Social media refers to the websites and applications that are designed for people to collaborate and share content in real-time. It is a powerful platform used to bring people together to connect, discuss, share, collaborate, ask for help, offer advice, complain and get heard.
In this guide, we’re going to define the essential elements of a social media marketing strategy.
We’ve created this handy table of contents that will allow you to skip ahead to the topics that are most interesting to you:
- What is social media marketing?
- Set your goals and objectives
- Define your target audience
- Perform keyword research
- Create quality content
- Listen to your audience
- Define your brand personality
- Create a content calendar
- Choose the right networks
- Perform competitor research
- Create a social engagement schedule
- Learn the best times to post
- Monitor and measure your success
What is a Social Media Strategy?
A social media marketing strategy is a detailed plan to guide your actions when marketing your business, product or service on social media platforms. Your plan should clearly articulate the vision of exactly what you are planning to achieve through social media as well as the specific actions and tactics you plan to utilize in the process.
Keys required for a successful social media strategy:
Goals and Objectives
If you want to make the most of social media for your business, you need be clear on the specific goals you want to achieve through social media so that you can create a strategy that serves those goals. If you don’t have a clearly defined goal, your social media marketing efforts will be scattered, disjointed and aimless.
Start by thinking about the goals you want to accomplish as a business, and then design a goal for your social media marketing campaign that explicitly supports those goals.
For example, if you’re a local furniture store in London, one of your main goals could be to use social media sites to increase sales from residents living within 10 miles of your store.
Examples of social media goals include:
- Increase visibility and brand recognition.
- Connect with existing customers and prospects.
- Generate qualified leads.
- Drive relevant traffic to your site.
- Increase customer engagement
- Convert followers into customers.
Define Your Tactics and Strategies
Once you have defined clear and quantifiable goals and objectives you need to work out how you are going to accomplish them using social media. Think about the strategies and tactics you are going to implement.
Examples of strategies:
- To create a free offer with built in subscriber opt-in form.
- To post content on X social media platform X times per day.
- To make X% of posts photo/ posts.
- To spend X on promoted posts per month.
Define Your Objectives
Your objectives are the specific strategies or steps that will drive you forward towards accomplishing your defined goal. They should be based on the S.M.A.R.T. philosophy so that they are optimized for achievement.
SMART Obectives are:
- Specific: Your objectives should be clearly defined, unequivocal and specific to the results you want to achieve.
- Measurable: It is crucial to track and analyse the results of your objectives.
- Attainable: Set objectives that are achievable and realistic. Your objectives should be challenging and make you stretch, but not impossible to achieve.
- Relevant: Relevant objectives are those that further the aims of your main goal on social media.
- Time Constrained: Your goals and objectives should be given a target date to give your goal a sense of urgency which encourages a commitment to the deadline.
Examples of SMART objectives:
- Increase sales of product X by 10%
- Build an audience of X number of targeted followers on Twitter within six months
- Increase targeted website traffic from Twitter by X percent
- Get X new followers in the 18-35 demographic by January.
Define Your Target Audience
Your target audience is your most important commodity as they are the people that are going to buy your products or services or spread the word by about your business. Clearly and carefully define your target audience so that you can create content that caters to them.
For example, if you find out that the majority of your followers live in London and love hearing about tech news, tweeting about tech news, events and activities in London could be a valuable addition to your social media strategy.
Developing this level of understanding of your followers will tell you:
- if your target audience is on social media.
- what type of content will motivate them to become followers.
- what will make your followers engage with your tweets and take action on your marketing messages.
- how to craft tweets that will motivate your ideal target customer visit your website.
- how to turn your followers into customers.
Understand Your Audience
You need to know what challenges and pain points are faced by your audience so you can market to them based on the value and solutions you can provide. Your branding efforts on social media must be focused on establishing and building trust with your target audience in particular.
Perform Keyword Research
You need to have a laundry list of industry keywords that that your prospective customers use when they are searching for the products or the services that you offer.
For example, if you’re a nutritionist, you’ll want to be associated with keywords that align with your business such as health, wellness, lose weight, etc. This will extend your reach to a wider audience of people that are most likely to be interested in what you’re offering.
Create Quality Content
Publishing quality content is one of the key aspects of social media marketing. Aim to write posts that are conversational, relevant to your audience, entertaining, helpful, newsworthy, or inspiring.
Following are ideas for creating content that you can use to engage and delight your followers.
- User Generated Content (UGC): This involves using content created by your followers such as photos, customer testimonials, reviews, images and videos.
- Your Brand Story. Sharing the story of your business and how you got to where you are can help you connect with the emotions of your audience and build that essential trust element.
- Educational content. Content that is designed to educate is always popular with users because education is linked to success, and people are inspired by the desire to become successful.
- Images. As the saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words. Images grab attention more than any other type of content on social media because most of us are visually inspired.
- Quotes. Inspiring and motivational quotes that inspire optimism and positivity should be a key part of your content strategy.
- Interesting posts about your company. The aim of these type of posts is to educate people about your business or the company you’re representing.
- Information and industry news. This is all about keeping your community informed about the latest news in your industry that you know will really be of use to them.
- Questions. You can ask questions about anything. They can be relevant to your business. For example, they can be about a product or event that is related to your business.
- Free content. We all love and appreciate free stuff. Free reports or guides that can help your followers solve a problem would generate a lot of engagement in terms of retweets, comments and likes.
- Video. Videos outperform images on social media, and are an effective way to give your tweets a longer lifespan.
Making your account less about broadcasting and more about conversation will result in additional activity for your social media account and more customers in the long run.
Listen to Your Audience
Discussions occur on a daily basis about your industry and your competitors, which is why listening to your audience should be an essential element of your social media marketing strategy. Sites like Reddit and Twitter makes it incredibly easy to eavesdrop on what your customers are talking about in real time.
Define Your Brand Personality
Define a personality that suits your business the best and stick to it. If you don’t have a brand strategy in place, consider what sort of personality would appeal to your audience. Take a good look at your buyer personas: how you can portray yourself in a way that they would find relatable and authentic? Think of words that describe how you want your customers to feel when they encounter your products or brand.
Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar is simply a broadcasting schedule for the different types of content that followers or your blog and social media profiles can expect from you on different days of the week. One of the most challenging tasks of your social media marketing campaign is going to be to consistently deliver a high standard of content to your followers on a daily basis.
Choose the Right Networks
It is important to understand the significant features of each major social media platform and how they can benefit your business because not all social platforms will be suitable for your business needs. You cannot approach each social network in the same way because each platform has its own personality.
Here are a few key factors to consider when evaluating a social media platform for your business:
- What type of people do your products or services best appeal to? A strong knowledge of your business, and product or service is essential in order to really understand who your products best appeal to.
- Who is your target audience and where are they active? It is really important to have an innate understanding of the people you are going to be targeting with your social media campaign.
- What are your goals? The most appropriate social media platform for your business will depend on your goals and what you want to achieve.
- What type of content do you want to share? You should consider the best platform for the type of content you are planning to share with your target audience.
- Where is your competition active? Competitive intelligence is crucial in business, and knowing where your competition is active will give you meaningful clues on where you should be active.
- How much resources do you have? Since most social platforms can be used free of charge, time and energy are the primary resources to concern yourself with when choosing one. However, being active on social networks is a very time-intensive process.
You have to account for the time and energy it takes to plan your strategy, set it up, get yourself trained, execute your plans, build your relationships and take care of the new customers you will acquire through social media.
Perform Competitor Research
At a basic level, competitor research involves monitoring, gathering and analysing the content of your most successful competitors so that you can reverse engineer their success for the benefit of your business.
When performing competitor research, you ’re going to be looking for clearly identifiable patterns and trends, and answers to the following questions:
- How often are your competitors posting on a regular basis?
- What are they posting about?
- Are there clearly identifiable trends and patterns in the most successful posts?
- How much engagement are their posts receiving?
- Which posts are getting the most engagement?
- What tone of voice was used in the most popular posts?
- Are there popular posts created by your competitors similar to your tweets which weren’t so successful? Why was your competitor’s tweet more popular?
- What keywords are being used the most in successful posts? ◉ What is the length of the most popular posts?
- What content format have received the most or least engagement?
- Is there a clearly identifiable pattern with the most popular cont ent type?
Create a Social Engagement Schedule
Social engagement is the single most important activity required for success of your social media marketing campaign. If you do not have a strategy in place for how you will engage your followers, it will be very difficult to achieve your goals. There’s no point in building a large network with thousands of targeted fans if you don’t have a plan in place for how you are going to engage or interact with them.
Identify the Best Times to Post
A well-crafted post is only as good as the timing in which it’s delivered, so timing your posts is crucial. There are lots of tools that provide information on the best times to posts. However, each social network audience is unique. It’s important to use the times as guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. Do your own testing to understand how your audience responds to your posts at different times of the day.
Monitor and Measure Your Success
As your campaign develops, you will need to adjust certain aspects to achieve what you originally set out to achieve by constantly monitoring and measuring your results against the original goals and objectives you set and adjusting your campaign accordingly.
As Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo! put it,
“If it does not have a number, it is not a key result.”
The most important KPIs you should be monitoring include:
- Number of new followers.
- Number of new follows and unfollows you get after sharing a specific piece of content.
- Engagement level of each post.
- Number of users you are following.
- Number of leads you are generating.
- Number of influencers following you.
- Number of favorites you’re receiving.
- Number of conversations you’ve started.
- Number of retweets.
- Number of @mentions.
- Number of @replies.
- Number of direct messages.
- Customer sentiment (positive and negative).
- Number of followers who have signed up for your newsletter.
- Number of followers who become customers.
- How much traffic your website is generating from Twitter.