As of 2019, there are roughly 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide, making social media one of the most important tools in your marketing arsenal. What are the essential components of a successful social media strategy?
While the foundation is the same as a communication plan – objectives, goals and research – there are a few unique components of social media strategies you need to be aware of. Let’s dive in!
1. Define Your Goals and Objectives
At the heart of every social media strategy lies well-defined goals and objectives guiding everything from budget to platform selection.
When identifying your social media goals, consider the following questions:
- What are your overall business objectives?
- How can you use social media to align with those objectives?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What do you want your audiences to know about your organization?
- What is your reputation in the industry? Is there anything you need to correct?
2. Do Your Due Diligence
Making assumptions is a dangerous game for marketers, and with the wealth of demographic data and social media analytics tools available, there’s really no need for assumptions. Instead, take the time to really know what you’re up against.
- Competitive landscape audit
- Who are your main competitors?
- What are they doing well?
- What could they improve?
- Owned channel audit
- Who are you reaching?
- What’s working well?
- Are your channels optimized?
- Target audience research
- What are their online behaviors?
- On which platform are they most abundant?
- What type of content do they prefer to see?
At the conclusion of your research, revisit your initial goals and objectives and determine whether or not you need to re-evaluate based on your findings. Things to consider at this point include:
- Is there another demographic that’s engaged you didn’t initially consider?
- Are there other goals you could reach via social you didn’t think were possible before?
- Are your current channels reaching your target audience?
- Are there channels you’re not currently on that you should be?
- Are you active on channels that won’t help you achieve your goals?
- How is your target audience using each of the platforms?
Your research should be thorough enough to effectively answer all the above questions. If you find that you’re unable to accurately answer these questions, then it’s time to revisit your research and dig a little deeper.
3. Define Your Brand Persona
If your brand was a celebrity, who would it be? How would it talk? What does it look like? What style visuals best represent its personality?
A brand persona serves as a living, breathing embodiment of a brand’s values. It will serve as a compass for your entire social strategy.
Every time you talk, write, design, post and engage with your audience on social media, you’re exercising your brand persona.
When helping clients define their brand persona, we conduct two separate exercises – one focused on voice and the other on visual identity. By running through a series of deliberate questions we’re able to identify the traits that elevate our clients’ brand personas enabling them to set their brand apart from their competitors.
Here are a few brands with notable social media personas worth exploring:
- Headspace – This meditation app is designed to reduce stress and increase joy, which is exactly what their brand persona conveys. Through the use of a bright color palette, inspirational quotes and charming characters their website and social channels embody their mission and values.
- Wendy’s – This fast food chain is well known for their clever, quick-witted and snarky online personality. Everything from their day-to-day social media content to their responses to followers is true to their brand persona.
4. Build a Content Strategy
Content is king, and as such it deserves a well thought out strategy.
Now that you’ve established your foundation and brand persona, it’s time to map out content, which should consider the following:
- This is less of a consideration and more of a must-have. Across all platforms, video is among the most viewed and shared form of content. What you’ll need to determine is the type of video content that works best for your brand. Is it Facebook Live? Longform video demonstrations? Short looping videos? Cinemagraphs?
- Developing four to five key content pillars (based on your research) will help you maintain a diversified content stream. For B2B companies, pillars could include quarterly earnings updates, CSR initiatives and thought leadership content. Consumer companies may focus more on highlighting their product suite, sharing user generated content and coupon or sale announcements.
- How often are you posting each week? Will you be more active on Facebook than LinkedIn? Cadence is something that will adjust regularly based on performance. But, you should refer to your initial research to determine a beginning cadence strategy.
- Paid Advertising
- It’s no secret: social media is a pay-to-play landscape for brands. Whether you’re simply trying to raise brand awareness, drive website traffic or increase sales, social media advertising is the way to go. However, it also requires its own well thought out strategy. Learn more about a strategic approach to paid social media campaigns here.
5. Develop Community Management Guidelines
Community management is the process of building an authentic community through proactive and reactive engagement. This is a vital component of your strategy – it’s how you humanize your brand and bring your persona to life.
A strong and well-defined community management strategy will embody your brand persona, ensuring consistency in tone and responses to its audience, regardless of any unexpected changes in the community manger role.
- Proactive Engagement:
- By monitoring and engaging with relevant keywords, brands and people regularly, community managers can substantially increase brand exposure. We all remember when IHOP shocked the world by changing its name to International House of BURGERS resulting in a lot of publicity for not only the brand, but its new competitors. White Castle and Burger King’s responses to IHOB are examples of proactive engagement at its finest!
- Reactive Engagement:
- A strategy for timely engagement, whether stepping in or staying silent, is key to cultivating an engaging and valuable dialogue with your audience. When defining your community management strategy, it’s important to develop guidelines outlining common questions and concerns as well as multiple forms of responses to ensure consistency regardless of who on the community management team is responding.
- The following is a great example of reactive engagement. Netflix responded to the Twitter user in a timely manner and maintained its personable tone even though the initial post wasn’t positive.
- Skyscanner’s response pertaining to a 47-year layover the site recommended on a user’s trip to London is another fantastic example of reactive engagement:
- Rather than writing this issue off as a simple glitch, Skyscanner offered up some fun time-killing ideas for the user during his extended layover:
- Not only did Skyscanner acknowledge the issue and note that they’d investigate it, the witty and lighthearted exchange also garnered a lot of additional engagement and positive responses from other users, including the following:
6. Analyze and Refine REGULARLY
From algorithm changes to emerging and dying trends to data privacy and beyond, social media is a rapidly evolving landscape. As such, it’s important that you’re able to continuously analyze and adjust your strategy accordingly. This could mean reviewing your top and lowest performing posts to fine-tune your campaigns, or re-evaluating your target audience based on their engagement – information which can be easily sourced from a number of analytics tools.