Half the world population now uses social media. People are also spending nearly two and half hours a day scrolling through our feeds every day – over 15 hours per week. In fact, many of you reading this likely reached this page via a social media post.
Social media plays an ever-growing role in your current (and future) customers’ daily lives and at each step of their customer journey. But how can brands break through countless posts published every day to connect with their audience to drive traffic to their site, let alone entice them to complete the desired action?
That is where a solid social media marketing strategy comes in.
A lot goes into implementing a successful strategy and making sure it stays successful over time. These overall strategies can differ from brand to brand. However, each requires a strong foundation to get the most from your efforts and maximize the impact of your social media campaigns. In this post, we look at nine steps to follow to put this foundation in place.
A social media marketing strategy centers on utilizing social media platforms to reach and engage target audiences to achieve specific business objectives. Its main goals typically focus on publishing content that raises brand awareness, increases community and customer engagement, generates leads, and boosts brand advocacy.
A successful strategy includes a well-executed mix of both organic and paid content:
A strong social media presence is vital to a company’s success today.
How has social media changed marketing strategies overall? Unlike traditional marketing methods, social media has empowered brands to reach their community of engaged followers through more targeted approaches.
Consider the following:
Social media is a critical part of any leading brand’s overall digital marketing strategy. As the world grows increasingly connected, social media will only become more influential. Moving forward, it will continue to play a crucial role in delivering seamless pre-and-post omnichannel purchase experiences across the customer journey.
From planning to execution, a social media strategy should provide a solid foundation for your efforts and keep everything focused, so you can optimize your social media presence. Following these nine steps helps ensure your strategy does exactly that.
Whether revamping an existing strategy or creating one from scratch, taking stock of what you already have is a key first step.
A social media audit can unearth insights and ideas you can use to guide and inspire your new strategy. Some answers to seek as part of this exercise include:
This exercise can identify opportunities for improvement and help inform the strategic work ahead of you.
Are you looking to grow your social presence and online community? Turn social media into one of your top lead-generation channels?
Confirming your overall social media goals from the start allows for more specific objectives to be set on which to base your strategy. Let’s use the two goals mentioned above as examples:
|Grow social presence||Lead generation|
|– Grow follower base|
– Boost engagement among followers
– Support customer retention efforts
– Promote the company as a great place to work
|– Convert followers into customers|
– Convert customers into brand advocates
– Drive traffic to landing pages
– Help customers narrow consideration set
Communicating these business goals to your internal teams will ensure all stakeholders are on the same page and that all efforts remain focused.
You’ve landed on the main goals to achieve with your social media marketing strategy. Now, it’s time to pick the social media metrics to track how well your efforts are helping you accomplish these objectives.
For each business goal, break down what actions and engagement you’re seeking from your audience. Be sure to go beyond just traditional metrics to get the real story behind the numbers.
For example, tracking click-through rates (CTR) is clearly crucial when your aim is lead generation. However, going one step further to shine a brighter light on the audience’s needs (and your ability to post content that resonates with them) can also unearth additional insights to drive your efforts.
Tracking metrics that provide context and insight into the impact of your efforts will ensure your social media analytics is set up to help you better gauge the impact of your efforts.
Rule No. 1 of content marketing: know your audience. After all, how can you get the desired action from them if you don’t know what needs of theirs you are addressing?
When creating audience personas of your target (ideal) followers, ask yourself:
Using an audience segmentation tool can help quickly generate personas across multiple social media platforms. Another common way to gain these insights is to regularly collect the voice of your customers, followers, and even prospects via surveys. That can provide a continuous source of insights to help identify new opportunities and trends, and guide future marketing efforts.
The next step is to determine what social media platforms your brand should look to establish a solid presence.
For each of your target personas, which networks are part of their daily routines? Each has its advantages and caters to users differently. It’s a given today that brands should have a presence on the most popular social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn). However, your audience insights should also help you determine where else they may be flocking (e.g., TikTok, Pinterest, Clubhouse).
Next, determine how you can best utilize each of them for your specific business goals. Understand the differences and nuances of each platform. For example:
For example, Socialbakers found that Instagram users interacted notably more with carousels than videos, while live video significantly outperformed all other post types in terms of interactions.
At the same time, longer videos (more than 61 seconds) performed better among Facebook users than shorter videos (less than 24 seconds) when comparing the number of views per impression.
Monitor the latest product updates from each platform to stay on top of any changes that may present opportunities to boost engagement, or require you to adjust your strategy.
A consistent flow of solid and engaging content is the hallmark of any successful social media marketing strategy. It fuels a steady growth of followers, keeps existing ones involved, and puts your brand top of mind when new buying journeys begin.
Creating a social media calendar keeps your efforts organized to ensure this steady flow of content. It also helps you do the following:
Each network is different, as is the way people use them. Monitoring the latest best practices for each network and taking them into account when building your calendar will keep your efforts organized and help ensure your posts have the best reach.
For example, the best times to post on social media may vary depending on your audience, and even based on where they are. For example, Socialbakers research found that a key difference between the US and UK Facebook users is that UK users are more active during the middle of the day than their US counterparts.
The hardest step of all. Creating high-quality content and ads that connect with your audience and makes your audience engage is both an art and a science. It requires finding creative ways to stand out amongst the flurry of other posts and ads your target audiences scroll through every day.
Your social media audit (Step 1) and audience insights (Step 4) should act as guideposts for inspiration during this step. Looking at how others approach this step can also provide inspiration and help unlock new ideas.
Here are some questions to ask during this step:
Your social media content strategy should be broken down and tailored to each platform. For example, your Twitter marketing strategy should differ from your Facebook and Pinterest strategies. For the best results, each should be tailored to these individual platforms’ specific advantages and experiences.
Posting on social media is only half the battle. Any successful strategy also requires a robust social media listening infrastructure.
Actively keeping a finger on the pulse of how people engage with your content or talk about your brand is essential to determine your strategy’s success. As important, it helps surface insights to fine-tune your strategy and elevate future campaigns.
Here are a few types of reporting that help make up a solid media listening structure:
Overall, seek reporting methods that allow the right insights to reach the right people at the right time to enable quick action. Making these insights easily accessible to stakeholders helps them gauge the impact of their efforts and how they can adapt.
This brings us to our final step…
Your social media marketing strategy should constantly be evolving. Having a governance structure of stakeholders to regularly review the latest data can help ensure the strategy remains top-notch.
This step also helps ensure your team’s efforts remain spent on content that elicits the strongest desired reaction from your target audiences. As a result, not only can it help increase revenue, but potentially reduce costs at the same time.
Social media plays a growing role in how we shop and in our final purchase decisions. It’s also where many turn to flag issues or seek support to help them get the most out of your offerings.
With social playing an essential role in many customer journeys, any strategy must always have CX in mind. After all, great experiences can lead to higher advocacy, the best type of organic marketing any brand can ask for.
The steps above looked at posting content on your social channels that resonates, and then disseminating insights internally to keep fine-tuning your efforts. Winning social media marketing strategies also extend these steps to provide great customer service experiences, too.
This can include ensuring agents are notified in real-time when a customer flags an issue on social media. In addition, it’s giving them any context about this customer and their brand experiences that could help agents address their needs more efficiently. Also, with over 60% of customers preferring self-serve channels to answer their questions, AI-driven chatbots (like Facebook Messenger bots) are helping reduce agents’ load by fielding common questions.
Social media plays an important role in the pre- and post-purchase customer experience. Having the measures in place to support those who count on social media as one of their go-to channels is essential to offer them the seamless experiences that they crave.
Empowered by social media, a brand’s reach has never extended out further than it does today. This channel is also now an invaluable resource for many as they navigate the customer journey.
A well-executed social media marketing strategy helps you burst through the noise to achieve your business objectives, whether it’s boosting brand awareness, lead generation, or customer engagement and retention.
Just like the customer needs and expectations you’re addressing, your social media marketing strategy should always evolve to ensure your efforts are maximized. The steps outlined in this post can provide a solid foundation that allows for flexibility and adaptability in 2021 and beyond.
Phil has been a fixture at Astute since 2009, working in diverse roles on the Insights and Marketing teams. As Content Manager, he writes blogs, reports, and solution guides that explore how brands can better understand and improve their customers’ experiences.