You know a great social media marketing strategy could mean great things for your business. After all:

While that last statistic may inspire you to revisit your resolution to spend less time on Instagram this year, there is still a crystal-clear advantage for you as a business owner. Social media is one of the easiest ways to expand your reach, cement buyer loyalty, and grow your business. All you need is a stellar strategy.

Before we get to that, let’s clarify what social media marketing entails. There are actually two ways to reach buyers using social media:

  1. Organic social media marketing
  2. Paid social media advertising

The best social media strategies incorporate both organic and paid efforts. Organic content helps humanize your brand, educate customers, and establish a platform for open communication between buyer and business. Paid content allows you to target and retarget a specific audience, design a campaign around specific objectives, and incorporate more CTAs to drive specific behaviors.

There are different strategies to ensure the best results for each approach, and we’ll go over those a bit later. But first, let’s discuss the most essential strategies for any social media marketing effort, organic or paid.

Social Media Marketing Campaign Research

As with any digital marketing effort, your social media strategy must begin with some research. You need to know who you’re trying to reach, where to find them, how to connect with them, and how to make the most of the channel you’re using. Be sure to take these steps before diving into social media, organic or paid.

Establish Your Online Customer Persona

Who is your target audience? If you’re adding social media marketing to a pre-existing digital marketing strategy, you probably already have an answer to this question. If you don’t, now is the time to figure it out. Paint a vivid picture of your quintessential buyer, right down to their name, interests, and income. How old are they? What job do they do? What are their values? How do they talk? What inspires them, scares them, makes them happy? The clearer your customer persona is in your mind, the easier it will be to create social media content that resonates with them. Plus, knowing your customer persona helps you nail this next step . . .

Find the Right Social Media Platform For Your Campaign

The temptation to establish a presence on every social media platform out there can be a strong one. After all, the more visibility the better, right? Not if it means spreading yourself too thin or spending valuable time and money marketing to people who are unlikely to buy from you.

Each social media platform is designed to appeal to different users in different ways. Most likely, the majority of your target audience just hangs out on two or three platforms. Do your research into the demographics and interests that define different social media communities. Check your website analytics to find out where your content gets most of its social media shares. Pay attention to which platforms your competitors prioritize. You might even consider surveying your email list about their social media preferences. Narrow your social media focus so you can target the platforms that will serve you best.

Understanding Your Target Social Media Platforms

Once you’ve decided exactly where to focus your social media efforts, it’s time to figure out the “how.” Explore each platform. Get to know which types of content drive the most engagement. For example, Facebook is a great platform for video. In fact, Facebook itself promotes video content, giving live video priority in the News Feed. Twitter is great for sharing news and blog posts. Instagram users expect compelling photos, inspiring quotes, and engaging Stories. Pinterest loves infographics. The more you research, the more differences you discover, and the better you’re positioned to make the most of your chosen platforms.

Now that you have the basics set up, let’s dive into the different strategies for organic social media marketing versus paid social media marketing.