Every company can leverage social media marketing to increase brand awareness, customer engagement, and sales.
When email marketing and social media team up, they create a marketing duo that helps brands maximize their reach in today’s digital age.
That’s because an estimated 2.9 billion people will use email by the end of 2019, according to The Radicati Group, and an estimated 2.77 billion people will use social sites by that time, according to Statista.
However, like any other marketing channel or tactic, you need a plan to be successful on social media. You can’t just post funny memes on Facebook and tweet a few stats each week and expect results.
To help marketers create an effective social media strategy, here’s a seven-step process to success.
What is a social media strategy?
A social media strategy summarizes how you plan to use social platforms to promote your brand and its products.
This strategic summary should be detailed so marketers and leadership at your company can reference it for direction.
A successful social media strategy may include these four components:
- Overview: An overview gives a summary of the strategic plan, as well as where the brand currently stands on social media.
- Goals: Be sure to include a list of specific goals that you want to achieve with metrics that you will measure as you go.
- Execution: A plan is nothing without execution, so be sure to plan how you will achieve your goals. Include specific timeframes, tools used, and who is in charge of each task.
- Analysis: You won’t know whether your actions lead to results unless you measure how you’re doing. Include a plan for analysis in your social media strategy.
Create a social media strategy in 7 steps
Now, let’s get down to business with a step-by-step social media strategy plan that will help bring ROI for your brand:
Step 1. Audit your current social media approach
To formulate a social media strategy plan, you must first assess where you’re at right now. Which sites see the most engagement? Where are you getting results?
Make a list of each social media site that your brand uses, and outline what’s working and what’s not working on each channel. Here are a few questions to answer as you go along:
- What social media site drives the most engagement for our brand?
- Is our following growing, declining or remaning the same?
- Are we able to populate each social media site we use with fresh content?
- Do customers use social media to get product support? If so, which channels?
- What types of content does the company post on each channel? How frequently?
- How much time is spent on each channel per day? How about per week?
- Where do we invest money on social media advertising? Are we getting results?
- How much traffic to our website does each channel drive. Does that traffic convert to sign ups, customers or another relevant metric?
This is a time to figure out what’s working, but it’s also a time to assess whether it makes sense for you to continue on every social channel you have. For example, if you do not see any results on Instagram, it may make sense for you to double-down on another channel instead.
2. Research your customer base
To market effectively, you have to know your audience. That goes for any marketing, from email to social media, to pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Marketers can and should collect data on a regular basis. When subscribers join your email list, you might consider adding an extra field to collect one or two pieces of information, such as their birthday, job title, or address. You can also collect data by conducting surveys, using behavioral information or using progressive profiling.
As you collect data, you should build customer profiles, so you have a clear understanding of your customer base.
Once your audience is defined, you can figure out which social platforms your customers use.
3. Understand which audiences are on which platforms
It’s important to understand which social media sites your audience uses. You want to pick social platforms that align with the demographics of your customer base. To help understand who’s using which platform, here’s a quick look at demographics for each social site:
Facebook: Users are of all ages, income, and education levels.
Instagram: Most popular with college-educated women, 18-29-year-olds.
Pinterest: Most popular with women age 18-49 with varied education and income.
Twitter: Most popular with college-educated 18-29-year-olds that make $75,000+.
LinkedIn: Most popular with highly-educated 18-49-year-olds making $75,000+.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook, while the oldest social media site, continues to be the favorite. Research shows nearly 8 in 10 Americans use Facebook, more than double the share that any other platform gets, according to Pew Research Center.
While demographics are helpful, you should also monitor your metrics to see which channels are working best. Sometimes, despite demographic information, a social channel might get better results than you think. Keep an eye on metrics like referral traffic to see where the majority of visitors come from.
4. Set measurable goals
Creating a social media strategy doesn’t mean much if there isn’t a way to measure your success.
As part of your social media marketing strategy, you should decide which metrics you’ll use to assess whether you’re meeting your goals. Sometimes called KPIs, or key performance indicators, these concrete numbers will show you how you’re performing on social media.
While KPIs vary depending on your business, here are some of the most common indicators that measure success:
- Conversion rates
- Number of followers
- Overall reach
- Brand mentions
- Total shares
- Comments and engagements
5. Give customers what they want
It’s time to start creating and sharing content that customers love, but where do you start? BuzzSumo analyzed social share data from 100 million articles over the course of eight months that can provide direction.
Here are a few tips:
- Infographics are one of the most highly shared pieces of content.
- Long form articles get more shares than shorter ones. Aim for 1,000-2,000 words per post.
- Content that evokes a happy emotion like joy or amusement fares better than content that generates anger or sadness.
- Include images in your posts to increase engagement and shares.
Make sure that you use a variety of content types, and don’t try to be overly promotional. Fans get turned off if the only content you’re sharing boasts about a sale or product.
Focus on content that’s relevant to your business and interesting to your readers.
6. Use tools to help scale
As you work on your social media strategy, it’s a good time to research tools that can help you achieve goals.
It’s important that tools complement your strategy, not the other way around. Many marketers rush to use the latest app and get so caught up in scheduling tweets and curating content that they forget that tools are meant to support the overall social media plan.
There are far too many tools out there to suggest, but consider looking for a social media management tool first that links all of your social channels to one dashboard where you can post, schedule, and track success.
Additional tools might include: a curation tool that generates a list of content from other sites that you can share; a calendar tool can help you plan content for certain dates; a DIY infographic tool can help you build beautiful graphics without design skills; a tool to sync your email contacts to a social ad platform can target ads to both followers and subscribers; and a photo editing tool to resize, crop, and adjust images as needed.
7. Monitor and adjust
Once content is live, start watching the metrics that mark your success. As you go, you’ll make adjustments. Some will work, others won’t. Just make sure that you’re learning lessons and sharing them with your team.
Remember, social media content isn’t created in the vacuum that is your office space either. Followers can suggest content too. Ask followers what they want to see via questions on social sites or email surveys for more insight.
Every post, tweet, or pin should be published with your company’s social media strategy in mind. It’s easy to get caught up in daily posts or creating fun content, but if there isn’t a goal-oriented plan in place, you can’t tell if you’re succeeding or failing on social media.
And remember, once you have a strategy in place, it’s a good idea to review it from time to time so you can ensure you’re hitting or exceeding the benchmarks you set.