How to define your social media strategy – in six simple steps
Social media is an immensely powerful tool that, when used correctly, can increase brand awareness and perception, grow a loyal customer base and demonstrate an ‘always on’ customer service.
However, in order to have an established, consistent and successful presence online, there must firstly be a strong strategy in place. Otherwise organisations are missing out on a huge opportunity, and the competition is likely to take full advantage.
But what should marketing managers, and their teams, be aware of when compiling a strong plan for their digital activity? A good place is to begin with these six simple steps.
Assessing competitors' content
As with the beginnings of any great marketing project, when it comes to planning, research is key. And, a great place to start is by analysing what’s already out there.
Considering what kind of content is being shared, the engaged audiences and tone of voice will differ between brands, but understanding what they’re putting out there can also provide some key insight into what works – and what falls flat.
Delving deeper into the knowledge gathering, there are several tools now able to provide integrated competitor analysis. However, it’s important for agencies to compile their own findings, in order to understand what works best for the business, and how they should keep updating their strategy to remain relevant.
Where is an audience most active?
Choosing the right channels to engage an organisation’s key audience will help power where a company should be putting most of their efforts into driving more engagement, traffic and sales. Utilising Google Analytics can aid this research, uncovering demographics, purchase and attitudinal behaviours – which can enable social media content to be tailored to suit the customer’s base.
Additionally, each online platform hosts its own internal analytics platform for further insight – are viewers interested in more videos and visuals? Or long reads and statistics? Ascertaining audience quirks can help guide the direction of a strategy that’s true to the brand.
It’s worth noting too that marketers shouldn’t underestimate the power of a channel if it gets the best engagement for their organisation. For example, Facebook might have over two billion users, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will drive the right results if the desired audience isn’t active on there.
Set goals and objectives
Marketing departments across the globe are driven by measurable activity. Why? Because without it, there wouldn’t be a clear idea of ROI, brand performance or customer activity. Therefore, before even firing up a laptop to begin creating a plan, agencies must ensure that goals and targets are identified and suit their chosen channels.
Several organisations will come back to milestones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART), in order to align with their overall business objectives. So, it’s important they understand how to map out each step for their teams to understand and buy into.
For example, ‘Increase engagement on Instagram’ isn’t exactly measurable. However, ‘Increase engagement by 20% through video-related content on Instagram over the next three months’ signals the intent and drive towards a unified goal.
By implementing – and continuing to monitor – SMART targets, companies can better protect time and resources, as well as garner real results over social media ‘vanity metrics’ such as the number of followers and page views.
Tailor the comms
Whether trying to inform, entertain or persuade the audience, marketing professionals shouldn’t take a blanket approach to the channels that they operate. Firstly, it’s far too lazy to think that one message works across all sites. Secondly, a personalised approach enables customers to get a real feel for what the content is trying to achieve – and a relationship between the firm and user begins to form.
Agencies must consider what a post will look like before hitting send. For example, can it be better used as an Instagram story? Or is it more suited to a longer, text-only read on LinkedIn?
Understanding how each channel is completely different, and focusing on a humanised approach to online conversation, should help the strategy take shape – and create more interaction, as well as brand advocates.
Create copy that works hard – and get others to share
Speaking of which, as a clearer picture begins to emerge – and key insights are effectively utilised, in order to build digital content – a portfolio of crucial copy should now be readily available for the organisation, and employees too.
It’s no secret that social media users typically trust posts from people they know over a brand. Therefore, is the marketing team factoring this into their strategy?
Empowering employees to share company posts across their networks not only widens the target audience but makes staff members feel valued. Providing rich content that engages consumers, and encourages workers to share and interact with, all helps towards building up a strong line of communication.
Finally, breaking through the ‘noise’ is no mean feat. Customers are often used to seeing reams of content at a rate of knots, so there must be something invaluable to grab their attention.
This is where evaluation comes into play. Using insight tools can help businesses understand when an audience is most active and when posts should gain the most exposure.
Data is pivotal throughout the entire implementation of a strong social media strategy. It doesn’t stop at the research stage, every piece of content that lands should be analysed – in detail – and that knowledge dissected to shape the next post. It’s a continuous process for marketers to test, test and test again.
Such insight can help drive more engagement towards campaign activity, product pushes and exciting announcements, therefore it’s important to ensure a company’s high-priority copy is seen by as many people as possible and interaction is encouraged.
By frequently reviewing performance and assessing what’s working – and what’s not – as well as pulling together an interactive and flexible portfolio of great content, organisations will begin to give itself the best opportunity to thrive with the right audience, at the right time, with a killer strategy.
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