Did you know, as of 2020, there are 3.96 billion active social media users around the world? With this vast network of people at your fingertips, it’d be a shame not to tap into social media marketing’s power and reap the remarkable benefits it has to offer, such as generating awareness, leads, engagement, boosting retention, traffic, ROI, and more.
Clearly, its power has no bounds, and therefore, should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.
But, before you venture into social media, it’s important to note, to reap the benefits it’s essential you have a social media strategy in place. One that will guide your business and allow you to measure your success.
So, how can you build a killer strategy that delivers results? We’ve broken down all you need to know. Let’s dive in.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Like anything else when it comes to digital marketing, you must establish your goals. Just think about it, posting on social media for the sake of it, will bring zero value to your business, not to mention will make measuring your efforts difficult.
From the get-go, you must focus on the big picture, that is, why you are on social media and what you’re expecting to gain; this could be anything from promoting your product, driving traffic, building brand awareness, driving inbound top of the funnel traffic, etc. Whatever your goals, define them, as these will be the pillars of your strategy. You can use a S.M.A.R.T. methodology to help:
- Specific: your goals should be focused and identify a tangible outcome,
- Measurable: identify a component for success and use it to help you evaluate your progress,
- Attainable: The goal should challenge you, yet still be achievable. Outline what you need to do to accomplish your goal, and identify any potential obstacles that you’ll need to overcome.
- Relevant: ensure what you’re trying to achieve is worthwhile to your business
- Time-bound: set a deadline - it’ll help avoid procrastination, discouragement, and wasted-resources.
With your goals in place, it’ll become easier for you to devise a social media strategy.
Research Your Target Audience
These days, the most dangerous game a marketer can play is the game of assumption. Assuming that you know your target audience in-and-out, will not only not drive the results you seek but also, will lead to a lot of frustration and wasted resources. Just think about it, how can you turn your audience into customers if you haven’t taken the time to discover what interests them, their desires, pain-points, what platforms they’re most active on, and so on?
Well, luckily, there are a few tools you can add to your toolbox to avoid assuming altogether. First, consult with the sales team to understand their buyer personas in-and-out. Second, Google Analytics can provide you with demographic statistics, which can be broken into traffic sources, conversion rates, and so on. With these real-life numbers, you’ll be able to figure out who you should be targeting in your strategy. And lastly, social media analytics tools. These tools can provide you with a great deal of information about your audience: how they interact with your business, their likes, dislikes, needs, thought process, and much more.
At the end of your research, you should have clear groups, which each correspond to a different buyer persona, based on age, interests, profession, or anything else. With this in hand, you’ll be able to create content that will resonate with your audience and turn them into loyal customers.
Remember, the more information you have, the better you understand what drives your target audience, and the stronger your strategy will be.
Scrutinize the Competition
It may seem like a no-brainer but simply by monitoring your competition, you can get valuable data about their tactics, campaigns, audience interaction levels, and more. If you aren’t sure who your competitors are then a simple Google search always does the trick. Search for your most valuable keywords, phrases, general industry terms, and hashtags.
After identifying some industry rivals, it’s always a good idea to see who’s killing it on social media - as these are the businesses you’ll want to analyze. When doing so, take a closer look at things like:
- Their main focus
- Their target audience
- Key phrases used
- If the audience is resonating with what they’re sharing
- Are they running any paid campaigns
By discovering what works best for them - and, more importantly, what doesn’t - you can adapt and adjust your own strategy to maximize effectiveness. Even more, keeping an eye on the competition also opens the door to you figuring out what their strategy lacks, and turn that into your advantage.
With that in mind, alongside your competitor analysis, you should conduct a social media audit by performing a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and use those to make smarter decisions.
“It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.” — Douglas Warner III, Former CEO, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co
Note: competitor analysis should be an on-going process. Your competitors are the barrier between you and potential customers. And, as if the competition wasn’t already fierce, new players are always waiting to push you aside, as well as trends. So, keep an eye on what’s working for your competition at all times, as it’ll be the key to unlocking new opportunities and keeping you at the top.
Select the Appropriate Social Media Channels
If you’ve done the previous two sections meticulously, then selecting the social media platforms to work with shouldn’t be too difficult. Of course, there is no right or wrong choice, as every business will have different results, not to mention strategies. But, when it comes down to it, you should select the platforms:
- That your target audience uses now.
- That align with your goals.
- That suit what you're selling. For example, if your business sells beauty products, cars, fashion... A visual platform, such as instagram, would be a great platform for you to utilize.
- That your competitors are on - after all, if you’re competing with them, you should do so on the same field.
Keep in mind, each platform has its own distinctive characteristics, and therefore some are more appropriate for B2B (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), while others may favor B2C, (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter) and, naturally, some may work for both.
At the end of the day, make sure that you're choosing the platforms based on what you're selling, and who you’re selling to.
If you’re still unsure as to which platforms will work best for you, check out these social media demographics to understand which platform will help you reach the right audience.
Create and Curate Engaging Content
Now that you have a good idea of the above points it’s time to start creating content.
By now, you should know what type of content you should be creating to engage your audience, stand out from the competition, and drive results. Great! But, before you start, it’s important to remember two key facts:
- Content performs differently on the various platforms. For example, on one platform articles may perform well, while on another video could dominate. You’ll be able to determine what and where to post from your research.
- Your content must be consistent with your branding. While you should take advantage of the unique characteristics each platform presents, your content’s voice, and way you present your content, must always be consistent and in-line with your brand messaging, voice, personality, language, and anything else that defines your brand. Your voice could be more serious, fun, formal, or whatever you’d like. Just make sure it suits your audience and buyer personas, and own branding.
Now, as for the actual content, as a general rule of thumb, it’s best to follow the 80-20 rule. That is, 80% of your posts should be educational and informative, while the other 20% should focus on the promotion of your brand. Audiences, these days, easily fall down the rabbit hole of scrolling. So, you must find a way to make them stop and focus on your post. There are many ways to attract attention, from eye-catching creatives to compelling content. Whatever you choose, make sure it's always aligned with your company voice and messaging to avoid confusing audiences.
Within the 80%, it’s very important that you also curate informative third-party content to do with your industry. This is a great way to show that you value a variety of perspectives, gain extra mentions from other social media profiles (and possibly gain more traffic), as well as provide your audience with a mix of topics that they will love.
Work on Your Timing
Just like you wouldn’t post just for the sake of it, you shouldn’t post at random times. To get the most out of your strategy and have the maximum impact, you need to have a plan in place - and this all begins with a social media calendar.
Map out your content on social media management tools to strategically support your goals, visualize opportunities, and easily make changes. By mapping out your content, you’ll be able to plan for big conventions, sales events, and fun calendar dates, which will help showcase your company's efforts and culture.
Now, when it comes to the actual posting, you must discover the most optimal times to post - this will be the time that your audience is most active. From analytics found in social media management tools or the actual platform you’re posting on, you can find these metrics and then schedule accordingly. This will ensure your posts get maximum reach and engagement.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Engage with your audience! Obvious? It may seem so, but you’d be surprised how often people skip out on this step. Taking control of your online reputation is key to counteracting misleading trends and allows you to always put your best foot forward. What’s more, it helps build your brand’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and keeps your customers happy with you.
So, you must take the time to monitor social media for any comments -positive or negative- and respond. When doing so, it’s important to remember these key points:
- Be polite, honest, and apologetic in your responses
- Never delete negative comments. If necessary, take the conversation offline.
- Personalize your responses
- Be prepared for unprecedented events, such as the coronavirus, and change your messaging accordingly.
- And, always take the time to say thank you.
Beyond this, ensure you’re available to respond to your audience, even if the comment in question is a simple compliment, in a timely manner - as this can make or break relationships with your audience.
These days, most businesses respond within 10 hours. But, did you know that most audiences expect a response within four? Social media monitoring tools and chatbots can help you reply in a timely manner and ensure your customers are never left frustrated with your brand.
In short, be sure to be transparent in your responses, learn from criticism, and adapt to trends, as well as your audience.
Encourage Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy is another great way to reach new audiences and expand your horizons. Don’t believe so, check out this handy calculator to discover how much potential reach you’re missing out on.
Your employees can be extremely powerful for your brand, as not only do they know your brand in and out but also, a post created about an employee can generate up to eight times greater engagement than from a brand handle.
Now imagine if all of your employees began sharing your business’s content. Just let that sink in.
So, provide your employees with an opportunity to contribute to your strategy. For example, if you have recently shared a cool video, informative article, interesting infographic, or anything else on the company social media profile, you should also make it easy for your employees to share that content on their personal profiles.
Bear in mind, if you really want to see results, it takes more than just asking your employees to share. Think about it, it’s a little inconvenient to have to sign in to the account (on the various platforms), find the right piece of content, and then share it.
Make sharing easier for them! You can do this by sending out company-wide notifications when a new post is released, containing a link to the post, sharing posts that shine a light on your employees, and investing in an employee advocacy tool.
Employee advocacy tools curate the content you want to be shared and enable your employees to do so with the click of a button. Also, with this tool, there’s the added bonus of reporting features, which allow you to see which content performs best, and the impact your employees are having.
Assess Your Results
No matter your goals, your social media strategy should always be data-driven. Meaning, you must always focus on the metrics that matter, these are metrics like reach, clicks, engagement, paid likes, conversions, or any other metric that stems from your original goals.
Social media analytics platforms and Google Analytics can help you track all your metrics and get a 360-degree view of your efforts. With this in hand, you can determine if what you’re doing is working, what needs improvement, and what needs to be scratched altogether.
Only with these insights, will you be able to optimize your strategy to generate the results you desire.
But it doesn’t end there, traffic generated from social media can also assist your efforts in other marketing channels. So, keep pixels in place at all times, to measure traffic and conversions. This information can be used for future campaigns, and ensure you’re making more informed, smarter decisions.
So, what’s the key to social media? Don’t give up! It takes time to see results. So, start with planning, following the tips laid out in this article, and in time, you’ll notice an increased ROI.
Looking for a tailored social media strategy? Our experts are here to help. Reach out to us today for a free consultation call.