A well-thought-out social media strategy is one of the best tools you have for helping your brand rise above the fray.
But in today’s crowded social media landscape, competition can be brutal. Everyone is not only fighting for engagement—they’re spending more to get it.
And with social media costs projected to increase 73% over the next 5 years, it will only become more difficult.
To contribute to larger company goals, you have to map out how every element of your social media marketing and advertising.
With a strategy, you know where to focus your social efforts and spending, and you have a framework for showcasing how social is helping the company grow.
We’ve outlined an 8-step process to help you define your own social media strategy and make it as impactful as possible.
Building a great social media strategy is a process that evolves alongside your company growth, so read this post from top to bottom, each step matters!
1. Do Market Research to Learn What Works
Building an effective and customized social media strategy starts by understanding where your brand fits into the digital environment.
Before you even think about setting goals or publishing content, take a look at what’s happening in the social media landscape around you and think about where you can make the most impact.
Start by looking at your top competitors and break down the type of content they create on each platform.
Are they focusing primarily on posts over ads? Do they favor tweetstorms over one-off tweets?
Then, categorize this content into themes, and also think about how your team can do something better.
Here are a few questions to help frame your search:
What kind of themes do my competitors focus on for each platform?
How often do they post?
Do they show a lot of personality? If yes, how do followers react?
These questions will help you see what types of content work with your target audience, what doesn’t, and where there are any gaps your company can fill.
You’ll also want to figure out which platforms are used most often by each of your competitors and focus your efforts on these channels to reach your target audience.
As you can see, most of AdEspresso’s social traffic comes from Facebook, but we’re also seeing people come to the site through YouTube, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and Twitter.
Formulate a social media strategy that differentiates your brand, yet still focuses on the platforms where your competitors and customers are.
Once you have an idea of where you fit, then it’s time to decide on how you can make an impact.
2. Set Achievable Goals to Maximize Impact
All good strategies start out with a specific goal in mind. Saying “I want to be the most popular brand on Facebook in my market!” isn’t detailed enough for you to pursue.
The S.M.A.R.T framework is an excellent resource for defining meaningful social goals—ones with clearly defined outcomes and actionable takeaways that support your social media strategy.
Here is an example of a specific goal that follows the S.M.A.R.T. structure:
I want to increase Facebook followers of my business page from 1000 to 2500 by the end of Q3 2019.
Let’s break that goal down using S.M.A.R.T.
We define the exact metric you want to change (followers) and by how much you want it to change.
The number of followers can be tracked with Facebook Insights.
Increasing followers by 150% in a single quarter isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Followers are more likely to engage with our content and boost awareness of it online. More followers on your business page is also an example of good social proof for new audiences, which can translate into a higher conversion rate.
We give ourselves one quarter to accomplish this goal.
Each goal you create should focus on a single metric or aspect of your social media strategy.
In this example, we’re going after more followers, but the framework can easily be applied to brand awareness, reach, specific conversions, etc.
Just remember that all goals you create must be aligned with one another. If there is a disconnect, it will be much more difficult to realize your larger strategy.
When you have these goals in place, your next step is to think about how you’ll find the right audience to help you accomplish them.
Without a targeted audience, you’ll never see the results you want.
3. Define an Audience For Every Campaign
On social media, the audience is everything. If you’re not targeting the right people your content will fall flat, your engagement will drop, and all your hard work will go unnoticed.
That’s why it’s so important to have a specific audience you want to target for every campaign you create.
Thoughtful targeting on social allows you to strengthen and grow your customer base and even increase sales through advertisements.
Facebook, for example, allows you to create custom audiences for your advertising on the platform.
Understanding your target audience’s interests, habits, and needs makes it easier to create content that resonates and boosts engagement.
A good place to start thinking about these audiences is by creating a buyer persona to bring together everything there is to know about a target customer or follower.
Here’s a visual example:
This breaks down your different audiences into individual personas, making them feel more like real people.
Building personas also helps you define certain aspects of your audience’s personality and create content that resonates with them.
The more specific and actionable your content is, the higher the conversion rate will potentially be.
Go too broad with your audience targeting and while it will get your content in front of a lot more people, your conversion and engagement rates will decline.
Think about breaking up your targeting into different categories:
This is the general group of people you want to target with your social media strategy. You’ll likely include standard information like age, demographics, location, and platform.
Here is where you’ll narrow down your high-level audience into niche groups based on a specific goal or campaign.
Think about our goal of increasing followers from the last section. To increase followers, we would want to target more broadly to attract the most potential leads. Once they’re following AdEspresso’s business page, however, we can target them more specifically.
Now that you’ve defined your audience and created your goals, it’s time to really dig deep into the data and figure out how you’re going to track the return on investment (ROI) of your social media efforts.
4. Decide On Campaign KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the key to tracking the ROI of your social media campaigns.
A fully fleshed-out social media strategy should include KPIs and specific metrics for every goal or initiative you create.
Without this information, it’s impossible to track your success.
Defining these metrics also helps you showcase these successes and get buy-in from your manager and team.
Hootsuite breaks down key social metrics into four categories: Awareness , Engagement , Consideration, and Customer.
You’ll recognize these categories as stages of the customer journey.
Use this Hootsuite resource to identify the metrics you want to track based on your social goals and campaigns. Just make sure you stay away from vanity metrics such as comments, retweets, or likes.
While these metrics can be valuable for tracking customer sentiment and overall engagement with your social media content, they’re often too variable and non-specific to help you showcase ROI on a campaign.
Track KPIs to measure your social campaigns and goals, so you’re able to evaluate the content you’re creating for each platform and find ways to improve it.
5. Create and Publish Your Unique Content
Now that you’ve nailed down your goals, your audience, and your KPIs, it’s time to start creating your content.
Whether it’s a Facebook post about a popular e-book, a tweet about an upcoming product release, or an Instagram video about your new product, the content you publish should align with your brand identity.
Think about your core value proposition as well; it will help you decide which features of your product differentiate it from the competition.
Even if you’re posting similar types of content to Facebook as your competitors, your product needs to stand out.
While both companies offer similar products, high-end luggage, and travel gear, these two posts are very different.
Knowing their travel-loving millennial audience, Away Facebook post focuses on how their products help the customer get away. They use abbreviations in the post text section and images that speak to their fun personality (even sneaking in some Millennial Pink for good measure).
On the other hand, RIMOWA Facebook post looks more like a high-fashion photoshoot than a luggage ad. They feature a well-dressed model in the fore-front and call out fashion photographer Laure Marie Cieplik to elevate their brand. This makes sense for RIMOWA’s target audience, who is more focused on fashion and luxury (compared to the customers of Away).
Both posts are tied to the companies’ distinct value propositions.
- Away: Practical luggage that helps the customer escape their daily lives.
- RIMOWA: Fashionable luggage that acts as a status symbol for customers who prefer to travel in style.
Away and RIMOWA have created ads that do the same thing in very different ways and both contribute to an overarching social media strategy.
6. Track and Analyze Content Performance
Every social media marketer should ask themselves this question: “How did this content help me achieve my goals?”
If you’re not analyzing how every post, ad, or tweet you create performs, it’s impossible to truly see their impact.
This understanding also helps you refine your social media strategy over time.
The best way to track this performance is in each platform, as well as the use of Google Analytics and UTM parameters. These tools help you gain insight on the macro and micro level, that you can then use to figure out the ROI of your efforts.
But you’ll need to record these metrics in a spreadsheet as well to track long-term data more effectively.
Using templates, like the social media reports from Hootsuite, can help you get started building your reports.
Each spreadsheet lays out exactly what you need to track based on a specified date range. Use templates as a framework to track KPIs and goals as they change on a month-over-month basis.
Use this information to see which campaigns are the most effective at driving likes, page views, or overall engagement with your brand on social media.
Then make tweaks to your social media strategy based on these results.
7. Boost Top-Performing Content With Ads and Cross-Promotion
When a post receives a lot of positive engagement, consider highlighting the content with an ad or cross-promotion.
Boosting a post will keep the engagement going or revive a previous post that performed well in the past. Cross-promotion will widen your audience across more platforms.
Use them to maintain engagement on posts that are performing well based on your goals.
AdEspresso also created a tool for Automatic Post Promotion that boosts posts automatically on Facebook.
The last step in my morning routine pic.twitter.com/plDW9yhXNG
— Glossier (@glossier) October 7, 2019
After receiving close to 10K views on Twitter, they posted the tweet to Facebook with a simple 👑 emoji as the post text.
This garnered other 3.4K views on Facebook! That’s several thousand more followers on a different platform that engaged with Glossier’s content with a simple re-share.
Using these tactics, you’re able to increase the potential audience for any post you create.
Whether you’re boosting a post on Facebook or using a native ad on LinkedIn, you ensure that more people will be able to engage with the content you know performs well.
8. Try New Things Based on What Works
The best social media strategies aren’t static.
As your business grows, your goals will evolve and your strategy will need to adapt to continue being valuable. Great social media marketers re-evaluate their efforts as often as is required to keep up.
As always, consistent and honest analysis is your friend.
Look at the content you publish and find out what about them is most successful, then apply that to other platforms and channels. Every post you create or ad you display is an opportunity to learn a bit more about what your target audience wants.
But make sure you’re not recycling ideas forever.
Test out new types of content, extrapolate, try to find new ways to promote the same product or feature.
If you’re not innovating on social media, your content will get stale fast, which leads to disengagement and a lack of interest from followers over time.
Does Your Social Media Strategy Help You Reach Your Goals?
Building a great social media strategy requires an understanding of your business’s larger goals.
Whether creating a post on Facebook, thinking about ad design on LinkedIn, or sending out your daily tweets, everything has to fit together to help your business thrive.
When you test, analyze, and re-evaluate your social content on an ongoing basis, it helps you craft a social media strategy that grows alongside your company.
It’s your turn now! How do you go about building your social media strategy? Give us your tips and tricks in the comments below!