Your social media strategy is the plan that will give purpose to each post, each like, share, engagement, hashtag, image, reply, and friend. It is the guide behind what platform you use, the tone and style in which you engage with audiences, as well as how you will measure the success of your social media within your overall marketing strategy. Without a social media strategy, it can feel like you are searching your way around a big, dark room, hands waving in front of you to make sure you don’t bump into something you didn’t intend to. Here are a few suggestions to consider when building a social media strategy plan so you don't feel like you're working in the dark.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
Start your strategy by creating goals and objectives based on overall marketing, sales, and company wide goals. While engagement and brand perception are among the most difficult to measure, you’ll want to be sure to include them as well as measurable goals if they are a part of your overall strategy. Measurable goals often consist of audience growth, CTR’s, comments, conversions, etc. Try to stay away from vanity metrics, which you can learn more about here.
DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
A target audience is the demographic of people most likely to be interested in your product or service. According to SproutSocial, marketers see up to a 20% increase in sales when using personalized content. Defining who that audience is and what demographics they fall into is a key step to increasing the success of your social media strategy and creating relevant content that your audience is interested in.
CHOOSING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Each social media platform offers opportunities to engage with audiences in their own unique way. Choosing the best social media platforms for your business used to be relatively easy - you started a Facebook page, set-up a Twitter profile, and then added others over time. But things have changed. Instagram is a much bigger consideration and offers unique opportunities such as a link tree in a bio, IG TV, and telling your brand story in a very impactful visual way.
Facebook's plummeting organic reach means it may be less of a priority depending on budget and goals,Twitter's algorithm needs to fit into the equation, and LinkedIn is seeing an increase in traffic. Pinterest and Snapchat may require consideration, and if you're going to create video content, then YouTube definitely should be on your radar.
Most businesses can't be active on all of them all the time. So, which platforms are right for your business and marketing efforts? I suggest conducting research into what each platform provides, who the audience segments are, and what challenges are presented for each (such as algorithms) before making your decision.
HASHTAGS & MENTIONS
The short answer as to what a hashtag is and what it does…They make you and your content searchable and discoverable. Once you start researching and using hashtags you’ll probably run into plenty of questions like: Do you know which hashtags are leading followers to your page? What are the most popular tags in your industry? How many hashtags on Instagram do you tack on a typical post? ShouldI hide the hashtags on Instagram or place them directly under my post? It’s important to understand how you want to use hashtags and how they work so you can avoid the #overkill.
For instance, on Twitter, the hashtag will turn any word into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. Yet, on Instagram, hashtags can be used to complement photos and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers. Some hashtags were created specifically forInstagram photo challenges — #ThrowbackThursday, for example, encourages users to post retro photos. Vine uses hashtags in the same way. You can try accompanying each of your Vine videos with at least one hashtag to maximize share ability.
When creating your hashtag strategy, monitor earned hashtags vs. owned hashtags. Has your audience created a hashtag trend that you can now incorporate in your posts and“own”?
Don’t forget to include @ mentions to leverage partners and brand ambassadors as part of your plan, and tap into their audiences. Engagement is a key part of any social media strategy. Cross promote across strategic partners as well. For instance, REI often shares posts from Patagonia, as the two brands have aligning values.You will also see brands utilizing the #reigetoutside hashtag on their own social posts. Start by creating a list of vendors, brands, companies, influencers, and strategic partners that you can use mentions and cross promotion tactics to enhance your social strategy and brand awareness.
CONTESTS, GIVEAWAY, & SOCIAL ONLY PROMOTIONS
There are a huge variety of promotions you can run social media, from share/like/comment giveaways, to photo contests, to social only discounts. Analytics and data insights provide valuable data on products, audiences, geographic territories, early adopter behaviors, and much, much more based on promotions. They’re also a great way to create an influx of activity, create awareness, and increase product sales and exposure. Another option would be to partner with vendors, ambassadors, and strategic partners for promotions, competitions, and give aways to expand reach among audience segmentations. Would contests, giveaways, and promotions align with your overall business goals or get your in front of a sought after audience? If so, I highly encourage creating one that resonates with your audience.
CROSS PROMOTE ACROSS CHANNELS
Cross promotion between social accounts can benefit your strategy in a variety of ways. A simple way to cross promote would be to include account info in your bios across all social accounts. You can also include social icons or handles in your email signature. Social promotions are also a great opportunity for cross promotion.
BOOST POSTS & SOCIAL ADVERTISING
We’ve all read and heard about how social media platforms are changing their algorithms, and often, making it necessary to boost posts or create paid social ads in order to reach target audiences and cut through the clutter. By making post boosts and paid social ads a part of your strategy, you will see a much wider reach and impact. Take advantage of Facebook’s audience data to target key groups. If you’ve recently shopped online for workout gear, you may notice that you’re receiving more workout gear ads than before. That’s because Facebook noted your shopping habits and added you to that interest category. A combination of paid and organic efforts within your social media strategy can enhance your efforts exponentially.
GET YOUR EMPLOYEES INVOLVED
Employee advocacy is quickly becoming a major piece of social media strategy for big brands. With the help of your team members, you can encourage them to promote specific messages and content directly to their social channels for further reach.
This is also a powerful tactics for sales enablement and lead funnel tactics for sales teams. Not only that, but it can boost morale when your employees proudly share office culture, product launches, PR efforts, and recently completed projects.
Each social media platform offers a world of valuable data you can leverage among internal teams, as well as using it to hone your strategy and continue to refine and improve efforts. There are also a whole variety of software solutions likeSprout Social, Hootsuite, and many more that can funnel data and create reports to track, monitor, leverage, and enhance strategies. Some even provide recommendations. Here is a handy list from buffer.com if you’d like to look into these further. https://buffer.com/library/social-media-analytics-tools
TIME TO CRAFT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY...
While these are just a few tactics to consider when crafting a social media strategy, there are many more opportunities to utilize social media that will drive overall company goals and collect valuable data. A successful social media strategy plan requires research, data insights, and defined goals that tactics can be built around for maximum success. And not only that, but to include a certain level of flexibility in your plan to allow for changing trends and real time opportunities.