In 2018, a study showed that 87% of marketers generated more exposure for their business through social media. 78% reported an increase in website traffic. Furthermore, using social media for more than two years seemed to have helped increase revenue as well. Therefore, it makes no doubts that a successful social media strategy can really help a business grow.
However, a social media strategy needs to include some critical components in order to be successful. Not only is it important to stay ahead of the competition but your social media strategy should also align with your branding and be part of your bigger digital strategy. You need to find what works for you and what activities are most likely to produce results for your brand in particular.
That is why your social media strategy should include the nine below elements in order to be successful.
Audit your current social media
Before you start spending time on a new social media strategy, look at the channels and content you already have. What you have done in the past can be a good indication of what you need to do next.
Look at social media best-practices. Compare with what you are doing. Digging into the numbers will give you a good insight into what is working, failing and can be improved. This can help identify the strengths and weaknesses in your current strategy but also help to find new opportunities for growth.
The best way to make the most out of your social media strategy is to keep track of your activities and know what is working. Your social media audit should include the following:
- A list of all your current social media platforms
- Calculation of your engagement rate
- A breakdown of your previous goals and objectives
- Details of your social media growth for the past few months
- A breakdown of content performance
- What content performed best? Worst?
- Are there days and times got the best engagement?
- What is your current post frequency?
- What does successful content have in common?
Perform a competitive analysis
You know what worked (or not) for you in the past. Now, it is time to have a look at what your competitors are doing that works and that you could get inspiration from. Not only is it good to see how you compare to them but also identify new trends, standards as well as threats.
You need to research and identity direct competitors, with similar products and targeting the same audience. For variety, pick four to five brands, big and small for more examples and to allow for better comparison.
For each competitor, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- How are your competitors using social media?
- What social media platforms are they using?
- How many followers do they have on each?
- What is their Instagram growth rate?
- What is their engagement rate? Their ratio likes-to-comments?
- How do they engage with their followers
- What is their best performing content? What type of content do they use?
From there on, you can get ideas and see how you can use their successes to stimulate your own and boost your growth.
Set goals and objectives
Before you implement a social media strategy, you need to know where you are heading, what you are trying to achieve. Having goals and objectives in mind gives direction, somewhere to get to. It is much easier to think of the details of the journey if you know the destination.
To keep them in mind, write your goals and objectives somewhere you can see them everyday. You will use them as guides for all your campaigns, content creation, engagement tactics, etc. Before your identify your social media goals and objective, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your business objectives?
- How can you use social media to align with those objectives
- What does your audience expect from you?
- What are you trying to get out of social media?
- How to break down your objectives into goals?
- Are your goals measurable?
You can use the social media strategy metrics map below to help you align your social media activities with your business objectives and goals. Each platform will require different goals and activities as well as KPIs. Those social media KPIs usually are based on impressions, engagement and follower growth. Once you identify those metrics, you can set S.M.A.R.T goals for each.
Build your customer persona
A critical component of any successful social media strategy is to build a customer persona. It is a research-backed profile of your ideal customer. It is a representation of who you wish your social media strategy to target and who you want to become your customer.
Building a customer persona has several advantages. First, it allows you to target a very specific pool of people. 70% of people in the US use social media, which is a lot of people. You do not want to talk to all of them. Second, 80% of customers say they are more likely to buy when offered a personalized experience. Personas help to identify authentic and personalized opportunities to reach your customers through social media.
You will need to research who your ideal customer is, either through studies and published research or using insights from your existing social media channels and website. You can build a customer persona based on who you want to be your ideal customer or who is already a customer of yours if you want to reach more people similar to them.
When researching your ideal customer, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the customer’s demographics?
- And their values, challenges, goals and fears?
- What social media do they use? How do they interact there?
- What social activities can you use to reach them?
- Does your persona has personal information? What do they look like?
Define your brand voice
If you already have a website with a logo, branding and a tone of voice, it is important that you stick to it and stay consistent across all marketing channels. Your website and social media must look like they belong together and not like they are two different brands.
Using a consistent branding and staying on voice will increase brand recognition by 80%. Being consistent on social media posting frequency-wise will help increase trust and brand awareness among your audience. When the attention span of people is 3 seconds and they need 10 pieces of content to remember a brand, it is important that they see you often.
Furthermore, consistent presentation of a brand can increase revenue by up to 23%. As a small business, those 23% can make a huge difference. Your social media strategy should align with your brand strategy and help make your brand easily recognizable:
- Tone of voice: what does your brand sound like? Who are you talking to? How would you describe your brand’s voice? Is it funny, casual, professional?
- Terminology and grammar: Does your brand follow a particular writing style? Does it follow grammar and punctuation guidelines? Are there words you avoid?
- Post writing: What do your posts look like? Do you write paragraphs or jump lines often? Is it long or short? Do you include emojis?
- Hashtag usage: Do you use hashtags? Do you have branded hashtags? How many hashtags do you use? Are they in the caption or in the first comment?
- Visual content and UGCs: What type of content do you share? Photos, videos, carousels? Do you have a color palette? Do you use filters? Does your grid have a theme?
Build a social content calendar
Once you know what content works for you, what your competitors are doing that you can get ideas from and who your ideal customer is, you can start building your social media strategy and lay out content distribution in a content calendar.
First decide on which channels you want to use. You know where your ideal audience hangs out, so use that to help you choose. Then, you will decide what type of content you want to post on each channel for maximum engagement and growth. The best way to reinforce your content is indeed through content.
Your social media content should be a lix of different types of content: still images, carousels, videos, stories, UGCs, product imagery, etc. Follow the rule of third. ⅓ of your content should be promotional, ⅓ curated and ⅓ engagement based. Identify which post will fall into each of these categories. Decide on post frequency as well.
Once this is done, you can create a social media calendar. Identify key marketing dates as well as national days and holidays that matter to your audience. Plan content a few months ahead for each of those dates so that you have time to create the content and change it should need be.
Set up a budget
Before you implement your social media strategy, you need to know how much it is going to cost you. While some costs will appear very obvious, others will be hidden but you need to write them down. Companies spend 5 to 15% of their annual revenue on marketing, regardless of size.
With the advent of social media, paid socials and influencers, marketing budgets are set to increase by 89% in the next five years. It is up to each company to decide where they will put their budget. However, one field of marketing that is seeing a significant input of money is influencer marketing.
Your team (both internal and external) will be part of your social media budget. It should also include:
- Equipment for content creation
- Paid social promotions
- Influencer marketing
- Social media management tools (i.e. Instagram scheduling tool)
- Community engagement efforts (i.e. giveaways and freebies)
- Analytics tools
Integrated your social media to your digital strategy
Social media is great for raising awareness of a brand but it needs to be integrated within your whole marketing strategy to be the most successful. After all, even though you can now shop directly on Instagram, your audience may still want to get to your website prior to making a purchase decision.
An integrated approach will always drive more results. You need to be promoting across channels to make sure that people repeatedly see your brand on their different platforms. 86% of shoppers are regularly channel-hopping across at least two channels. If you work with a Youtuber, you may want them to promote your brand on both Youtube and Instagram.
Make sure to promote your social content across channels. Automatically post your Instagram post to Facebook and Twitter. Show your Instagram feed on your website for your visitors to see. Add your social links to your newsletter and website. Work with influencers with multiple platforms to promote in multiple places. This means more visibility, awareness and potential better SEO too with more backlinks and brand mentions.
Track analytics and report on KPIs
Once you have built your social media strategy and implemented it, you need to track results and performance. You need to write down all your business objectives, goals and KPIs. Social media works better in the long term. However, it is still wise to report every month.
Reviewing reports on a monthly basis can inform changes in strategy, new opportunities, areas for improvement and highlight what works, what content to carry on using, etc. ROI in investment can seem hard to track when it comes to social media.
However, comparing monthly performances against KPIs can help see the impact of your social media activities. A successful social media strategy will identify the metrics that matter and help your social team understand where they are creating an impact on the bottom line.