In today’s world no one is really unfamiliar with social media. You might not use it but you certainly know what it is. Individuals use it to stay connected with their peers and friends but companies use social media platforms to increase their brand knowledge among people.
If you are an Instagram user, you might have seen ads pop up after stories and in between posts on feed. A similar type of social media campaign can be run for any of the available platforms that support ads namely Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Snapchat among others.
But social media can be a tough nut to crack, as the rules, opportunities, audiences, and value propositions vary greatly from one channel to another – and can shift gears abruptly without a moment’s notice.
Two of the biggest social media challenges businesses faced included missing a formal strategy (24%), followed by tracking results (17%).The Manifest’s Survey of Social Media Marketers
Social Media Strategy
Now in order to formulate a strategy, we first need to understand what it means. A strategy should define the main aim of your social media presence and set the parameters for what it will deliver and how it will be delivered. It will be supported by a tactical plan that defines how the strategy will be delivered, including the channels, resource and budgets to achieve it.
The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be. Keep it concise. Don’t make it so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable or impossible to measure. An effective plan is essential for assuring the success of your overall social media marketing efforts.
A social media plan helps:
- Maintain consistent posting schedules across channels
- Avoid last-minute rushing to find content to share
- Stop missing the boat on trending topics due to poor planning
Without a strategy, you might be posting on social media platforms for the sake of posting. Without understanding what your goals are, who your target audience is, and what they want, it’ll be hard to achieve results on social media. Whether you want to grow your brand through social media or to level up as a social media marketer, developing a social media marketing strategy is essential.
Given below are 6 steps that will help you create a winning social media strategy
How to Build Social Media Strategy?
STEP 1: Set Energizing Goals and Objectives
The first step to creating a winning strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Essentially a goal is a description of a destination, and an objective is a measure of the progress that is needed to get to the destination.
Use SMART goals framework i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-Bound to set realistic goals. At the same time, the goals should be audience-centric and tied to organizational impact.
Once the goals are set, they need to be tracked in order to monitor the progress. This is done through a number of matrices like no. of shares, comments, followers etc. You may want to track different goals for different networks, or even different uses for each network.
- If you use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, you would measure click-throughs.
- For brand awareness on Instagram, you might track the number of Instagram Story views.
- If you advertise on Facebook, cost-per-click (CPC) is a common success metric.
STEP 2: Understand Target Audience
Knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social media is key. That way you can create content that they will like, comment on, and share. It’s also critical if you want to turn social media followers into customers for your business.
For the purpose of social media strategy planning, there are three main audience groups we care about reaching:
- Most Valuable Customers- Focus on your MVP (Most Valuable Personas) for your primary goal. Building a better relationship with this audience—and attracting more like them—will drive the greatest return from your social media investment. So, while your business may want to recruit employees, attract customers, and engage with influencers—your primary content and channel strategy should be formed from your most valuable prospects and customers.
- Aspirational Customers- This segment represents the audience you want to grow into next. This group might be important for business growth in the next 5 years. Often, it’s a younger generation you hope to influence, or consumers of an emerging business segment. They might not be an immediate priority, but they should be identified and understood.
- Influencer Audience- The segment who can lift up your brand and reach your customers. Defining this group can be key to unlocking earned media and traffic.
So, once you have defined your target audience, gather data about their social media habits. Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, and how they interact with your brand on social media. These insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your audience.
Jugnoo, an Uber-like service for auto-rickshaws in India, used Facebook Analytics to learn that 90% of their users who referred other customers were between 18 and 34-years-old, and 65% of that group was using Android. They used that information to target their ads, resulting in a 40% lower cost per referral.
STEP 3: Competition Assessment
This is a very important step towards social media marketing. Once you decide to explore this space, you might realise your competitors are already using it to fuel their brand. So, learn from them. Conduct a competitive analysis to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.
Tracking your competitor’s social media presence would give you an idea about their strategy and you would be able to find the opportunities to enhance your own strategy. Employ social listening and do searches of the competition’s company name, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Find out what they’re sharing and what other people are saying about them. As you track, you may notice shifts in the way channels are used. Or, you might spot a specific post or campaign that really hits the mark—or totally bombs. Use this kind of intel to inform your own social media marketing strategy.
STEP 4: Establish Channel Strategy
Your audit should give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social accounts serves. If the purpose of an account isn’t clear, think about whether it’s worth keeping. As you decide which social networks to use, you will also need to define your strategy for each.
To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my audience here?
- If so, how are they using this platform?
- Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?
You should be on the same networks as your audience. Throwing content at channels where your audience is inactive is about as effective as shouting your message in a crowded room. There should be a direct link between investing time and resources on the primary platform and the priority goals you set.
Zwift, a multiplayer online cycling training software company, has started a club on Strava, a social network for athletes. Their club has more than 57,000 cyclists, and thousands engage with their posts on Strava.
Gone are the days where following best practice meant being “everywhere.” Remember that more channels to maintain means more resources to manage. Choose (and cut) wisely. As a test, you could set up social profiles for every network and use their native paid promotion capabilities to find your audience. Review the results of each networks’ analytics, and continue using the channels with the biggest results.
Also, during the audit, you may discover fake accounts using your business name or the names of your products. These imposters can be harmful to your brand- report them. You may want to get your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts verified to ensure your fans know they are dealing with the real you.
STEP 5: Design Content Strategy
Now once you have established your chosen social media and audience, it’s time to plan out the content you’d post on your pages. An effective social media content strategy structures your content plans and outlines what you’ll publish across channels. This social media framework could be used as a blueprint for organizing one-off campaigns, or your entire ongoing content strategy.
A research from Paddle Consulting shows that the content is of 4 types-
- Funny content that helps people laugh
- Useful content that helps people learn something new
- Beautiful content that helps people fall in ‘like’
- Inspired content that helps people feel inspired through powerful storytelling
Understand your take on each and curate your content accordingly. Consistency also helps keep your content on-brand even if you have multiple people on your social media team. That’s key to letting people know what to expect from your feed. That is, why should they follow you? What’s in it for them?
If you have existing social channels, you could also ask your followers what they want from you. Just make sure that you follow through and deliver what they ask for. This also gives you an opportunity to engage with your target audience and increases footfalls on your profile.
Sharing great content is essential, of course, but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact. A social media content calendar is like the Marie Kondo of your entire social media strategy. Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images and link sharing to blog posts and videos. It includes both your day-to-day posting and content for social media.
Make sure your calendar reflects the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile, so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.
STEP 6: Re-evaluate
Your social media strategy is a hugely important document for your business, and you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.
Once this data starts coming in, use it to re-evaluate your strategy regularly. You can also use this information to test different posts, campaigns, and strategies against one another. Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your strategy in real time.
Surveys can also be a great way to find out how well your strategy is working. Ask your followers, email list, and website visitors whether you’re meeting their needs and expectations, and what they’d like to see more of. Then make sure to deliver on what they tell you.
All of this means that your social media strategy should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. Refer to it often to stay on track, but don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans.
Social media marketing is difficult. Too many companies create social media accounts — and then throw in the towel when they don’t see immediate results. Others maintain a social presence because they think they need one- even though it’s not driving results. In either case, the missing piece is having a social media plan that works. But don’t give up too easily, it might not yield a perfect outcome in the first go, but overtime the results will improve.