Working in social media without a strategy is like throwing together random ingredients, hoping to create a Gordon Ramsay-approved meal. News flash: It just doesn’t work like that. There are so many parts involved in social media marketing, you need a good strategy to succeed.
Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting to dip your toes into the world of social media, this blog will show you how to build a robust social media marketing strategy that will help you navigate the complex terrain and drive your business forward. Let’s dive in.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms to promote your business, products, or services.
Social media marketing includes any and all activities carried out on social media with the intention of promoting your business. These may include sharing content, engaging with potential customers, and promoting a new product.
What is a Social Media Marketing Strategy?
A social media strategy defines how a brand intends to use social media to achieve its goals. It’s like a map that guides social media activities to ensure that they align with the business goals and deliver the desired results.
A social media strategy outlines details like target audience, social networks, content plan, key performance indicators (KPIs), and engagement techniques – more on that later in the sections that follow.
8 Steps to Build a Social Media Marketing Plan
1. Set goals
Every great social media plan starts with clear objectives and goals. Goals will help you define what you want to achieve and dictate how you invest your time and energy. They will also help you track the right metrics while measuring ROI.
This goes without saying, but all your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Once you have your goals, break them down into smaller objectives. Objectives are easier to scale, alter, and keep track of in order to attain the larger goals in your plan.
Examples of social media goals:
- Increase brand awareness by x% in 2024: Brand awareness is about making your brand known or familiar. A few things to consider here include: What are your business values? What is your brand personality? What causes do you care about? In the context of social media, this means posting less promotional content and posting more authentic content that amplifies your brand story and voice.
- Generate leads and sales to xx in Q4: The primary goal of every marketing activity is to generate revenue. In the same vein, social media should be viewed as a revenue-generating channel. It is now increasingly easier to sell through social media with the introduction of native shopping features.
- Grow social audience to xx followers by 2024: The best channel to build an engaged community is social media. It is where most people “live.” Therefore, your brand should be actively finding new ways to reach new audiences that might be interested in your content but haven’t discovered your page yet.
- Provide holistic and prompt customer care: We’re past the age where a business having an active social media presence was considered revolutionary. Now, almost every business has a social media presence. The primary differentiator now is social media response time. Customers value prompt responses on social media, whether in the comments or DMs.
2. Research your target audience
In order to create a foolproof plan, you need to understand who you are communicating with, down to their biggest pain point and most pressing need. The effectiveness of your communication is based on how well you know your audience. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, your content will always miss the mark.
When researching your audience, use social media tools to gain insight. Don’t rely on your gut or make assumptions where data is available. Defining your audience based on demographic, psychographic, and geographic information will help you determine the kind of content that will perform well.
However, it should be noted that audiences behave differently across various platforms. So it is important to go further and define audiences based on social networks. Different social media platforms cater to different audiences. So, your Facebook audience might be different from your Twitter audience, which will impact the type of content you create for different platforms.
3. Select your social media channels wisely
Just because a social media platform exists, it doesn’t mean you should be on it. Your platform of choice should be informed by your audience research. Go where your audience is. Narrow down where you want to spend your time based on your industry and target audience. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Consider this: It takes a lot of resources to create a social media presence across multiple platforms. Large corporations can afford to have a presence on all platforms. But what happens when you are a small or medium enterprise with a limited budget? Take account of the resources you have and then use them on the platform with the highest ROI potential.
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4. Determine the metrics and KPIs you want to measure
Effective social media marketing is built on performance metrics. In order to get the most out of your data, don’t focus on generic metrics. Instead, double down on metrics that align with your goals. If the goal is brand awareness, track the reach, engagement, and hashtag performance. If sales is the goal, track the clicks and conversions.
Here is a quick snapshot of the social media metrics that really matter depending on your goals:
a. Brand Awareness
- Reach: This refers to the number of unique users who saw your content in their feeds.
- Engagement: The total number of interactions a post receives, i.e., likes, comments, and shares.
- Hashtag performance: Reflects your best-performing hashtags and the hashtags that are most associated with your brand.
- Organic and paid likes: While this is a vanity metric, it can help you gauge how much people enjoy your content. Organic likes are from organic posts, while paid likes are from promoted posts.
- Impressions: This is commonly mistaken for reach, but they are not the same. Impressions refer to the number of times a post is displayed to users. This means even if they scroll through your post, it is counted as an impression.
- Brand mentions: Refers to the number of times your brand is mentioned in posts or comments.
- Clicks: This metric tracks the amount of clicks your content receives. It is mostly used for ads and sponsored posts with an action you can follow.
- Conversation rate: Refers to the number of people who convert after seeing your post and either buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, download a lead magnet, etc.
c. Follower count
- Follower growth: As you might infer from the name, this metric measures the number of new followers you gain within a specific time.
- Follower growth rate: This refers to how fast you gain or lose followers over a period of time.
d. Customer care
- Reply time: It reflects how long you take to respond to a mention or a message.
- Total response volume: This refers to the number of responses to customer inquiries over a specific period.
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): This score measures customer satisfaction after every brand interaction.
5. Create engaging content
Content is the driving force of social media; without it, social media would be non-existent. That’s why you need to get it right. From the onset, create a content strategy that defines the types of content you will publish based on your goals, audience, and brand.
Great content is based on the following pillars:
- Goals: What are you trying to achieve with your content? If you want to increase sales, then product-first content is the way to go. If you are focused on brand awareness and follower growth, then creating educational and entertaining content is the way.
- Brand voice: Every great brand has a voice. Having a unique voice will help you stand out on social media and create connections with your audience. The key is to be human and not robotic in your communication while using industry-appropriate language.
- Originality and trendiness: There’s no consensus on whether brands should follow the trends or create original, unique content. However, both styles work, and the best approach would be to focus on what your audience wants.
- Consistency: In order to be recognizable, you need to have consistent themes across your social media platforms. This means your graphics and content should have the same feel and look on all platforms.
6. Create a content calendar
Once you define your content pillars, it’s time to plan your content. A content calendar will help you know what to post in advance, prepare for the same, and also keep you from repeating content.
When creating your content calendar, consider the optimal times per platform for maximum engagement. Then, schedule your posts in advance to save time. When scheduling your posts, ensure that you are available to engage and interact with customers at those times. If possible, ensure someone is available to reply to comments and interact with your audience when you post.
In case you have limited resources, consider investing in AI tools and automation so that you are able to interact with your customers even when you’re offline.
7. Conduct a competitive analysis
It is important to check out what competitors are doing in order to get a good sense of your industry. This can also help you see what they are doing well and what they are not doing well, which can lead to unexplored opportunities.
For example, if your competitors rely on one social media platform, you might want to take a different approach and focus on the platforms they neglect. This way, you will operate in an underserved environment with less competition.
Note: The goal of competitive analysis is not to copy your competitor’s ideas. It’s to identify what’s working and adapt your campaigns to the conclusions you draw.
8. Evaluate and improve your strategy
The quickest way to grow your social media is to evolve your strategy constantly. Every time a campaign comes to an end, analyze how it performed and draw insights that will help inform your next campaign.
Analyze all your content and create performance benchmarks to identify top-performing content.
After every analysis, make small adjustments to your strategy instead of waiting for huge quarterly or yearly improvements. Constant evolution will help you stay on top of trends and improve strategically.
Creating a social media strategy can seem complicated, but it isn’t. Take it step by step. If you have a team, make it a team task in order to complete it faster and get diverse inputs. Bottom line, don’t worry about step 2 if you haven’t completed step 1.
If you still don’t know where to start or want to take it a step further, check out our Social Media Strategy and Proving ROI course today, which explores this topic in depth.