Using social media for marketing can enable small business looking to further their reach to more customers. Your customers are interacting with brands through social media, therefore, having a strong social media presence on the web is the key to tap into their interest. If implemented correctly, marketing with social media can bring remarkable success to your business.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing, or SMM, is a form of internet marketing that implements various social media networks in order to achieve marketing communication and branding goals. Social media marketing primarily covers activities involving social sharing of content, videos, and images for marketing purposes.
At WordStream, we’ve created this guide to provide you with the social media marketing training you need to better your business. We want to give small businesses on short budgets an alternative to hiring a social media marketing agency or paying for social media marketing services.
With our Social Media Marketing 101 Guide below, you can begin developing your own social media marketing expert plan.
Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses: Learn Social Media Marketing 101
This education guide gives a basic overview on how to use social media for marketing, serving as a social media marketing for dummies manual. Read to learn about how to reap the benefits of using social media in marketing.
Social Media and Marketing: Start With a Plan
Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business’ goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a plan in mind is like wandering through a forest without a map—you’ll only end up lost.
Create a social media marketing plan and brainstorm about your goals: what are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing? Who is your target audience? Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media? What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?
Social Media for Marketing: Developing Your Goals
Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:
- Website traffic
- Brand awareness
- Creating a brand identity and positive brand association
- Communication and interaction with key audiences
Only by establishing your goals can you measure your social media ROI .
Best Social Media Marketing Tips: Learn Marketing with Social Media
Here are some social media marketing tips to keep you on the right track across all your social media campaigns.
- Planning – As discussed previously, building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research  and brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience.
- Content is King — Consistent with other areas of online marketing, content reigns king when it comes to social media marketing. Make sure you are offering valuable information that your ideal customers will find interesting. Create a variety of content  by implementing images, videos, and infographics in addition to classic text-based content.
- Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’ core identity should stay consistent.
- Blog — Blogging is a great social media marketing tool that lets you share a wide array of information and content with readers. Your company blog can also serve as your social media marketing blog, in which you blog about your recent social media efforts, contests, and events.
- Links — While using social media for marketing relies primarily on your business sharing its own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also great to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links  in return.
- Track Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research, where to get industry-related links , and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing technique that seems to be working for them, do the same thing, but do it better!
- Measure Success with Analytics —You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics  can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them.
How to Use Social Media for Marketing: Know Your Platform
We’ve put together a brief overview on how to use social media for marketing according to each platform’s unique environment. Various social media marketing sites will require different techniques, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.
Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy that begins with creating a Facebook Business Fan Page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience. Social media marketing for business pages revolves around furthering your conversation with audiences by posting industry-related articles, images, videos, etc.
Facebook  is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly.
Google+  is the new Facebook competitor, and it promotes the same fun, casual atmosphere. On Google+ you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.
You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you're a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you're feeling adventerous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen into your fan's feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.
Pinterest  is the latest in social media marketing trends. Pinterest’s image-centered platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes.
Pinterest allows small businesses to showcase their own product offerings while also developing their own brand’s personality with some unique pinboards.
Twitter  is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.
Mix up your official-related tweets about specials, discounts, and news updates with some fun and quirky tweets interspersed. Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget answer people’s questions when possible. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible
LinkedIn  is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals.
Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations makes your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established and earns trust.
YouTube  is the number one place for creating video content, with can be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google, so don't under-estimate the power of video content!
Location-Based Social Media Tools
Social media platforms like Yelp , FourSquare , and Level Up  are great for brick and mortar businesses looking to implement marketing social media. Register on these sites to claim your location spot, and then consider extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts. Remember, these visitors will have their phones in hand so they will have access to providing reviews which could hurt or significantly aid your users.
Reddit , or similar social media platforms such as Stumble Upon or Digg, are ideal for sharing compelling content. With over 2 billion page views a month, Reddit has incredible social media marketing potential, but marketers should be warned that only truly unique, interesting content will be welcomed. Posting on Reddit is playing with fire—submit spammy or overtly sales-focused content and your business could get berated by this extremely tech-savvy community.
If you have content you believe the Reddit community (majority is young, geeky, liberal, and internet-obsessed) would enjoy, you could reap tremendous benefits and earn valuable traffic.
Using social media in marketing does more than improve site traffic and help businesses reach more customers; it provides a valuable venue for better understanding and learning from your target audiences. Hopefully this guide has helped you better understand how using social media for marketing can improve your business.
Looking for better results? Pay-per-click  marketing is a growing form of online advertising that continues to be very successfully for small and medium sized businesses. Learn about PPC and try WordStream's PPC Optimization software  for free today!
More Social Media Marketing Articles
Looking to learn more detailed information about implementing social media in marketing? Get more information about social media and how to use it for your business.
Experts Guide to Keyword Research for Social Media  - Learn about how to conduct winning keyword research for various social media marketing campaigns.
Social Media Showdown Infographic  - Compare social media platforms to see which have the potential to drive the most traffic for your b2c or b2b social media marketing campaigns.
Learn From Social Media Marketing Experts - We conducted a series of interviews with various industry experts who share their knowledge about using social media in marketing campaigns. Read our interview with:
- Social Media Marketing Expert Alexander Howard 
- Social Media Marketing Expert Chris Brogan 
- Social Media Marketing Expert Tamar Weinberg 
- Social Media Marketing Expert Rebecca Kelly 
Benefits of Live-Tweet Sessions  - Discover the advantages of conducting live Twitter chats with customers and target audiences.
10 Tips for Creating Compelling Facebook Content - Discover the secret to creating content that users can’t help but “Like”. It’s easy to use social media for marketing when your content makes visitors want to share and learn more.
Guide to Ranking on Google with YouTube Video Content  -This two-part YouTube video content guide explains how YouTube videos can help your business rank higher in Google SERPs and why video content is so valuable.
10 SEO Reasons to Add Facebook to Your Content Strategy  - Read how Facebook can provide tremendous SEO benefits for small businesses.
social-media-and-marketing image photo from http://www.prlog.org/11593579-socialmediaicons.png