Unit 301 – Principles of Social Media within a Business

Aim of this unit

This unit is about the fundamentals of social media within a business and how you can use it as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Section One

1. Understand how Social Media fits into the objectives and marketing of a business

Social media plays a part in achieving the goals and objectives of a business in order to connect and deliver value to its intended target audiences. The use of social media within your marketing allows you to reach out to your target audiences and engage with them in a way that is conducive to building a community of followers for your brand.

1.1 Describe a business and its type, vision, aims, objectives and goals

Every business can be broken down into certain classifications. Whether it is a sole trader, partnership or charity, a business must have a structure in order to be managed correctly and held accountable for the necessary taxes it will incur.

Nearly every business has a vision of what it wishes to achieve in the eyes of its target audience. Maybe it wishes to be the best or most well known or simply it wants to gain recognition for the way it runs its organisation. Ultimately, the vision should reflect what it is striving to achieve for its customers and the value it conveys to them.

The difference between an aim, objective or goal is that you wish to achieve your vision and this is your main goal. You might have several goals, but each one requires planning and strategy to achieve them. Therefore, to achieve any goal you need to set milestones to get there. These are the objectives that when summed up accumulate to the desired goal.

An aim is a way you deploy your time, money, energy, people and any other resources to achieve the objectives.

For example, if we wish to place a man on Mars, this will be the goal. It might take one year or 400 years. However, the goal never changes. To achieve this we need to meet certain objectives of safety, efficiency and the sound knowledge of having tried and failed, that it will become possible. By analysing each objective we can only aim to achieve each baby step to fulfil the overall goal.

Mission to Mars to meet the aims, objectives and goals set out when the vision was decided
Mission to Mars to meet the aims, objectives and goals set out when the vision was decided

Therefore, the goal is to get a man on Mars. Two of the objectives would be to create a series of unmanned test flights to ensure the safety of the rocket’s work and the next objective would be to ensure it can be undertaken as safely as possible. Two aims would be to implement new technologies to minimise the risks and increase the chances of success. To do this one of the aims would be to employ the smartest people possible.

1.2 Identify the brand and values of a business and how these are portrayed to the audience of a business

How can companies today differentiate themselves, make an impact, and gain a devoted following in the face of greater competition than ever before, shifting consumer purchasing patterns, and a number of brands experiencing identity crises?

Every business that is formed should strive to set about creating a brand. Something that stands for something. Something that is recognisable within a crowded marketplace. Think of the likes of Apple, Nike, Microsoft, and Starbucks. All well-known brands have worked hard to create an experience that is memorable and distinguishes them apart from others within their space.

The values that these brands develop over time speak to their intended audience and denote what they represent. The police stand for ‘protect and serve’, Mcdonalds’ stands for a ‘better dining experience’, and Tesco conveys a value of helping everyone which is reinforced with their strapline ‘every little helps’.

Core business values that help shape and define a brand
Core business values that help shape and define a brand

Knowing who your audiences are and what your company does should help you decide what values you wish to be known for. Sometimes you can plant the seed to inform and educate your audience and other times it takes on a life of its own.

Only time really informs us whether a company is living up to its values or not.

For example, are they known for advanced technology like NASA, environmental awareness like Tesla, or having a social consciousness such as the WHO – world health organisation?

Ultimately, you never communicate to just one audience. A business has multiple audiences from customers to suppliers, stakeholders to management, and even partners to retailers. Each one of these will have a different take on the values of the business and what they mean to them.

1.3 Describe the marketing tools available to a business

A business has hundreds of marketing tools available to them. More importantly, deciding on which ones to use to connect and engage with your target audience is the key. Whether you use traditional marketing methods or digital or a combination, it doesn’t really matter as these can and will shift over time.

Currently, video channels are strong in the market, as well as blogs and forums. These can and will change depending on the type of business you run and the resource available to you too.

Some examples include:

  • Web conferencing – Zoom, Skye, Teams, Google Meet, etc.
  • Conferences and exhibitions
  • Surveys and polls
  • Telemarketing
  • Canvassing
  • Television and radio
  • Periodicals and newspapers
  • Emails and texts
  • Video and streaming channels
  • Social media tools and channels
  • Websites and forums

1.4 Explain the consequences of using Social Media on the budget of different sizes and types of business

Businesses of varying sizes have the ability to manage their social media with the people and resources available at their disposal. The consequences that can affect small companies can come in the form of a lack of people to manage the social media full time and maybe even a lack of funds to support the tools and channels needed to be more visible within your chosen marketplace.

Even larger companies can struggle with social media as some of the consequences they could suffer from include:

  • a less focused marketing message
  • fragmented management across multiple brands
  • more leverage in brand equity

1.5 Explain the benefits and consequences of encouraging amplification

The term “amplification” refers to increasing engagement with your online content. It will appear on social media as a sharing of a business’s content, increasing exposure.

Benefits

  • One of the most important advantages of encouraging amplification is that it allows your company to reach a larger audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and, as a result, the likelihood of website traffic, conversion, and sales.
  • Another advantage is that a larger target audience means more visibility and trust for your brand, as well as more opportunities to engage with the target audience to understand their wants and needs.

Consequences

  • As a result of encouraging amplification in a business, there may be instances of negative and incorrect messages being shared, which are harmful to the brand. Unprofessional behaviour by employees or associates, whether on their personal or business accounts, may also cast a negative light on the company.
  • Because the internet is so fast-moving, an increase in amplification may also be problematic. Without an adequate crisis management plan, a situation may quickly become out of control and unmanageable for the business.

There are many examples of this every day with celebrities being criticised for not having done something properly and a follow PR piece needs to redress the balance. Consider those that jumped the queue at the Queen’s funeral.

The Daily Mail

1.6 Explain the benefits and consequences of encouraging engagement

The term “engagement” refers to the number of shares, likes, and comments received by an online business’s social media efforts.

Benefits

  • Increased engagement allows a business to build relationships with customers and the target audience, resulting in increased trust and reputability in business-to-customer relationships.
  • Another advantage of engagement is that it demonstrates the quality of your content by attracting the target audience and providing an opportunity for feedback. When customers interact with a company’s social media, it provides a simple platform for communication and customer service.

Consequences

  • The effects of engagement are similar to the effects of amplification. Staff may misuse social media platforms in their personal or professional accounts, resulting in negative attention for the company.
  • Increased engagement and traffic may be too much for the business to handle, resulting in a poor customer experience, poor reviews, and a bad reputation.

1.7 Explain the factors to consider when identifying a Social Media plan for a business

A business’s social media strategy must be aimed at a specific audience, which could be internal or external, and could include customers, consumers, influencers, suppliers, and partners. This is so you’ll know which social media tools and channels to use to reach out to them and engage with them.

The business’s goals must be outlined in order to understand why you need a social media plan and how you intend to achieve them.

The business’s resources must be considered so that you have the time and money to train relevant staff and deal with any influx of sales or interest from the target audience.

You should also put in place a crisis management plan to ensure that the company can respond appropriately to negative media attention and save face for its name and brand if there are negative comments or interactions about the company.

Finally, the social media strategy must include a measurement component. So that it is clear whether the social media strategy is working and whether the business is meeting its objectives. To accomplish this, the company can use Google Analytics or use third-party software applications to monitor and listen to social engagement.

1.8 Explain how Social Media could fit into the marketing plan of a business

As an additional marketing channel, social media can fit into a company’s marketing plans to provide a more robust form of communication. It is another way for the company to engage their target audiences and represent itself on multiple platforms.

Social media marketing is a low-cost form of marketing that allows businesses to easily and consistently present their values and brand to their target audiences.

Every business is a media company
Every business is a media company

Social media can be used to:

  • Build brand awareness – encourage and inspire individuals to purchase products or services.
  • Listen – use social media tools such as hashtag analysis to identify gaps in their marketing plan.
  • Add value – provides tips and advice relating to the most common questions asked.
  • Improve customer service – encourage customers and consumers to provide feedback on the products or services provided in order to meet their wants and needs in accordance with the tone and manner set by the brand.

Realising that every company should treat itself as a media company is the best approach. When you look at it through these eyes you come to realise how you need to manage your communication. Both consistently over time and in quantity across channels and marketing messages.

Young people using social media and many channels to communicate
Young people using social media and many channels to communicate

Section Two

2. Understand how to select Social Media tools and channels for a business

Knowing which social media tools and channels to select for your business will depend on the size of your company and your priorities.

For example, YouTube is a channel in which the reader can digest information or entertainment through the form of video. The tools needed to create the video can include Da Vinci Resolve, Adobe Lightroom, Sony Vegas or even the software on your smartphone/

2.1 Describe the different tools and channels that can be used for Social Media

To begin with, there are two kinds of social media: traditional and digital.

Traditional social media tools and channels

  • Print and periodicals
  • Newspapers
  • Television
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Exhibitions
  • Workshops

Digital social media tools and channels

  • Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest
  • Email marketing, such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Aweber
  • Newsletters
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Podcasts
  • Videos

Digital social media is far better as it allows for personalisation and therefore, a deeper conversation that speaks directly to an individual rather than a group.

With more choices and cheaper options to connect to your target audiences, digital social media channels and tools are preferred over traditional ones.

Multiple traditional and digital social media tools and channels
Multiple traditional and digital social media tools and channels

2.2 Describe the features and benefits of the different tools and channels that can be used for Social Media

The different tools and channels that can be used for social media, such as your website, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin, etc, have many features and benefits which allow users and creators to share ideas and stories to inform and educate all those that engage.

Likewise, building up your social media presence and the credibility of your brand will afford your audience a place to learn about you and your business.

Typical features include:

  • Create posts
  • Like and share posts
  • Comment on posts
  • Upload images, slides and videos

Typical benefits include:

The benefits of using these tools and channels for social media are that they allow you to have more communication. Tools and channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, provide an outlet for multiple communications within your audience, allowing people to post things, share your work and become involved in your content, starting a conversation through all of these actions on your tools/channels.

Because of their large demographic, social networking sites are effective channels for social media advertising. Facebook, for example, has over 1.3 billion users, while Instagram has around 200 million.

This is a large demographic with a diverse range of audiences; it is a simple way to reach a large demographic of the target audience.

These social networking platforms are also designed to generate content, which lends itself to audience engagement, and they are fast-moving, allowing for the amplification of a business’s content, and increasing brand awareness and trust.

Not only that, but the informal conversational style of social networking sites allows for good customer service and personalisation of your brand’s marketing message.

On social media, a variety of marketing tools can be used.

For example,

  • Blogs are beneficial to a company’s SEO campaign and in creating quality content for their target audience.
  • Videos provide a rich form of content and an engaging customer experience.
  • Podcasts are new and trendy, and they can be used to showcase a company’s brand and voice.
  • Photos are an easy way to engage with your target audience and are easy to share on social networking sites and websites alike.

2.3 Identify the potential type of audience for each different tool and channel that can be used for Social Media

The first step is to establish who your audiences are and secondly, where to communicate with them. Having a better understanding of each of the channels and tools available to you will allow you to determine which ones to use when you factor in the limitations of resources such as personnel and budget.

Facebook is an informal, conversational social networking site which is great for building brand loyalty and forging and maintaining business-to-customer relationships. This is a good platform to engage with an audience between the age of 25 – 54 (on average).

LinkedIn – ideally suited to business-to-business customers who wish to expand sales and leads to their business whilst promoting their brand. Aimed more for the professional rather than casual social media user.

Email marketing would be applicable to potential customers, consumers, partners and suppliers. It is a more formal and professional tool which suggests you also have contact with the other party, as you have access to personal details.

Mobile social media is a useful tool for a large demographic. Anyone who has a smartphone is in the target audience here, as they have access to the business’s social media and website.

2.4 Explain the issues to consider when selecting different tools and channels for Social Media

It is important to consider factors such as identifying who your audience is and what exactly works for them when selecting the tools or channels you use to engage with them on social media. The factors to consider will change based on who you are trying to reach.

For example, if we want to engage with a particular business, we need to consider factors such as how our corporate image is presented when selecting which channel we use. For a business, it would be best to use LinkedIn as a tool as this is where we share most of our business-related information and maintain quite a corporate image.

You must ensure that you have the budget and resources to support all of the methods you employ, as well as the increased attention they may generate.

Social networking

When using social media, a business needs a crisis plan because things move quickly and you need to be ahead of the curve to manage any problems. You will need staff training as well as a budget to manage this. You must also ensure that policies and guidelines are clearly implemented so that employees understand the expectations for personal and business accounts.

Website

Understanding how to implement an SEO strategy in order to gain traffic and results is required. Otherwise, having a website serves little purpose.

2.5 Evaluate different tools and channels for Social Media for business use

Understanding who your audience is and how to target those individuals is essential in order to choose which tools and channels to use on social media for your business.

Social networking

Social networking sites can help you build a large following. A company can easily create content that will generate engagement and amplification. It is a good way for your brand to be seen and understood, and the informal and conversational platform allows for the formation and maintenance of business-to-customer relationships, as well as the creation of trust in the brand.

You must, however, ensure that you have a good crisis plan in place and that your employees are aware of the guidelines and policies in place regarding behaviour on personal and business accounts. There is an opportunity for amplification; however, the company must ensure that it has the resources to deal with the increased demand that may result.

Blogging

Blogging is an effective way to generate relevant and engaging content for your target market. It also enables you to generate relevant data that will aid in the implementation of the SEO strategy. It enables business-led branding and consistently high-quality content that informs the target audience about the company’s values and goals.

The business, on the other hand, must ensure that it has the resources to commit to creating personal content; the key here is to create consistent content that is relevant to the business and engaging to the target audience.

Section Three

3. Understand how to measure the success of using social media tools and channels

In order to manage the success of your social media, you need to set KPIs – key performance indicators which over time afford you insight into the performance of your social media marketing campaigns and how effective they are. Using selected tools and channels can help you gather this data and continue to provide the necessary insight.

Measuring social media to ensure it adds value and engages with your target audiences
Measuring social media to ensure it adds value and engages with your target audiences

3.1 Explain the importance of measuring the outcomes of using different Social Media tools and channels

It is important to use a number of different social media tools to measure your outcomes because this allows you to track your results via multiple channels, therefore giving more validity to your data.

Check out statistical confidence to learn more about acquiring credible data.

Tracking your social channels using multiple tools, such as Google Analytics, Search Console, Meta Business Suite (Facebook), Instagram Business Suite and LinkedIn Insights, will provide more statistical certainty as those results are being reported across a number of tracking systems and are therefore more reliable.

This allows you to see what is working and what isn’t across your social media more clearly and therefore implement those necessary changes in order to reach your end target.

There are numerous tools available to measure the outcomes of using social media tools and channels, such as Semrush and Google Analytics, or you can do it manually.

3.2 Explain why SMARTER targets should be set for different Social Media tools and channels

SMARTER stands for – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely, Evaluate, Re-evaluate.

Different SMARTER targets should be set for different tools and channels because different tools and channels have different aims.

For example, Facebook as a social networking platform, moves very quickly and so the goals may be over a short period of time in order to realistically monitor it and tweak to improve your overall campaigns.

Facebook might have specific goals for engagement, however, a social media tool such as a blog may have an aim of increasing website traffic and website credibility.

For example,

Write 20 posts this month with a presumed word count of 40,000 across three categories from researched topics and document it within a shared profile such as Google Drive for all the content writing team and the SEO manager. Review at the end of the month and each quarter to ascertain engagement value and any monetary conversions.

3.3 Describe the methods a business can use to measure and identify the success of different Social Media tools and channels

There is a multitude of tools for measuring and identifying the success of social media tools and channels. Ranging from free to paid, they can measure every element of your engagement online and provide insight to make informed decisions in regard to recommendations within your marketing plan.

From website traffic, user retention, activity over time, keywords won or lost and conversions.

Some examples:

Google Analytics can be used to measure how your audience interacts with the website. How long they stay on a page, what channel they arrived from, what pages they clicked through, etc.

Search Console can be used to ascertain the health of your website to make it search engine friendly and ensure that any content you create is indexed correctly. It also informs and educates about the various queries that you rank for and where the shift is.

WordPress can have a plugin installed to inform and educate you on anything from the word count of the content, to sales through WooCommerce and general analytics similar to Google Analytics.

Semrush is a dedicated third-party paid-for SaaS application that monitors your website and that of your competitors and allows you to see the visibility of your website on the internet in a very granular view through a huge range of metrics and analytics.

Instagram has an option for ‘Insights’ where you can measure a success of an image/post. You can also measure by looking at the engagement, i.e. number of increased followers, number of likes and number of comments.

Facebook gives detailed information in their Insights on how a post has performed, it can show how many people the post has reached, how many impressions it has, and it can also tell you about the demographics of the users.

Likewise, Google and multiple software have a range of tools which can measure the success of Youtube videos, domain authority, email success, social media engagement and so on. You can also look at the number of views and comments to give you an indication of the return on investment.

3.4 Describe what success could look like when using different Social Media tools and channels for different types and sizes of business

Success rate generally will depend on the type and size of business – e.g. smaller businesses will be more limited in terms of the resources that they have and can use in terms of their social media tools and channels. Therefore, their success rate is less likely to be as high and large-scale as an international multi-location business.

For example,

  • A small business owner’s success might look like increased leads or sales.
  • Success for a medium-small enterprise might be increased engagement and brand awareness.
  • Success for a large international corporation might be a change in perception and increased market share.

Section Four

4. Understand how social media policy and guidelines can impact a business

These can impact a business due to their bearing on how social media is carried out within the business and to its intended audiences. Observing these guidelines can ensure both the tone of voice and legal status of your social media are managed.

4.1 Describe the components of a business’s social media policy and guidelines

Social media policies and guidelines will define what is expected of employees in their business and personal accounts, including how to use social media tools and channels online. The policy will also include information about online privacy and data transparency.

This was updated in May 2018 with the General Data Protection Regulation Act – GDPR.

General Data Protection Regulation GDPR Concept Illustration - 25 May 2018
General Data Protection Regulation GDPR Concept Illustration – 25 May 2018

Other areas that social media policies and guidelines need to cover include:

  • Staff training requirements, to ensure content consistency in the event of absenteeism.
  • Crisis and reputation management when the marketing message is not on point.
  • How to handle complaints and dissatisfied customers.

4.2 Explain the importance of having a social media policy and guidelines

Businesses should have a Social Media Policy and Guidelines to protect their reputation. It also can ensure that any messages posted on social media on behalf of the company are kept in line with branding guidelines across the company.

The ‘tone’/style of writing and communication can be retained and is consistent across all platforms and marketing activities.

Social media policies and guidelines ensure a streamlined and dependable online presence for the company. It enables staff to follow a clear and manageable plan, and it allows the brand and values to be reflected in the tone and manner of the content on Social Media.

It should contain examples of what you can and cannot say in order to manage your marketing message effectively.

Managing your brand reputation to ensure your social media communicates the right message to the right audience
Managing your brand reputation to ensure your social media communicates the right message to the right audience

4.3 Explain the importance of having a reputation management policy

A reputation management policy informs you of the procedures in place to correct a decline or rise in reputation.

It means that employees understand expected behaviour and tone, which reflects the company’s brand and values, and it ensures that employees know what to do in the event of negative feedback, etc.

However, when things do go bad, having a digital crisis management plan will help you manage your social media through this difficult period by helping you lean towards the positive and reinforce the positive with the strengths of your brand journey to date.

Knowing your core values will serve you well through your social media interaction
Knowing your core values will serve you well through your social media interaction

4.4 Describe the benefits of managing perception changes in a business’s reputation

All businesses have a reputation and how these are perceived by the general public/audiences can determine a business’s sales and penetration of its market.

Different perceptions and how people perceive you can massively improve or falter a brand. Therefore, perception management shifts the perception to add more value and make your business look better if you focus on the positives.

Managing perception changes in a company’s reputation is beneficial because it enables the company to rebrand or change previously negative perceptions.

McDonalds, for example, was known for producing unhealthy food, but the company’s marketing is now focused on sustainable farming and sourcing local, British meat. The company manages perception by directing it toward positive aspects of the brand.

Volkswagon tarnished its reputation in 2015 with the emissions scandal and lost both market share and brought about the decline of diesel vehicles. Now working in partnership with supermarkets it is increasing its green credentials to be seen as a leader in electric and hybrid vehicles to regain its market position.

4.5 Describe how to manage perception changes in a business’s reputation

The company should have a business reputation management policy in place, which should include the expected steps. To understand dissatisfaction and manage perception changes in a company’s reputation, engage in dialogue with the target audience.

The use of reviews, case studies, and feedback via polls and surveys, whilst increasing its positive marketing message via social media channels can all aid in shifting perception and aligning with audiences’ expectations.

Once you understand perception, you can change how and what you want. Managing reputation changes may entail changing the language used in marketing or rebranding. Whichever method is chosen it is the desire to change ‘hearts and minds’ to achieve a better position within your market.

Staff training would be necessary for this, as it is critical that employees understand how to react and adjust their marketing strategies. This could be the result of a change in the reputation management policy itself.

Section Five

5. Be able to monitor how a business is using Social Media

In order to know that your social media is connecting with your target audience, you need to choose a tool designed to record and collect this data. Thereby allowing you to see the bigger picture and make informed decisions.

Monitoring social media to respond to the shift in a positive manner
Monitoring social media to respond to the shift in a positive manner

At this point, you need to monitor a competitor’s social media for one week in order to ascertain what they are doing; who they are talking to; what their marketing messages are; what engagement they get and whether they respond to it or not.

5.1 Explain the importance of knowing how similar businesses or industries are using Social Media

Understanding how similar businesses use social media allows you to evaluate their social media campaigns and determine what works and what does not.

Careful monitoring of at least one competitor’s social media for one week will allow you to gain a sense of their tone of voice and the manner in which they engage with their target audiences.

Through analysis and insight, you can evaluate engagement and amplification to understand how to adapt your own social media strategy in order for it to be better.

Like most forms of marketing, you need to be aware of trends and changes within the marketplace and where better than to keep an eye on your competitors.

Check out how to undertake a SWOT analysis for your social media.

5.2 Explain how to monitor the ways similar businesses or industries are using Social Media

A business can be monitored in two ways. The simplest approach would be to use a tool like Semrush or Google Analytics to collect and compare data for you over time.

This is fine in the short term, but doesn’t really tell a story and should only be used to gain a ‘helicopter’ view of what a competitor or competitors are doing within the market.

Another option is to manually go through the other company’s social media pages, noting strategy and engagement. This should be done gradually over time. The longer the period of monitoring, the more reliable the results.

Looking at the methods that other companies use to engage with their target audiences:

  • Posts
  • Reels or slides
  • Stories
  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Videos
  • Polls and surveys
  • Images

5.3 Monitor how a business is using Social Media

Keeping track of your known competitors allows you to better understand how they are engaging with their audiences and building community.

Observing their key messages and the tone of voice used, along with the various types of content created will give you a better understanding of how to structure your own social media marketing plan.

Part of monitoring your social media is having the ability to see how you compare against your competitors and make informed decisions to propel your brand forward. This would involve looking at what you do similar or the same as your competitor as well as what you do different or better.

Looking at this over a period of time allows you to see where you can excel in your brand past that of your competitors and find your own unique voice through social media.

5.4 Identify improvements to a business’s use of Social Media

Over time you will see how some competitors gain a distinct advantage within your marketplace. From this, you can make deductions on how they have achieved it and create a list of recommendations to implement in order to mirror and better their success.

This can range from observations across some of the following:

  • tone of voice
  • frequency of posting
  • quality of what is being offered within each post
  • use of imagery to reflect the brand
  • strong key messages that reinforce your brand
  • tailored communications to speak to various audiences