As of 2022, there are 4.74 billion active social media users around the world, equating to 59.3 percent of the total global population. 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, including generating awareness, leads, engagement, boosting retention, traffic, ROI, and more.
Clearly, its power has no bounds. And therefore, social media marketing should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.
But, before you venture into social media, it’s important to note that in order to reap the many benefits, you MUST have a strategy in place. Of course, the strategy you follow will be unique to your business goals, resources, abilities, and so on. But, overall, it should guide your business to success and allow you to measure your efforts.
So, how can you build your killer strategy? We’ve broken down our top tips for how to build a social media strategy. Let’s dive in.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Like anything else in 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 it will make measuring your efforts difficult.
From the get-go, you must focus on the big picture: your purpose for being active on social media. This could be anything from promoting your product, driving traffic to your website, building brand awareness, driving inbound top-of-the-funnel traffic, and so on. 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 you’ll need to overcome.
- Relevant: ensure what you’re trying to achieve is worthwhile to your business
- Time-bound: set a deadline. Doing so will 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
The most dangerous game a marketer can play is the game of assumption. Assuming that you know your target audience in-and-out, will lead to two things:
- You will not obtain the results you seek.
- It will lead to a lot of frustration and wasted resources.
And it makes sense! After all, how can you turn your audience into loyal customers if you haven’t taken the time to discover what interests them, their desires, their pain points, the social media platforms they’re most active on, and so on?
Luckily, we know of a few tools/tricks to consider when you look into how to build a social media strategy that'll ensure you avoid assuming altogether:
- You must consult with the sales team to understand their buyer personas in and out.
- Google Analytics can provide you with demographic statistics. These statistics can be broken down into traffic sources, conversion rates, and so on. With these real-life numbers, you’ll be able to figure out who to target in your strategy.
- Use social media analytics tools such as Hootsuite and HubSpot. These tools can help you save time by pre-scheduling posts. But, most importantly, they provide you with a great deal of information about your audience: how they interact with your business, their likes, dislikes, needs, thought processes, and much more.
At the end of your research, you should have clear groups that correspond to each of your buyer personas. For example, you can base your groups on age, interests, job title, location, etc.
With this in hand, you’ll be able to create content that will resonate with your audience, attract them to your site, and convert them into loyal customers.
Remember, the more information you have, the better you'll understand what drives your audience, which audience members are more likely to convert, and the stronger your strategy will be.
Scrutinize the Competition
It may seem like a no-brainer, but by monitoring your competition, you can get valuable data about their tactics, campaigns, audience interaction levels, and so on.
If you aren’t sure who your competitors are, 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
- Is their target audience resonating with the posts?
- 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. Also, keeping an eye on the competition 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 ongoing 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, not to mention 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 performed the previous two sections meticulously, then choosing the platforms you'll be active on should be easy.
Of course, there is no right or wrong choice, as every business will have different results and strategies. But, when it comes down to it, you should select the platforms:
- That your target audience uses now.
- That aligns with your goals.
- That fits your product/service.
- That your competitors are on. After all, if you’re competing with them, you should do so on the same playing field.
Keep in mind that 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). Naturally, some may work for both.
When push comes to shove, select the platforms based on your research, service/product, and target audience. For more clarity, 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. But before you start, remember two key facts:
- Content performs differently on each platform. 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 and, naturally, through trial and error. Note: visual marketing is a great way to boost brand awareness - ensure you include plenty of visuals.
- Your content must be consistent with your branding. While you should take advantage of the unique characteristics each platform presents, your voice and the 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.
As for the actual content, as a general rule of thumb, follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of your posts should be educational and informative, while the other 20% should focus on promoting your brand.
With the sheer amount of content created, audiences can easily fall down the rabbit hole of scrolling - and it's your job to make them stop and focus on your post. There are many ways to attract attention, from eye-catching creatives to compelling content and unique videos. Whatever you choose, remember that it must be powerful enough to keep audiences' attention and make them curious for more.
Within the 80%, it’s crucial that you also curate informative third-party content to do with your industry. This is a great way to show that you value several perspectives, are keeping up to date with the industry, and provide your audience with a mix of topics to learn. If done well, you may also gain extra mentions from other social media profiles and, as a result, possibly more traffic.
Work on Your Timing
Once you know how to build a social media strategy, the work doesn't end, as now you need to put all your knowledge into practice. And this includes knowing when to post.
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 a 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 posting, you must discover the optimal times to post, in other words, the hours your audience is most active. From analytics found in social media management tools or from the actual platform you’re posting on, you can find these metrics and schedule accordingly, ensuring the posts get maximum reach and engagement.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Engage with your audience!
Feel like that statement is 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 putting your best foot forward. Doing this also builds your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, a key factor for SEO.
So, you must take the time to monitor social media for any comments -positive or negative - and respond. When doing so, 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.
- Always take the time to say thank you.
Beyond this, ensure you’re available to respond to your audience promptly, even if the comment in question is a simple compliment, as delays can make or break relationships with your audience.
These days, most businesses respond within 10 hours. But 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 transparent in your responses, learn from criticism, and adapt to trends and your audience.
Encourage Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy is a powerful way to reach new audiences and expand your horizons.
For one, your employees understand your brand in and out, and wish for its success, so why not turn to them for help? It'll do wonders for your brand. In fact, you can generate 561% greater reach when messages are shared by employees rather than by your brand’s official social media channels. And 76% of individuals say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by individuals over content shared by brands.
Now, with these numbers in your head, imagine if all of your employees began sharing your business’ content. Just let that sink in.
Provide your employees with opportunities to contribute to your strategy. Bear in mind that if you really want to see results, it takes more than just asking your employees to share. Think about it, humans are creatures of convenience - and while not difficult, it is slightly inconvenient to sign in to your personal accounts, find the right piece of content, and then share it. And do this on a regular basis. Trust us when we say that none of your employees will want to go out of their way to do this.
It's on you to 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, or by 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. And there’s the added bonus of reporting features, which allow you to see which content performs best, and the impact of utilizing your employees.
Assess Your Results
No matter your goals, your social media strategy should always be data-driven, meaning that 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 your efforts are 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 desired results.
So, was social media marketing made easy in our guide? Of course, our tips are easier said than done, and it takes time to see results.
Start with planning, follow this article, and shortly you’ll notice that these techniques boost conversions and increase ROI.
Are you looking for more information on how to build a social media strategy? Contact us today and we'll provide your brand with a tailored social media strategy as well as help in executing your strategy!