Are you just starting your business but are unsure about how to use social media to your benefit? Maybe you are looking to revamp your social media practices but don't have a clear guide on where to start. It can be challenging to not only decide which platforms to use, but how to use them effectively. Even social media managers need to continuously develop their knowledge on trends and figure out how to utilize them to the best of their abilities. It can seem like a daunting task, but that is why I have written this all in one guide to creating a social media strategy!
Here is an 11 step guide to accelerate your social media strategy!
1) Defining Your Objectives
The main question you want to ask yourself is what you want to achieve from posting on social media? What are the goals and objectives you want to strive towards when implementing your strategy? There are many reasons why brands are on social media, but you need to understand why you are on the platforms. By understanding what goals you want to reach, this will help you choose which platforms to be on.
Moreover, you want to ensure that you are not simply posting to post but each and every message has a purpose behind it. Once you have a more defined understanding of your objectives, you may want to map them out on an excel spreadsheet and then place your messages according to which objective they are meeting. This will help you stay on track when reaching your goals.
Here are a few examples of objectives for social media:
Increase brand awareness,
Drive leads and generate sales,
Increase post engagement,
Build your brand community.
Remember to make your objectives S.M.A.R.T!
2) Choosing Your Platforms
One of the biggest factors to consider when picking your social media platforms is knowing where your target audience is. For example, if you are targeting young teens, you better look into developing a Tik Tok profile, whereas entrepreneurial moms are most likely to be in a Facebook group with similar interests. This doesn't mean that entrepreneurial moms aren't on Tik Tok, but think about where the majority of your audience is. You can't be the solution for everyone so try to find where your brand will have the most visibility.
It is also important to think about your resources and time constraints. Instagram is considered the “pretty” platform which will require highly designed and edited content. You will need to spend a large amount of time planning the way your page will look and the content you publish. Think about LinkedIn where there are many professionals on the site. Here you will want to have thought provoking and conversation starting content. All of these factors play a role when you are deciding which platforms are best for you.
Research your target audience and see where they are at! Once you do this, your social media strategy will be right on track. Don't forget, you can always create a profile on a social media site.
3) Optimizing Your Platforms
The great thing about social media is that it is an extension of your website. Some would say that social media has even taken over from traditional websites as many start-ups and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) simply use their Facebook or Instagram accounts as their website. Not only is this a great way to reduce costs for these SMEs but it helps build a personal touch to the brand.
Below are examples of ways to improve your social media profiles:
Upload profile pictures and headers,
Customize your URLs,
Add call to actions,
Show behind the scenes content,
Fill out the 'About' sections,
Respond to direct messages in an appropriate amount of time,
Create content based around the platforms’ image size.
4) Increasing Your Followings
Increasing your following on social media is easier said than done. Creating a solid foundation for your social media strategy is key if you want to build any type of following. If you have employees, ask them to share the business page on their personal profiles, or have them engage with the pages (like, comment, share).
Again, keep in mind that you should be posting what is right for your brand and your audience. If your audience loves puppies but they hate cats, don't promote a photo contest to show off everyone's favorite cats. Be smart and think about your audience, and tailor content to their liking.
There are many ways to increase your following on social media, and I have listed a few options below:
Instagram hashtag contest,
5) Defining Your Personality
Defining your brand personality will help you become relatable and build trust with your target audience. You will be able to build content around your brand personality. One example I love is the brand Wendy's and their Twitter platform. They went from a regular fast food account to savage. They have been known to roast their competitors and even customers, in a fun manner. This was a clear shift in the way the brand defined its personality and it was a huge hit.
Here are other examples about how your personality and the way you speak to your audience should differ.
If you are targeting men who enjoy fishing, you won’t want to use language that is professional as it would not relate to your audience.
If you are targeting CEOs and business professionals, having a casual tone may not be ideal.
If you are trying to reach soccer players, having a graphic of a swimmer wouldn't register to them.
6) Creating Your Content Calendar
The next important feature in your social media strategy is developing your content calendar. These are calendars based around your content scheduling time. These should answer the questions of:
What do you want to post?
When do you want to post it?
Where will you publish the content?
What is the value added?
How does this post help my brand?
What am I trying to get my target to do with this brand?
What is my call to action?
Content calendars can be done through Excel or on software dedicated simply to scheduling content. Really, any calendar software will do so long as you stay on track of the what, when, where, and why questions. Canva has a new content planner feature which is easy to use and is something that adds value to using the software. You can design your content and schedule it all in one place.
It is important to stay on top of your content calendars as they will help you strategically plan your communications. Without them, it can be very easy to lose track of your messaging, and it may even cause duplicate publishing. Moreover, if you are working in a team setting these calendars can ensure that everyone is aware of what is being published and when. This will decrease the number of double posts in a day or having conflicting messages being sent out.
7) Influencer Marketing
Nowadays, social media influencers are considered a vital part of a social media strategy. This is due to their niche following, brand credibility, and high content engagement rates. Many brands are switching from Macro Influencers to Micro Influencers. Micro Influencers have a smaller amount of followers which means they have a highly targeted following, whereas Macro Influencers are more like celebrities.
When working with a social media influencer it is important to think about:
Does this influencer fit my brand?
Will the influencer help me reach my desired target audience?
Will they help promote your brand?
Are they engaging with their target audience?
If you find an influencer you like there are a few ways that you can incentivise them.
Do a blog swap,
Pay for them to promote your brand,
Help them with their SEO by linking to their content.
It is important to note that the landscape of Instagram, especially, is changing. People are beginning to turn away from influencers as there is a new craving for real and authentic content. We may be seeing the end of the Macro Influencers, but that is just my personal observation. Let me know if you think otherwise.
8) Develop Your Content
This is the part I am sure you have been waiting for! The moment you get to build your content! Keep in mind there are many messages and communication strategies that you need to be thinking about. For example, what kind of messages do you need to be sending your different personas on the buyer’s journey? Not sure about your buyer's journey yet? Click here to read my article on Understanding the 5 Stages of the Buyer's Journey.
One way to reach your audience is to share or retweet curated content. This is content not created by you, but is still relevant to your cause, like sharing this article on your social media because it will help your audience! You can also create your own content or share user generated content. These will be tailored more towards your brand and your social media strategy as you will have more control over the posts.
Remember that all of your messages should be branded, meaning you are using all your brand assets to the best of your abilities, i.e. logo, colors, brand personality, language, and so on.
9) Post It!
So, you have created your content and scheduled it into your content calendar, now all that’s left is to post it! This is the time to pull out all your information about your target and see when the best time to post is. Maybe some take a lunch break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm on Mondays. Or maybe they like to get on social media on their commute home at 5:30pm.
It can be difficult to figure out what the best time to post is, but you can test out various strategies to see which time gets you the most engagement. Once your analytics come in, you can begin to start making informed decisions about when to post.
After you have published content, you need to begin tracking your progress with your earlier objectives. What does your traffic look like? How long are they staying with you? Are they engaging with your posts? Are you meeting your conversation rates?
One tool to help you better understand these features is Google Analytics. This software will take your website tracking from average to top of the line. Using software like this, will turn your leads into full on customers as you will see their journey from start to finish.
Don't forget that social media platforms have their own analytics. They may not show you everything you want to know, but you will have a cost effective way of measuring your success.
The last tip for your social media strategy is to set up automation software that will publish your social media content for you. These platforms like Social Bee, Hootsuite, and Bufferwill help you publish your content on your own time. This means no more posting to each platform individually, but rather uploading the content to these softwares weeks and months in advance.
These are great for the busy marketer or for someone starting out. You won't need to worry about posting on social media since these platforms will do it for you. Again, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have the ability to schedule posts in advance for free. So, if you are unable to afford an automation software check out the platforms schedulers.
Social Media Posting Best Practices:
Now that we have made it through the 11 steps, I want to leave with you some tips and tricks I have learned along the way. I think these are great practices for those just starting out and for those who need a reminder. These are not all of the practices for social media but it is a good size list to help you begin your brainstorming!
Target your posts,
Use relevant hashtags,
Use visual content,
Tag relevant people, companies, influencers, etc,
Include call to actions,
Create discussions in the comment sections,
Show the face of the brand,
Create connections and show emotions,
Test and measure,
Talk with your audience.
With these 11 steps in mind when building your social media strategy, you will see that there is more to it than simply thinking of what content to publish. You need to be aware of who you are trying to reach, why it is important, and what kind of content you will use to break through the clutter. Social media strategies will take time to perfect, but with concrete ideas and a full understanding of your audience you will make it all come together!
As Dave Willis said, " Don't use social media to impress people; use it to impact people."