Your social media marketing strategy brings together the what, why, how and when of everything you plan to do with your business or brand on social media. Your strategy should define the purpose behind your every move on social media. It should be prescriptive enough to make it easy to carry out your plans, but also practical enough to allow you to actually measure and achieve your goals.
Many of our clients have reached out to us for help with developing and improving their social media marketing strategies. In this post, we will show you the seven simple steps to developing your very own social media marketing strategy that will have your business well on its way to unlocking greater brand awareness, a larger customer base and higher sales.
Step 1 | Set marketing goals that align with your business objectives
Your strategy needs objectives and goals. Without objectives, your strategy is meaningless. Without goals, you would have no way to measure your return on invested marketing dollars. Some examples of business objectives for social media marketing include:
- Build brand awareness
- Build and manage an engaged community
- Manage brand reputation
- Increase conversions / sales
- Identify and nurture leads
- Deliver customer service/support
Goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART). In setting your social media marketing goals, go beyond likes and retweets. Once you’ve developed your business objectives, create goals that align with each of these objectives. For each goal, select a metric that will allow you to specifically measure the progress towards that goal. Your strategy could reflect something similar to the table below.
Go beyond vanity metrics and find dozens of unique and clever metrics built into social media platforms and analytics services. These metrics have been designed to help you to specifically measure your business’ social media marketing goals.
Step 2 | Do your audience research
It sounds too easy: “know your ideal customer”. In reality, how many businesses actually take the time to describe in detail their ideal customer persona? A buyer persona is a description of your ideal customer as if they were a real person. You may find that your business has several customer personas; this represents the different needs of your overall customer base. In our experience, social media marketing success hinges on knowing who your audience is, and what they want to see from you on social media.
The various social media platforms will work very well for your business if you are able to describe the personas of people who will follow your brand on social media, the people who will like and share your content, and finally, personas of the people who will become your customers. You will be able to use the personas that you develop to craft effective and targeted messages with each audience persona on social media.
Once you’ve developed your audience personas, use social media analytics tools to learn about where your audience lives, what languages they speak, which social media platforms they dominate, and their preferred methods for interacting with your brand on social media. This information will help you to better target your social media marketing for maximum effectiveness.
Step 3 | Learn about your competition
This step involves identifying your competitors and evaluating their social media marketing strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as getting a better understanding of what the social media landscape looks like in your industry. Undertaking a quality competitive analysis will provide you with context around the market you are operating within, and more importantly, allow you to establish a strategy for what competitive advantage is available for you.
It may be tempting to let your bias form a narrative around the information you gather on your competitors. However, look for why your competitors may be doing what they are doing. Pay attention to what one or two competitors might do differently to everyone else. Determine what you are not seeing – are your competitors not doing something that presents you with an opportunity?
Step 4 | Audit your social media presence
Here are some questions to allow you to take stock of your current social media presence:
- Are each of your social media profiles consistent in branding, imagery and messaging?
- What is working well for your business? What is not working well, and why?
- Which social networks are working best for you to connect with your target audience?
- Which audiences are connecting with you on social media? Do they fit the profiles of the audience personas developed in Step 2?
- How does your social media presence stack up against your competitors (use metrics and information obtained in Step 3)?
- Are there any fake or fraudulent social media accounts attempting to damage your brand and/or steal your followers away from you?
Step 5 | Determine your preferred social networks and improve your profiles
It’s now time to decide on your preferred social networks. Use the data you’ve collected about your audience, competitors and your own current social media presence to inform your decision making. Many businesses choose different social networks to serve different purposes. For example, a business will use Facebook and Instagram for awareness, engagement and conversions. It would then use Facebook Messenger, Email and Twitter to engage with existing customers and provide quality customer service.
If you need to create new accounts and optimize your existing profiles, make sure that your profiles across each social network are consistent in branding, imagery and messaging. Use key words on your profiles that your audience will search for to find your business.
Step 6 | Create a social media content calendar
Your strategy may require you to post 8-10 times per week across 3-4 different social networks. An ad-hoc approach will not work. Develop a social media content calendar to plan your content delivery and a bulk-scheduling tool to manage posting schedule and times. A quality content plan will help you to maintain a balance between posts that inform, educate and entertain your audience, versus posts that directly promote and sell your brand.
Consider the following when planning your content:
– Key events in the calendar – public holidays and key events in your industry
– What proportion of your content will drive traffic back to your blogs?
– What proportion will you share from other sources?
– What proportion will be specifically for selling and lead generation?
Step 7 | Test, measure and adjust your strategy
As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you would have expected, while others are working better than you expected. Make sure that you have access to the metrics and analytics defined in Step 2. In addition, use UTM parameters to track visitors from social media who arrive on your website, so you can see which social posts are driving traffic to your website.
Constantly testing and re-defining your strategy allows you to understand and prove what works and what doesn’t work. Make sure to keep your strategy changes documented every step of the way.