How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

With 81% of people having at least one social media profile and spending an average of 2 hours per day on social media, social media marketing is a powerful strategy to promote your business and begin a conversation with your existing and target customers. In order to maximize the impact of social media marketing, it is important to create a detailed strategy behind the content that will be shared on social media, along with goals and key performance indicators in order to analyze your success and opportunities for optimization.

Adding a social media marketing strategy to your digital marketing campaigns can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right people and process, your strategy roadmap becomes a little more clear. To help you get off on the right foot, here are some key steps to developing a strong social media marketing strategy:

Step 1: Determine your goals and set your KPIs

The first step in creating a social media marketing strategy is to determine your objectives:  improve brand awareness, drive leads/sales, increase website views, etc.

A helpful way to frame your goals is to create S.M.A.R.T goals, meaning Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. This will ensure that your social media goals are aligned with your objective, quantifiable business goals, rather than more vague, subjective ideas. For example, a S.M.A.R.T goal would be to “Increase leads generated from landing pages by 10% in the first quarter.”

Now, this is where some controversy comes in. We believe all marketing tactics should be aligned to revenue and sales goals. So, when determining your KPIs, we always recommend measuring metrics beyond only “fluff metrics”, such as likes and shares, since it is hard to measure their true impact on the bottom line (sales).

While it is important to measure metrics like engagement and reach, they are usually an indicator of brand awareness. If brand awareness is one of your goals, it is important to measure engagement metrics to understand your brand reach and resonance, but why not take it one step further? Try to measure metrics that help you understand engagement as it relates to your target audience (e.g. new followers demographics), and how that engagement is contributing to the buyer’s journey (e.g. website traffic and bounce rate from social media). This will give you a much better idea of how social media marketing is contributing to your overall business goals.

Step 2: Understand your audience

Your business was created to serve a specific need for a specific audience, and not everyone will purchase your products. So, not all content will resonate with everyone – knowing your specific buyer personas will help determine the social networks that you create profiles for, the type of content that you post, and the conversations that you begin on social media.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospects) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different types of buyers. Researching your prospects, through interviews and external sources, provides all the details you need to know: exactly what information prospects want and how they want to receive it. Once you’ve done the research, use personas to bring it to life and better illustrate your target audience.

Step 3: Research your competition

Take a look at what your competition is sharing and talking about. This will help you understand your unique market position, your niche messaging pillars, and the added value you can provide to your audience.

When researching your competition, ask yourself – what social channels is my competition engaging on? What type of content / voice s my competition sharing (e.g. educational, inspirational, humorous)? What topics and keywords are my competitors using, and what opportunities exist to capture share of voice? How is their audience responding to their posts? How can I share content that adds value for my buyer personas?

Continuous competitive insights are important to continue optimizing your social media marketing strategy. Content intelligence software, such as Ceralytics, enables you to quickly identify the topics, trends, and positioning of each competitor and the industry as a whole – in near real-time, giving you continuous insights into your industry.

Step 4: Create a social media voice and plan posts

Once you understand your goals, target audience, and your competition, the next step is to begin brainstorming posts. When creating social media posts, remember that social media is a space to share valuable information and have conversations with your potential and current customers. Your audience will only follow and engage with you if they find the content that you share valuable to their lives.

As an industry standard, it is best to share a mix of 20% of self-promotional posts (anything that links back to your website or mentions your product/service) and 80% educational, inspirational, or engaging content; and keep your social media accounts active by posting at least 3 times per week, depending on the social channel.  

Step 5: Create a social media editorial calendar

Consistency is a big component of a successful social media presence. For a few weeks, test out days/times to learn when you receive maximum reach and engagement. After finding your best days and times, plan out a calendar of posts.

We like to create a monthly social media editorial calendar, complete with the visibility of holidays, events, company announcements, etc.  a month ahead of time, and allow for the flexibility of posting timely content, like industry breaking news, company culture stories, and Facebook Live videos. We use that editorial visibility to craft specific social posts on a weekly basis and schedule them ahead of time – while, again, being prepared for real-time content as well.

We like using good old google calendars to plan our editorial calendars, but there are platforms that can help you create a marketing editorial calendar like this – it all depends on your preference for organization.

To schedule posts ahead of time, there are several social media scheduling platforms that will help you organize all of your content, like hootsuite and buffer.

Step 6: Analyze and Optimize

Bad News: your social media marketing strategy is never done

Good News: you can always improve your social media marketing strategy

Most social networks, have an insights section where you can analyze the content that your audience resonated the most with as well as audience’s demographics insights. Understanding why a post performed well, while a similar post didn’t perform well is the best way to improve the content that you are creating for your audience. Several factors can impact the success of a post-  from the time of day, content, creative. We use a reporting dashboard, like Kipfolio where we can include social media metrics from all social channels as well as google analytics in order to measure the influence of social media on the business as a whole.

Your social media marketing strategy should be one that constantly serves your audience unique value in the way they want to receive content, builds trust, and helps nurture them along their buyer’s journey. The most successful social media marketing strategy will align with your business goals, so you can realize a maximum return for all your efforts.

Social Media is a fast-paced world. Social networks are constantly changing, and in order for your brand to remain relevant and resonate with your audience, staying up to date with trends is a must. Continue learning more about social media marketing trends by reading our Key Takeaways from Social Media Week 2018 blog post.

 

About the author