How to Use Social Media for Professional Marketing: The Complete Guide

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By tom.baldridge

Social media has become a powerful marketing channel for businesses and professionals to build brands, connect with customers, and drive growth.

In fact, 72% of marketers say social media is critical for their business, and 80% plan to increase investment in it this year [1].

But simply having social media accounts isn’t enough. To generate real results, you need an optimized strategy.

This comprehensive guide covers proven tips and best practices for leveraging major social platforms to boost your professional brand and marketing.

Set Specific Goals and KPIs

The first step is identifying your purpose on social media and measurable goals you want to achieve. Common objectives include:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Grow followers and engagement
  • Generate sales leads
  • Raise brand awareness
  • Recruit new employees or customers
  • Improve customer service

Define 1-3 SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals. Then determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress.

KPIs may include website clicks, follower growth, engagement rate, lead conversion rate, brand mentions, reach/impressions, etc. Clearly outlining goals and KPIs keeps your efforts focused.

Research Your Target Audience

Take time to intimately understand your target demographics and what resonates with them on social media.

Look at factors like:

  • Age, gender, location, income level
  • Needs, interests, and pain points
  • Preferred social platforms and usage patterns
  • What motivates them to engage and buy
  • Key influencers they follow

Analytics tools like Facebook Insights provide valuable audience data. User-generated content like social mentions, reviews, and conversations also provide insights.

Armed with this knowledge, you can craft content and campaigns that specifically appeal to your audience on their preferred social platforms.

Audit Your Social Media Presence

Conduct an audit assessing all your existing social media accounts and strategy. Look at factors like:

  • Which platforms you’re active on and your goals there
  • User engagement levels and growth trends
  • Quality and performance of past content
  • Competitor presence and benchmarking
  • Ad performance and conversion data
  • Brand consistency across channels

An audit identifies what’s working well and areas needing improvement. Use the insights to optimize your social media presence going forward.

Improve Social Media Profiles

Your profile is your digital storefront on each platform – optimize it to attract your ideal audience.

  • Complete profile: Fill out all sections, use branded profile, cover images. Provide key contact info and links.
  • Compelling bio: Summarize what you do and value proposition in 160 chars or less. Include targeted keywords.
  • Profile picture: Use a professional headshot consistent across platforms. For companies, logo as icon.
  • Call to action: Give visitors clear direction with a strong CTA like “Buy Now” or “Sign up”.

Keep profiles up-to-date. Leverage tools like Sprout Social to manage profiles, imagery, and branding across all social accounts.

Create and Curate Engaging Content

Consistently publishing high-quality, valuable content is critical for social media success. Tactics include:

  • Blog articles: Publish educational articles targeted to audience interests. Promote through social posts.
  • Infographics: Share visual representations of data, tips, or processes relevant to followers.
  • Behind-the-scenes: Provide exclusive sneak peeks at products, office culture, and work processes.
  • Expert interviews: Interview industry leaders relevant to your niche for insightful Q&As.
  • User-generated: Repost customer social content about your brand with permission.
  • Video: Create snackable videos demonstrating products or sharing tips.
  • Live video: Go live to engage followers in real-time with Q&As, demos, etc.

Blend your own content with curating and resharing relevant third-party content. Use analytics to see what content types resonate best.

Optimize Posting Frequency and Timing

Posting consistently keeps you top of mind while avoiding spamming followers.

  • Test different frequencies: Start with 1-2 posts per day per platform and adjust based on performance data.
  • Vary content types: Share a mix of own content, curated content, interactive posts (polls, questions), etc.
  • Optimize timing: Use each platform’s analytics to determine when your followers are most active. Schedule high-value content during peak times.
  • Manage workflows: Use social media management tools like Hootsuite to plan, schedule, and automatically queue content.

Get to know your audience’s preferences. Consistency, variety, and optimal timing ensure you show up on their feeds when they’re most likely to engage.

Boost Engagement with Interactions

Social media is meant to facilitate two-way communication. Being social earns higher visibility and engagement from the algorithms.

  • Respond to comments and messages: Be prompt and helpful when replying to user questions and feedback. This builds relationships.
  • Give @mentions: Credit partners, influencers, and customers to get posts in front of their followers.
  • Run contests/giveaways: Incentivize followers to like, comment, and reshare for more visibility.
  • Ask for input: Solicit feedback through polls and questions to spark discussion.
  • Be conversational: Use a friendly, approachable tone – avoid overly formal corporate-speak.

The more you interact, the more you’ll be rewarded with meaningful engagement. Set goals around response times and @mentions to boost your presence.

Advertise Strategically Through Paid Ads

While organic content is essential, paid advertising can help you gain additional reach and results. Tactics include:

  • Retargeting ads to re-engage visitors who left your website.
  • Promoted posts to get content in front of more followers.
  • Lead generation ads focused on capturing new potential customer contacts.
  • Traffic driving ads aimed at sending visitors to targeted pages.
  • Brand awareness ads to expand visibility through video views and impressions.

Align campaign objectives with your goals. Target ads with keywords and detailed audience parameters. Continuously optimize based on performance data.

Track and Measure Result

It’s essential to monitor performance and pinpoint what content and strategies are moving the needle on your goals.

  • Use platform analytics tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to measure engagement, clicks, conversions, and more.
  • Track website visits and leads from social referrals using UTMs or tools like Google Analytics.
  • Monitor brand mentions and sentiment with social listening tools like Mention or Hootsuite to see perception and buzz.
  • Leverage ROI calculators to tally the monetary value driven by social efforts.

Analyze results frequently and double down on the formats and strategies generating the highest returns. This data-driven approach leads to continual optimization.

Enlist Help Managing Social Media Marketing

Executing an effective social strategy takes significant time, effort, and expertise. If managing it in-house isn’t feasible, partnering with an agency or consultant can save money and provide an immediate boost.

Social media managers handle tasks like:

  • Creating content calendars and posting schedules
  • Designing on-brand assets and ad creative
  • Community management and engagement
  • Paid ad management from campaign setup to optimization
  • Performance reporting and analytics

Evaluate partners based on expertise, fit with your brand, and success with similar clients. The right social media marketing partner lets you outsource the heavy lifting to experts.

Now It’s Time to Up Your Social Media Marketing Game

With the right goals, audience knowledge, creative content, engagement, and analytics – your social media presence will thrive.

Remember that social media marketing is an ongoing process. Continually test new content formats, posting strategies, and platforms. Optimize efforts based on performance data.

Your followers, engagement levels, positive buzz, and conversions will grow over time as you master social media marketing. In today’s digital world, an effective social strategy is critical for every modern business and professional brand.

To discuss how we can help manage your social media marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s connect online!


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