Social media marketing evolved from something only a few cutting-edge brands did to an integral piece of every company’s marketing strategy. It’s no longer a question of whether or not your brand should be on social media, but how can you best use sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to grow your business.

Choosing Your Social Networks

If social media marketing hasn’t been working for you, the problem could be you’re focusing on the wrong channels. Set your strategy up for success right out the gate by choosing the best social networks for your brand.

The first mistake many brands make is believing they need to be everywhere. Covering as much ground as possible seems like a good idea, but the reality is you’ll likely end up spreading yourself too thin. A better approach is to set your eyes on two or three main social networks, and commit to growing those profiles as much as possible.

Before you get started, take our quiz below, to find the network best fit for your brand based on demographic data and the type of content you’d share.

You want to make sure you can provide value to each network your join. Signing up for the next hot social network just to have an account is almost useless. Choose social media platforms where you can actively participate and consistently create content.

Once you’ve narrowed down your focus networks, click any of the tabs below to find out how to be successful.


Twitter is one of the first social networks businesses start with. It's simple to setup, has a large audience and is more developed than newer platforms.

Possibly the biggest challenge companies face with Twitter is figuring out a way to stand out on such a noisy network. Thousands of Tweets are sent out every second, so capturing the attention of your followers can be difficult.

How Social Media Marketers Use Twitter

Twitter is an amazing resource for content discovery. When people want to know what’s going on in the world or search for content on a particular topic, they go to Twitter. As a result, one of Twitter’s main uses for marketers is curation. Twitter makes it easy to share content with the masses, which makes it perfect for marketers.

The other way businesses and social media marketers use Twitter is for communication. Twitter succeeded because it connects consumers with their favorite brands. Instead of sending out thousands of paper surveys or forcing customers to complete online forms, you can head to Twitter to see how customers feel about your brand. It's the top network for social customer service because users can communicate in real time.

Quick Twitter Stats

What to Share

You can Tweet your blog posts, articles from around the web, industry news and more. The key is to share content that’s valuable to your audience. You can also share content that promotes your business, but do it sparingly.

If you're lost on what to share, take a look at your competitors. What type of content do they share? Use that as a starting point to build your own strategy. Also keep in mind a majority of your Tweets should be conversational rather than broadcasts. The most effective way to grow your Twitter account is to engage with others.

Keys to Success

Be Consistent

Since Twitter moves quickly, you need to Tweet consistently or your followers will forget about you. Most of your followers won’t see your Tweets when you first share them. This means you need to Tweet multiple times throughout the day to increase your visibility. Avoid long periods of inactivity so your profile looks up to date at all times.

Get Visual

According to Twitter, including photos in your Tweets can boost Retweets by 35%. Adding videos can increase them by 28%. In addition to using visuals directly in your Tweets, it’s a good idea to setup Twitter cards on your site as well. Whenever you share a link to your blog post, a featured image will be included in the Tweet to make it stand out.

Plan Ahead

Use your social media dashboard to schedule Tweets ahead of time. This will allow you to Tweet outside of regular business hours and keep your timeline active throughout the day. If your brand is new to Twitter, you can’t afford to go days without Tweeting because you forgot. When you’re building your initial following, being active gives people a chance to build familiarity with you.


Twitter is all about communication. Reply, like and Retweet other people as often as possible. Engaging will put you on users' radar who otherwise wouldn't have any idea who you are. Whenever you like, mention, Retweet or reply to someone, they receive a notification. They’ll see your Twitter handle in the notification and hopefully click through to view your profile.

Have Personality

Nobody wants to follow dull accounts. Even if you’re Tweeting on behalf of your company, it should still feel human. Entertaining Tweets entice people to keep following you. In addition to being famous, many celebrities engage on Twitter successfully because they’re entertaining. You don’t have to go on rants like Kanye West, but infusing your personality into your Tweets can go a long way.

Be Present

We hate to bring up Twitter’s fast pace again, but it’s a reality. You need to be up to date on what’s happening in Twitter world such as trending topics and popular hashtags. Spend time each day looking through what’s trending topics and think of ways to join conversations even if they aren’t completely related to your industry.


Growing your Twitter audience revolves around your ability to engage and share great content. There are no tricks or gimmicks, but these tactics will get you on the right track:

Optimize Your Profile

The purpose of your profile is to showcase what your business is all about. It could be the first time someone sees your brand on Twitter, so you want to make a lasting impression. Fill out your profile completely including an enticing bio that tells people what your business does.

How Twitter Profiles Can Support Your Marketing Initiative

Follow Influencers

When you first sign up for Twitter, you’ll get a list of suggested people to follow. Most of these accounts are celebrities or not specific to your industry. Instead of limiting yourself to these, look up influencers within your industry and follow them. Engage with users on this list at least once a day.

How to Identify Your Social Media Influencers

Join Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are organized group conversations where a host asks a series of questions to participants. Twitter chats are a great way to network with new people because everyone is there to engage. You can also stand out by hosting your own Twitter chat. Find two or three active Twitter chats and participate in them this week.

The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Chats

Twitter Ads

Since Twitter can be a little noisy, it’s easy for your Tweets to get overlooked. Twitter Ads let you promote your Tweets so they’re seen by more people than you can reach organically. If you have the budget, create your first Twitter Ad and run it for at least one week.

A Beginner's Guide to Twitter Advertising

Get Shoutouts

A good way to grow your Twitter audience is through mentions from other accounts. You can get mentions by building relationships and networking, as well as guest blogging on other sites. When the host site shares your guest post, they may mention your Twitter handle, which gives you great exposure. Find blogs within your industry with an active Twitter following, reach out to them and try to land at least one guest post for the month.

How to Find the Best Places to Guest Blog

Use Hashtags

Hashtags make it easier for people to discover your Tweets when searching for specific topics or keywords. Make a list of the top 5-10 hashtags in your industry and schedule at least two Tweets a day that incorporate them. Limit yourself to one hashtag per Tweet.

How to Find the Best Twitter Hashtags

Metrics to Track


The number of times your Tweet appeared in a user’s search or feed.

Profile Visits

The number of people who have visited your profile.


The number of times you have been tagged (@username) by other users.

Tweets Linking to You

The number of Tweets attributed to you in Tweets that include a URL.

Engagement Rate

Your Tweet’s engagement (link clicks, Retweets, likes and replies) divided by the number of impressions.

Referral traffic

The number of visitors your website receives from Twitter. You can track this in Google Analytics.

Advertising on Twitter

Twitter Ads allow brands to reach a wider audience than they can reach organically. Instead of fighting to get your message seen, you have the ability to choose the audience you want your sponsored Tweets to be displayed to. But if you're not careful, your campaigns can quickly become a money pit. Follow these tips to run a successful campaign on Twitter Ads:

  • Decide on a goal: Do you want to get more followers, drive traffic or generate leads? Your goals will determine what type of ads you run on Twitter.
  • Use a proven Tweet: Why start from scratch? If you have a recent Tweet that picked up some traction, put it in front of even more people with a promoted Tweet campaign.
  • Pick the perfect audience: The more targeted your audience is, the better your ads will perform. Instead of trying to select the largest audience possible, filter down to users most likely to resonate with your ad.
  • Test: One ad isn't enough to determine whether or not Twitter Ads is working. You need to experiment and test different variations of your ad creatives. Adjust the copy, image and audience to find the sweet spot.

Brands to Learn From

  • Responds to customer issues quickly.
  • Created a customer commitment team to handle support issues on Twitter.
  • Increased its followers from 500,000 to over 1 million in three months. (source)
  • Includes eye-catching images in its Tweets.
  • Launched #AskOrbitz Twitter Chat to engage with followers.
  • Started a friendly Twitter feud with rival Priceline that earned massive media attention. (source)
  • Uses an authentic and conversational tone in its Tweets.
  • Understands its audience on Twitter and caters its content to them.
  • Captured the attention of millennials on Twitter with its #watchthestove mixtape campaign. (source)


Facebook is the largest social network, so it makes sense that over 50 million businesses have signed up. Most brands made the initial step of setting up an account, but with shrinking organic reach and a tricky algorithm, many are fighting to stand out and make Facebook work for them.

How Social Media Marketers Use Facebook

The way businesses use Facebook has changed over the years as new features have been released. Aside from sharing articles, Facebook is great for lead generation through ads and video marketing.

Community building is also an important aspect of social media marketing. Facebook Groups are a great way to get started with this. You can make interest groups for your industry, or brand specific groups like our #SproutChat Facebook group.

Remember that it's critical to know how your audience uses Facebook. Most people use it as a way to interact with friends and family. A lot of interesting and entertaining content is shared on Facebook as a result. Creating Facebook-specific content is a great way to improve your chances of success.

Quick Stats

What to Share

Due to Facebook's algorithm, it's difficult to get a lot of organic engagement from simply posting to your timeline. To expand your reach, you need to get other people to share your post with their friends as well.

To do this, the posts you share on Facebook should be "viral" in nature. For instance, list posts, DIY tips and how-to articles tend to perform well. These types of posts usually entice people to share because it's entertaining and engaging. When you're coming up with content ideas for your blog, think of topics you would share on your personal Facebook page and incorporate them into your schedule.

Keys to Success

Add Images

Image posts get 179% more interactions than the average Facebook post. Although Facebook wasn't built on visuals like Instagram or Snapchat, it has become an important part of the network.

Monitor Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights gives you valuable data about who your audience is, what content they're engaging with and how your page is performing.

Facebook Video

Facebook video has exploded recently. Users have watched over 100 million hours of video on Facebook. Videos even outperform photos on the social network. Videos also have 135% greater organic reach than photos. If you want to capture the attention of Facebook users, start using videos.

Don't Be Afraid to Pay

Everyone knows Facebook's organic reach is down. Many of the companies that have had continued success are using Facebook Ads to improve their reach. Facebook Ads are a great option because you get in-depth targeting and the cost is affordable for most businesses.


Tag People & Brands

This is a quick tactic most brands completely overlook because it's not as common as Twitter's mention feature. However, you can tag people and pages on Facebook. They'll receive a notification and may come and engage on your post. Choose a week to share blog posts from 5-10 sites in your niche industry with a Facebook presence. Tag their Facebook page in your status update by typing @ and the page's username on Facebook. You can also tag Facebook Groups or individuals.

9 Facebook Hacks to Grow Your Audience

Comment on Other Pages

Who says you can only post to your own page? Facebook allows brands to comment and reply on other posts, which is an awesome way to engage and spread awareness for your company. Find pages in your industry that post regularly and comment on at least one post every day. Instead of leaving generic comments like "cool," take a couple of minutes to write a genuine comment that adds to the conversation.

Your Go-To-Guide for Facebook Marketing

Target Organic Posts

Most marketers are aware of Facebook's great ad targeting, but did you know you can also target your organic posts as well? Sprout Social lets you target who your posts are displayed to based on:

  • Interests
  • gender
  • Relationship status
  • Educational status
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Resources

Narrowing your audience allows you to share content that's filtered down to your target demographic.

Your Guide to Social Media Targeting Via Sprout

Use Your CTA Button

In 2014 Facebook unveiled a new call-to-action button for businesses. The button appears on your timeline and you can choose from seven different messages such as "Contact Us" or "Sign Up." Unfortunately there are several businesses that haven't taken advantage of this feature yet. If you're one of them, add a Facebook CTA button to your page.

Call to Action Phrases That Convert

Metrics to Track

Post Reach

The number of unique people that have seen your page's posts.


The number of people who have liked, commented, shared or clicked your posts.


The number of times posts from your page are displayed, regardless of whether or not they were clicked.


The number of people who have unliked your page.

Organic Likes

The number of Likes your page has received that are not a result of paid campaigns.

Average % Completion

The portion of a video viewed in an average watch session.

Advertising on Facebook

Facebook has the most robust advertising platform of any social network. It offers advanced targeting, retargeting, custom audience building and much more. The affordable prices make it perfect for companies of any size from small businesses to agencies or enterprise. Improve your chances of success with these tips for Facebook Ads.

  • Split test: Facebook Ads makes it easy to create duplicates of your existing ad creatives and edit the headline, copy or image. You can group similar ads together and compare the stats for each variation.
  • Choose your image carefully: The image you use in your ad is arguably the most important part. It needs to catch the eye of people browsing Facebook who can sometimes be blind to ads and banners. Avoid using colors like blue, grey and black because they can blend in with Facebook's brand colors.
  • Retarget: If you want to dramatically increase the click-through rate of your ads, start retargeting. Retargeting uses a tracking pixel to allow you to display ads to people that have visited your website in the past. Since these visitors are more familiar with your brand, they are 70% more likely to convert with you.
  • Analyze: In addition to analyzing which ads perform better, dig deeper and look into which device types convert the best and which demographics have the most success. Use the data to adjust the target audience for your current and future campaigns. Having a more targeted audience will improve your CTR and ultimately drive down your costs.

Brands to Learn From

  • Highlights its T-Shirt designers by featuring their designs on its Facebook cover.
  • Uses images and videos to keep the page visually appealing.
  • Grows its Facebook page by encouraging designers to promote their own designs to their friends. (source)
  • Uses Facebook video to creatively showcase its product.
  • Its feed is filled with bright and colorful images and video thumbnails that capture your attention.
  • Ran a Facebook Ad campaign that reached 30% of Germany’s online population and outperformed its own TV campaign. (source)
  • Posts consistently.
  • Uses eye-catching photos in the feed.
  • Increased Facebook clicks 8.5 times with a boosted post campaign. (source)


LinkedIn is known as the social network for business. If you're in the B2B space, LinkedIn is a must. However, even B2C companies can get value from LinkedIn depending on your target audience. Since LinkedIn's audience and purpose is fairly different from most social networks, the way businesses approach it needs to be different as well.

How Social Media Marketers Use LinkedIn

The way you use LinkedIn will depend on your goals. For instance, many companies use it purely for sales, while others rely on it for social recruiting or content curation. LinkedIn is a powerful lead generation platform, especially if you're implementing paid ads.

Other companies use it as a branding platform. With LinkedIn groups and Pulse, brands have a great opportunity to showcase executives and team members as thought leaders and authorities in their industry.

Quick Stats

What to Share

Since the audience on LinkedIn sways toward professionals, the content you share should match. Generally people are on LinkedIn like to see industry related articles, job opportunities or content related to their own groups. The content you share will depend on your goals and how you plan to use LinkedIn. The more industry-specific you can get, the better.

Here are some examples of the type of content you should post on LinkedIn depending on your goals:

  • Sales: If your goal is to get leads and sales, your content will primarily be industry articles. Curate quality content to share on your feed.
  • PR & recruitment: PR and recruitment content is often related. They both have to do with highlighting your company's culture and achievements. This content should should consist of company news, behind the scenes peeks of your company and other content that shows your brand in a positive light.
  • Groups: The content you post in your groups should be specific to that audience, not necessarily your industry. For instance if you're a payroll software company in a group for human resource professionals, the content you share should relate to HR topics beyond payroll software.
  • Pulse: If you're posting on LinkedIn Pulse, it's typically to build thought leadership and showcase your industry expertise. This is where you can publish more opinion-based content such as tips and thoughts on where your industry is going.

Keys to Success

Publish Consistently

Some brands neglect LinkedIn publishing because they're more concerned about distributing content on Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand, LinkedIn requires just as much attention as any other platform. An easy way to make sure you don't overlook LinkedIn is to use Sprout's social media scheduler to publish content across multiple networks.

Focus on Content

Over the past few years, LinkedIn evolved into a great publishing platform. In order to be successful, embrace this change and create more content. Specifically, LinkedIn wants to see original long-form content through Pulse. Pulse is a great way to grow your thought leadership and reach a new audience.

Try LinkedIn Ads

With LinkedIn Ads and InMail, you can connect with people who aren't in your immediate network. You can run sidebar ads or promote posts with LinkedIn Ads, or send messages to anyone with InMail. Use a mix of paid and organic marketing tactics to capture more leads and expand your network.

Involve Sales

Publishing from your business page is helpful, but if you want to get even better results get your sales team active on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is all about building a strong network, and that's much easier to do as an individual than a business.


Ask Employees to Get Active

Your first step should be to ask employees involved with sales or marketing to open an account if they don't already have one. Have them setup profiles and send an invite to prospects, leads and clients to connect with them.

Does Your LinkedIn Marketing Deliver Results?

Publish an Article a Week to LinkedIn Pulse

Commit to publishing one long-form article a week to LinkedIn Pulse for at least two months. This will give you time to start building authority and get an idea of how often you should publish long term. If you're getting great results from posting once a week, then you might want to keep it up. If not, you can tone it down and publish once or twice a month. Just make sure whatever you publish is high quality.

The Ultimate LinkedIn Lead Generation Guide

Create a LinkedIn Group

Joining existing groups is a great way to start making connections to get the ball rolling for your LinkedIn marketing strategy. To take things to the next level, you should create your own group for your brand. This will be a community for your customers, leads and prospects. You can use it to share valuable content and keep members up to date on any important company news. One of the benefits of having your own group is the ability to send group announcements once per week. Group members will receive a notification on LinkedIn as well as an email. It's like having a mini email list in LinkedIn.

3 Simple & Quick LinkedIn Tips to Get More Reach

Metrics to Track

Page Views

The number of total page views and unique visitors for your LinkedIn page.


The number of times one of your updates was shown to LinkedIn users.


The number of clicks on your content, company name or logo.


The number of likes, comments and shares on your updates.


The number of followers you gained from a sponsored update.


Your number of interactions divided by impressions.

Advertising on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the perfect network for social media advertising in the B2B arena. One of the key advantages is targeting people by job title. This improves your chances of bypassing gatekeepers and getting in front of decision makers. You can even target employees of a specific company, which is great if you already have a new client in mind you want to work with. Take advantage of everything LinkedIn Ads have to offer.

  • Sponsored content: LinkedIn gives you the option of running sidebar ads or sponsored content. If your natural inclination is to run the sidebar ads, you may want to reconsider. One of the downsides of sidebar ads is they're easy to miss. With sponsored content your post will appear right in a user's feed which is difficult to ignore. Just make sure the content you promote is targeted to your ad's audience.
  • Focus on leads, not sales: Since you've narrowed down your audience to your ideal buyers, you might be tempted to direct your ads to a pricing page to get them to sign up for your product or service. You could see a few new customers with that approach. However, if you direct your ads to a lead generation form with a free offer–like a downloadable guide–you'll be able to capture more leads. It's much easier to get people to give you their email address than their money.
  • Sponsored InMail: If you really want to make sure your message gets seen, give Sponsored InMail a try. With sponsored InMail, you can send messages directly to your prospect's inbox on LinkedIn. You should only consider this option for qualified leads because the pricing can vary. You also want to be able to personalize each message rather than sending the same generic InMail to dozens or hundreds of people.

Brands to Learn From

  • Shares content that’s relevant to its followers, even if it’s not directly related to its product.
  • Uses the about section to clearly explain what Evernote does and why people need it.
  • Included as a top LinkedIn business page of 2014. (source)
  • Cross-promotes its other social profiles through LinkedIn.
  • Highlights its team members and company culture, increasing their popularity among top talent.
  • Saw great success after introducing social selling to promote its cloud-based suite of products in 2012. (source)
  • Posts content highlighting its partners and clients.
  • Has a consistent publishing schedule so there’s always fresh content on its feed.
  • Used sponsored content to generate 38% more leads than its other social channels at a 65% lower cost per lead. (source)


Instagram has quickly turned into a top choice for companies looking to establish their brands on social media. Although it's missing some features such as clickable links in posts, it has the highest engagement of any social media platform. If Instagram isn't a part of your social media marketing strategy, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.

How Social Media Marketers Use Instagram

One of Instagram's key differentiators is its focus on keeping users within the app. Other networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest rely heavily on users curating content from blogs and other websites. With Instagram the bulk of the content lives within the app.

Therefore most marketers use Instagram for branding and as an additional platform for content creation.

Quick Stats

What to Share

Instagram is the perfect network for content that showcases your brand identity. When someone looks at your Instagram profile, they should get an idea of your company culture and your brand stance. Post pictures of company outings, work being done and other "behind the curtain" content that help customers feel a connection to your brand.

Keys to Success

Be Entertaining

People don't go to Instagram to read articles. They use the app to be entertained and pass the time. Your Instagram posts should fulfill that need. The challenge is determining what qualifies as entertaining. Take a look at what your competitors post to get an idea of what resonates with your audience.

Don't Make It All About You

Every post shouldn't be about your products, services or brand. It sounds counterproductive, but the reality is people don't want to only see your business. Share user-generated content, images about trending topics and other images or videos unrelated to your company.

Use Video

Instagram Videos generate more comments than images. Integrate more videos and Instagram Stories into your marketing strategy to drive engagement and connect with your audience.

Be Creative

Creativity will set your brand apart on Instagram. As Instagram continues to become more competitive, you need to think outside the box to stand out.


Find Your Industry's Top Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the quickest ways to get more exposure for your Instagram posts. But you have to use the right ones. Stringing random hashtags together in your Instagram captions isn't going to be as effective as taking a more strategic approach. Think of keywords related to your business, and see how many times the hashtag for it is mentioned by searching Instagram. You can also look at the hashtags your competitors are using to find more ideas. Put the top hashtags in a file you can access on your phone or computer. When you have a relevant post, you can quickly copy the hashtags over into your caption.

How to Grow Your Audience With Hashtags for Instagram

Write a Compelling Bio

A lot of brands treat their Instagram bio as an afterthought. They'll type up a quick sentence, link to their website's home page and move on. However, your bio is the first impression people will have of your brand on Instagram, so spend more than two minutes on it. Your bio should accurately explain who you are and what you do, personify your brand and target your ideal followers.

How to Write Instagram Bios for Businesses

Regram & Tag Influencers

Get on the radar of established brands and influencers on Instagram by sharing (regramming) their content and tagging them. When you tag other brands in your captions or comments, they'll receive a notification showing them they were mentioned and who mentioned them. Sometimes they may be tempted to to visit your account, especially if you're consistently tagging them in your posts. Make a list of influencers in your industry and come up with post ideas that will allow you to mention them. A popular option is to make a quote image of something they said and credit them in your caption.

10 Instagram Hacks That Actually Work

Metrics to Track

Comments Received

The number of comments on your posts.

Most Engaged Hashtags

The hashtags you use that earn the most likes and comments.

Engagements per Follower

The average number of engagements you're receiving per follower.

Engagement per Media

The average number of engagements you're receiving per post.

Followers Gained

How many new followers you've gained.

Referral Traffic

How much traffic is coming from your Instagram posts or profile. You can find this in Google Analytics.

Advertising on Instagram

Instagram's advertising platform (Ads on Instagram) works through Facebook Ads. That means you have access to many of the same amazing features you have with Facebook such as advanced targeting and analytics. However, keep in mind Ads on Instagram is still fairly new so users are still getting acclimated to seeing sponsored posts in their feed. Still, the native look and feel of Instagram ads makes them far less intrusive and disruptive than traditional ads.

  • The picture is everything: Instagram is all about visuals. The more captivating your image is, the more likely a user is to ignore the "Sponsored" message and focus on your content. To make your images more eye-catching, use vibrant colors that stand out instead of flat colors that blend in with the app.
  • Pick a hashtag: Ads are great for pushing a branded hashtag when you have a relatively small following. The people that see your ad but aren't already familiar with your brands might start to pick up on your branded hashtag and use it. Instead of doing #yourcompanyname, make your hashtag a tagline that can launch a movement like Nike's #justdoit.
  • Capture leads: Ads on Instagram is about more than just getting new followers. You can actually use ads to generate new leads. Unlike regular Instagram posts, sponsored messages give you the ability to add a clickable call-to-action in your posts. Use this to push traffic to a landing page where you can capture their email address. Just make sure your landing page is mobile friendly because people will be viewing it on their phone or tablet.

Brands to Learn From

  • Shares content that matches its company culture.
  • Uses its profile link to promote its latest campaigns.
  • Implements UGC through its #DogsofWeWork contest and other campaigns to expand its reach and connect with customers. (source)
  • Uses a consistent color scheme in its pictures to create a cohesive Instagram feed.
  • Encourages followers to engage with posts through the 5 Miles Face-Off series.
  • Launched a photo ad campaign that generated 300,000 new installs with a 30% lower cost per installation than its other online channels. (source)
  • Consistently asks followers to leave a comment or tag a friend, resulting in massive engagement.
  • Every image Foundr shares is branded with the company logo so it gets credited if someone Regrams it.
  • Grew its following from zero to over 10,000 followers in two weeks. (source)


Before Instagram and Snapchat dominated the visual social network space, Pinterest was the go-to platform for sharing images. Although it slowed down a little after the explosion of Instagram, Pinterest is still a highly-used platform with plenty to offer for social media marketing.

How Social Media Marketers Use Pinterest

Pinterest is a great option for certain industries. Since its main demographic is women between the ages 18-29, companies in the fashion, retail, DIY and other visually-driven industries have seen great success.

Pinterest is unique because many brands use it to directly drive sales. Pinterest added several features to make it easier for online retailers to showcase their products. As a result, the process of going from viewing a pin to making a purchase is more efficient.

In addition to driving sales, marketers also use Pinterest for content promotion. Pinterest's grid layout allows you to create eye-catching images to promote each piece of content on your site. Combining Pinterest's highly engaged audience with a great featured image is an excellent way to get new traffic to your site.

Quick Stats

What to Share

Similar to Instagram, Pinterest is all about your images. You can add text description to your pins, but your main focus should be on your visuals. That means creating custom graphics using tools like Canva and Landscape. If you take a look at Pinterest, you'll notice a few popular trends such as overlaying text on images and using high-quality photographs.

If you sell physical goods, pin pictures of them being used instead of just a generic product shot. Your images will be competing with dozens of others that are displayed on a user's feed or search results.

Keys to Success

Don’t Include Faces

After examining over 500,000 pinned images, Curalate found pins without faces receive 23% more repins than those with faces. That doesn't mean every image you pin should be faceless, but get a healthy mix of photos with and without them. Use it as an opportunity to pin product photos or custom graphics.


A Georgia Tech University study researched the most commonly used words on Pinterest. The phrase "DIY" was found to be the most popular, which is why many craft bloggers have been successful on the platform. Think of content ideas related to your brand or industry that could translate well to a DIY post.

Use Rich Pins

Rich Pins are extra details added within your pins to give more insight. There are six types of Rich Pins you can use: app, movie, recipe, article, product, and place. Research from Shopify showed pins with prices receive 36% more likes on average. Use them to encourage users to take action on your pins.

Make More Boards

Most brands don't create enough boards. The idea of having 20 boards may seem crazy at first, but it can actually help you grow your following. According to research from the University of Minnesota on what makes a Pinterest user popular, the number of boards was ranked as the third most important feature.

Pin Original Pictures

Using Pinterest to curate images from around the web or Re-pinning content from other users is a very popular tactic. It helps your brand fill up your boards and allows you to post more frequently. However, pinning original content can help you stand out and get more Re-pins for your own Pinterest page.


You can make boards public so other users can pin on them as well. Invite bloggers or other businesses in your industry to contribute to a collaborative board to get more exposure and network. Only do this for a select few boards though. The majority of your Pinterest boards should be open just to you.


Create Featured Pins for Blog Posts

Pinterest is an ideal platform to promote your content. If you have a blog post you think will resonate well with Pinterest users, create a custom image to promote it. Write out a brief description, engaging headline and pin it.

Always Up-To-Date Social Media Image Sizes

Host a Pinterest Contest

Pinterest contests allow you to quickly grow your following. There are several ways to host a contest, but one of the most common approaches is to push people to make UGC. You can ask participants to create a board and pin images with your contest hashtag. Or you can create a group board with pins from all the participants.

Everything You Need to Know About Hashtags and Pinterest Contests

Use Keywords

Pinterest's search feature is more robust than most social networks. Treat your pins like you would treat a blog post you want to rank for in Google. Come up with a keyword you want to target and include it in the description and title of your pin.

Why Pinterest Guided Search Makes Your Pin Description More Important

Metrics to Track

Average Daily Impressions

This is the average number of times your pins appear in users' feeds.


The number of repins a pin received.

Average Repins

The average number of repins you receive per pin.

Unique Viewers

The number of unique visitors that have seen your pins.


The number times a pin was clicked.

Referral Traffic

How many visitors your website is receiving from Pinterest.

Advertising on Pinterest

Pinterest ads don't get the same attention and notoriety of other social media advertising platforms, but it's definitely a powerful resource to have at your disposal. With plenty of case studies to back its effectiveness, any brand on Pinterest can use Promoted pins to accelerate their progress.

  • Choose the right keywords: Since Pinterest users rely heavily on the search feature, you're can target your Promoted Pins based on keywords. You have the option of adding over 100 keywords to your campaign so you'll need to be careful about not overdoing it. Pick keywords that describe your pin, not necessarily just keywords you want to rank. This will keep your ads relevant and improve conversions.
  • Promote evergreen pins: You don't have to limit your promoted pins to one-off promotions. Instead, use evergreen pins with no expiration date. Just like normal pins, your promoted ones can be repinned and shared. Use promoted pins to boost some of your best performing blog posts so the pin will live on even after you stop the ad campaign.
  • Add a CTA: If you take a look at pins being used to promote a blog post, you'll notice a majority don't have any call to action. They generally have a nice looking image, the blog post title in the description a a link to the article. There's nothing to compel people to take action outside of linking to your post. For your promoted posts, take the extra steps to include a CTA like "Click here to learn more."

Brands to Learn From

  • Uses analytics and data to help decide what to Pin next.
  • Installed Pin-it buttons on to make it easy for people to Pin products to their own board.
  • One Etsy seller used Pinterest to increase sales per week by 20%. (source)
  • Uses long, vertical images to help Pins stand out on Pinterest’s grid layout.
  • Pins images that have performed well on other online platforms and ad campaigns.
  • Used promoted Pins to generate 40% higher conversion rate than similar channels. (source)
  • Jetsetter teamed up with Turks & Caicos to create a group board, which expanded their reach on Pinterest to a new audience.
  • Uses its Facebook page to promote the Pinterest profile.
  • Hosted a Pin it to win it contest that increased the website’s pageviews by 150%. (source)
Social Media Management Tools for Business


Snapchat is the newest player in the social media app world. Marketers are still figuring out the best use for the video sharing network, but there's more than enough reason to make it a priority in your social media marketing strategy.

One of the challenges of Snapchat is the temporary nature of the content. After a day, your Snapchat stories are removed from the app unless you save them elsewhere. It forces brands to get creative and come up with new ideas each day.

How Social Media Marketers Use Snapchat

Snapchat is primarily used for branding purposes. Since the network is entirely mobile and visually based, you don't have some of the perks of other networks. For example, you can't link back to your site or share full articles. Therefore, most companies use it as a platform to connect with their audience.

The main feature of Snapchat for business is stories. This allows you to string multiple Snaps together and create a "story."

Quick Stats

What to Share

There are plenty of options for what content to share on Snapchat. Some brands like to give a behind the scenes look at life at the company. Others share coupons and flash sales to take advantage of the temporary nature of the app.

Snapchat is for entertainment. Mentioning products or promotions is fine, but you have to do it in a way that's not a blatant advertisement. Otherwise people won't stay engaged.

Keys to Success

Snap in the Moment

Part of the beauty of Snapchat is it allows you to capture moments as they happen. Instead of trying to plan everything in advance, be on the lookout for candid moments worth snapping.

Create a Storyline

If you want to keep people consistently engaged with your brand on Snapchat, come up with storylines for your stories rather than just combining several random photos and videos. Your followers will have an urge to see what happens next.


Enable Story Replies

Story replies allow users to directly reply to one of your brand's stories by swiping up on their screen. Story replies allow you to better engage with your audience and try creative techniques like Q&A sessions, contests and giveaways.

Increase Engagement on Snapchat With Custom Content & Story Replies

Work With Influencers

Unlike many social networks, the top Snapchat accounts aren't businesses and celebrities. The most followed accounts are often social media stars and everyday people that create entertaining stories. Top brands and agencies realize this and are using it to their advantage. You can do the same by linking up with influencers with a large following and letting them take over your Snapchat account for a day. Their followers will rush to your account to see what's being snapped, which can quickly grow your audience.

How to Creatively Use Snapchat for Business

Launch Exclusives

Since Snapchat content has an expiration date, it's the perfect channel to offer limited time offers and deals. Occasionally, make a snap offering an exclusive discount for your Snapchat followers. The key is to only promote it on Snapchat so it entices customers to follow you there.

Metrics to Track

Unfortunately Snapchats statistics are somewhat limited right now and there is no built-in analytics dashboard yet. If you want to track your historical data, you'll have to do it manually. But here are the main two metrics to monitor.


The number of views your snaps or stories have received.

Screenshots Taken

How many times people have taken a screenshot of your snaps.

Advertising on Snapchat

Snapchat's advertising platform is still in its infancy stage. It was only available to a few companies during the initial launch. More companies have joined, but it's still not an open platform. If you want to test out Snap Ads, you'll have to apply online. Every ad is manually reviewed by Snapchat. This makes the costs are significantly higher than other social media advertising platforms, which creates a larger barrier to entry.

However, initial tests for Snap Ads look very promising. According to Snapchat, the swipe-up rate for Snap Ads is 5 times higher than the average click-through rate for comparable platforms. For brands looking to reach a younger demographic, Snap Ads could be a viable option. The app is used by 41% of 18-34 year olds in the US.

Brands to Learn From

  • Creates recurring Snapchat series like “Desk Job” to keep followers anxious for the next story.
  • Uses its larger social media accounts to help grow the Snapchat following.
  • Released its first Snapchat exclusive set of glasses, only available to its followers. (source)
  • Creates high energy snaps aligned with its brand and audience.
  • Encourages fans to create UGC through its sponsored filters.
  • Allows influencers to temporarily take over its Snapchat for a day. (source)
  • Got a headstart on other brands by being an early adopter of Snapchat.
  • Uses Snapchat for two-way communication by asking followers to respond and participate rather than just broadcasting snaps.
  • Launched the first Snapchat scavenger hunt contest, which increased followers by 20%. (source)
Social Media Management Tools for Business


The question of Google+ still being worthwhile for marketers is asked all the time. After some initial momentum during its launch, the buzz has kind of fizzled when compared to newer networks like Instagram or Snapchat. But that doesn't mean it's time to call it quits.

How Social Media Marketers Use Google+

Social media marketers use Google+ a few different ways, but it's primarily used to distribute content. Whether it's curating articles from around the web or promoting your own content, Google+ is still a great platform for distribution.

Another good use of Google+ is for community management. Brands have the ability to create communities where customers and followers can interact and get information.

Quick Stats

What to Share

The most common type of content shared on Google+ is curated articles. Make Google+ a step in your publishing checklist. After your article goes live, create a Google+ post with a brief description and a link to the article. Google+ will pull in the meta data and an image to make your post visually appealing.

Keys to Success

Promote Your Page

Google+ pages aren't the easiest to find. When you Google a brand's name, you'll typically see their Facebook and Twitter pages in the results. In order find a company's Google+ page, you have to search "Company Name Google+" or search on To make sure people are aware of your Google+ page, link to it on your site like your other profiles and promote it as much as possible.

Be Consistent

Like with any other social network, consistency is key. Since Google+ has a bit of a reputation for being a ghost town, going long periods of time without posting anything new can signal to your followers your page is no longer active. Use Sprout Social to schedule your Google+ posts for the week and avoid inactivity.

Be Visual

Google+ has made efforts to increase the importance of visuals in posts. Google enlarged the photo sizes as well as redesigned the stream to make images stand out even more. Add images or YouTube videos to your posts to make them pop.

Optimize Your Profile

In addition to adding a header and profile photo, take the time to write a company description that includes relevant keywords. You also have the ability to add multiple URL's, which can go to your blog or other social media accounts.


Host Hangouts

Hangouts were one of the most anticipated features with Google+. In fact, after Google+ removed several features, Hangouts continued to improve. Use Google+ Hangouts to host live chats, webinars and other video events for your audience. Come up with a compelling topic, invite as many people as possible and launch your event on Hangouts.

Google+ Hangout: Habits of Successful Community Managers

Format Your Posts

A big advantage to Google+ over other social networks is the ability to format text. You can add bold, italics, or strikethroughs in your post by using these simple commands:

  • *Text* = Bold
  • _Text_ = Italics
  • -Text- = Strikethrough

Upgrade Your Strategy With These Little-Known Google+ Features

Join Communities

Communities are where you'll find the most active Google+ users. Search for keywords related to your industry to find relevant communities for your brand to join. Check the dates of the latest posts to see how active the community is on Google+. If people are posting regularly, join and start contributing.

Why You Should Should Stop Asking Is Google Plus Dead

Metrics to Track


The number of views your Google+ page has received.

Actions on Posts

How many actions have been taken on your posts such as +1's and comments.

Advertising on Google+

Google+ no longer has its own advertising platform. During its early stages, there was a feature called Google +Post Ads, but that has since been retired. If you want to advertise on Google, explore AdWords, which will allow you to advertise on Google's search and display networks.

Brands to Learn From

  • Uses the Android Google+ community to reach more people and drive engagement.
  • Posts a mix of photos, links, GIFs and video content.
  • Asks questions to spark discussions in the comments section.
  • Aggregates its latest blog posts for extra exposure.
  • Includes a featured image with each post.
  • Uses Google+ to connect with its core audience of techies.
  • Posts content exclusively for Google+.
  • Includes a brief description for the links it shares instead of just using a headline.
  • Uses high-quality photos that resonate with its followers.

Your Social Media Marketing Toolkit

Most social networks were designed for consumers first and businesses second. As a result, a lot of the functionalities that would make life easier for marketers and agencies aren’t present in native social networking apps. But there are plenty of third-party tools to bridge the gap.

Here are some things you should include in your social media marketing toolkit:

Social Media Dashboard

First and foremost, every business or agency should have a dedicated social media dashboard such as Sprout Social. A social media dashboard serves as a “hub” for your social media marketing. Instead of logging into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks, almost everything can be managed in your social media dashboard.

social media management

You can schedule and publish content, engage with users and see all of your incoming messages from one location.

In addition to publishing, your social media dashboard also gives you reporting features so you can analyze your performance. You’ll get insight into your organic social media marketing such as what content performs best, how well you’re engaging and other important stats to improve your company’s social presence.

sprout social group report

A social media dashboard is also crucial when you need to manage multiple social media profiles.

For a small business with a single location, setting up and managing your accounts is pretty simple. However, for businesses with multiple locations, agencies with numerous clients or large enterprise companies with various departments, you’ll likely have multiple Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.

With Sprout, you can easily organize all of your account and profiles into groups, and set access levels on a user-level. Otherwise you’re in for a huge headache trying to juggle multiple profiles with the native social networking apps.

manage multiple social media accounts

Graphics Tools

Visuals are crucial for social media marketing. In addition to visual-based networks like Instagram and Pinterest, images can also improve your Facebook and Twitter efforts as well:

  • Visual content is roughly 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (source)
  • 71% of online marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing. (source)
  • Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images. (sources)

In order to make your social media messages visually appealing, try these tools:


Canva is a free tool that lets you create and edit visuals through a drag-and-drop editor. In addition to its ease of use, one of the key benefits of Canva is its huge library of templates.

The templates are sized for specific networks and give you a great starting point. Simply switch out the text and change elements to create completely custom graphics. Or you can create something completely from scratch.

Canva Image Template


Landscape is a social media image resizing tool. When you have an image you want to share across Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, you can’t just upload the exact same picture to each network. You need to resize it to fit each platform’s dimensions.

With Landscape you simply upload your image, select your networks and choose your size. The final product is a perfectly-sized photo without being stretched out or too pixelated.



If you want to edit your pictures for social media instead of creating new ones, PicMonkey can be very helpful. PicMonkey is an easy-to-use image editing tool for desktop and mobile. Your edits can be as simple as overlaying text on an image or as detailed as manipulating the lighting and color like Instagram filters. Avoid doing too much editing or you could lose the natural appeal of your photo.


Tools to Source Content

Coming up with content to share can be difficult. Don’t fall into the trap of only sharing content from your own website. Use these tools to source great content to share with your audience:


BuzzSumo is used to find heavily-shared content on social media. Just enter a keyword or website URL and you’ll get a list of relevant blog posts with the most social shares. You can either share these posts directly from BuzzSumo or add them to your social media dashboard to share later. It’s also a great way to get ideas for content to create on your own site.



Feedly is a RSS reader that will display the latest articles from the blogs you add. The great thing about Feedly is it integrates with Sprout Social. You can go through all of your different feeds to find the most relevant posts for your audience and schedule them right inside Sprout.

feedly sprout social integration

Selling Social Media Marketing to the C-Suite

Sometimes convincing upper management and the C-Suite that social media marketing is worth the investment can be a challenge. It’s not as simple to track as some outbound tactics like paid ads. And most of the time, the returns aren’t immediate. However, the proof is in the pudding and social media marketing consistently proves to perform as well as or better than traditional marketing tactics.

The first step is to help them understand the evolution of the buying process. The need for social media marketing emerged from changes in how consumers shop and engage with brands.

Twitter and Facebook for Business allowed companies to easily communicate with consumers, sales leads and other brands in real time. And guess what? The shift to social media marketing paid off big time:

  • 64% of sales professionals reported closing at least one deal in 2014 as a direct result of using social media. (source)
  • 92% of small business owners say social media is important to their business. (source)
  • Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. (source)
  • 78% of salespeople using social media perform better than their peers. (source)

The reason social media marketing is a necessity is simple–you need to be where your customers’ attention is. And right now, their attention is on social media.

Creating Share-Worthy Content

Blogging and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. Sure you could have them separately, but when you combine them, each complements the other to make it that much better.

Social media can be used to promote your blog, and your blog can supply you with content to share on social media. At Sprout, sharing our blog posts on social media helps drive thousands of visitors to our site as well as generate new leads.

What Content Works Best on Social?

Deciding what to write about is one of of the most common roadblocks that stops companies from blogging. This is particularly true for those in “boring” industries. But there’s plenty to write about for any industry such as:

  • Industry news
  • Tips and tricks
  • In-depth guides
  • How-to articles
  • Company insights

One thing to keep in mind is not every type of content performs well on social media. An article about how your landscaping company won an award probably won’t go viral. But an in-depth guide on how to get your garden ready for the winter has the potential to earn plenty of shares and attention on social media.

Once you’ve created your content calendar, use your social media dashboard to schedule your blog posts to be shared on your social media profiles.

social media publishing calendar

For more information, check out these blogging tips for marketers.

The Wrap Up

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide. Social media marketing is a robust topic that’s constantly evolving so there’s always something new to learn.

In addition to the information you’ve received in this guide, below we’ve provided a list of some amazing resources that go in depth on topics to take your social media strategy to the next level. Also make sure to check out our latest posts and subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss anything.

Social Media Optimization Guide

How to Do Social Media Competitive Analysis

How to Perform a Social Media Audit

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

How to Calculate Social Media ROI