An excellent social media strategy plan is one of the most critical aspects of your marketing plan these days. And while it has to go hand in hand with your general marketing strategy, there are a few particularities that can turn creating your social media plan into a challenge.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Knowing how to handle your social media marketing strategy and finding the best way to use it in your favor will make the difference between a success story and a waste of your time.
But what is a social media strategy? Why is setting up a social media strategy plan so important? Why can’t you just let your social media posts be guided by inspiration and see what happens?
Let’s start by answering some of the questions you might have.
What Is a Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy is a documented plan that details all the steps you’ll take to achieve your business goals. It should answer questions like what, how, why, and when to post on each social media platform.
Creating a strategy comes before you start creating and posting your content.
What Is the Purpose of a Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy is meant to give you a clear direction about all the actions that take place on the brand accounts. It can also help you set and measure the impact of your efforts on the business you run.
Studies show that marketers with a documented strategy are 313% more likely to report success, so it’s essential to take it seriously and do your homework.
How Do You Build a Social Media Strategy?
To build a social media strategy, all you have to do is follow the steps below. Remember that starting a strategy doesn’t mean you will have a static approach that limits your creativity. Your social media marketing strategy is like a living organism that you can adapt and adjust according to your needs.
Whether you just started to work with a new brand to set up their social media plan or you have your own business, these ten easy steps will help you get started and create your strategy from scratch.
We’ll also share examples from big brands so you can get the inspiration you need.
It’s going to be a long ride, but by the end of it, you’ll know everything you need to create your social media marketing strategy.
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
1. Set Your Goals
The first thing you have to do when setting up the social media marketing plan for a business is to define the goals that make sense for your business.
You might have an ecommerce website, and your main goal is to boost sales. Or, you might own a blog, and you need traffic from social media. Or you just want to be top of mind and increase brand awareness.
All these aspects have to be considered when setting your goals, so you won’t end up focusing on objectives that are not important for your business.
Remember they should be SMART goals, which means each of them should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Here are some of the most common social media goals you can set for a business, with examples. Remember, you can mix and combine these goals as you find fit.
a. Increase sales
For an ecommerce business, the most important goal can be to increase sales. Remember to be specific. Go for an approach like: “Increase sales that come from social media by 30% in 2021.” You can also split this main goal into smaller goals to measure the performance of each social media platform.
Take Vans, for example. They created a social media marketing campaign and offered seven days of exclusive deals for all their members. Of course, once you join, you’ll probably get them in the future too, increasing their sales and making you happy at the same time.
b. Generate leads
Successful social media campaigns that focus on lead generation are the first step to selling your services on social media. Setting up a lead generation goal makes sense for B2B businesses or SaaS companies.
Here’s an example that never fails: you can create lead-generation Facebook ads and get your users curious so that they will enter and download what you’re offering. Like Wordstream did with their Customizable 2021 Marketing Calendar.
c. Increase brand awareness
Increasing brand awareness is all about spreading the word about your business among your target audience.
To achieve that goal, you need to focus on a group and create a social awareness campaign to become top of mind. You can start by targeting your competitor’s customers using campaigns that address them.
Here’s a great example from McDonald’s. This creative campaign managed to bring more than three million views on social media, and in a few hours, the entire country (Italy) was talking about it.
d. Increase engagement
Increasing your social media engagement is the best way to make sure your fans are active and willing to take action, not just consuming the content you put out there.
You can also increase engagement by asking questions and setting up pools. Fans will be happy to see you care about their opinion and will be glad to answer.
Here’s an example from Desigual, asking their fans about their favorite clothing combination.
e. Increase web traffic
To increase the web traffic from your social media campaigns, all you have to do is create a social media content plan and share valuable content. Choose an image that makes users curious or intrigued about the content you want to share and invite them to learn more on your website, like in the example below.
Don’t forget to check and measure the traffic with Google Analytics to see if you achieved your goal.
Once you decide what goals you will pursue with your strategy, the next step is to determine how you will measure the goals you set. This will help you manage the best social media campaigns that bring results.
Forget about measuring vanity metrics like the number of followers or likes and focus on tracking meaningful metrics for each of the goals you have set. You can shift to measuring metrics like social media engagement, click-through, and conversion rates.
Create a spreadsheet where you analyze and track metrics that matter the most to you. Depending on your business’s size or the number and impact of your campaigns, you can update the spreadsheet daily, weekly, or monthly.
2. Study Your Target Audience
The next step is studying everything there is to know about your target audience. Your target audience is formed by a group of people defined by specific behaviors and demographics.
To find out who your target audience is, you’ll have to answer some simple questions—the more detailed, the better. Define your ideal customers and details such as their age, gender, education, work status, hobbies, or job title.
Go deeper to get to know them and find out what they love, where they hang out, what are their hopes and dreams. You can find out what’s your target audience by sending out surveys. If you work with a new brand, check the brand manual, or create a buyer persona from scratch.
This information will help you set your strategy to success and know what content to create for your social media accounts.
By now, you might be wondering how you can find out more about your target audience. Here are some simple ways you can do the research you need to get started:
- Identify the social media platforms where they spend time most
- Hang out on social media platforms such as Reddit or Quora to see what topics they talk about
- Study your competitors’ social media profiles
3. Study Your Competition
The next step you have to take to create a strong strategy is to study your competition. See what kind of content they share, how people respond, what worked for them, and what didn’t.
It’s important to mention that while you should always study your competition, you shouldn’t copy your competition. Knowing when and how to do things differently (or better) will help you stand out and make a difference.
There are a few social networks that have made it easier for you to follow your competitors. For example, Facebook has a section called Pages to Watch, where you can see what your competitors are doing, check out their popular posts, and other essential metrics.
4. Choose Your Social Media Networks
Now that you’ve studied your target audience and your competition, it’s time to decide what social media networks to choose. Depending on your business profile, you probably don’t need to be present on all the social media networks. Some might even not work for you.
For example, if you sell handmade products, it makes sense to use Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, since they are visual platforms that can help you showcase your work.
On the other hand, if you provide B2B services, it would make sense to focus your efforts on LinkedIn.
Focus on the social media platforms preferred by your target audience, and don’t just assume what they like. Always study social media data and statistics to find out what platforms are best for your business.
5. Create a Brand Style Guide
Next, you have to set up a style guide for your social media presence. Your social media style guide is the manual that guides all your posts on each platform. It may include fonts to use, brand colors, tone of voice, and other aspects you might consider relevant.
If you have a brand manual, you can start from there and just adapt the information to the particularities of each social media campaign and platform you use.
Creating and following a social media style guide will help your brand be consistent on all social media platforms. See how big brands like Coca-Cola have a coherent identity and use the same imagery everywhere.
6. Perform a Social Media Audit
Once you start using social media for a while, you can perform an audit to get a clear picture of what’s working for you, who’s your audience and where they spend most of their time engaging with your posts.
This audit will also come in handy if you need to compare your actions and performance with those of your competition.
All the information you gather during an audit will help you see where there’s room for improvement and if fake accounts use your business’ name. If you do find such accounts, report them.
In any case, you can get all your social media accounts verified to keep your business safe.
Use a template like the one below from Sproutsocial, and start your social media audit.
7. Measure Your Results and Optimize
Social media is all about testing and adjusting your strategy to reach your goals. After you create some content, be sure to analyze it and see how it performs.
To do that, it’s time to get back to the spreadsheet from point 1. Update the numbers and analyze the results. Determine what kind of content works best, and try to find the sweet spot between what your audience wants and what your goals are.
Measuring and improving content is a steady job. Still, it’s essential at the beginning when you are setting up your social media marketing plan.
Analyze how your posts performed to see what kind of content you should include in your social media Content Calendar. Most platforms have a system where you can see the insights for metrics such as reach, social media engagement, clicks, and reactions.
And this takes us to the next step.
8. Set Up a Content Calendar
Now that you know what to post, keep all this information organized by setting up a content calendar. You can keep your social media content strategy in a spreadsheet, a Trello board, or any other tool that you prefer.
Start by creating a social media content strategy where you can include different kinds of content. When setting up a social media content plan, try to keep a balanced approach between educational posts, funny posts, and posts that focus on conversion.
a. Educational/informational posts
Educational or informational posts are meant to educate your audience about something vital to them. It’s crucial to include this kind of content in your social media content strategy. This kind of content has a neutral tone of voice and aims to create a connection to your target audience.
Here’s an example from Sephora, teaching us a healthy skin routine.
b. Funny posts or memes
While working for a brand, it’s easy to forget this, but most users are on social media to have fun. So don’t be afraid to share funny stories, memes, or jokes, as long as they are somehow related to your brand and speak to your audience.
Posting funny content is an excellent opportunity for social media growth.
Dollar Shave Club is well known for its witty way of promoting the products. The following example shows exactly what I’m saying.
c. Posts that convert
Now that we’ve informed and entertained the audience, it’s time to convert. Include posts that sell, get clicks, or leads in your social media content plan. Encourage users to take action according to the goals you set up, and don’t forget to measure the results.
Moz knows any business needs to improve its search rankings, so they offer you a free trial to see all the benefits you can have by using their services.
9. Engage With Your Audience
Unlike traditional marketing, social media is not a one-way street. It’s not just another marketing channel where you can pay for sharing your promotions and expect the results.
Social media is interactive, and a strategy where you include your audience can boost your business in no time. If, on the contrary, you treat it like any other marketing channel, it might fail to bring you the results you want.
Answer comments and private messages. Comment on other brand’s pages if it’s appropriate.
Probably the best-known brand answering comments in a fun, engaging way is Wendy’s.
And don’t forget to listen. Not just to what your fans are saying, but also to what data shows you they are doing. Social media is an excellent way to gather information on your brand.
10. Grow Your Social Media Presence
Once you’ve set everything on track, you made your research, brand style manual, and content calendar, it’s time to plan your social media growth.
It’s useless to have a great social media plan if no one visits your pages, so here are some of our tips on how you can plan to grow your fan base even further.
Once again, see what your competitors are doing, choose what makes sense for your business according to the goals you have, and then test and test again.
a. Use social media ads
Using social media ads can have a considerable impact. All the ingredients you need are well-targeted ads and creative ideas. Topped with premium execution.
Here is an example of a Sephora campaign that resulted in a 41% higher click-through rate than all previous ads.
Your safest bet when it comes to social media advertising is using short-form video ads. They bring great engagement across all social channels, but according to our short-form video advertising case study, YouTube is the best platform for this type of ad.
b. Use social media influencer marketing
Use the power of social media influencer marketing to get your name out there. Most social media users follow the influencers’ recommendations, even if they think they are not. In fact, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.
Teaming-up with an influencer loved by your target audience will most likely help you attract more fans and increase brand awareness.
The key component here is relevancy. Don’t just collaborate with someone just because they have many followers. Always ask for audience insights and see if they are a good fit for your business.
Cove Castile soap benefits here from influencer advertising from Anna Maria. It’s a perfect combination, as she posts photos from her family life, showcasing the advantages anyone can get by using Cove Castile’s products.
c. Team up with other brands
Creating a partnership with another brand that is not your competition but addresses the same target audience is always a great idea to boost your brand awareness.
Here’s an example from Visa, partnering up with Pizza Hut to promote their Visa Checkout service.
d. Share user-generated content
Sharing user-generated content is a great way to get in touch with your audience, encourage their creativity, and get some fantastic content you can put out there. Encourage your fans to create content and share it with your brand by using a hashtag or tagging your social media accounts. Offer some awards to encourage them to start creating.
Here’s an amazon example from GoPro, where they share user-generated content to promote their products and their community as well.
As you can see, creating a social media marketing plan for a brand is not rocket science. And it’s more important than you might think.
All you have to do is get started and create a social media marketing strategy you’re proud of. With consistency, a great plan, and some detailed research, you can do wonders.