No social media plan could have prepared for 2020, but the good news is there is still time to adjust. Let’s go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your social approach.
Do you have clear brand goals behind your post creation and distribution? How well are you able to monitor the success of your content? If you don’t know the answer to these questions you aren’t alone.
A survey of social media marketers from the Manifest found two of the primary social media challenges businesses faced included lack of a formal strategy (24%), followed by tracking results (17%).
The best social media strategies are centered around a clear objective and follow a focused framework. Ready to take your social strategy to the next level? Let’s get started.
Set Your Goals (What’s Your Purpose?)
Social media is flexible and can help achieve multiple business goals. But the most successful strategies begin with a narrower focus. Ask yourself what are the company objectives for next year and what role do you want social to play? Brand awareness? Customer loyalty?
During this process keep in mind that your goals still must be audience-centered. Social media is all about engagement, so a good strategy has a clear customer journey map. Choose an audience-specific goal for your content.
- Brand Awareness
Break your goal down into primary objectives, the top priority, and secondary objectives, the aim of each channel. Inexperienced social planners lose sight of their goal by failing to set measurable outcomes. Avoid this mistake by breaking your social strategy goal into key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are measurable values that show how effectively you are hitting your goals. In social media, useful indicators are frequency, audience growth, traffic generation, customer acquisition and reach. E.g. want to “increase awareness”? Track brand mentions and new follower metrics.
So what makes a good social media marketing goal? Above all your goal should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).
- Identify your business goals so your social media plans have clear direction and purpose.
- Stay on track with your goals by choosing KPIs to measure your progress.
- Good goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).
Listen to Your Followers and Competitors
It might seem simple, but listening to your customers and competitors can be an invaluable strategy guide. Many companies miss out on golden opportunities by ignoring the dialogue of social communities. Broaden your social listening outside of your brand to see where and how you can be most effective in social media.
Save time by analyzing where your current social audience is already having digital conversations. Instead of starting from zero, you can take advantage of channels where people are already talking about or to your brand. Additionally, observing the audiences of your competitors can give you insight into where you can improve.
Identify Your Target Audiences
Brands with strong social communities are successful because they know their audience. Do not fall into the trap of casting a wide net to see what customers you can catch. Now that you have listened to your social media community, you can better identify your core audiences.
What are the psychographic and demographic characteristics of your current audience and your prospective customers? How will this influence what you post and your approach? This process is called configuring audience personas, which includes determining online behaviors and values. Different audience demographics are more responsive on some channels than others, however, your primary focus should always be on your MVP (Most Valuable Personas).
When you create a social media strategy there are three main audience groups you should care about:
- Valuable Personas: This is your current core community so your purpose should be to build and strengthen your relationship with this audience, as well as attracting more like them. Creating primary content strategies around this group will produce the greatest payoff from your social media investment.
- Aspirational Audiences: Think of the next generation of consumers or an emerging demographic in your industry. This audience segment might not be an immediate priority but they will be important for your business growth in the next 5 years. Stay ahead of the curve by identifying and understanding this group now.
- Influencer Audiences: While it is important to identify what influences your customer you should also ask who? Influencers on social media open the door for increasing brand awareness and traffic.
The last step in identifying your target audience is to create detailed personas so you can effectively engage. Some questions you should be asking are:
- What are their goals, motivations, fears, and questions?
- What is their demographic description?
- What are their personality traits, lifestyles, values, and attitudes?
- How would your audience describe themselves?
Authentic and accurate qualitative feedback from your customers is the ideal way to flesh out audience personas, so try to include survey methods in your data collection process.
- Establish your target audience.
- Research and construct detailed personas of your audience’s motivations, attitudes, fears, and lifestyle.
- Identify the best social channels to reach and engage with your target audience.
- Spend time identifying your other audience groups, aspirational and influencers.
Plot Your Content Strategy
At the heart of any social media strategy is the content. Effective content has a clear purpose and channel plan. Whether it is a one time campaign or an ongoing strategy, your content must serve the mission of your brand or at least be guided by it. Refresh yourself on your brand mission statement and how you want your content to help reflect that.
Pillars, Themes and Context
Content variety keeps your audience engaged and entertained. Not all your content should serve the same purpose: think of 3-5 main topics you think fits with your brand. Keep these content pillars general like education, industry trends, or just for fun. These broad content themes will help you generate more specific content subtopics. If your content pillar is education then a subtopic might be how-to or tips to help your audience with tasks related to your brand.
The best social media topics should make your audience care, aware, share, and convert. Let’s see some examples:
Good social media market aligns with what your audience cares about and makes them care about the content. There are several ways to do this:
- Funny posts and memes are one way some brands are joining topical conversations of their audience in a relatable way.
- Informative and relevant content. Ask yourself what your audience wants to know and would find useful. For practical posts less is more. While it varies across platforms, most users don’t want to read a research paper for some tips.
- Beautiful and eye-catching content will attract users no matter what your brand is. Naturally lit, close-up shots are more interesting for the eye.
- Inspiring, feel good or aspirational posts will strike an emotional chord with your audience. Everyone loves success stories of people overcoming the odds.
Ever seen content that you immediately had to send to your closest friend? Research has shown that posts that trigger emotional reactions of humor, happiness, and excitement heavily influence online sharing. Engagement is emotional and shareable content acts on our sense of self-identity or sense of community. Additionally, the content we feel teaches something about ourselves, contains some wisdom, can prompt people to want to pass it on.
When you think of your favorite brand you probably associate it with specific values, environments and imagery. Brand awareness content helps you manage and create these associations for your audience. You can do this by posting visuals of your products, services, and people; using a consistent color scheme and aesthetic; and highlighting how you serve your customers.
Getting your audience to share your content is great, but the ultimate goal of your content strategy is conversion. This is where your audience personas come in handy. How can your business address their motivations, fears, and desires? Your content should speak to these emotions and tell them how you will meet these needs.
The most difficult task for social media marketers is creating quality content consistently. Save time and energy by creating a month-long content calendar for your campaign. Stock-pile relevant content at the start of the month and schedule it ahead of time to avoid stress over daily posting and better distribution of diverse themes.
To improve content planning in the future, keep track of what posts perform the best and at which stage of the customer journey. Some brands use different content strategies to attract organic traffic than their paid ads.
- Effective content has a clear purpose and channel plan.
- All social media content should be created with the mission of your brand in mind.
- Determine the content goals for your posts (audience care, aware, share, and convert).
- Plan your social media campaign content for the month and track performance.
Amplify Your Content Distribution
Even the most creative social media concept can fall flat if you don’t know how to amplify your content. The two main ways to do this are through paid social advertising and influencer and earned media. Before you even budget for paid social, create a channel plan, outlining where on social you want to advertise and why. You should be able to explain which audiences you can reach on each channel and how you plan to do so.
Paid social media should be used to reach your most valuable audiences. Paid strategies are a powerful tool and strategy focus should be split evenly between awareness (bringing in potential customers and converting them), and retention of your current customers (keeping your base happy). For effective use of paid social install tracking pixels to measure your conversions.
Remember the influencers from your buyer personas? Reach out to the influencers, bloggers, and creators that your audience listens to and ask them to feature your brand on their platform or collaborate on an initiative.
You made it to the finish line, time to put your plan to action! No matter how small your social media or marketing team is there are four main tasks that go into proper execution of a strategy:
- Strategy Planning
- Community Engagement
- Content Creation
- Ad managing and Analysis.
If you’re lucky to have a whole team then each task can go to a different person but if not some flexibility will be required! The strategy planner is in charge of creating the editorial calendar and ensuring the entire strategy works seamlessly. As you begin posting content someone should be constantly monitoring and responding to the feedback from your audience. Content creation is the soul of a social strategy and the data analysts are the ones who make sure it is distributed efficiently. Ad and analyst experts help manage the budget of paid campaigns and keep an eye on ROI.
Don’t think that strategy execution means scheduling some posts and walking away. Social media plans require consistent maintenance, engagement, KPI reports, and content analysis. Ask yourself what is working? What isn’t? And what can we try next?
Practice makes perfect when it comes to strategy. Some brands hire expert social media and marketing teams to help them analyze past performances, audience personas, and data to create streamlines strategies.