Before you begin your business’ relationship with social media, you need a strategy—a plan of what you intend to do and achieve on social media. This plan guides your actions and helps you gauge whether you are winning or losing the social media battle. Every piece of communication you put out there and the engagement you get on it must serve a purpose.
The clearer and concise your strategy, the easier your execution will be. Avoid making lofty and broad plans that are unattainable and difficult to measure. This post highlights a seven-step process to create a winning social media strategy of your own.
Creating a social media strategy
Step 1: Set social media goals that align with the business’ objectives
The first step of creating any social media strategy is setting the objectives and goals. Without them you will have no sense of direction, nor will you be able to measure your rate of success or failure. The way to set goals is to follow the SMART framework. It helps you ensure that your objectives lead to real business results. Each of your goals should be:
Track meaningful metrics
Most businesses chase vanity metrics such as likes and retweets. While these are easy to track, it is hard to prove their real value to your business. Your targets should ideally be leads generated, conversion rates, web referrals, etc.
Every social channel can have different goals and different metrics to track progress. For example, you could aim to achieve brand awareness through paid social campaigns and measure acquisition and engagement through organic posts.
Aligning your social media goals with your overall marketing strategy is key here. This will help you show the value of your work and get executive buy-in investment when needed. Start your social media strategy by penning down at least three social media goals.
Step 2: Get familiar with your audience
Create audience personas
Knowing who you are talking to and what they like to see on social helps you create content that’s engaging. You can then work on a plan on converting these fans into customers for your business. Audience personas help you think of your potential fans and followers as real people with wants, needs, and emotions; which will help you think more clearly about what to offer them.
Get real-world data
When it comes to creating audience personas, don’t assume anything. Check the major active population of a platform before you get into action. You might think Facebook is mostly Baby Boomers, but for all you know the most active lot of the platform are Millennials. Social media analytics give you enough information about who your followers are, which geography they belong to, at what time of the day are they most active, the language they speak, and more. These insights help you plan your strategy to better target these people.
Step 3: Conduct competition analysis
Competition analysis helps you critically analyze what your competition is doing and what is working and not working for them. It’ll give you a sense of how your industry is interacting and engaging on the social platforms and will help you set some social media targets of your own.
More than that, this analysis will help you spot opportunities. For example, maybe one of your biggest competitors is active on Facebook but isn’t as active on Twitter or Instagram. This is an opportunity for you to gain a loyal following there instead of fighting for a spot where he is a dominant player.
Engage in social listening
As your track your competitor’s social activity and relevant industry keywords, you may notice strategic shifts in your competitor’s strategy. Information such as this can help you evaluate your own goals and plans.
Step 4: Conduct a social media audit
Evaluate your present efforts
If you’re using any social media tools, then it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your accomplishments. Start by asking these questions:
➢ What’s working and what is not working?
➢ Who is engaging with you on social?
➢ Which social media platforms are popular among your target audience?
➢ How does your social media presence compare to that of your competitors?
Gathering this information will give you a good starting point for planning and improving your results. An audit such as this should ideally give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social channels is serving. If the purpose isn’t clear, then think about whether it’s worth keeping the account or if it needs a different strategy. To help you decide, start by asking these questions:
➢ Is my audience here?
➢ If yes, how are they engaging with the platform?
➢ Can this account help me achieve meaningful business goals?
Step 5: Improve existing profiles and set up new accounts
As you narrow down which social channels to use, you will simultaneously need to define your strategy for each. For example, brands that are into cosmetics and apparels can use Instagram and Snapchat to showcase their products, while Twitter can be used more for customer service.
What you can do is create mission statements for each network. These one-sentence declarations will significantly help you focus on a specific goal for each account on each network. If you struggle to create a definite mission statement for a channel, you might want to re-evaluate that channel’s worth in your strategy.
Step 6: Create a social media content calendar
The only way to gain authority and establish yourself as a reputable brand is to share relevant, valuable content consistently. Listen to what your audience is talking about, learn about their wants and needs. Ensure that you’re delivering something your audience cares about.
Create a posting schedule
A social media content calendar lists the dates and times and platforms where a certain piece of communication will be shared. The best way to go about it is to plan all your social media activity—from image sharing to link sharing to contests and promotions. Your calendar ensures that all your posts are properly spaced out and are being pushed out at optimal times.
Plot your content mix
Before you begin populating the calendar, ensure that it reflects the mission statement for each channel at the top. This is to ensure that everything you share adds value to your business goals. For example, your approach could be:
● 50 percent of the content will drive traffic to the website
● 25 percent of the content will be engaging posts that are created in-house and curated from other sources
● 20 percent of the content will support business goals such as sales, lead generation, etc
● 5 percent of the content will be about company culture, company activities, etc
If this seems like a lot, go with the 80-20 rule:
● 80 percent of the content should entertain, educate and inform your audience
● 20 percent of the content should be about brand promotion
Having this clearly mapped out in your content calendar helps you maintain the ratio you’ve planned and can help you analyze what kind of content is working best.
Step 7: Test, evaluate and adjust your strategy
Once the data starts coming in, use it to analyze and re-evaluate your strategy. You can use this information to test different campaigns, posts, and strategies against one another. Doing this on a regular basis allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t so you can refine your strategy as you go along.
In the social sphere, things change rapidly. New networks emerge, new features are introduced, demographics change. This will make your business go through certain changes as well. What this means is that your social media strategy is a living document that you keep coming back to and keep adjusting as needed.