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By Sara Huffman

Before 2020, social media marketing was starting to lose its effectiveness. With social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter showing users what the algorithm wanted them to see, it became almost impossible for businesses to break through and get people’s attention.

Then, the pandemic happened.

Suddenly, everyone relied heavily on digital forms of communication to stay connected and updated through every rapid, unnerving change. And even though now life is slowly starting to return to normal, people are still attached to their social media accounts.

This means that if you’ve been on the fence about social media marketing for your business, now’s the time to try it out.

You probably know why social media marketing is important for your business. Through social media, you increase awareness of your brand, provide customer service quickly and easily, build brand loyalty and engagement with your customers, and even sell your products or services on certain social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

But social media marketing also takes some skill and can be time-consuming. Most small and mid-size businesses may not have the resources available to spend marketing themselves online, but there are some easy ways to make social media marketing work for you instead of the other way around.

Have A Goal In Mind

Just like traditional marketing campaigns, social media marketing is best executed when you have a goal in mind, especially if that goal is a S.M.A.R.T. goal – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.

Do you want to build engagement among your current followers? Do you want to gain more followers? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Do you have an active Facebook page, and you’d like to see if you can build an active Instagram account, too?

Figure out what your goal is to start – that will dictate which social media platforms to focus on and the kind of content you should be posting to them.

Get Creative With Your Content

Before you start to panic and think you have to create unique pieces of content for each of your social media platforms every single day, consider entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk’s approach to creating content: create one large piece of content (the “pillar piece”) like a blog post, a vlog, a podcast, a video – whatever works best for your brand – and then break it up into smaller pieces like images, quotes, GIFs, stories, and more. Then, post those smaller pieces on your social media accounts. Vaynerchuk calls this process the “Content Pyramid.”

For example: say you run a bakery that makes colorful celebration cakes. You could set up your phone to take a series of time-lapse videos of the cake-creation process, from mixing all the ingredients to putting the final layers of icing and decorations.

READ MORE: Putting In Work, But Social Engagement Remains Low? Tips For Making Your Voice Heard

That video could then be used on Instagram Reels and TikTok, along with fun effects and music. You can also post that finished video to Facebook Stories. You could take parts of the video and post them to your Instagram Feed or Instagram Stories as GIFs or Boomerangs. A well-lit, appealing photo of your final cake can be uploaded to Instagram with a short caption and uploaded to Facebook with a longer caption or blog post.

Schedule Your Content

One of the best ways to beat that pesky algorithm is to post regularly – experts recommend at least once a day. But no one has time to stop working on posting something on social media. So, do what the social media marketing pros do and schedule your content ahead of time. Websites like Hootsuite and Sprout offer scheduling services where you can plan as much of your content as you want and see it laid out in front of you to make sure it’s cohesive and aligns with your S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Planning and scheduling your content ahead of time affords you a lot: you have content that’s ready to go, and you don’t have to think about it later, and it also allows you the flexibility to post some content on the fly, like shop openings and closings, updates about products, taking advantage of trending memes, or anything important or fun.

Be Social

No matter what your S.M.A.R.T. goal is, make sure you set aside time regularly to respond to comments and questions left on your social accounts. Customers appreciate it when their question is answered quickly and when they have an issue that needs to be resolved, responding quickly is paramount. Social media makes it easy for you to acknowledge the complaint and ask to take it privately to a direct message. Even replying to the most superficial comments can make a person feel seen and appreciated – it can be as simple as posting a smiley face emoji.

READ MORE: Why Social Listening Is Worth The Time And Effort

Track Progress And Don’t Be Afraid To Pivot

Take time to acknowledge the M in your S.M.A.R.T. goal and measure how your marketing is going. Are you seeing the results you were hoping for? Measuring your progress can take many forms, depending on what your goal is. If it’s driving social media traffic to your website, you’ll want to use a tool like Google Analytics to see any activity that your website has received. If it’s gauging follower engagement, you can track how many likes and comments each of your posts has received.

If you’re not achieving the goals you’ve been aiming for, then don’t be afraid to pivot and change your social media marketing strategy. What are some other goals you could aim for? What are some unexpected discoveries you’ve made that you could explore more deeply? Maybe that fun video you made for TikTok didn’t gain any traction, but earned you some attention on Instagram Reels – that’s an excellent sign to focus on Instagram. By analyzing your results, you’re equipping yourself with the data and insights to drive your approach.