Looking to refocus your social media strategy, or create one from scratch? We know this can seem daunting – and that social channels have become more complicated over time. However, with a little help from us, you can create a succinct strategy to help your brand or company achieve its social media goals.
But what is a social media strategy, exactly?
Put simply, it’s the practise of using social media to promote a business, brand, product, or service. Strategies tend to focus on increasing brand awareness, creating engaged communities, selling products/services, offering more efficient customer service and support, and engineering targeted advertising campaigns.
That may sound like a lot to think about but don’t panic – we’ve put together a seven-step guide to help you create a winning social media strategy.
SMART is an acronym that you can use to manage goal-setting for your social media strategy. To ensure that your objectives are clear and attainable, each one should be:
You can measure your social media metrics to see what impact your plans are making. This is your chance to see whether the numbers prove that your effort has had a positive result for the business, and will also help you to make data-driven decisions going forward.
Examples of key metrics include:
- Engagement rate: this is the number of engagement actions (likes, shares, comments) a post receives from your total number of followers.
- Brand awareness: can be measured through metrics such as mentions, shares, links, and impressions over a specific time period.
- Audience growth: measures the speed at which your brand’s following increases on social media, and how quickly those followers are gained.
- Post reach and potential reach: reach is how many people have seen a post since it went live, whilst potential reach measures the number of people who could see a post during a certain period. Understanding this metric will help you work to expand your audience.
An example of using a SMART goal for your social media strategy could be implementing direct messaging on Instagram. This would allow your customer service team to communicate with customers, and cut down your brand’s average response rates – thereby increasing customer satisfaction. You could analyze engagement, growth, and reach within a month of starting this, as well as monitoring mentions and comments to see if there’s a positive response to this change.
What’s next? Understanding your audience is key if you want to grow your business and brand. It’s important to post content that appeals to them, so that they like, comment, and share. This is how you turn social media followers into customers!
When it comes to your target customer, you need to know factors such as age, location, average salary, and what their interests/hobbies are. To find this out, you can do some analysis. For example, Sprout’s analytics dashboard showcases your audience demographics and which channels are seeing the most activity, thereby helping you to refocus your strategy.
Now it’s time for some competitor analysis so you can learn from what your rivals are doing – or, perhaps more pertinently, what they’re not doing. This will help you to understand who your main competitors are, and where new opportunities might lie in the market to make money via social media.
So how can you do this? Well, social listening is a great place to start. You can begin by doing searches of the competition’s company name and account handles on social media to check out what they’re sharing. Also, keep an eye on the mentions of your own brand, as well as keywords related to your business and industry to stay in the loop.
Want some extra help? Some social media management tools allow you to set up listening streams to monitor keywords too and are quick, efficient and easy to use to boot.
You’re now ready to create those all-important social media accounts. Hopefully, your audience insights will have given you an overview of which channels your potential customers and followers use the most, so begin here. Remember, it’s better to start small and focus on growth for key channels, rather than give yourself too many to manage.
When you’ve decided which channels to focus on, you can get cracking with your profiles, or refocus existing ones in line with your new strategy.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make sure you fill out all profile fields and relevant information.
- Do some keyword research, and then integrate these relevant terms into the copy of your social accounts. This will make your accounts easier to find, and ensure they attract the right people.
- Use the same logos and imagery across your brand’s various social media channels, to make sure they look professional and consistent.
- Use high-res imagery that does your product and services justice. It’s worth researching which dimensions work for which channels, so everything looks polished and sleek.
- Include links to relevant websites and ensure your brand bios are consistent across channels – this copy could be pulled from your ‘about me’ web pages, or be entirely original.
If you want inspiration, you can find ideas on how to create an aesthetic author bio on Instagram here.
What you share on your social channels has a huge impact – which is why planning this content properly is essential. Whether this is in the form of a simple spreadsheet, Google Calendar, or something more sophisticated, it helps to list the dates and times when you’ll post, as well as what you’ll be posting.
We’d recommend doing some research on when is best to post, and experimenting with different times. You could start with one post a day on key channels, for instance – depending on the response – build from there. It’s all about consistency! Whether you’re trying to increase your Instagram likes, or have implemented more specific social media KPIs, we’d advise you to start posting consistently at the same time each day, and go from there.
Managing social media can feel overwhelming – and so can the thought of posting daily! But don’t panic – there are plenty of tools out there nowadays which allow you to automate your posts.
With automatic posting, you write and create your posts, then simply schedule them to share at a later date. This also means that you can plan ahead, scheduling your posts for the coming week with ease. The result? No manual posting daily and a clear overview of your strategy week by week, which is great for sharing content plans with the wider business.
Here are some of our favourites tools for automating social posts:
- Hootsuite is ideal for all-in-one social media monitoring, scheduling, and analytics. It also comes with a social streams feature, which allows you to engage with your audience and monitor your social accounts right from a single, intuitive dashboard – simple!
- SproutSocial is great for team collaboration and social media management. The scheduling software can group your team members for strong collaboration and allows you to integrate tools for support teams to manage users issues quickly and efficiently.
- CoSchedule is a tool focused on publishing. Utilize CoSchedule’s dynamic content scheduling and calendar feature to manage your Facebook, Twitter (learn how to sell on Twitter), LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr social profiles from the same place, with ease.
The final step to a thriving social media plan? To keep trying new things and adjusting your strategy accordingly. Social media success is often a case of trial and error – and if you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Weekly reporting and reviewing metrics is a good place to start, and tracking engagement on posts will show you what is working and what isn’t. If you use Google Analytics, you’ll also be able to see how much traffic social media is driving to your website week-on-week. Remember to refer back to your SMART goals, and create new ones when necessary.
Things on social media change quickly, as new channels emerge and popularity shifts. Therefore, your social media strategy should be something that can be reactive – don’t hesitate to make changes as you see fit, and learn more about your target audience as you go along. Keep your team engaged and updated too, so you can all work together to evolve your content and keep growing.
So, whether you’re creating a social media strategy from scratch or improving an existing one, implementing these seven steps will help you on your way. Remember – your social media presence can have a huge impact on your business and increase sales, so it’s worth focusing on this, and continuing to reevaluate it.
With a little guidance and some commitment, you’ll have a strong following before you know it!
Here’s a reminder of those 7 steps on how to create a social media strategy:
- Set SMART Goals
- Understand Your Audience
- Conduct Competitor Analysis
- Create Social Accounts
- Create a Social Calendar
- Automate Your Social Posts
- Test and Keep Improving