It can help you to guide your actions and track whether you're succeeding or failing.
Roseblade Top Tip: keep your strategy specific and concise. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to execute the plan. But if you make it too flowery, you'll find it hard to track your progress.
So what should you include in your social media marketing strategy?
1. Audit what you're currently doing
Before you can plan for the future, you need to know what you're currently doing and what's worked well for you in the past.
However, you can't just focus on the positives; you also need to know the negatives as well. So what should you be looking at?
- Account information
- Content performance
- Audience details
- Paid social media practices
A good way of doing this is to complete a SWOT analysis, where you look at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
2. Define your target audience
Once you know your target audience, you will know what, where and when you are going to share your posts.
If you're unsure who your target audience is, you can start by building marketing personas. Think of the following questions:
- Who are they? What is their job title, age, gender, salary, and location?
- What are they interested in that you can provide? Do they want to be entertained or educated?
- What do they do online? Do they spend their time on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter?
- When do they look for your content? Do they browse during their daily commute, or are they only online on weekends?
- How do they consume the content? Do they prefer blogs, videos or social media posts?
If your business has been running for a while, you likely have an idea of who your audience is. So it's not like you're starting completely from scratch. But by having it written down, you can share it with other members of your team or keep it for your own reference in the future.
3. Find out about your competition
It's always good to know what your competitors are doing so you can try to learn from their successes and failures.
By knowing who your competition is and what they're doing well, you can get a sense of what's expected of social media in your industry. You can use these expectations to help you set your social media targets.
But it can also help you see any opportunities where your competitors aren't doing as well.
If you find that one of your competitors is very active on Twitter, but they only post on Facebook once a month, you know you can compete with them on Facebook with very little effort.
Roseblade Top Tip: use social media listening to keep an eye on your competitors. Search for your competitor's company names, account handles, and other relevant keywords. Take a look at what they're sharing, what other people are saying about them and where they are posting.
While listening to your competitor's social media, you may notice patterns and shifts in content. These could be new trends that you're able to capitalise on, so keep them in mind when you're developing the content you're going to be posting.
4. Establish your most important metrics
Whatever your goals are, or the industry you are in, you need to make sure your overall social media strategy is data-driven.
While you might think that this means only monitoring the number of likes you receive, these are what's known as vanity metrics, they look good, but they don't mean anything in the long run.
So what should you be monitoring?
- Reach - this is the number of unique users who saw your post. It can tell you how many people actually see your post, whether directly or through post shares.
- Clicks - this is the number of clicks on your content or account. It can tell you which content works well enough to drive curiosity to find out more.
- Engagement - this is the number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This metric can tell you how willing people are to interact with your posts and your business.
- Hashtag performance - this is how you can tell how well your hashtags perform. You can also see which hashtags are associated with your brand and whether you should use them in the future.
- Organic and paid likes - rather than just seeing how many likes your account has received, you can see whether any of these have come from paid content. If you're seeing that your paid content is performing much better than your organic content, then this can shape the future direction of your content.
- Sentiment - this measures how users react to your brand. If your users found your latest campaign offensive, you'll likely be receiving a negative sentiment.
These metrics can tell you different things about how your content is performing, so you need to keep an eye on them and set your goals against them. But be careful and only track the ones which are important to your business. For example, if you don't do paid marketing on social media, tracking your paid likes will be pointless.
5. Find inspiration
While you may think that you only want to post unique, attention-grabbing content, you might find that you can quickly run out of ideas. To combat this, you can draw on what your competitors post; just don't directly copy them and their work. But how do you find this great content?
- Social media success stories - the business side of social media platforms often have case studies that have worked well. You can then use these for inspiration to see what others in your industry have done which worked well.
- Look at your favourite brands - you follow certain brands for a reason. What are they posting that keeps you engaged with their content? Are you there for the customer stories, or do they have a funny customer service side?
- Ask your followers - you have an audience; let them influence you. Take notice of what your audience is talking about and their wants and needs. If you have an existing following, simply ask them what they want to see from you; just make sure you deliver what you promise.
6. Create a social media content calendar
Not only do you need to know what content you'll be posting, but you also need to know when you should be posting to receive maximum impact. So what should you be including in your content calendar?
- Set a posting schedule - what dates and times are you going to be posting? Are you going to be posting images at 3pm on a Tuesday? Or are you going to be posting website links at 9am on a Monday? You should set your schedule for both day-to-day posting and social media campaigns. But whatever time and day you choose, make sure your posts are spaced appropriately and published at the best time to post.
- Determine the right content mix - this should be determined by the goals you have already set for your social media. So, for example, you might decide that 30% of your content will support lead generation, while 50% will drive traffic to your website, and 20% will be about your company culture. The mix you use will depend on your goals and the content your audience will expect to see from you, so this may take a little bit of tweaking to get right.
- Make sure you're posting the right amount - if you're starting out, you might not know how often you should be posting. If you post too frequently, you could be annoying your audience, but if you post too little, you might not be worth following.
7. Create amazing content
Provide some examples of the content you'll be posting to your social media channels and how they align with your goals.
Ideally, your content will be suited to both the network it's going out on and the purpose you've designated for that network.
For example, if you've decided to post fun videos on TikTok, you wouldn't post corporate boardroom meetings.
Working out which type of content works best on which platform might take some trial and error, but once you've figured it out, add it to your strategy.
8. Make sure your accounts are properly set up
This is an important step to complete before you share any of your amazing content.
Maybe you're trying out a new platform, or maybe you set up your platforms a while ago, and you need to make sure nothing has changed; by making sure your accounts are set up properly, you know you're showing your business in its best light.
Things to check include:
- Colours, logos and graphics should all be in line with your branding
- Profile details and bios should be fully filled out
- Do you have a link back to your own website?
- Do the details in your bio align with what your audience would expect from your brand?
9. Maximise your reach
Unfortunately, even if you plan the best times to post for your audience to be online and only stick to posting during these times, it still might not be enough. You may need to find other ways to maximise your reach, including:
- Investing in paid campaigns
- Retargeting individuals who have already shown an interest in your brand
- Teaming up with influencers who have a similar target audience as yourself
- Sharing your posts to different groups (if applicable to the channel)
10. Analyse your results
Once you've started to implement your strategy, you'll likely find things that aren't working as you expected them to.
Maybe your audience is online at a different time than you planned, or maybe they're not such a fan of blog posts and prefer to watch videos.
One way you can see whether your content is working is by looking at the metrics you decided were important in point 4.
Maybe you've found that although you're getting a high reach, you're not getting a very high engagement on your posts. Checking your performance against these metrics can help you understand whether your posts are living up to expectations.
Then it's just a case of tweaking your strategy and starting again. Don't worry if you don't get it right the first time; it's all a learning experience.