So, how do you do that?
What social media marketing is & how it works
The biggest and most recognisable social media platform is Facebook. It was founded in 2004 and for a long time, it was nothing more than a site for people to share photos and thoughts with loved ones. Later, it evolved into a common way to stay in touch with family and friends, but now, it’s an entirely different beast altogether. It’s a central hub for businesses and has become incredibly business-focused. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll see more posts from brands than you will from people you’re friends with. Whilst people might not be flocking to Facebook to share details of their personal lives anymore, it’s certainly where they’re going to check out brands and engage with businesses.
The same goes for other social media platforms, too, so much so that social media marketing has become an integral part of most businesses’ success stories, especially those who are new and upcoming. Through promoting your brand on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can build a connection with your audience, generate sales, boost online site traffic, and increase your brand awareness exponentially. It’s entirely possible to build a brand solely through social media, and many people have even built careers from it. They’re called influencers and they form an integral part of social media marketing.
Influencers are people who become famous from gaining traction and building an audience on social media. They primarily came from YouTube, but now we see TikTok and Instagram influencers gaining as much, if not more, of a following than the original YouTubers, and almost overnight. From a business perspective, having the backing of an influencer relevant to your sector is like having Obi-Wan Kenobi on your team when fighting the Sith; it’s an almost guaranteed win.
Influencer marketing involves collaborating with a highly followed and well-respected individual who represents a similar audience to yours. Often, you need to pay a fee, but the reach they have could propel your business to dizzying heights. In fact, the influencer marketing industry is set to be worth $16.4 billion by the end of 2022 (Influencer Marketing Hub). After all, they’re not called ‘influencers’ for nothing.
Combining influencer marketing with organic posts that users can interact and engage with, and use as a basis for getting to know your business ethos a bit better, is a catalyst for growth and increased traffic and revenue. Add in some paid adverts here and there, and you’re on to a winner. Social media marketing doesn’t need to be complicated; oftentimes, the right tools and a laid-back approach are all you need.
Essential social media marketing tools
Speaking of tools, it’s important to know which ones are the best. Sure, you could start posting off your own back, but keeping a social media schedule ticking over can be time-consuming, so to be efficient and to confidently measure all the relevant metrics to see if your campaign is doing well, it’s recommended that you use specific tools. Our social media Brain, Farhiya, recommends the following tools for beginners.
Every platform has an in-built analytics tool that you can use, whether your chosen platform is Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or Snapchat. You can see who your audience is, where they are based, and what their demographic is, allowing you to see if you’re attracting the right audience for your brand. Whilst basic, the free insights tools are a great way to start gathering data as a beginner on social media, and they’re cost-effective if you don’t have the budget to be investing in paid tools just yet.
To access the free insight tools, Farhiya says: “Make sure you properly set up a business account and aren’t piggybacking your business page off the back of a personal profile.
“With business accounts, you get better insights and can unlock more analytics. You can also set goals and measure them against your competitors, as well as access monthly reports that look at how many profile views and interactions you’ve had.”
Farhiya recommends sticking with free social media tools and analytics until you hit month six of your campaign, or until you get around 1,000 followers. This is because you won’t have much data to inform your campaign until you get to this stage, so whilst you’re still AB testing organic posts and seeing what works, it’s best to stick with free tools.
This means posting in a similar way as you would to a personal account, and potentially scheduling certain posts that you think are relevant to your audience (such as reviews or meet the team posts). Doing this for six months and testing the water will allow you to identify which types of posts your audience engage with the most, and it’s this data that can be used to support paid tools and a more advanced marketing campaign.
If you want something more advanced, or if you’ve got an established social media presence already, you might find it easier to look into paid tools. There are endless scheduling and reporting tools for you to choose from, but a good place to start is Hootsuite. You get a free 30-day trial (you won’t be billed until the 30th) which means you can play around with the features and decide if the data you’re collecting is worth the fee at the current time.
As your social media following grows and you get into a rhythm of what your audience likes and is likely to interact with, a schedule will make itself known almost by itself. Once you can predict what will go down well, you can use tools like Hootsuite to start scheduling in posts, therefore minimising how long it takes you to get posts out.
Hootesuite also has a handy reporting feature which is slightly more in-depth than the free on-platform ones, and you can use this if you need to present data to other people in your business in a readable format without spending too much time on it.
If you use Google Analytics and your social media goal is to drive more traffic to your website, link your social media profiles with your Google Analytics account. Doing so will allow you to drill down further into where your audience is coming from, and whether it’s via social media.
In a nutshell, start with in-platform tools as a beginner, especially if you’re building a brand from the bottom up on social media. You don’t need to invest in paid tools off the bat because you won’t have enough data to warrant it, but if you have a following over 1k and get a 10-15% engagement rate, it’s a good idea to use paid so you can understand where the traffic is coming from for optimisation purposes. The data you collect at this stage will help to form your content strategy and campaign management structure moving forwards, so whether you’re collecting data for free or using paid tools to get it, it’s all relevant.
The fundamentals of a successful social media marketing campaign
Social media can be an incredibly powerful yet complex tool, and many of its capabilities aren’t necessary in the early stages of building a social media strategy as a beginner. Instead, you need to go back to basics, but knowing what is fundamental and what is optional can be somewhat difficult to determine.
Choosing a platform
The first step is to choose the right platform. This will come down to what type of business you’re running and whether you operate on a B2B or B2C basis. If your business model is a B2B one, you should focus your efforts on platforms like LinkedIn. This is a social media platform dedicated to working professionals. It’s unfiltered, completely corporate content that attracts an audience to match, making it the best platform for B2B businesses who rely on networking. It can also work for the likes of recruiters.
On the other hand, if your business operates on a B2C basis, pretty much any of the other platforms will work for you, depending on age. If your audience is Gen X or Boomers, Facebook and Twitter are fruitful platforms; however, if you rely on Gen Z or Millennials, Instagram and TikTok are where you’ll find them. It’s important you’re hanging out in the same space as your audience.
The next step is to think about budgeting. Farhiya recommends: “Only start thinking about paid budgeting once you see organic wins. For example, if a post is performing well organically, accelerate it with £10 a day to see if that makes a difference to reach a bigger audience.
From a beginner’s perspective, there’s no pressure to monetise any of your posts, but setting aside a monthly budget of £750-1,500 per month across all channels for boosting posts is a good way to ease yourself into paid social media marketing.
Farhiya says: “A boosted budget will set the foundation for the bigger campaigns you will invest in a year or so later on for building audience pools.”
We’ve briefly mentioned metrics and how you can collect and analyse data through in-platform insights and paid insight platforms, but the most important aspect of social media marketing is getting into the habit of consistently looking over your data to determine what is working and what isn’t. The more impressions, clicks, comments, likes, and shares a post has, the more your audience likes it, and you can use this data to create a more refined strategy moving forwards that is curated for success.
Farhiya says: “The most important thing is looking at your data and turning your data set into insights. Use the metrics and insights and brainstorm them into a content strategy, and then create your social media plan.
“Use data creatively to inform your content strategy and campaign plan.”
Finally, you’ll be looking at content. It’s always a good idea to stay relevant and hop on fun trends, but be mindful of how your brand is being portrayed and don’t share or endorse anything that could alienate your potential audience. Remember, your business platform is not your personal page and therefore personal views should never be posted.
Make sure the copy you do post is short, snappy, attention-grabbing, grammatically correct, and that all links work. It’s also a good idea to add alt text to images as accessibility is becoming an increasingly more important part of business social responsibilities.
Use high quality images and original content where possible, and push for video content for strong engagement from the start. According to Sprout Social, 85% of social media users want to see more brands posting videos, and 93% of companies who have used videos on social media report getting new customers from them. Despite this, video content remains one of the most underutilised tools on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One of the fundamentals of social media marketing is listening to your audience, so make sure to factor this in when considering your content strategy.
Social media marketing metrics
Like any type of marketing, social media marketing depends heavily on metrics. You need to harvest data from your campaign so you can see how it’s doing and determine what content is resonating with your audience and whether it’s fulfilling your goals. You’ll need to do this for both organic and paid posts.
Though the metrics you track will be determined by your goals, there are a few main metrics you’re likely to track across all platforms, and most of these metrics can be accessed using the free in-platform analytics tools.
Whatever your goal is, you’ll need to track engagement. This monitors a range of factors that indicate how many people are interacting with the content you put out. This includes likes, comments, and shares, on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and likes, retweets, and comments on Twitter. This applies for both paid and organic content.
You can use the engagement metric to determine how much of your audience is real (not bots), and whether they find your content interesting. This will be useful across all goals, but particularly if you want to bolster your relationship with your audience.
Impressions and reach
For those of you who want to use social media to increase your brand awareness, measuring impressions and reach will be a key metric. Impressions give you an idea of how many times your post is shown on someone’s timeline, and reach gives you an estimate of how many individual users have seen your post. It’s a good idea to determine which platforms you’re generating the most reach on as this could be an indication of where your audience is and where you need to focus your efforts.
If you have an organic post that has a high reach, it could be worth boosting it with a paid budget to reach even more people.
Referrals and conversions
Many businesses use social media marketing as a tool to increase sales, and the best way to monitor this is to look at referrals and conversions. Referrals will tell you where the traffic to your website is coming from, and you can even identify which platform they’ve come from. Conversions look at how many people landed on your website from social media and then went on to make a purchase at the same time. This is a particularly important metric for analysing how effective paid ads are.
Where paid social media marketing is concerned, you’ll be looking at the click-through rate to determine how many people are clicking on the content you post (e.g. a link) in relation to how many times the ad was viewed. The higher your click-through rate, the better your advert is performing.
As a beginner, it’s a good idea to look at all of these metrics so you can start to build a data set that will inform your content strategy later on. As you get more of a following and become intermediate, you can begin to look at more granular metrics like share of voice (how much you’re being talked about vs your competitors).
How to choose which social media channels to advertise on
Figuring out how to choose which platforms to start social media marketing on can be difficult as a beginner. You don’t want to put effort into posting on a platform where your audience isn’t, especially if you’re going to be looking at paid advertising. The platform you choose will be determined by your audience.
Facebook is one of the best tools for paid social media marketing because it has more than 2.7 billion users. This makes the platform a good one for those wanting to increase their brand awareness, but specifically to those who have a target audience that fits into the Gen X or Boomer category. You can also set up a Facebook shop which is a catalogue of products that can be browsed and purchased through the app. This is good from a customer journey perspective and could even help with conversions. If you have a limited number of products on your Facebook shop, it may encourage users to search your website to find out more, therefore boosting your site traffic.
Paid advertising is less of a tactic on Twitter, but this is a good place to position your business from a customer service perspective. This is where a lot of people go to get answers from businesses regarding concerns and queries, and this means the audience is broad. You’ll find everyone from Boomers to Gen Z here. You’ll also discover a lot of trends on Twitter before they hit other social media platforms, allowing you to keep up to date and on trend with what’s happening. From a brand awareness standpoint, Twitter is a great asset.
If your business has a product to sell, Instagram is a great place to do it. Not only can you take aesthetically pleasing photos and reels (videos), but you can also set up an Instagram shop (similar to a Facebook shop). This allows you to display a catalogue of products within your Instagram account, making it easier for customers to purchase from you. This is also where you’ll find most of the influencers who can propel your brand to a higher audience reach, so if paid influencer marketing is going to form part of your strategy, Instagram is a good place to position your business. You’ll mostly find Millennials and Gen Z on Instagram, but it can be difficult to generate organic growth here.
TikTok is almost entirely Gen Z, so if they’re your target audience, make sure you have a presence on TikTok. Unlike other social media algorithms, TikTok gives every creator an equal chance at success, so you may find it less effort to generate increased organic brand exposure and interaction on this platform compared to others. Like Instagram, there are a number of influencers who fit into specific niches on TikTok, so if an endorsement is part of your strategy, TikTok is a good place to start.
The final major player in terms of social media is LinkedIn. This is a platform almost exclusively for B2B businesses, so if your target audience is other businesses, LinkedIn is the best social media platform for you. If you operate on a B2C basis, it’s likely not worth your time and this won’t be where your audience are. Where B2B lead generation is concerned, LinkedIn is unbeaten.
If your business is a B2C company, it’s a good idea to have profiles on multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can reuse content across platforms, but make sure that any paid advertising you do is unique to each platform and optimised as such.
Social media marketing creative copy, visuals, and landing pages
We briefly mentioned how you can reuse content across platforms, but there’s a fine balance to be struck. You need to make sure the content that you’re putting out is appropriate for the site. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter are likely the only platforms where you might get away with posting text-only content and still get engagement, and this is based on the nature of the sites. Both are used more conversationally, so users may still interact with brief text snippets.
On the other hand, Facebook and Instagram are heavily picture and video based, so it’s unlikely a chunk of text will have the same impact on these platforms. In fact, people may well scroll past, so to get noticed, you’ll need to have creative visuals to compliment your post. When creating visuals, it’s important to ensure what you put out is in-line with your branding and company colours. It’s a good idea to watermark pictures and videos to prevent them being used by your competitors.
Bright colours and minimal text on static images work well because they grab attention, but beware of sizing. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all have different media sizes. Instagram is naturally square, whereas the dimensions of a picture on Twitter are more rectangular. Keep this in mind when placing important information around the borders of your images if you’re going to be using the same content across platforms. A better approach is to resize images for each platform to ensure vital content and context clues aren’t cut off.
Where possible, look to include video content. HubSpot reports that 85% of businesses cite short-form video content as the most effective type, so if you want to drive engagement, short-form videos are the way to go. You don’t need to be an editing professional, but make sure your content is accessible and captioned where necessary. Also, make sure to use copyright-free music if you’re posting a video with backing music.
When it comes to language, make sure you have a strong tone of voice that represents your brand. Social media is where most people will come to learn more about your company and your ethos, so you need to make sure the language you use and the type of content you put out is relevant to your audience and is something that reflects your brand identity. It’s useful to put together a guide that highlights topics and phrases you want to steer clear of, as well as what is acceptable for your demographic and your business.
In terms of the type of content you need to be posting, this is completely up to you. Customer reviews, meet the team snippets, behind the scenes footage, Q&As, and new product launches are all good starting points, but your metrics will determine what works. Make sure you’re checking engagement rates to see what type of posts resonate with your audience, and use this to feed into your content strategy.
With regards to how often to post, don’t overdo it. Quality is more important than quantity, and 83% of social media marketers agree (HubSpot). Whilst you want to appear on people’s feeds organically, if you’re all they’re seeing, they may well unfollow you. Having your presence known is important, but the moment people start seeing your posts more than their friends and family, there’s a high chance they’ll unfollow you. A handful of times a week is all it takes to begin with.
The final aspect of your content you need to think about is the landing pages you’re linking to. Ideally, some of the content you’re posting will be promotional in nature, so it’s important to ensure all of your links are correct and not broken. You also need to make sure you link to your social media profiles on your website for continuity and flow between all your online resources.
Social media marketing budgets
Budgeting is where a lot of social media marketing beginners get nervous. There are some companies who pump thousands and thousands of pounds in their social media campaigns and see a massive return on investment, but if you’re just starting out, this approach won’t work for you, and even when you get to an intermediate stage, it still may not work.
Money can help you reach a wider audience, and that is the same across all platforms, but you need to be clever about how you use it. As a beginner, we recommend only boosting posts that are performing well organically, and setting aside a minimal budget to do so. At this stage you don’t need to be spending more than £1.5k per month across all your channels combined.
Social media reporting
By now you should have gathered that metrics are everything in the social media marketing game. They are as important to your strategy as the Ring is to Gollum. Even if you’re not a numbers person, you’ll likely find you get pretty excited about data once it starts rolling in, but how do you present that information to your higher ups?
You have a few options. You can start a manual spreadsheet to track progress (e.g. follower count, impressions, and click-through rates), or you can use a tool to help you. We’ve spoken at length about in-platform reporting tools already, and these really are a viable option for beginners. You won’t have too much data to start with, so there’s no need to go crazy on creating fancy visuals and graphs. The information presented to you on the analytics tab on each social media platform will be enough for you to snip out or export and put into a PDF or a presentation format.
You can use tools like Hootsuite if you’re looking at paid metrics or have slightly more data to go on and don’t want to spend a long time pulling information from multiple platforms into one document. Like in-platform tools, Hootsuite will present the information in a PDF format which can easily be analysed by stakeholders and finance teams to determine whether the campaign is a success, and if budgets need to be implemented or increased.
Optimising your social media marketing campaigns
Using data, you can optimise your social media campaigns. This is important because without reviewing and refining your content, you won’t grow. As much as you might try, you are not likely to go viral in the first few months. In fact, it’ll likely take upwards of six months to a year for you to develop a proper brand persona on social media and garner a relatively large following. In this time, despite your best efforts, you’re likely to have a lot of posts that miss the mark.
Like any other aspect of marketing, social media is largely a case of trial and error. You’ll be stuck in the AB testing phase for a while, but even the posts that don’t quite work out can be used to your advantage because you can harvest data from them to figure out why they didn’t work. You can use this data to optimise your strategy and determine what could work in the future. Even when you become more advanced, reviewing and optimising content is a fundamental part of social media management. After all, what’s viral today won’t be viral tomorrow.
Social Media Marketing Glossary
Though social media is something most of us have been using for over a decade, there’s a lot of jargon associated with social media marketing. As a beginner, it’s a good idea to quickly get to grips with what’s what. To help you, refer to our glossary of terms . It’s an excellent resource that can help you to nail down your social media dialect and understand what all the platforms mean when they refer to certain terms and metrics.
So, what comes next? The best way to learn is to do. If you get started now using the tips our Brains have shared, you’ll become intermediate in no time at all, at which point you can refer to our intermediate social media guide for a more in-depth look at paid advertising. For now, though, give yourself a pat on the back for making it to the end of this guide, make another brew, and dip your toe into the world of social media.