As you will no doubt already know, your social media strategy is your plan for rolling out your marketing and brand awareness across social media platforms.
A social media strategy is more than a vague idea that you’ll post regularly on Instagram; it is a calendar of posts, a goal-defined plan and a clear understanding of how this dovetails in with the other plans and strategies of the business as a whole.
Create a plan that is a step-by-step blueprint for six or even twelve months in advance and you will also find it to be a cost-saver, as many resource acquisitions can become streamlined.
Here are five steps for how to create a social media strategy that you can begin to implement today.
1. Know your social media end goal
Before you begin, where do you want to end?
In other words, before you try and plan anything, you need to know what you are trying to achieve. What is your end-goal?
This may be increased brand awareness; it may be to increase sales by x per cent or any other goal.
Ultimately, it should be aligned with the current drive of the business as a whole – if you are planning your strategy for the next 12 months, then what are the major aims of the business for the same period?
Your marketing objectives should always be closely tied to your business objectives.
This may sound obvious, but it is not uncommon for the left hand of a company not to know what the right hand is doing. There are plenty of corporations who focus on, say, product development and just let the marketing department get on with ‘whatever it is that marketing does’.
This, of course, boils down to communication, and a business is ultimately going nowhere if it doesn’t communicate within itself.
Set a meeting, confer, and know what everyone else is doing before you fire up your planning machine.
Once your goal is clear, then seeing how to get there is a lot easier.
2. Know your social media target market
The best way to know who your current social media market is? Ask them.
If you already have a platform presence, then start engaging with your followers and find out who they are – you may be surprised at the result.
Hopefully, the result will be a pleasant surprise – that is, your followers and others who interact with you across your existing social media are your ideal customers, and that is good news as it tells you your foundation is working well (although it may be improved, of course).
Alternatively, you may discover that your current social network is a group who follow for other reasons but never actually end up as customers. This is bad news for your bottom line, but still good news in that you have a collection of potential leads that have yet to convert – so you are doing something right!
This is more common than you may expect. For example, some businesses have great social platforms with content that is creative, witty, entertaining, and shareable. And they have a large following because their content is amazing.
But unless you are in the entertainment business and can monetize this, being entertaining is not the end goal.
As you have already established what your goal is for your social media (see step 1) then you can begin to understand at this point where your social posts need tweaking (or, possibly, turning around 180 degrees).
Know who you are currently attracting before you try and change anything. And when we say engage – get to know them.
Feedback from social groups is an incredible resource – and it’s free! Often, it’s just a case of asking. Find out what your followers like, what they don’t like, what they want to see in your interactions. Ask them to complete surveys, run competitions and have them complete some details to enter. Read the comments people are leaving you.
The next step then is to compare your social media group with your ideal customer avatars.
An avatar is a description of your ideal customer or customers (there may be several, depending on your business) and once you know ‘who’ these are, you can begin to target your marketing towards them.
If you know your existing social media base, as we have discussed, you can then compare this data with your ideal avatar and see if you are in the same ballpark, or wildly off.
It may also be the case that understanding this data suggests to you that your existing customer avatar needs an update. If you imagine that your ideal customer is a mid-50’s business executive, yet your entire social media following is made up of 25-30-year-old health-care professionals, then there are some hard lessons to be learned.
OK – so that may be a bit of an extreme example, but it makes the point.
It may indicate that your social marketing is way off and attracting the wrong following
– OR –
it may be telling you that you have a huge, untapped new market that you were previously unaware of.
The lesson here is to do your research, study the data and find out where you are currently.
Only then can you start to plan your route towards where you want to get to.
3. Know your visual content assets
You will already have a collection of visual assets for your business – everything from stock images, logos, brand statements, your branding guidebook, etc.
Get everything together and give it a complete audit. Look at what works well and what doesn’t. What is out of date, or no longer conforms to your current branding style.
Reviewing all your usable assets highlights where you have a lack of resources and where you have ample.
It may also highlight colour palette differences between older and more recent content or other clashes which you were not aware of.
Catalogue all your visual assets and then keep this up to date – it will become an invaluable resource for the weeks and months ahead.
If you don’t have the time for doing a brand and visual content audit yourself, there are several companies to whom you can outsource this task.
They will also give you some great advice on whether anything needs changing, updating or replacing.
For social media posts you are currently running, note which elements or campaigns gained the most response? What resulted in the most sales? Which posts got shared the most?
Also, include in this an examination of the platforms you are currently on. Is one performing much better than the others, despite sharing the same posts across them? It may become clear that one platform just doesn’t perform for you – this may be your content, but it may just be that the wrong demographic uses that platform! All these points need investigation.
While you are at this discovery stage, find out what are your competitors doing, and on which platforms. Do they have great engagement and large following, or are the areas they are focussing on not doing so well for them? You can learn a huge amount by observing others, especially your direct competition, as they are fishing for the same results that you are.
Only when you have these knowledge areas identified (steps 1-3), you can finally begin to plan.
4. Create your social media strategy
Finally! We have arrived at the exciting part! A social media plan is only as good as the foundations it is built upon, and that is the purpose of all the analysis and data gathering that has preceded this point.
In the past, there have been many systems for planning social media publishing, some good, some not so good (and some downright awful).
However, with the recent increase in the use – and technological advances – of social media platforms, the rule book has (to all intents and purposes) been thrown out of the window. And even more so since 2020 has upset practically every business rule that was ever written.
To quote Inc.com:
The 80/20 Rule was once the golden rule of effective social media marketing. It states that 80% of your social media posts should inform, educate, and entertain your audience, while only 20% should directly promote your business.
They go on to say that what is most important is that you discover what is right for you – and that is the key to social media success – experiment and discovery.
Does that sound like hard work? Maybe. Is it worth it? 100%. Always.
Your product, service, market, customer base, ideal client avatar and world circumstances all conspire to make your experience unique and to try and convince you that there is a one-size-fits-all formula to planning social media would be misleading at best.
There are, however, a number of principles which do work for everyone:
a) Create a social media calendar
Spend some time plotting what you are going to post, and when. This means the content, what day and time (morning, afternoon, evening) and on which platform.
There are several planning tools available for this purpose and some of them will also automate your postings once you have scheduled them. Check out Buffer or Hootsuite as examples.
For some more great tools to help you with all aspects of your social media planning, read ‘Top 15 startups to help your social media grow’
Plan ahead for six months; if not twelve. It’s a lot of work at the start, but the planning not only ensures consistency (which is very important for social media interactions) but it will save you time and money in the long run.
Stop, and imagine for a moment that three weeks from now, you have six months’ worth of posts photographed, written, and scheduled automatically. That means there is no more interaction required from you for maintaining social media for the next half a year (except responding to comments).
This approach frees up a lot of your time and, by organising any photoshoots needed in one block, will save you a heap of money too (take a look at the ultimate social gallery for an idea of what we mean).
b) Check your profiles on platforms
Make sure that all your profiles are complete on all your social platform accounts – complete with contact details and searchable keywords where appropriate.
Check that your brand image is consistent across all the platforms that you use – you should use one logo and one background image across all your social accounts so that as soon as someone lands on your page, they can easily identify it as yours.
Different images for different platforms only confuse and makes people question if they have come to the right place.
Additionally, the tone of voice used on your social accounts should likewise be consistent with your brand – for every post.
c) Identify which platform is for which service
Not all social media platforms are alike – that’s why there are so many of them – so keep in mind that different platforms often work best for you when serving different purposes.
For example, you may run adverts and general promotions on Facebook, because they work well for you on there, but find that customer service and instant company contact works best on Twitter and through webchat on your home page.
LinkedIn will often work best for recruitment and reaching out to other businesses, as well as for posting company updates and press releases.
5. Monitor and review!
Once you have your social media calendar created, developed and scheduled, the next step is to monitor what happens next!
Will you suddenly have everything perfectly right? Well…maybe, but the chances are there will be some tweaks required, and unless you are tracking your metrics then you will not know.
Track your stats and constantly check what is working and what is not. Have a regular review to analyse your data.
All your posts should have embedded UTMs. This sounds technical, but in reality, it is a tracking device that allows you to monitor where people come from when they arrive at your website (did they come through your Facebook page, for example, or via Instagram?).
There is a great article here about how to set up and use UTMs.
Additionally, keep engaging with your audience. After all this planning and scheduling, you have the time to do this properly.
Engage and respond to your followers – the good and the bad. Build a reputation for being consistently available and accessible.
Here’s a great phrase to remember: Earn your audience.
And when they do engage with you, ask questions – get feedback. What do they like? What do they want to see you doing more of?
Run surveys and quizzes, gather email addresses and then run email campaigns.
Keep engaging, keep monitoring and keep reviewing. Of course, all this reviewing may indicate that you need to go back and adjust some of your planned future posts – that’s fine! That is what reviews are for. It means you are doing this social media thing right!
For even more tips on planning and creating social media content, read our companion article 10 tips on how to create visual content for social media.
Social engagement is the key to success in the online marketing world – and social media is an amazing tool for this job.
If you need any help planning a social media campaign, then Splento is happy to help. Feel free to contact us anytime.
For a review of your brand assets, we have a great, experienced team led by our creative director, who can write up a brand asset audit for you. It’s the easiest way to find out exactly where you are ‘on the map’ and comes with recommendations for how to get to where need to be. Find out more about this here.
Finally, if you already know what you need, and you need it fast, then take a look at the Ultimate Brand Asset Gallery, which will give you all the social media material you need for the foreseeable future – and beyond.