Social Media Marketing Beginner’s Guide

When you’re a small business on a budget, social media marketing is just plain SMART.

After all, how else can you reach thousands of customers, leads, and prospects all over the world without spending a penny on advertising?

The thing is, though, if you’re NEW to social media marketing, it can seem pretty intimidating. It might feel a little like you’re showing up to a party long after everyone else! If you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or downright confused about how to get started with social media marketing, we’ve got you covered. Just use this beginner’s guide to get started!

Getting Started

Does my business need social media marketing?

Let’s put it this way: If your business has customers who use the Internet, then yes, you need social media marketing. Facebook alone has nearly 2 BILLION active users. If ever there were a time when social media marketing was optional, that time is long, LONG gone.

The Social Media Marketing Beginner’s Guide

Which sites are the best for social media marketing?

There are literally dozens of social networks that you can join and use for social media marketing – but who has the time? When you’re getting started, stick to the biggest: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube are the networks that get the highest traffic. While you don’t have to use all of them right away, you should at least have a profile on the first two or three. Don’t try to take on too much, too fast, though! Learn and implement them one at a time, then focus on the one that has the highest return on investment for your business and ditch what isn’t working for you.

OK, so how do you know which social network is best for your business?

Some people might tell you that the more networks you’re on, the better. In all honesty, though, there’s NO universal answer. It all depends on two things: which social networks your audiences uses, and which ones YOU will use. As you spend time on sites like Facebook and Twitter, you’ll see which ones mesh the best with you and your audience – and those are the ones that are worth your time over the long run. (If you don’t really feel comfortable on ANY social networks, we can help you build the confidence you need.)

 How do you get started with social media marketing?

Easy – just DO it! Jump on in and give it a go. The great thing about social media is that it’s free and it doesn’t take long to get set up. So that is where you start, by setting up your accounts and including as much information as possible.

(And hey, if it doesn’t work out, you can always delete your accounts. It’ll be like it never even happened! Just give it some time before you do – it may feel unnatural at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.)

Are there any shortcuts for social media marketing? I’m short on time.

Yes! Well, yes and no. You can use apps like Edgar to load up social media updates and schedule when you want them to post. Edgar is particularly awesome because he stores posts in a library and allows you to reuse them over again! That way, you know that your accounts are staying active without having to manually update them all the time. When you use a program like that, just make sure that you’re using the right terminology for each different network.

The Social Media Marketing Beginner’s Guide

Social Media Marketing 101

Does social media marketing really work?

Look at it like this: 93 percent of all marketers use social media for business. Social media marketing budgets consistently increase every single year. And did we mention that using social media to market your business is FREE? So yeah, it works. And more and more people are catching on all the time – so you don’t want to sit around waiting much longer.

Is social media marketing really free?

It’s as free as you make it! Virtually all social networks are free to use – you’ll never spend a penny setting up or using a Facebook account. Expenses like promoted posts and advertisements are always an option, but you don’t need those – especially if you have a good strategy.

The place most people get tripped up? If you don’t have the right direction, social media marketing can be a SERIOUS time suck. That’s why some companies actually hire people to handle their social media marketing. If you invest a little time in learning the ropes yourself, though, you’ll save a ton of time AND money down the line.

So, when do you spend money on social media?

While it isn’t necessary to spend a dime on marketing through social media, there are a few times that it may make sense to invest a little money:

  • You decide that you want to try some targeted campaigns through social media – meaning, paid ads aimed at specific demographics.
  • You come to a point where your business is growing and you simply can’t juggle running your business and managing all of your social media channels effectively and consistently.In this case you might want to try Edgar, our helpful social media automation tool that will keep your social media feeds consistently filled with your great promotions, products, and content. You can also look into hiring a social media manager.

Who can you hire to do your social media marketing?

We understand – you hire people to do your taxes, plow your parking lot, and deliver those giant jugs for the water cooler in your lobby. So when it comes to your social media marketing, you might also want to have someone handle the day-to-day stuff.

Social media marketing is a tool for having conversations with your audience, and if someone is going to be interfacing with them on a daily basis, it should be someone who knows them AND your business very, very well.

Instead of hiring a stranger, invest in a one-time training program that can get you or whoever handles your marketing up to speed – we created Social Brilliant specifically so that business owners can empower themselves and STOP relying on unpredictable outside help!

What type of data should I be tracking?

That depends on your goals! If you’re just trying to funnel traffic to your website, you can use Google Analytics to track how much of your site traffic is coming from social media.

If your ultimate goal is to build brand recognition, on the other hand, you may want to focus on more specific data, like where your social media followers come from, what times your posts get the most attention, and which types of posts get shared the most – tools like Facebook Insights can help you out in that department! You can also take a look at our Unboring Guide to What Your Social Media Statistics Actually Mean.

A Social Media Strategy Primer

How often do you need to actually be ON social media to make your marketing succeed?

Social media moves quickly, but you have to be realistic about how much time you have. There are only so many hours in a day! While you had to update your social media accounts in real time back in the olden days of yore, now you can automate things so that it hardly takes any time at all – you just have to know the ins and outs of each network before you start. (You’re in the right place for figuring that out!)

How do I get more followers on social media?

This is the question on pretty much everyone’s mind – no matter WHEN they got started with their social media marketing! If you want more followers, you have to have a plan for your social media.

Think of it this way: If you were going to run a traditional ad campaign, you’d think of a really solid plan first – what you would write in your ads, how often they would run, who your ideal audience would be. You have to do the same thing with your social media, because if you just make it up as you go along, you’ll have a really hard time getting more followers. Planning is key!

Is social media marketing useful for an “offline” business? I have a brick-and-mortar store.

You know, it really is. Social media is just a communication channel, like snail mail, TV, the radio – whatever. It’s a way for you to send your message to people, and to help people get to know your business. What makes social media so great is that your customers are already using it every day, and it’s completely FREE.

So even if you aren’t actually selling anything online, you can use the web to connect with your audience, which can then guide them toward wherever you want them to go – be it signing up for a phone consultation or coming into your store.

How do you market a local business on social media?

It used to be that when people wanted to learn about a local business, they asked their friends and family. Now they search the web! Social media makes it easy for you to increase the “know, like, and trust” factor for your business, giving you a space for building highly visible relationships with customers and prospects, and for sharing information about your business. Sending out content that helps people get to know your business makes it easier to turn a curious visitor into a customer!

How do I make my stuff go viral?

Easy – you DON’T. “Going viral” sounds like a recipe for instant fame and fortune, but it isn’t – and it isn’t something you can engineer, either. When you try to create content solely for that purpose, you can damage your brand.

The content you create should be designed with YOUR specific audience in mind, not as big an audience as possible. Stay focused on what your target audience is interested in, and you have a better chance of getting recognition from the people who matter most to your business.

What’s the next big thing in social networking?

Great news! It doesn’t matter. When it comes to social media marketing, you don’t WANT to be ahead of the trends – you want to be ON them. It takes time for a social network to gain the type of user base that makes it worth your while.

Early adoption of a network that fizzles out after six months can be a massive waste of time, so don’t worry about being ahead of the game – this is one time when you actually want to be as mainstream as possible!

MeetEdgar's Platform-Specific Guides

Looking for more help with social media? MeetEdgar has the expert answers to your questions about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more!

Additional Resources

Social Media Marketing – What Every Business Owner Needs To Know
Learn what your “marketing goldmine” is, where you should always drive traffic to, and what would happen if Twitter went away tomorrow.

Interacting With Your Social Media Peeps
Once you’ve found a few followers, what should you say on social media?

The Best Times to Post to Facebook and Twitter
The essential guide to setting up your Facebook and Twitter posting schedules for maximum effectiveness.

The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Hooking More Readers
Trying to get more followers? Read this for a some advice on how to grow your audience.

Want your social media handled automatically?