When it comes to building a solid social media strategy, there are many things to consider. From goals, to content, branding and audience engagement, it can feel complex. But the good news? Designing a winning strategy doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, I’ve seen businesses succeed with as little as a 3-part strategy written in 300 words or less. And when you look at the keys to their success, it’s simple. They have:
Clarity of purpose
Commitment to an easy to follow common sense approach
While there’s no one-size fits all solution, you can find the same success if you’re armed with the right plan. Because a plan equals focus and focus is the fuel that will propel your business forward. And as someone who works with marketers, small businesses and entrepreneurs daily, I know the power behind a strategy. I also know the importance of a plan that’s engineered and then executed upon consistently. It’s one that allows you to act on purpose, flipping the scattershot marketing approach on its head. Not sure where to begin? In this article, I’m sharing my own best practices. Each one is time-tested and will produce measurable growth when done right. But more than that – they are each designed to boost your engagement, traffic and sales. Below are seven tips to equip you with the tools and information you need to take full advantage of all that social media has to offer.
How to Create Your Social Media Strategy
1. Define Key Objectives
If I asked you why you you’re using social media to market your business, could you tell me? In other words, how do you expect it to benefit your business? If you’re not sure how to answer, think about it this way. If you don’t know what you want out of social media, it’s fair to say you shouldn’t be using it. Because there’s nothing worse than a haphazard strategy with no destination in mind. So, first thing first. Determine what you want to achieve.
Build brand awareness
Familiarize people with your product
Attract new customers
Improve customer service
Engage previous customers
Establish new relationships
As CMO of a bootstrapped startup, we’re always looking for better (e.g. economical) ways to connect with our audience. So for Post Planner, we might use social media to help people:
Find great content without wasting a ton of time.
Grow a following through predictive content.
Get more interaction and engagement on the content shared.
Want to identify your own objectives and the key results you’re going to achieve? Start by writing down your big, bold objectives. What are those goals, that when achieved, will completely blow your mind? Begin with three. Then add the 2-3 key results that will come out of your efforts. Here is what that might look like.
Objective and Key Result Example
Objective: Increase Social Media Content Quality Key Results:
100% of posts optimized for social and aligned with company core values
Improve campaign efficiency and audit process of all marketing assets with a >2% improvement in conversion rate
Objective: Increase Social Media Engagement on all Platforms Key Results:
Increase social media conversation rate by >25%
Increase total reach of average social profile by >100%
Increase total engagement of average social profile by >100%
Objective: Improve Brand Awareness Key Results:
Achieve 25,000 mentions on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from social interactions
Achieve 15 mentions in Blogs on Top 50 Social Media Sites
Want to learn more about the OKR process? (warning: it will blow your mind)
2. Assess Your Current Use
When was the last time you looked at your social media news feed or Facebook timeline for the first time? If you say never, you need to get busy. Sit down and take a good hard look at your content from the eyes of a new (or potential) fan or follower. What do you see? Is your posting random, your content confusing and your interaction non-existent? It’s time to perform some CPR (and fast) on your current social media use.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
How does your content support your strategy?
Can potential followers immediately get a sense of company culture, product and service?
How do you use images to tell the company story?
Is it clear what the next step is you want fans/followers to take with you?
What content receives the most clicks, likes and shares?
What social network is giving you the biggest bang for your marketing buck?
That last one won’t be hard to figure out. Look to your analytics to identify where you’re receiving the most interaction and engagement. Tools like Sprout Social or True Social Metrics can help you better understand your conversation and amplification rate and where your time is best spent.
3. Know Your Audience
Want to stay relevant and viable in the mind of your audience? You must get active and stay social. The prospects and customers that you hope to engage with social media equal your target audience. Understanding their problems, needs, hopes and desires will help you provide a better solution. To gain a better understanding, take a look at your target market’s interests, demographics, buying behavior, mobile footprint, where they engage on social media and what influences them. Twitter is a great place to get started. Go to Twitter Analytics and then the Followers Dashboard. Here you’ll find a wealth of information around your Twitter followers. For example, what are their top interests? This will help you better formulate and position the content you share. Based on the information below, I should add additional tweets about technology and entrepreneurship. These are two topics I currently tweet about, but probably not enough given the percentage of followers interested in them..
4. Choose Your Core Topics
What topics or categories best represent your company? More than likely, there are a handful of topics that relate to your product, service or brand. The key to a successful social media strategy is finding the core topics you want your business to be known for, but more than that, the topics that attract and keep the attention of fans and followers. So how do you find those topics? Marko Saric from How to Turn Your Passion Into a Blog shares a formula that works just as well for social media as it does blogging. The goal is to find your sweet spot. It’s a combination of:
Your passion – the topic you could talk about all day long
Your assets – the topic you’re known for and skilled and trained within
Market reality – is there a demand on social media for this type of content (in other words, will you find an audience)
5. Find Great Content to Share (and Connect With Influencers)
Taking a cue from what I learned above, I might want to share additional content about entrepreneurship. I should also connect with top influencers sharing content within that space. To find both, I’ll head over to BuzzSumo. But before I do that, I’d run a Google search around intent based topics. Meaning, what is the intention of anyone looking for this topic as they type their search into Google or any other search engine. (Not sure what I mean by this? Read this article from Moz) This will help me get laser beam focused on the needs of my fans and followers. A few examples:
Top ways to become an entrepreneur
Tools used by entrepreneurs
What skills do entrepreneurs need to have
Once you’ve done your research around your topics, it’s time to use BuzzSumo to find top authors writing around the above examples. Looking at the results, I can quickly see who has published the most articles, what their average shares are and what type of content they’re sharing on Twitter. It’s a simple way to begin compiling a list of great content to share across your social networks from top authors.
6. Automate, Engage and GROW
One of the keys to successful social media marketing is smart automation. No, I’m not advocating that you become an auto-DM spammer or a content pushing zombie that never intends to engage. What it does mean is allowing automation to support your strategy, keeping you on top of your updates while engaging with your customers. Because we all know, engagement is the one metric that still matters. It’s also the one area most marketers struggle with. That’s why it’s important to incorporate a social media management system within your strategy. The right system and tools keep you engaged and interactive with your fans and followers and that equal social media growth. This is where Post Planner comes in. Take the results from your Google, Twitter and BuzzSumo searches and them into folders. This will consolidate all of your content into one location, making it easy to schedule and share that content. Here’s my “Top Blogger” folder that curates content from hundreds of my favorite content producers. All I have to do is scroll through, click “Share” and boom – new content is ready to post.
7. Track, Measure and Adjust – Test, Test, Test!
Are you wishing for social media success, or are you planning for it? Put a plan in place that allows you to track, measure and assess your results. Consistently analyze your analytics to see what content resonates best. Do pictures, videos or links perform better? Are your core topics interesting and relevant to your fans and followers? Adjust your strategy and your content when appropriate to keep your social media content fresh and your information topical.
If you want to push your business forward, you need to make sure it’s valuable, relevant and accessible to consumers. You need to get — and stay — social. Get started today by envisioning the potential impact social media and an online strategy can have on your business. Now take deliberate steps to move your business forward one day to the next. What one part of this strategy can you implement immediately?