In today’s digital world, Social Media has been promoted from a tactical to a strategic pillar in any Marketing Strategy. So many businesses come to me knowing they need to be on Social Media but don’t know where to start. Or they have created a page and started posting content without a clear goal in mind and, as a consequence, feel disheartened with their progress. I have created my 10-step process to building a Strategic Social Media Strategy that will deliver results for your business.
I am guessing some of you may be thinking ‘10 points!! Already that feels too hard’. If this is you, my message is to take heart you’re not alone, read on, and select from this what you can realistically implement in the time you have. The key is to start small and learn what works, then build from there. That way it’s not so intimidating? So, here goes:
1. Be clear on your objective
Your first step should be to think about what your business needs & build a strategy & plan around that. For example, are you a start-up that wants to build brand awareness? Do you have a healthy number of followers with whom you want to build deeper relationships? Do you want to engage with influencers within your industry? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? In clarifying this you can focus your thinking & define meaningful measures of success.
2. Describe your target audience- who are you talking to?
Once you know your objective, you need to consider who you want to be talking to - your target audience. It can be helpful to create user personas (a description of a fictional person that represents your ideal customer- their needs, goals, and behaviours) which should include how, why & when they use Social Media. Ideally you will have some customer research or be able to talk to some of your customers to help clarify this.
3. Identify which Social Media Platforms you should use to reach your target audience
I have seen businesses create pages on multiple platforms & randomly post on each, rather than driving a regular conversation on the ones that are likely to deliver the best results. Use your work on the Personas to understand where you should focus your energy.
Choose platforms that align to your business type, for example, Pinterest & Instagram are great if you have a visual business where you have a steady stream of images to post. Whereas Business-to-Business (B2B) services perform well on LinkedIn which facilitates discussion on topical business issues.
4. Develop a platform strategy
Having chosen your platforms, you need to define the strategy that will engage your audience to listen to you above the ‘noise’ of others. Here is where you should inject quality content & flashpoint ‘hooks’.
5. Develop clear, measurable targets & KPIs to ensure your strategy is working
Setting clear targets enables you to track & measure success. They should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound). The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) must tie to the objective, for example, the effectiveness of a brand awareness campaign should be measured by Reach & Impressions & Engagement by Shares, Likes & Comments.
If you already have pages, review the platform analytics data over time & use this knowledge to help you set your targets. If your pages are new, set a short term target e.g. for 1 month, review the performance data & then produce new targets with this insight in mind.
6. Perfect your platforms
When someone visits a page, you want to make sure it looks great: the messaging & images clearly & succinctly tell your story, and that there is an obvious call to action if someone wants more information. There should also be a consistent brand identity across all your platform pages to ensure your customers know who they’re interacting with
7. Find & engage with influencers
Finding & engaging with influencers who reach your target audience is crucial for the success of your social media strategy. Influencers could be people that produce great content for you to share and / or who have a high numbers of followers who trust their opinions. If an influencer with high follower numbers shares your content, you are extending your reach & building credibility with their followers. Once you have identified who your target influencers are, you build your strategy for engaging & developing your relationship with them over time.
8. Develop a content strategy that connects with your audience
Ultimately, success on social media will be driven by presenting great content to your target audience that engages them. It could be fantastic business insight, beautiful images inspirational stories or videos that make them laugh. Think about what content works on each platform for example a cute video of your baby isn’t going to work in the ‘business’ environment of LinkedIn.
Only approximately 20% of the content should be about you or your business. When you’re striking up a conversation with someone, how quickly do you get bored if all they do is talk about themselves? Present a rich source of interesting content that provides an incentive for people to return to your page, in a way that encourages comment & interaction.
Some of the most effective content often evokes or provokes a reaction. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and think about what content you would like to see about your business that would incite you to react, and adapt it.
Consider building a content plan; topics you want to comment on, significant focal points in your calendar that will require promotional work e.g. seasonal activities, significant events / product launches combined with ‘flashpoint’ offers & incentives.
It is undoubtedly possible to have some success on Social Media without paid-for promotions, however we are sadly seeing a decline in organic performance. This results from platforms updating their algorithms to favour paid content or rich media such as Facebook Live, Instagram Stories or Twitter Moments. All brands should consider investing a small amount of budget in paid-for promotions, for example boosting posts that are working for you or creating bespoke adverts tied to a campaign or incentive.
10. Test, measure, reflect, refine, report
Like anything in life, you’re never going to know if it works until you try it. Test your content strategy on your platforms by posting & then review the platform analytics data based upon your KPIs set. Post more of the content that’s working & reflect on the posts that aren’t as successful. Maybe leave a gap & try them on a different day or time of day or try a different topic altogether. Ultimately, build on what’s working & repeat this evaluative process at least weekly with a detailed monthly review. A basic weekly report that focuses on your primary KPIs can provide you with a consistent review structure that can be used over time to track progress.
Hopefully this gives you some ‘food for thought’, good luck!