How to craft a good social media marketing strategy

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A strategy is where you’re headed. A plan is how you’ll get there. One of the simplest ways to create your social media marketing strategy is to ask yourself the 5Ws:

  • Why do you want to be on social media?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are you going to share?
  • Where are you going to share?
  • When are you going to share?

A social media strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing. 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. A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them, and the metrics you will track to measure your progress.

Social media marketing is the practice of using social media channels to sell or promote a brand, product, or service. Social media marketing helps businesses:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Build engaged communities
  • Sell products and services
  • Measure how people feel about your business
  • Provide customer service on social media platforms
  • Advertise their products and services to target audiences
  • Track performance and adjust strategy accordingly

Your social media marketing strategy should also list all of your existing and planned social media accounts along with goals specific to each platform you’re active on. These goals should align with your business’s larger digital marketing strategy. Finally, a good social media plan should define the roles and responsibilities within your team and outline your reporting cadence.

To design/craft a good social media marketing strategy, the following plans should be in place:


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Select Relevant and Realistic Social Media Marketing Goals

Everything you post or do should be tied back to one of your goals as a business owner. Your marketing goals should ideally fit into your business plans. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Some goals to consider include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Achieving a set higher quantity of sales
  • Improving your ROI
  • Driving people to increase in-store sales
  • Growing your fan base


Determine Your Most Relevant Metrics

Social analytics can be a gray area because they are not the same for every business. Ideally, you should look at the marketing goals you set above, and determine which metrics will provide you with the answer as to whether you are meeting that goal. For example, if your goals are more sales-based, or you want to drive people to take a particular action, then you should take notice of the number of Clicks. Tracking Clicks per campaign will give you a good indication of what drives people to buy or do what you ask of them.


Decide Who You Want as Your Social Media Audience

Spend some time researching your target audience, looking for demographic and psychographic data or observable patterns that help you form a mental image of who is likely to buy from you. This exercise won’t just inform your initial strategy but also help you develop a voice and tone for your brand that resonates with them

Understand Your Social Media Audience

Social media marketing starts with understanding your ideal customer. Building rich context on your target audience takes time, but there are steps you can take immediately that will provide lasting value.


Select the Right Social Media Networks for Your Audience

Before thinking of signing up for every social media platform, it is ideal to find the right social networks for your business. You want to discover the social networks where your intended audience spends their time. You may have to carry out some research first to discover where your intended audience hangs out. This shouldn't be too difficult, particularly if you know your customers. If you don’t already understand this, you could survey them, asking them for their preferred social accounts. You could start with your audience's most preferred network and then widen to include others where a sufficiently large number operates active social accounts. You generally wouldn't need to go further than three to five social networks, however. Some of the most common include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


Investigate How Your Competitors Approach Social Media

You can quickly conduct a competitor analysis to help you better understand their strengths and weaknesses. This should give you a better understanding of what potential customers expect from businesses in your industry. You might spot your competitors’ weak social areas and be able to exploit the gaps. For instance, one of your competitors might be influential on Twitter, but have a weak Facebook presence, despite your target market using that network. In that case, it may pay you to put more resources into Facebook rather than competing head to head on Twitter.


Establish a Realistic Social Media Budget

Social media marketing is as viable a form of marketing like any other marketing type for most companies, and you should be prepared to allocate a budget accordingly. You can't expect social media success if you simply tag it onto the pre-existing list of duties your existing office staff performs. On the other hand, you shouldn't spend more on your social media activities than you can realistically earn in increased sales, or at least in brand recognition and awareness if that is more where your goals lie. As with any form of marketing, you should calculate a return on investment (ROI) from your social media expenditure, bearing in mind the goals you set earlier in your strategy.


Plan the Types of Content You Intend to Share

To be successful on social media, you will need high-quality content to share. Remember, social networks are designed to be social – they were never intended to be a marketplace for you to sell your products. Therefore, you need to balance the content you share socially, to be a mixture of informative and entertaining items, with a small percentage of promotional material added in. You will also need to like and share other peoples’ content. As a brand, you need to know your audience well and create the perfect content to interest your followers, and also balance the types of content that your target audience most enjoy, with the material that you feel best equipped and most comfortable making.


Set Up Your Accounts Properly Before You Make and Promote Content

It is of utmost importance that accounts be set up correctly. Use the correct colors, logos, and similar graphics on each network for a consistent visual look across all of your social channels. Don’t waste any of your social real estate. Take the time to fill in your bios and profiles fully. Make sure that you link to relevant places, perhaps even create specific landing pages on your website for people who click through from your social accounts. It is worth taking the time to ensure that you have uploaded all the images on your bios and profiles at the best resolution for the social network. Keep in mind your target audience as you set up each account. Ask yourself whether your page will interest these people, based on what you show on your bio or profile.


Establish the Best Times to Post and Set up a Content Calendar

Most of the social networks now use some form of algorithm to filter the results they give people. This means that if you post at a different time to when your target audience is online, they may never see your content. Ideally, you will want to use one of the social scheduling tools so you can set up and organize multiple posts at the same time.


Create Suitable Content to Share with Your Followers

People respond best to variety in their social feeds. Depending on the social network, they like a mix of enticing imagery, entertaining videos, and even some compelling text copy. So, while you want your content to have a general look, particularly within individual social campaigns, it should not all look the same. Of course, some social networks only allow you one or two of these content types, but you can still alter the mix of posts within a medium. It's important to remember that not every social channel is identical. Ideally, you should customize your content for each network.

There are four questions you should ask yourself when creating content:

  • What is the optimal character count per social media channel?
  • What is the number of hashtags for messages on each social channel?
  • Should I be using emoji in my social media messages?
  • What is the best content type for each channel?

Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content. Instagram has rapidly grown in importance over the last few years, and it has a significant visual focus. Top brands on Instagram report a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%. That is 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter. Each year, video content appears to increase in popularity, too. According to YouTube, mobile video consumption grows by 100% every year. 64% of customers say they are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.


Promote Your Social Channels

Although good content will ultimately sell your social channels, you still need to gain your initial following so people can first find then follow you. Channels can be promoted in various ways, some highly visible, others more subtly. You should place buttons for all your social accounts at various places on your website – on your home page, in your footer, on your About and Communications pages, for example.  If you have an email list, you should include a reference to your social channels in any emails and newsletters you send. You can easily add buttons to your social channels in the footer of every email and also run ads on your social media pages.

Of course, you can also promote your social channels offline. Include them in your store signage and old-school advertisements.


Engage with Your Audiences

Successful businesses do not just broadcast to their social audiences, they engage with them too because people don’t just go onto social networks for content, they also go online to interact. This is why you should not attempt to cover every social network unless you have a very diverse target market and an army of personnel dedicated to this task. By focusing your attention on the social networks your target market frequents, you can use your resources efficiently.

Some firms have found it very useful to create custom hashtags. Not only can these encourage discussions and sharing, but they also make it easier for you to search for posts that reference your business. Ideally, you should respond to all social mentions of your business and demonstrate that customer care is a priority for you.


Build a Community for Your Audience

One of the best ways of engaging with your audience is to create a clear community for them - being one of their "go-to" places each day by establishing a relatable personality online. Try and make your posts interactive and involve your audience. Make a point of asking them for an opinion. You could perhaps include quizzes and questions to collect your followers' views. Whatever you do, make sure your posts are interesting and of value.

One thing you need to give some thought to is who you use to run your social channels. Ideally, they should be employees who match the social demographics of your target audience. So for example, if you're targeting Generation Z, use your youngest employees to run the company's Instagram and TikTok accounts. Depending on your target audience's social platforms of choice, you could join and create relevant groups. Facebook Groups are ideal for B2C businesses; consider LinkedIn if your focus is more B2B.


Consider Paid Promotion to Boost Your Audiences

Paid promotions allow you to reach relevant audiences to whom you don't currently connect. You can use advertisements to build brand recognition, promote particular posts/videos, or even sell products. Most social networks allow you to buy some form of paid ads. Most will enable you to demographically target your ads, making them only visible to your preferred target audience.


Consider Working with Influencers to Widen Your Reach

Influencers have already mastered the art of social media marketing – that is their strength. They have built a solid reputation online, and have a large number of keen and interested followers. You might consider working with influencers, having them direct their followers to your social sites. You will, of course, have to create content that will interest them when they arrive at your pages, however. With the right set of influencers, you have the chance to reach a whole new audience, who hopefully will have an interest in your business and its products, and also increase your followers


Consider Working with Brand Advocates

Brand advocacy simply means that the people who love your product or services continue to show support for your brand by promoting your organization organically to new audiences. Your brand advocates can play a significant role in word-of-mouth marketing and drive new business by being enthusiastic fans of what your company does. They can include your executive leadership, company partners, employees, and existing customers. Although they may not have the same reach as the top influencers in your niche, some will already have sizeable audiences and solid reputations, and you have the added advantage that they already know and like your product.


Consider Using Chatbots as Part of Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

If you use messenger-type apps, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, then you could consider adding a chatbot that will provide your customers with assistance and it will progressively begin to get to know your customers and which of your products they are interested in. There are several existing chatbots you can integrate into your social channels for a monthly fee and you don't need any coding skills or have to pay a costly development team. They can help you resolve problems for your potential or existing customers without the need for any human interruption.


Run Cross-Channel Campaigns

Many businesses now have more than one social account and tie them together with cross-channel campaigns, you can even include your influencers and brand advocates in these campaigns too. But focus on those accounts that match the target audience for a specific campaign and share only the content types that each network specializes in for your campaign. For example, you would only share images relating to your campaign on Instagram, videos of more than a few minutes duration on YouTube, short videos on TikTok, and short, sharp 280-character tweets on Twitter. You will, of course, wish to use consistent branding across all the messages on all your social networks for your cross-channel campaign. Ideally, you might create an overall landing page giving more details about your campaign and linking all your messages there. Remember to create a unique, memorable hashtag for these campaigns


Track Your Results, Learn and Adapt

No matter how much you plan your social efforts, there is no guarantee that things will work as you expected. But if you don’t track your results, you will never know the success of your social campaigns. You began the process by setting goals and then determined your most relevant metrics. Hence, you will want to keep a constant eye on how these metrics are progressing.

Use analytic tools to track your success. If they show that you are producing popular, well-shared content, create more of that type. If your content doesn’t perform so well, take note of what does work, and adapt your social sharing to focus on the kind of material your followers preferred. You could also consider surveying your social audience to discover what they think of your social strategy. Your followers may come up with valuable ideas that you hadn't thought about. Don’t be afraid to make changes if there is a chance that you can further improve your social success.


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Developing a social media marketing strategy is probably one of the hardest things to do because it requires you to step back and look at the big picture. You have to shift your mindset away from your daily tasks like scheduling and replying to comments to higher-level thinking. But it’s greatly rewarding and helpful to have a social media marketing strategy so that you aren’t just posting content just for the sake of posting content. It’ll help you achieve your social media and business goals.


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