Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Whether you’re a new business looking to make the most of social media marketing or you’re an established business seeking to up your social media game, the starting point must be a social media strategy.
Your social media strategy is the roadmap for reaching your business objectives. Without it, you’ll lack clarity and reason, and all of the time you invest in etching a presence online will be in vain.
You need to ensure your strategy is specific and achievable. No lofty or pie in the sky goals, because if the results feel unattainable, you’re going to lose hope and interest quickly.
Here are our top 8 steps to creating a successful and achievable social media strategy:
1. Establish your goal
You need to establish and outline your goals for social media very early in your plan. All of your goals should align with your more significant business objectives. Without goals, tracking the success and ROI of your social media activity is impossible.
Each of your goals should follow the SMART framework:
Specific: Be clear about your goal. Stating you want to increase your followers or engagement is NOT transparent. Saying that you want to increase your follower count by 100 people is specific.
Measurable: Goals need some sort of metric to hold them accountable. Saying that you want to improve your customer experience is a goal, but how do you measure that?
Attainable: Goals shouldn’t be easy, but if you put in the time and work, you should be able to reach them.
Relevant: Relevance links your goals back to your business objectives. If your goal is to increase your follower count, how does that contribute to your overarching business goals?
Timely: We all need a deadline to keep ourselves accountable. Ensuring that you and your team know when you need to reach your goal is essential.
2. Choose the metrics you’re going to track and keep score.
No one cares about a game that doesn’t keep score, and your social media efforts will be the same. If you don’t track and measure your efforts, you won’t know if you’ve achieved your goal or what steps you need to take to improve.
It’s easy to track vanity metrics, like follower count, but what purpose do they truly serve? If they’re not moving you closer towards your business goals, then they hold no value.
Instead, it would serve you better to focus on victory metrics like engagement, click-throughs, purchases, content saves or shares.
Your business objectives feed your social media goals, and your social media goals should dictate what metrics you then report on, so there’s no blanket approach to this. It needs to be specific for each business.
Some examples are:
A good starting point is between 2-5 goals for your social media strategy. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll likely be setting yourself up for failure.
3. Get to know your audience.
Identifying your audience and understanding their needs is vital to your social media success. By knowing as much as you can about the demographics, habits and preferences of your audience, you can build a community of followers and ensure you’re creating content that adds value, drives them to engage and more importantly, turns them into a paying customer.
Having a sound understanding of your audience also helps you build out your ad sets. This ensures that you’re not throwing money away by targeting the wrong people.
You can start by building personas for your target audience. If you’re taking this step, be sure to cover off all people who would likely be your customers. This may be represented by one persona, or you could have multiple. If you’re likely to attract various people, then apply a percentage breakdown to them.
Sally: 27 years old. Lives in Melbourne. Enjoys reading and visiting her family on the weekends.
Sally makes up 80% of our audience.
John: 40 years old. Lives in Sydney. John enjoys sport and reading car magazines.
John makes up 20% of our audience.
By taking this approach, you not only develop a sound understanding of your audience, but you also establish an idea of the breakdown of content you should be sharing. In the above situation, you’d likely target the majority of your content to Sally and a limited amount of posts to John.
To get to know your audience, you can drill down into the following factors:
Job or industry
Having an understanding of the above assists at all levels of social media strategy and delivery. You’ll learn what type of content they’d like to see, how to reach them via ad sets and how to speak to them in your copy.
If you already have an established audience, you can dive a little deeper. Jump into the insights tab on your Facebook or Instagram page, and you’ll see a whole heap of data to help you understand who you’re speaking to, including:
The time they’re online
Days of the week they’re online
What content they’ve engaged with
What content they’ve saved and shared
When doing this, ensure that the people in the room are who you want to speak to. If you establish that your ideal audience is females aged 40+ and the majority of your followers are males aged 20+, you may have to do some housekeeping to organise and clean this up.
Do your research
Once you have a sound understanding of your target audience, you need to determine where they’re spending their time. It’s natural to assume that every business should be on Facebook, but is that where your prospects are spending the majority of their time?
Learning the demographics of the different platforms will help you establish a clear roadmap on where you should be allocating your time and efforts. The people who frequent Facebook compared to TikTok and Snapchat vary wildly and having a clear understanding of this will ensure your content reaches the right people, but it will also help you harness your efforts. It’s easy to get excited when you’re diving into a presence on social media, and you want to make the most significant impact. All of a sudden, you have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok and Snapchat profile, and all of them are empty. Focus and choose channels that will have the most significant immediate impact.
You can find some great demographic information on each channel via Sprout Social. See how these insights compare to the personas you have constructed and then make a decision.
4. Competitor analysis
If you don’t have a social media presence or you haven’t been using social media well, someone in your industry has been. It’s a fundamental business practice to know who your competitors are, so you should be able to identify them easily on social media.
There are several handy tricks you can use to get an idea of what your competitors are doing on social media, by either following and observing them, or implementing a few sneaky tactics.
Alternatively, you should be keeping an eye on your competitor’s regular social activity, and you can do that through the insights tab on your page.
Be sure to pull together a competitor analysis; you’ll get a good understanding of what your competitors are doing, but you’ll also be able to use these sources to set yourself some KPI’s. Maybe there’s a business who is the benchmark of your industry, and by using their activity to set the expectations for your pages, you’ll get a better idea of what success looks like.
It’s impossible to fix something when you don’t know what’s broken, so spend the time auditing your assets.
Look at each of your channels and ask yourself the following questions:
What is working well?
What’s not working?
Which channels do you get the most traction on?
How do you compare to your competitors?
When you’re analysing each channel, note down:
Who is responsible for managing the platform
Purpose of the channel
Top performing content
If you’re struggling to determine the purpose of a social media platform for your business, then it’s probably worth asking if you need to consider it at all.
Each channel should have its mission statement, so your purpose remains clear, and anyone within your business will understand what that platform is used for and which goals it helps your business achieve.
6. Account setup
Now that you have a clear understanding of where you should be spending your time; it’s time to set up your social media profiles.
Each channel will need a handle or a business name to identify it. You should always do your research before you commit to anything here because once you choose one, it can be difficult to change. Keep each platform as consistent as possible, and be sure to check every platform before you commit to any.
If your business name has already been taken, then try to localise it by adding AU or Australia at the end. An easy way to check if your desired username is free is by utilising a name checker online.
When setting up your social media profiles, be sure to check the following:
You fill all fields out correctly.
Use keywords that people would utilise to search for your business.
Your branding is consistent across all platforms.
Your profile pictures and cover photos are all the right specifications and are displaying correctly.
7. Content plan
When you’re first starting out with social media, it can be challenging to come up with ideas on what you should be posting to each platform. Get inspiration from the people around you (or from our article about how to craft copy that converts). Follow pages that are creating rich content and try to replicate what is working for them.
When it comes to your brand voice, tone and style, whatever you choose, ensure that you’re consistent. Not every image needs to be perfect, but your audience should know what to expect from you and should get what they expect each time you post, so work this out early.
Having a clear perception of this and detailing it in your social media strategy is crucial because it’s your reference point. It also paints a clear picture for anyone in your team who may be working on your social media accounts.
You can also draw inspiration from your current audience (if you have one). If you’re unclear of what content they would like to see, just ask them. Make the most of polls or quizzes on Instagram stories. It’s a great way to get some insight, engage with your audience and drive your content plan.
Establish your content mix
We recommend establishing pillars for your content. Content pillars are the foundation of your content. Each pillar has a direct link to your social media goals, and your posts should never deviate from these core messages.
Some examples of pillars are:
Educate. Content that helps educate your audience. Not necessarily relating to your product, but within your industry, detailing information that your audience may find beneficial.
Inform. Content that informs your audience of an exclusive sale, event or offer.
Entertain. Shareable content that keeps the audience entertained. This does not have to be linked to your product or service but relevant to your audience.
Your pillars can be specific to your business if your product or service is a niche, or broad if your offering is a little more complicated.
Some pillars will add more value to your business than others, but that doesn’t mean you should only hone in on them. Establish a solid mix and weight your content distribution accordingly.
Once you’re in the groove with your content, it’s crucial to engage with other people's content. After all, social media is all about two-way communication; engaging with those who are relevant to you or would likely be your customers is a surefire way to grow your account and online presence.
In the initial stages, we’d recommend setting aside 15 minutes of your day to find content sources relevant to you; go to their account and leave a meaningful comment or two on some of their posts. Avoid sounding spammy or bot-like with comments like, “This content is 🔥”. If you’re going to take the time to engage, it must be sincere.
Your social media strategy should also detail how you’re going to manage engagement on your page. If people leave you a comment, what requires a reply? We’d suggest all comments need a response.
Comments on your content feed the social algorithms and the deeper they go, the more impact they have. For example, one comment on a Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn post is ok, but if you can encourage the user to comment twice, you’re going to see a considerable shift in visibility. To do this, all you have to do is respond in a way that will push them to comment back.
Hashtags are helpful, particularly if you’re creating new accounts and focused on audience growth. Taking the time to learn which hashtags are most relevant to your business is essential.
You should create a list of the hashtags you’ll use within your posts, ideally up to 12, and the hashtags you’ll use to engage with other accounts (these may be the same). As we discussed in the engagement plan, when you’re searching for relevant content to comment on, use the hashtags that you’ve identified within your social media strategy to find them.
Create your content calendar
Managing your content via a content calendar is the only way you’ll be consistent and organised with your social media posting. It will take some time each week or fortnight to plan your content, but once done, you’ll be able to schedule the material in advance and not have to worry about creating content on the fly.
Now that you know the weighting of your content pillars, schedule your content to match it.
Educate content – 4 times per week
Inform content – 7 times per week
Entertain content – 2 times per week
Set your schedule
There are many scheduling tools available to ensure your content will auto-publish, and all channels have a native option for this. Facebook’s Creative Studio will allow you to schedule for Facebook and Instagram, but it does come with its limitations. For instance, you’re unable to schedule Instagram stories from Creative Studio (a feature that Facebook is currently working on), so for this, you will need to use a third-party app.
If you have an established audience, you can grasp an idea of the ideal time to post via the insights on Facebook and Instagram. Insights will detail the most popular days of the week as well as peak times for your audience’s online behaviour. Schedule your posts around this information.
Social media cannot have a ‘set and forget’ mentality. Even though you schedule your content in advance, you need to check your channels regularly and engage with your audience. If someone comments on your post, you need to be replying to them.
8. Evaluate and make changes
Once you have constructed your social media strategy, be sure to revisit it regularly. Your strategy needs to remain fluid and be able to change and adapt, just like your business would. The only way to understand whether your strategy is driving your social media goals and business objectives is to measure your success.
Create a reporting template as part of your strategy and use it regularly. It’s easy to measure and track success if you know what metrics will get you there, so establishing this early is important.
Whenever you link your audience to your website, you should be using UTM parameters. This will ensure you’re able to track their journey online and will give you a deeper understanding of your audience’s behaviours. UTM links will paint a clear picture of what type of content is driving people through to your website.
Your social media strategy needs to be front of mind for anyone in your business who needs to interact with your channels. It’s not a document that you create and file away, but one you should be revisiting regularly. Social media moves fast, so being agile with your strategy is essential. Let it evolve as the platforms do and when changes happen, be sure to re-evaluate and adjust as quickly as possible.
Creating a social media strategy can seem like a big and daunting task, and is one that many businesses put off, but the time invested is worth it. It’s the only way to operate your social pages with a clear and concise path to success. Remember: failing to plan is a plan to fail.
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