Marketing 101: A Crash Course on Social Media

Social media is an essential component in today's digital marketing mix.


In order to be effective in this channel, however, marketers need to do much more than just measure superficial gains, such as likes and follows. Rather, they need to spend time optimizing their profiles, posting engaging content and monitoring the true performance of the content they post. To make sure you're getting the most out of your social marketing initiatives, review this quick crash course on social media.


1. Be Descriptive

If you want your brand to be found in the social search results, it is imperative that you fill out important details on social profiles, such as address, category, description and bio. In doing so, your page is more likely to be found when someone conducts a relevant search.


This is particularly true on Facebook, as the social network's Graph Search feature enables users to search phrases, such as "Pet Stores Nearby." In this example, only Pages that have been categorized at Pet Stores and have included location information will show up in the results.


That said, filling out description info is equally important across social networks, including Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. Not only will having a complete profile increase visibility on these sites, but it also makes consumers more likely to follow you. After all, even if people find your profile, they will be hesitant to follow an account with a vague "About" section or bio.


2. Use Hashtags

If you want to increase the visibility of your posts, try adding some hashtags into your marketing mix. This functionality is supported by most social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Keep in mind that you don't want to use too many hashtags within one post on most social networks; otherwise content can come across as spammy.


It is also important to remember that any hashtag you use should be relevant to the content being posted. Trending and other common hashtags will provide greater visibility, yet industry-specific hashtags (like #SEO in the image below) may help you reach a more relevant audience. To get some hashtag inspiration, check out Website Magazine's "30 Days of Social."



3. Be Interactive

Social networks are not a free billboard space for brand promotions. Rather, they are a place where members of communities (including brands) can come together and interact with each other.


Instead of sharing information on your latest sales and newest products, try to switch up your content strategy from time to time by becoming more interactive. By taking actions like responding to customer comments and sharing user-generated content, customers will be more satisfied with their experiences and be more likely to interact with your brand in the future.


In addition, brands can interact with a larger audience by hosting an activity like a contest. Social contests can help brands boost engagement (which is good for Facebook's Newsfeed ranking) and visibility. Fortunately, there are a variety of platforms available on the 'Net that can help brands simplify the contest creation process across social networks, including Piqora, Votigo and ShortStack. To learn more about social contest platforms, visit Website Magazine's "Insider's Guide to Social Contest Platforms."


4. Use Visual Content

It should not be a surprise that visual content, like images and videos, receive more engagement than other post types on social networks. After all, the majority of the population is made up of visual learners. Moreover, socialbakers reveals that 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook are photos.


This means that brands should be leveraging visual content on a regular basis to engage their audience. Although this can seem difficult for businesses without a graphic designer on staff, it doesn't need to be. The Web is full of image-editing tools. PicMonkey, for example, is a free Web-based image editing tool that is easy to use and offers image cropping, photo collages, image effects and more. Conversely, tools like Pagemodo offer a variety of image editing tools specifically for social networks, including Post Designer (pictured below) and Cover Photo Designer tools.



5. Consider Advertising

The best way to gain followers and increase engagement on social networks is, of course, through advertising. While emerging social networks like Pinterest and Instagram are still hammering out their advertising offerings, more established networks like Facebook and Twitter have multiple ad offerings with robust targeting features.


Facebook, for example, enables marketers to target based on demographics, interests and behaviors. Marketers can use Facebook advertising to increase post engagement, obtain likes, send traffic to a website, promote coupons and more. Twitter, on the other hand, also offers targeting through demographics, as well as filtering via keywords and negative keywords. With Twitter, marketers can promote their accounts, specific tweets and trends.


6. Monitor Analytics

Just like any other channel, marketers must monitor social analytics, so they can track the performance of their posts and optimize future strategies. While some social networks provide users with in-house analytics, marketers may also want to leverage some of the solutions available around the Web.


Curalate (pictured), for instance, can be used to monitor image analytics on Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. In fact, the solution offers pin-to-purchase tracking, which helps marketers attribute revenue to pins. Conversely, marketers may also want to check out, which provides detailed reporting for social links, including clicks and pageviews. Moreover,, helps marketers track conversions driven by social, as well as identify top performers and discover the "virality" of content, such as how many site visitors a tweet drives.