We all know social media marketing is hugely important in building a brand, connecting with your target audience, and driving traffic to your website. A whopping 90% of social media users have used social media to communicate with a brand or business.
But what we also know (and would maybe rather ignore) is that any online marketing efforts are practically pointless without a detailed strategy in place.
You simply cannot set out to promote your brand or service on social media without first sitting down to lay out your strategy. A social media marketing strategy is essential to give your online marketing efforts a purpose, helping you to define your goals, your target audience, and key targets for the year. Having defined goals and objectives, and a plan for how to achieve them, allows you to measure the return on investment for your online marketing activity and improve your efforts in subsequent years.
Yes, it’s time consuming, and a road block for anyone who is eager to get stuck in, but strategic thinking is absolutely necessary to get measurable results.
Getting started and figuring out how to put it on paper can be challenging. Our Social Media Manager, Lyndsey, put together our 10 steps to creating a social media strategy.
Before we start…
A quick note before we start – in this blog we are going to talk about ‘strategy’ and ‘campaign’, but what’s the difference between the two? Your social media strategy is the big picture, the ‘who, what, when, where, how’ of your online marketing activities. Social media campaigns meanwhile, live within your strategy. You might have multiple campaigns a year, they are more targeted, focussing on a particular message or goal, e.g. a product launch campaign.
Step 1 – Key Objectives
Firstly, you need to define your key objectives, and make sure they are measurable and achievable. Examples of common, measurable objectives in social media strategies are things like brand awareness, website traffic, engagement, conversions, and video views. Decide what it is you want to achieve, and set targets with a time period e.g. increase website visitors by 50% year on year, or gain 100 new followers in 3 months. Don’t worry if your targets end up being a bit off the mark, setting these figures the first time around can be challenging, so just make sure you review them for next time.
Step 2 – Audience
In your branding work you will have defined your audience and built personas, but now that you are well acquainted with your audience, you should define them in the context of the online world. Ask yourself, where do they live online, what platforms do they use? How do they use these platforms? What are they interested in? When it comes to social advertising, having this information will be very useful, and will put you in the best position to utilize the extensive targeting opportunities available to you. In social advertising, you can target by:
Location – where they are living, or have previously lived
Interests – anything they have expressed an interested in, or pages they like
Behaviours – do they respond to events, do they spend a lot online, do they travel, are they early adopters?
Demographics – age, parental status, education, relationship status
Even life events like recently married, recently moved, or returned from travelling one week ago
Step 3 – Key Messages
Next, define your key messages for your overall strategy. This involves nailing down your top-line messages, the ‘who we are and what we do’ of your business or brand, condensed into short and snappy sentences. These are the messages you will try to communicate in every piece of social media activity you produce.
Step 4 – Key Platforms
Define which social platforms you are going to use, will you focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok? Ask yourself where your audience is based and which platforms they are using. Having a strong presence across multiple platforms is a great asset (it helps you dominate the first page of search engine results for your brand name for one thing) but there’s no point creating a profile on a platform your audience doesn’t use, or starting an account and leaving it dormant. Remember that each platform has a different purpose, style and audience, and make sure it’s right for your business.
Step 5 – Strategic Activities
This is where we get into the detail of your strategy – planning your activities on social. Look at your key messages, your objectives and your audience, and plan the steps, initiatives and activities you will carry out to realise these goals. You do this by taking an objective, and strategically planning specific activities to achieve this goal. Will you engage in social listening? Would influencer marketing help you reach your audience? Maybe blogging could help drive traffic to your website. There’s a lot to get excited about here, but make sure you always have your objectives, audience, and key messages in mind.
Step 6 – Schedule
Next, you need to schedule your marketing activities across your social channels for the year. Identify the key periods for your business, look at holidays or events you want to incorporate, decide when you will run specific campaigns, schedule time for activity reviews. It helps to set this out in the form of a year-long calendar.
Step 7 – Content Creation
Now it’s time to create the content needed to carry out your strategy: blogs, images, videos, graphics etc. Make sure your content is valuable, good quality, and tailored for each platform. Not only are there different content formats for each platform, there can be differences in tone, copywriting and messaging. Think about your content strategy – what kind of blogs will you write, will you incorporate user generated content, how will you repurpose evergreen content for multiple uses? Plan time for content creation at multiple times throughout the year.
Step 8 – Roll Out
You are now ready to roll out your strategy across your social channels! This is where you carry out your strategy by following your marketing calendar, posting content, launching ads, and carrying out scheduled activities. You might look into social scheduling tools to help with the roll out process, such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Later.
Step 9 – Measuring and Monitoring
While you are rolling out, it’s important to continually measure and monitor results, to determine the most effective content and approach. Rather than just posting your content and never looking at it again, make sure you are checking in to see what worked and what didn’t and update your approach accordingly. In particular when running social ads, it’s important to monitor the results – are results slowing down, is the cost per result going up, is the frequency of delivery getting too high? If something isn’t performing well, pause it, take action, and change it up.
Step 10 – Review and Analysis
The final step! Make sure you review your activity at multiple stages throughout the year and across all social channels. Analyse your results – look at your social insights, your website analytics and sales data for 360 analysis. Make sure you schedule review periods after every campaign during the year – look carefully at advertising results, was it effective? How could you improve? Did you achieve your objective? Were your targets met and were they realistic?
Carrying out each of these steps as part of your social media strategy will ensure that your marketing efforts are carefully considered, effectively implemented, and measured for results. Good luck!
Piquant is a dynamic media agency based in Limerick City.
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