Beginner’s guide to social media marketing



22 minutes

Social media offers an affordable way to reach a global targeted audience, engage with potential clients or customers, and increase the awareness about your brand.

It is an indispensable tool for new entrepreneurs looking to market their personal brands and small businesses.

But if you’re just getting started, the many different factors involved in social media marketing may seem completely overwhelming to you.

In this guide we’re going to cover everything you need to know about social media marketing and help you make the most of your efforts.

Table of contents


What is social media marketing?

Social media refers to online platforms that enable people to create, share and interact with content and engage in digital communication.

Social media marketing is the strategic approach to leveraging these social media platforms in order to build an audience, generate leads or drive sales.

This is achieved by sharing content that is tailored to your target audience in a way that educates, inspires or engages them, while also giving you the opportunity to promote your products, services and brand.

What are the benefits of social media?

Social media marketing offers a wide range of benefits, like gaining access to a global audience, building an engaged and loyal audience, increasing brand awareness and loyalty, driving website traffic and gaining unique insights from your ideal customer.

Here are some of the key advantages of using social media for marketing:

  1. Brand awareness: As of 2023, over 4.74 billion people across the world use social media (Hootsuite). These platforms give you access to a vast and diverse audience globally. You can build your brand’s personality by sharing your company’s values, mission and story to connect with your audience on a personal level. And by reaching a broader demographic, you have a cost-effective way to increase your brand’s visibility and recognition.
  2. Targeted advertising: Social media platforms allow for precise audience targeting, that you don’t tend to get with traditional marketing methods. You can tailor your content to reach specific demographics, interests, behaviours and locations.
  3. Community building: Social media enables direct engagement with your audience. It opens a two-way communication, in which you can respond to comments, messages and feedback. This creates a sense of community. It also gives you the opportunity to build strong relationships with your audience and fostering trust through consistent, quality content. This can help with brand loyalty and advocacy.
  4. Lead generation: Social media platforms can be used to generate leads for your business. By offering valuable content and encouraging sign-ups, you can collect contact information about potential customers.
  5. Market insights: Social media offers a fast and easy way to gain information about customer interests and needs. It also allows you to collect feedback, conduct surveys, and gain other valuable insights into your target market. This data can inform your marketing and product development efforts.

While social media marketing offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to approach it with a clear strategy to maximise its advantages for your business or brand.

Understanding Social Media Platforms

Overview of popular platforms

Understanding the features, demographics and strengths of each platform is crucial in order to make an informed decisions on where to invest your time and resources.

Let’s look at some of the most popular platforms below:

  1. Facebook: Facebook, owned by Meta, is one of longest-standing and most used social media platforms around the world, with 3 billion monthly active users. It has a pretty broad audience and supports a diverse range of content types, including longer form content and live videos, making it suitable for most businesses.
  2. Instagram: Instagram, also owned by Meta, has over 2.35 billion monthly active users. Users can post photos and short-form videos called Reels, create Stories that disappear after 24 hours, send DMs, go live and much more. Instagram is a visual platform, so would be suitable for businesses looking to share aesthetic images and videos.
  3. X/Twitter: X, formerly known as Twitter, is primarily known for its real-time updates and is commonly used for commentary on live events, news, and politics. Users typically share opinions, thoughts and questions while engaging in conversations.
  4. LinkedIn: LinkedIn allows users can share their work experience, skills and professional achievements. With a recent focus on content, users are typically looking to network or build their personal brands by sharing industry news, updates and tips.
  5. TikTok: TikTok changed the game when it comes to short-form videos, these often set to music and are similar to Instagram Reels. TikTok has 1.1 billion monthly active users. While Gen-Z do dominate the platform, you will find an audience of all ages on TikTok. The platform encourages creativity, authentic storytelling and has a fast-paced content discovery system.
  6. Threads: Threads is a newcomer with the social media world but essentially, it is Meta’s version of X/Twitter. It is designed to be a text-focused platform, allowing users to share thoughts, updates and other content that can be accompanied by images and videos. Although Threads is still in its early stages, it is positioned to foster community building and real-time discussions.
  7. Pinterest: Pinterest is slightly different to the others on this list. Again, it’s a very visual platform, where users can share and discover new interests by posting images or videos known as “pins” to their own or others’ boards. It is predominantly female users, who are typically searching for inspiration, ideas and specific topics. Food, fashion, beauty, travel, home decor and DIY crafts tend to perform well on Pinterest.
  8. YouTube: Owned by Google, YouTube is a platform for sharing and consuming video content. YouTube posts can span a range of categories, from instructional how-to videos to entertainment to news and much more. While YouTube was typically used for long-form content, you can now post Shorts which are similar to Instagram Reels or TikToks.

It will come as no surprise that over the last couple of years many of these platforms have “borrowed” ideas for features from other platforms. While it may seem like they are very similar, every platform does still have its own unique features, demographics and best practices for engagement.

Join over 1,000 creators starting, building and growing their online business

The latest WordPress news, social media updates, SEO tips and industry insights delivered to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll receive our fortnightly newsletter and resources. No spam or unnecessary emails. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Choosing the best social media platforms

As we’ve discovered, each platform has its own strengths and user base. So how do you know what platforms to choose?

Here are a couple of things to think about when a platform to start with:

1. What is your goal with social media

Your choice of platforms should align with your marketing goals. If your goal is brand awareness, platforms like Instagram and TikTok with high engagement rates might be suitable. Whereas, if your goal is lead generation or B2B networking, then LinkedIn might be your primary focus.

2. Where is your audience active

Success on social media begins with understanding your target audience.

Your target audience is very likely already active on social media, you just have to figure out where.

As we’ve seen many of these platforms now support various content types and have a broad and diverse range of users. Therefore, it’s completely possible that your audience are spending time on multiple platforms but we want to know their preferred platform. Where do they spend the most time? Where do they visit multiple times a day?

Research your specific target audience and understand where they like to spend their time online, what type of content they prefer consuming and what topics they follow online.

And like we said, different age groups prefer different platforms. For example, younger users might be more active on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, while older users are often found on Facebook or LinkedIn, and certain platforms may attract a specific gender more than others. You may also need to consider where your audience is geographically located, as some platforms are more popular in specific regions or countries.

An online/buyer persona and social media audit can help you find the platforms that would be best for you, your business and your audience. We will discuss these in more detail below.

3. Where are your competitors active

Take a look at your competitors and see where they are active. This can provide insights into where your audience may already be engaging. It can also help you identify gaps in the market where your business can stand out.

4. Don’t overwhelm yourself

While it is important to choose the right platforms to invest your time into, don’t get stuck in decision-paralysis or feel like you need to be active on all platforms.

Trying to be everywhere all at once will likely lead to burnout, inconsistency and failing to get the results you’re hoping for.

Consider the resources, time and skills you have available. Managing multiple platforms can be time-consuming, it’s often better to excel on a couple of platforms than to spread yourself too thin.

If you really want to appear active on other platforms, think about repurpose the content you are already creating for your main platform(s).

Finally, remember to regularly review your performance and adapt your strategy as needed to make the most of your chosen platforms.

Creating a social media strategy

How to perform a social media audit

If you are already active on social media, then conducting an audit of your current activity is a crucial step before putting together your strategy.

Here are the simplified steps to conduct a social media audit:

  1. Make a list of all the social media platforms you are currently active on.
  2. One by one, go through each platform. Look at the profiles, branding and content on each profile. Make note of the type of content that performs well, the topics with the most engagement, your audience demographics and other important metrics such as reach, engagement rate, click-through-rate, etc.
  3. Next, have a look at your competitors. What are they doing on social media? What platforms are they active on? What topics are they covering? How are they interacting with their audience? What is working well for them and what could they be doing better? Write down as much detail as possible.
  4. Once you have everything documented, analyse the information. What can you learn from the data? What are the common themes coming up? Why is something working or not working? Try to create links between the information, and summarise the takeaways.
  5. You may find it useful to create a report or presentation that records your results in an easy-to-understand way.
  6. Use the information collected to create your social media strategy.

An audit will help you identify what is/isn’t working, highlight opportunities for improvement, give you information to create a strategic plan, and provide you with a baseline to measure your success.

Elements to include in your strategy

Your strategy is the backbone of your social media marketing. It dictates what you post, when you post, and why you post.

This will allow you to work more efficiently, giving you a direction and clear purpose. It also provides a benchmark for reporting on results in the future.

Here are a few sections you may want to include in your strategy:

1. Goals + KPIs

The first step is coming up with your goals for social media. What do you want to achieve? The reason will determine your strategy and what actions you should concentrate on.

Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads and sales, boost engagement with your customers or drive traffic to your website? It may be helpful to use the SMART system to set realistic goals.

Once you know your goals, you’ll want to come up with a way to measure them. For this you can set some key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to track your results.

KPIs may include tracking metrics such as reach, impressions, followers, engagement rate, clicks, sentiment, mentions, shares, views and so on.

2. Your brand identity

Next, you’ll want to take a look at your brand will be presented on social media. This is an important aspect as consistency can help your audience identify you against your competitors.

Think about the following:

  • How is your brand showing up online?
  • What is the brand personality?
  • How is your brand voice or tone of communication?
  • What is your writing style? Are you formal or informal? Do you use emojis?
  • What colours and fonts are you using?
  • What style of imagery or videos are you using?

3. Your audience

Knowing your audience is a fundamental aspect of effective social media marketing. Your audience represents the people who are most likely to engage with your content, become customers and ultimately support your business.

You should already have a good understanding of your audience and their preferences, so include these details in your strategy. This is important as you’ll be tailoring your content for your audience’s needs and interests.

If you don’t feel like you know your ideal audience well enough, spend some time doing market and audience research. This could involve creating surveys and polls to gather feedback from current or potential customers, monitoring social media conversations related to your industry, studying competitors to understand their audience or analysing data you already have available to you through analytic tools.

Creating an online/buyer persona

If you haven’t already done so, create an online/buyer persona. This is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and any real data that you have. The trick here is to choose an ideal member of your audience and make them as real as possible.

Think about the following factors:

  • Demographics: age, gender, location, income, education, job title and family status
  • Psychographics: values, habit, attitudes, interests, hobbies, beliefs and lifestyle
  • Pain points: problems, challenges or frustrations they face that your product, service or content can help with
  • Aspirations: goals that your product, service or content can help them achieve
  • Behaviours: how they spend their free time, how they spend time online, what social media platforms do they use, what websites do they visit and what are their buying habits

The Buyer Persona Template

Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.

4. Your content

Now onto the content! This is where you dig into the platforms, formats and topics you are going to use.

Figure out your 3-5 content pillars that will guide your content. Diversify your content by using different formats and utilise all of the features available on the platform you have chosen.

Once you’ve gained a deeper understanding of your audience, create content that addresses their needs, answers their questions and provides value.

Balance promotional content with valuable, informative, and entertaining content. The 80/20 rule is a good guideline: 80% of your content should add value, and 20% can be promotional.

According to Sprout Social, edutainment content is a big trend. This content educates while also being entertaining and could be an effective engagement strategy for businesses. As well as that, it was found that more businesses are putting money behind video production. Use storytelling to connect with your audience on a personal level, you can also share success stories, testimonials, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and anecdotes.

Use relevant and trending hashtags to increase the discoverability of your posts. Research and test which hashtags work best for your content.

Breakdown your strategy by detailing the tactics you are going to use to achieve your goal, include actions for both organic and paid social if that’s something you’re going to do.

5. Your workflow

Now detail your process. What tools are you going to use for ideation, planning, creating and scheduling? When are you going to post and where? Remember consistency is important.

Create a content calendar that outlines what you’ll post and when. This helps you maintain consistency and ensure you’re addressing various aspects of your brand.

6. Your reporting

Finally, include information about how you will measure your KPIs, what metrics you will be tracking and how often you will be reviewing your actions. You may want to create a monthly report that will detail everything, or simply checking in on analytics week-to-week might be enough for you.

Regularly analysing the performance of your content will help you to achieve your goals so don’t miss this crucial step. You can use social media analytics tools to track what’s working and what isn’t, then adjust your strategy accordingly.

Your content strategy should evolve as your audience’s preferences and the social media landscape change. Consistently evaluating and adapting your strategy will help you stay relevant and effective on social media.

5 steps to create a successful social media strategy

Getting started on social media

Optimising your profiles

Okay, we’ve made it past strategy and now we’re onto action! It’s time to set up your accounts.

While not completely necessary, it can be helpful to keep your username or @handle consistent across platforms so your audience can easily find you.

Once created, it’s time to optimise them.

Your social media profiles serve as a first impression and acts like your shop window. You’ll want to spend a few minutes making sure it clearly reflects your brand and appeals to your target audience.

  • Profile Picture: Add a high-quality recognisable photo or logo. If you’re a personal brand you may want to add a photo of yourself, otherwise a company logo is ideal. Try to keep this consistent across all platforms.
  • Bio: Write a concise, compelling and engaging bio. It should describe who you are, what you do and who you do it for. Refrain from adding unnecessary information, like hashtags or random facts. We have limited characters in a social media bio and it should be used to explain to your ideal audience why they should follow you. Remember to include a clear call-to-action, which might be as simple as requesting a follow. Be sure to explain what they get in return.
  • Contact: Ensure your contact information is readily available, such as a website link and an email address. You may want to link to a specific page that has multiple links, you can set this up on your website which is what I recommend or use a third-party tool.
  • Highlights: Use story highlights (on platforms like Instagram) to showcase your best content, products or services. These highlights provide quick access to important information.
  • Pinned Posts: On platforms that allow it, pin any important or evergreen post to the top of your profile. This can serve as an introduction to your brand or highlight a key message.

There may be other things you can do depending on the platform, but ensure that at the very least you have these things in place.

Best practices and engagement tips

Here are some top tips to keep in mind on your social media journey…

1. Remember your goal

Firstly, forget about vanity metrics. The number of followers you have truly doesn’t matter, it’s all about the quality of engagement. A smaller, highly engaged audience is often more valuable than a large, disengaged one.

Focus on building a community, not just a following. Engage with your audience and create a sense of belonging. This can lead to brand loyalty. Collaborate with other businesses, influencers, or content creators in your niche to expand your reach and engage new audiences.

Success looks different to everyone. Think about your main goal, are you achieving that? If you are, then the number of likes and followers you have isn’t relevant.

2. Be patient and consistent

The key to social media success is consistency. It takes time, patience and persistence. While you may need to adapt your strategy, don’t give up completely.

You should be consistent in terms of your posting schedule, tone of voice, visual style, engagement with your audience and the type of content you produce.

Use your data to understand what is working, and do more of that! Teach and train the algorithm by being consistent – with the frequency in which you post, the content you create and the value you give.

If you want significant growth, you will have to increase the frequency that you post. Unfortunately that is just how the algorithms work these days. The more you post, the more of a chance you have of getting in front of your target audience. I still maintain that our focus should be on quality over quantity, so make sure to take your goals into account here.

3. Engage authentically

Authenticity is key. Be yourself, share your brand’s story, and connect with your audience on a personal level. Authenticity builds trust. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and consider their feelings, needs, and desires. This understanding will enable you to create content that genuinely resonates with them.

Use storytelling to convey your brand’s values, mission, and purpose. Stories connect with your audience on an emotional level. Respond to comments, messages, and feedback promptly. Social media is a two-way communication channel, and responsiveness is crucial.

Don’t ignore negative comments or reviews, have a plan in place to be proactive when it comes to community management. Monitor different social media platforms for mentions of your brand, competitors and related keywords.

4. Mix it up and experiment

Diversify your content to keep your audience engaged – using images, videos, stories and behind-the-scenes. Get creative, social media users love seeing the people behind a brand have fun!

Encourage your audience to create content related to your brand and share it, user-generated content is a powerful form of social proof and it adds a more personal aspect to your brand. People like people!

Continually test different strategies and adapt your approach based on the data you collect. What works for one business might not work for another.

5. Stay up-to-date

Social media changes rapidly and staying informed ensures that you’re using the most current strategies.

What worked even just a year ago, probably won’t work now.

Invest in ongoing learning. Platforms, algorithms, trends, features and best practices change frequently, so staying educated is essential for success. Lucky for you, we publish a monthly roundup of the latest updates on our blog so you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself.

Guidelines and ethics

Each social media platform has its own rules and guidelines. Ensure that you comply with these regulations to avoid account suspension or penalties.

Ethically considerations are also worth mentioning here. It’s important to maintain transparency in your marketing efforts and ensure you are following legal requirements such as: avoid sharing misleading or false information, adhering to data protection laws, respecting IP rights and copyright, disclosing paid partnerships, and respecting user privacy.

Utilising social media tools

As we’ve already mentioned, visual content is crucial on social media. High-quality images and videos are more likely to catch the eye of your audience.

In terms of content creation tools, Canva is the go-to for graphics and Capcut is popular for editing videos. These both offer templates and other features that can help speed up the creation process.

If you want to schedule your content in advance, there are loads of tools available. Many of these also offer hashtag and analytic features. Buffer, Later, Flick and Sprout are all popular choices. Check out our post on the different scheduling tools available for Instagram.

And finally, social listening tools like Mention and Hootsuite will allow you to monitor different platforms for mentions of your brand, products, competitors or other keywords within your industry.

Join over 1,000 creators starting, building and growing their online business

The latest WordPress news, social media updates, SEO tips and industry insights delivered to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll receive our fortnightly newsletter and resources. No spam or unnecessary emails. You can unsubscribe at any time.

social media Advertising

Social media platforms offer various advertising options to help you reach a larger audience.

Annual advertising spend on social media reached $134 billion in 2022, a 17% YoY increase (Wordstream).

Paid advertising on social media involves spending money to promote your content or messages to a larger and more targeted audience. It’s an effective way to reach potential customers beyond your organic reach.

Here are the key aspects of paid advertising on social media:

  • Types of Ads: Social media platforms offer various types of ads, including sponsored posts, display ads, video ads, and carousel ads. You can choose the format that best suits your campaign objectives.
  • Targeting: Paid ads allow you to target specific demographics, interests, behaviors, and even retarget website visitors. This ensures that your content reaches the most relevant audience for your business.
  • Budgeting: You can set daily or lifetime budgets for your ad campaigns, allowing you to control your ad spend. The cost of paid advertising varies based on factors like platform, competition, and ad format.
  • Ad Auctions: Many platforms use an auction system to determine which ads get shown. Your bid, ad quality, and relevance to the audience play a significant role in the placement of your ads.
  • Ad Creation: Craft compelling ad copy, select eye-catching visuals, and add a clear call to action (CTA). The ad’s message should be aligned with your marketing goals, whether it’s increasing website visits, generating leads, or boosting sales.
  • Performance Tracking: Use analytics tools provided by social media platforms to monitor the performance of your ads. Key metrics to track include click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, reach, and ad engagement.
  • Testing and Optimization: Paid advertising allows for A/B testing to determine which ad variations are most effective. Adjust your ad campaigns based on data to maximize ROI.
  • Remarketing: Social media platforms often offer remarketing options, which enable you to target people who have already interacted with your brand or website. This is valuable for re-engaging potential customers.
  • Ad Policies: Be aware of the ad policies and guidelines of each social media platform. These policies cover what you can and can’t advertise, ensuring that ads are compliant and ethical.
  • Ad Creative: Invest in high-quality ad creative, including images, videos, and copy. Well-crafted creative elements are more likely to grab users’ attention.

Tracking Your Metrics

Using social media analytics

As well as using tools to monitor your social media success, analytics are also available within the platforms themselves.

There are a number of metrics you can track, but here are some common ones:

Understand the demographics of your audience, including age, gender, location, and interests. This data helps you refine your content to better match your audience’s characteristics.

Engagement RateThis includes likes, comments, shares, and other forms of interaction with your content. A high engagement rate indicates that your audience is actively participating with your posts.
Follower GrowthMonitor the growth of your follower count over time. A healthy follower growth rate suggests that your content and strategy are resonating with your target audience. We don’t necessarily care about the number itself, we’re simply looking at growth.
Website TrafficUse tools like Google Analytics to track the amount of traffic your social media channels are driving to your website. You can also track specific URLs to see which posts are the most effective in driving traffic.
Conversion RatesMeasure how many social media visitors take desired actions on your website, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or filling out a contact form. Conversion rate optimisation is key for turning social media engagement into tangible results.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)For posts with links, CTR tells you how many people clicked the link to visit your website. High CTR indicates that your content and call-to-action are compelling.
Reach and ImpressionsUnderstand how many people are exposed to your content. Reach is the number of unique individuals who saw your content, while impressions are the total number of times your content was displayed.
Video ViewsFor video content, track the number of views and the percentage of the video watched. This helps you determine video engagement.
SharesThe number of times your content is shared indicates that your audience found it valuable and worth promoting to their network.
Hashtag PerformanceIf you use hashtags, monitor their performance to see which ones generate the most visibility and engagement.
Audience DemographicsUnderstand the demographics of your audience, including age, gender, location, and interests. This data helps you refine your content to better match your audience’s characteristics.

Use the data you collect to refine your strategy and make data-driven decisions. If certain types of posts or platforms yield better results, focus more on those. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to adjust your approach.

Adjust and adapt your strategy

Once you’ve collected and analysed your metrics, the next step is to adjust and adapt your social media strategy accordingly. Here’s how:

  • Identify Patterns: Look for patterns in your data. Which types of content receive the most engagement? Are there specific times or days when your audience is most active? What are the demographics of your most engaged followers?
  • Identify Weaknesses: Identify areas where your strategy is underperforming. Are there posts with low engagement or high bounce rates on your website? Determine the reasons behind these issues.
  • Set New Goals: Based on your analysis, set new, realistic goals for your social media marketing efforts. These goals should align with the areas that need improvement and the data-driven insights you’ve gathered.
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different content types, posting schedules, and strategies. Use A/B testing to compare different approaches and see which one yields better results.
  • Refine Content: Adjust your content based on what’s working. Create more of the content that your audience engages with, and consider revising or eliminating content that doesn’t perform well.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with industry trends and changes on the social media platforms you use. Social media is continually evolving, and adapting to new features and trends can give your strategy an edge.
  • Continuously Monitor: Social media metrics should be monitored continuously, not just periodically. Set up regular reporting and analysis routines to ensure you stay on top of your performance.
  • Be Patient: It may take time for adjustments to yield significant results. Be patient and give your strategy time to work while making iterative changes based on ongoing data.
  • Seek Feedback: Listen to your audience. If you have a loyal following, they can provide valuable feedback on what they’d like to see more of or less of in your content.


The key takeaways

Social media marketing is a powerful tool that we as entrepreneurs, small business owners and creators can all take advantage of.

It allows us to build our brands, engage with our audience and achieve our business goals but without a clear strategy you might not be reaching your potential.

Here are some key takeaways to remember:

  • Authenticity matters on social media, being genuine and transparent can help build trust with your audience.
  • Focus on your audience and providing value, rather than directly promoting your business.
  • Social media is a dynamic and ever-evolving field. You need to be open to new strategies while keeping up-to-date about new features, trends and best practices.
  • Dig into the data regularly to measure your performance, from there you can refine your strategy to suit your specific business and audience.
  • Staying consistent and patient is crucial, don’t get discouraged ass building a strong presence takes time.

Good luck with your social media journey!

Other guides you might like:

Join over 1,000 creators and small biz owners and be part of The Roundup

Ready to build your website, grow your audience and monetise your platforms? Receive the latest WordPress news, social media updates, SEO tips and industry insights straight to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll receive our fortnightly newsletter and free resources. No spam or unnecessary emails. You can unsubscribe at any time.