Over the past 10 years, businesses have figured out that they need a solid social media marketing strategy to boost visibility among potential customers. Harnessing the power of social media, it’s possible to reach and connect with new audiences thanks to the vast cross-platform networks available.
And unlike traditional forms of marketing, such as TV advertising and billboards, social media marketing can be done at a cost-effective price, where setting up a profile, and creating an online presence is free of charge. That sounds fairly simple, doesn’t it? Yes, it can be easy setting up a social media profile, but getting the most from it? You’ll need a social media marketing strategy for that.
Why is a social media marketing strategy important?
Although, social media is fairly easy to use (you can post what you want, when you want and how you want), it relies on continuous nurturing. Once you plant the seed, you can’t just expect it to flourish without a great amount of care and attention.
Like a well tended garden, your social media strategy creates the perfect conditions for seeing the seeds of an idea grow. But how do you achieve these ideal conditions for growth?
How can you build a perfect strategy?
To help your social media efforts bloom, there are certain must haves your strategy needs.
Create SMART goals and objectives
Start off with the basics. What do you want to achieve and how do you plan to achieve them. Think about SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Time Frame) targets that can help guide your process.
It’s likely your goal will focus around one of these common social media marketing objectives:
- Raising awareness of your brand with current and new audiences.
- Improving audience engagement and interaction with your content.
- Conversion of this engagement into leads and sales.
- Evaluation of how active consumers think and feel about your brand.
Once you’ve set your objective, you want to be able to look back once your strategy is underway and say ‘am I achieving what I set out at the start’. Considering things like your number of followers, post frequency, likes, shares and leads you want to be generating will help you do this. That’s why you’ll also need to know your numbers.
Set key performance metrics
You’ll need a benchmark to start, so review your social media channels. Your followers, likes and comments will help you get an understanding of your overall performance. The number of followers you have is an important metric as it indicates how your brand is engaging with potential customers (rather than who simply likes your brand). Alongside this metric, look at your likes, shares, tags and messages. This will show you WHO is engaging with your content.
Above all else make sure you’re tracking, measuring and collecting the metrics that relate to your overall objective. These will give you the information you need to prove success and show how your efforts are translating into business results. Here are a few the numbers that really matter depending on your chosen objective.
- Awareness metrics: social mentions, post reach, audience growth.
- Engagement metrics: post likes, comments and shares, content amplification and the virality of your content.
- Conversion metrics: click through rates, cost per click (CPC), conversion rates, bounce rates.
- Consumer metrics: customer testimonials, levels of customer satisfaction.
Conduct a competitor audit
Understanding how your competitors use their social media channels for marketing purposes is vital. You want to curate a completely unique strategy which sets you apart from your competition. It’ll also provide insight into what’s expected in your industry and what’s working well (and not so well). Conducting a competitor audit will also help you to spot opportunities, which you can then capitalise on.
Produce buyer personas
Understanding your audience profiles will help to build your strategy through a better understanding of their needs and how you can satisfy them. Buyer Personas are a representation of the sort of customers you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Or the type of new buyer you wish to attract.
By creating a buyer persona it narrows the gap between two crucial things. Your marketing activity and your buyer’s expectations. So when it comes to building your social media strategy, having your ideal customer in mind will help you create content that’s most likely to engage with target audiences and encourage interaction with your brand. These profiles will also help to inform which networks you use, how you use them and when to schedule posts for the best response.
For more information on creating a buyer persona, take a look at our post on how to create a buyer persona.
This is important. Don’t be afraid to look around, do some window shopping, see what others are putting out there. Don’t focus just on your competitors. Find channels that you like and see what they’re doing. Doing this will help you strengthen your brand identity on social media. For example, brands like Vans have always created content that is diverse and resonates with their target market. They’ve listened to customers and marketed products that individuals would like to see in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing.
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Think about your branding
You want your social media channels to have a continuous, identifiable brand which allows users to quickly recognise you when you interact, engage and post content. When your content appears in a user feed, they should know immediately it’s you who’s posted without even looking at your name.
So you need to make sure your profile pictures and cover images are consistent with your brand. And that all new content follows branding style and writing guides. You might want your strategy to include some form of editorial sign off prior to posting to ensure a consistent approach. Producing branded social media templates, along with a writing guide, might also prove useful if you’re got more than one person working across your channels.
Consider channel usage
It’s also important to consider how you plan to use each social channel. For example, rather than firing the same content over each network, it might be more appropriate to use Facebook for customer service (encouraging and responding to feedback, finding ideas for product/service development). Whereas Instagram might be used for showcasing and selling products, and Twitter for sharing news and updates. Your buyer personas will help provide an indication on which channels your audience prefers to use and for for which purpose. Use this to help inform your channel selection and usage plan.
Content creation is important
This is a tricky one, and often hard to get right. Knowing what your followers want to see on your channels is often down to current trends. It can also be down to what sort of customer you want to work with. That’s why understanding your audience is so important.
Once you’ve done your research into your audience and produced your personas, start looking at big brands who have an engaging social media marketing strategy. See what content they are sharing, and how they are sharing it. You’ll find that the content they post is always current to what’s going on around the world. Your social media marketing strategy should therefore include a content calendar. Fill this with important dates, like holidays, important milestones, and key dates. You want to be able to post content that’s relevant. There’s no point you sharing your offers for Black Friday two weeks after it’s happened. You need to know what’s going on.
Constantly test and evaluate
The important takeaway here is that your social media strategy should continuously be revisited. Social media is constantly changing and evolving as are your audience’s needs. To keep ahead of the curve, you’ll need to regularly evaluate what you’re doing and ask yourself ‘is it working?’. Are you getting positive engagement? Do people like what you’re selling? There’s nothing worse than spending copious amounts of hours creating content that people don’t like. So, make sure that you know what you’re doing is getting the results you need. Go back to your objective, have you hit them? Do they need to be changed? Should you add more? Reviewing performance, then revising your strategy as needed will help you get there.
As we mentioned at the start, planting the social media seed is easy. But making sure it grows is the hard part. With a well-researched and carefully thought-out social media marketing strategy you can keep your platforms productive and providing your business with a rich harvest.