While you might be thinking, "I know how to use social media and what I should be posting and liking, I can just wing it", this isn't the case. You need to think through what you will be posting and what you're hoping to achieve from the post.
Think of it a bit like starting a business; you didn't just wake up one morning and open a shop later that day. You spent some time planning what you would be selling, who your customers are, whether you had any unique selling points that would draw in your customers. It's the same with your social media; you need to spend time planning what you will do and how you will do it.
So, with that in mind, how do you create a social media marketing strategy?
Step 1: Choose social media marketing goals that align with your business objectives
Without having social media goals in place, you won't have any way to measure the success of your campaign or the return on investment.
A good way of setting goals is to make sure they're SMART goals. These are goals that are Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-bound.
An example of a SMART goal for social media could be: We will boost our brand awareness by increasing our Instagram followers by 500 by the end of next month.
Make sure you're tracking meaningful metrics
It's all well and good having the goal of increasing your follower count when you're in the process of growing your brand awareness. But what about if you're trying to increase sales? Suddenly your follower count isn't going to provide you much insight.
You may find it better to track different goals for the various channels you use. Alternatively, you can use different social media channels for specific purposes.
- You could use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, so tracking click-throughs would be the way to go.
- You could use Instagram for brand awareness, so tracking the number of Instagram Story views would be good for you.
- You could use Facebook for advertising your business, then Cost Per Click (CPC) is a common way of measuring the campaign's success.
Just make sure that your goals align with the overall goals of your business and your marketing objectives.
To start your plan, think of, and write down at least three goals for your social media.
Step 2: Get to know your audience
You need to know your audience and what they want to see on social media. Once you know this, you can create content that they will like, comment on, and share.
The basic things you should try to know are:
- The age of your followers
- The location of your audience
- The average income of your audience (you need to know whether they can afford your products)
- The typical job title or industry they are working in
- If there are any particular interests they have
If you start to see your audience as real people with real interests, you'll begin to create content that connects with them.
Don't forget; you don't have to guess at these. Use social media analytics to answer the questions you have about your audience.
Step 3: Know your competition
You'll probably find that your competitors are using social media, which means you can keep an eye on what they're posting. Take stock of what they're doing and learn from it, and more importantly - their mistakes.
Conduct a competitor analysis
A competitor analysis will allow you to see what your competition is doing well (and not so well); this can help you find opportunities.
For example, one of your competitors might be leading the way on Twitter, leaving very little room for you to be found. But what if you find that they're not using Facebook or Instagram? This could be somewhere that you could flourish without being overshadowed by them.
Step 4: Set up accounts and improve your profiles
Once you have decided which networks you'll be using, you'll need to define your strategy for each of them.
Roseblade Top Tip: When creating your social media profiles, write out a mission statement for each one to help keep you focused on the specific goal it was set up for.
Example: We will use Instagram to increase our brand awareness through sharing business updates and interesting facts about us.
If you can't think of a mission statement for a specific network, you may need to re-think why you want to use it and whether it'll be worth it.
Set up your profiles
Once you've decided on the networks you want to focus on, you need to start creating your profiles for them.
Roseblade Top Tip:
- Make sure you fill out all the profile fields
- Include keywords that are related to your business
- Be consistent with your branding, making sure you're easily recognisable
Step 5: Be inspired (or find inspiration from elsewhere)
While your brand needs to be unique, don't be afraid to find inspiration from other businesses that are on social media.
- Look through success stories and find your own case studies that you can post about.
- Look at who you follow and think about why you follow them; what do they post that compels you to keep coming back for more?
- Think about how you can keep on top of customer service in a way that stays within your brand voice.
- Hold a Q&A session with your followers; whatever questions your audience is asking, answer them in a way that's consistent with your brand voice.
- Listen to what your target customers are talking about online. Is there any way that you can add to the conversation?
Step 6: Create a social media calendar
Your social media calendar can be as simple (a spreadsheet with a few links in it) or as complex (a custom dashboard that allows you to manage multiple feeds at once) as you need it to be.
Include all the information you need to have to make it worthwhile for you:
- The date the post is going live
- The social network the post will be used on
- The text, images, videos etc. that will be used in the post
- Links and tags that you're going to use in the post
- Any other relevant information such as whether it will be an Instagram feed post or whether it will be a Story
Step 7: Create compelling content
There are a few different ways to make sure your content is compelling enough for your followers to share it.
Make sure your content is high quality. If you only post about superficial topics, you'll start to see that your users aren't sharing your content. You will probably find that more of your long-form content is shared by users interested in what you have to say.
Be smart with your structuring. Users don't want to read a wall of text; break it up with numbering or bullet points. This quickly highlights the important information that your readers need to look out for.
Add value to your followers' lives. While being informative is good, you need to make sure that they can implement the advice you're giving them.
Offer incentives. People love getting things for free; use this to boost interest in your products and services.
Exploit trendy topics. Staying on trend is a good way to stay relevant; sharing the latest industry news shows you know what you're talking about and can increase the number of shares your content gets.
Be personable. Show your followers that you're an actual human with your own likes and dislikes. Be attention-grabbing with funny images and videos.
Step 8: Track your campaigns and adjust when you need to
You've created accounts and been posting content to them, but how do you know whether your content is working?
Remember the goals you chose in step 1? Find metrics you can track to make sure you're achieving them. This could be measuring your increase in brand awareness through the number of mentions, shares, links and impressions.
Or it could be measuring the number of people who are actively engaging in your brand and interacting with your content through the number of likes your post receives.
There is no right or wrong answer for what you should be tracking to make sure your campaigns are working. As long as you are tracking them to make sure they're achieving what you want them to be.
Creating a social media marketing strategy can involve a lot of work, but once you've implemented it you should start to see your campaigns improve in line with the goals you have set in place for them.