How To Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
Creating a social media marketing strategy isn’t witchcraft; it just takes some planning and thought. In 2019, only about 73 percent of marketers believed that social media marketing was effective or somewhat effective and nearly 20 percent were unsure how to measure its effectiveness. Without some sense of how you’ll use social media marketing, or coming up with a comprehensive strategy, your social media marketing won’t be able to be measured for effectiveness. So, how do you create an effective social media marketing strategy?
Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy
Creating any kind of strategy really requires some critical thinking and knowledge and experience. Regardless of the type of business or nonprofit, these things are paramount to discovering an effective social media marketing strategy. However, there’s no secret, no one-way to build an effective plan. Each social media marketing strategy should be unique to the organization and not one-size-fits-all. It should be carefully planned to determine the appropriate goals, social channels and content for your business’s overall marketing plan.
But how do you go about creating a social media marketing strategy? Start with the following steps:
STEPS TO CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGY
- Determine and Set Measurable Goals
- Establish Your Target Audience
- Determine Your Social Media Channels
- Create Content to Share
- Create a Social Posting Schedule/Calendar
- Evaluate Social Media Marketing & Revise if Necessary
1. Determine and Set Measurable Goals
The first step to any strategy or plan is to determine and set measurable goals and outcomes. What is it that you want to accomplish through social media marketing? Is it to increase your followers? Share your valuable content and industry news? Give updates on company events? How will you know if your social media marketing plan has accomplished your goals?
These are the questions that you’ll need to determine before you begin your plan. Whatever your goals are, you’ll need to find a way to measure them – that is, if your goal is to increase your followers on your social channels, have some hard numbers to attain so that you know if your strategy is working or not.
If your goals are more revenue related, like a 50% increase in sales over the next 6 months, you should make the appropriate benchmark and develop a strategy that moves you closer to that goal. Whatever the goal, you need to make sure it’s A. measurable and B. attainable. If your goals are unattainable but measurable, it won’t matter because you’ll never be able to reach them and your efforts may seem futile. If your goals are attainable but not measurable, you won’t know when or how well you’ve attained them if you can’t measure them.
With social media marketing strategies, there are nine goals you can have:
NINE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING GOALS
- Increase brand awareness
- Drive traffic to your website
- Lead generation
- Increase sales and revenue
- Increase brand engagement
- Build an online community around your business
- Provide customer service
- Increase publicity and press relations
- Pay attention to feedback about your brand
It’s possible that you can have more than one of the above goals, depending on your business or organization’s needs. Whatever your needs are though, you should set a primary goal and then secondary goals so that your strategy remains focused and measurable.
2. Establish Your Target Audience
Once you’ve got some measurable goals, it’s time to determine who you’ll actually be targeting on social media. Many businesses and nonprofits have a wide range of demographics that make up their customer base – and they are all your target audience. Just as you wouldn’t talk to them personally the same way, in order to resonate with them, your marketing plan must include a variety of posts and content that are meaningful to them.
Start by establishing personas for each of the unique demographics in your target audience. Once you have your personas, you can determine how much extra content you’ll need to create and post to have something relevant and valuable for everyone in your target audience.
Determine whether the majority of people in your target audience are already part of your social media following, and if so, WHY they follow your business – is it for industry information? Maybe it’s for promotions and discounts. Or, maybe they are looking to start doing business with you but want to follow your first. Whatever the reason, try to determine that so that they are receiving the content that they started following you for.
Everyone’s needs are different. Take that into account as you establish your target audience and determine why the follow your on social media. That will help you determine what your strategy will be for reaching them going forward.
3. Determine Your Social Media Channels
The social media channels you use for your business or organization will largely be dictated by your target audience. It makes no sense to have a social media channel where none of your target customers follow you, or rather, it makes no sense to spend your time on social media channels that your target audience isn’t using to connect with you.
Instead, determine how your target audience is connecting with you currently and what channels they spend their time on. For instance, most millennials don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, although it is the fastest growing social platform for seniors (the generation born before 1945). Millennials instead are using channels like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, and are actually obsessed with email. It’s good to know where to find your target audience because depending on the demographics of your target audience, you may have to spread your social media marketing out over multiple channels.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Man, I don’t want to have to manage a bunch of social media accounts and platforms. Scheduling multiple posts is such a drag.” You’re right. It really is. That’s why I use services like Hootsuite, Buffer and MailChimp which make scheduling posts to multiple channels easier. That doesn’t eliminate the need to go in and manage those channels though. You still need to manage your social media presence and respond to your audience when they post.
Ultimately, you want to choose social media posts that include your target audience. Don’t go overboard and spread yourself too thin by having accounts on all the social media channels, though. Choose a handful of channels that best represents your business, and includes your target audience and focus your efforts on making them the best they can be.
4. Create Content to Share
Once you’ve go your goals, target audience and social channels established, it’s time to start creating content to share. As you create your content, keep your target audience in mind. Is it something they will engage with? Is it valuable? Will it help them convert? Determine the purpose of each post, each piece of content so that you have a clear goal for the post and can measure the success of your content.
Some posts, and we recommend that you have some, don’t need to have an overarching purpose – they could be humorous or holiday related, or just shared to get some engagement from your audience. Showing that your business or organization has a personal side to it helps consumers relate to your brand by showing that there are actual people behind your business’s logo.
Create posts with images and/or video
Creating posts with images helps them get seen far more than those without. Make sure the images are high enough quality so that they aren’t pixellated on a variety of different devices. Ensure that the images and graphics match the post well – in other words, don’t throw in an image just to get noticed; make sure the graphical content relates to the content of the post. Posts with images can take a variety of different forms – user generated (with customer photos, product photos, feedback, etc.), event photos and video, inspirational quotes, business/industry tips and more. Get creative and use images to your advantage to drive engagement on your social media channel.
Blogging can also be a part of your social media marketing strategy. Even if your blog resides on your website, you can create and share them to your social network following for greater exposure. Additionally, you can repurpose those blog posts for smaller social media posts at a later date (for those that don’t click through to the blog post). This provides greater exposure to your content and more value to your social media following.
All of your posts and content should encourage engagement – actions taken by users to interact with online content. Ideally, you want your social media following to engage – react, comment, click, take some action – with your content. And, sometimes, people need to be beaten over the head with the notion to engage with a post – that is, you need to prompt them to take an action. Whether it’s asking a question, posting a survey, soliciting for feedback – whatever the case may be – they need to feel like there’s a call-to-action there. Otherwise, they might read your post, but they won’t interact with it. Provide ways with your social media marketing to engage your target audience and they won’t disappoint.
5. Create Social Posting Schedule/Calendar
It’s been said that motivation gets your started, but habit keeps you going. It’s easy to procrastinate and say “I’ll post that/do that/create that tomorrow.” But what’s not easy is to follow a schedule – that is, until it becomes habit. Social media posting helps by providing inbound SEO links to your website, assuming you link your posts to your website. And the more frequent your social posts are, the greater the impact on your website’s search engine page ranking. Additionally, the more you post on your social network, the greater the likelihood that your posts will be seen by people in your target audience.
Enter the social media posting schedule: When you create a social media posting schedule, you’re really developing a plan on when and where to post the content you’ve created. You may decided to release your content in a series a day or two apart over the course of a couple weeks. You may decide to do a countdown to an event to help hype up excitement. You might post a weekly blog post on Wednesdays on how to do something. This is where the strategy really comes into play – think about what, how and who will see your posts and how you want them to interact. Use the calendar as a guideline (Hootsuite and MailChimp both have good social media posting calendars) and try to adhere to it.
Creating your social media posting plan is really unique to every business and organization – it depends greatly on your target audience, content you’ve created and the goals you’ve set for both. There’s no magic number for how many times a week you should post, although some websites will tell you to post 2-3 times a week, which may not fit your business. Regardless, decide what is frequent enough for your business and setup a schedule around that.
6. Evaluate Your Social Media Marketing/Revise if Necessary
Now that you have a solid social media marketing strategy, it’s time to launch it. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten your calendar planned out for the next six months – as long as you’ve gotten a few weeks planned, that should be enough to test your strategy and determine if changes need to be made.
Determine if you’ve hit your goals – check the analytics for your page(s) – did you get new followers? Did revenue increase? By how much? How could you change your strategy to increase revenue even more?
Some social media channels offer better analytics than others – before you set your goals, you should know what the limitations are for reporting on each of your social media accounts and adjust your goals accordingly. For instance, if increasing revenue is a goal for a specific channel, and that’s not a metric that it tracks, you might want to find a different metric or another way to track revenue from that channel.
Give your plan some time to take effect – most strategies take a few weeks to have enough data to determine whether they are successful or not. The temptation may be there to make changes in the first week – don’t. Give it some time. What may look like a flop in the first week of your plan may look completely different two or three weeks in. You may want to give your strategy longer to perform before making changes and that’s ok.
That’s all that is really required to create a successful social media marketing strategy. It mostly involved planning, being specific about goals and outcomes and creating content to share that will help you achieve your goals. Then, evaluate. Always consider whether your plan is working or not. If it isn’t, make changes.