How to Create your Social Media Marketing Strategy


Step 1: Establish social media marketing goals that match your business objectives. 

The more detailed your plan, the better your execution will be. Define SMART goals and monitor the appropriate metrics to position yourself for success.

Define SMART goals:

To kickstart your social media marketing strategy, outline your objectives and goals. Without clear goals, you can’t measure your success or social media return on investment (ROI). Each goal should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

An illustration of a SMART goal for your business could be “Increase our Instagram audience by 50 new followers per week.” With SMART goals, you ensure that your objectives lead to tangible business outcomes, not just lofty ideals.

Monitor meaningful metrics:

While metrics like retweets and likes are enjoyable to share and easy to track, proving their real value for your business can be challenging. Instead, concentrate on targets such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rates. Consider tracking different goals for various channels or different uses of each channel. For instance, you can use paid campaigns to enhance brand awareness but measure acquisition and engagement for organic social posts. Ensure your social media goals align with your overall marketing strategy. This makes it simpler to demonstrate the value of your work, gain executive support, and secure investment. Kickstart your social media marketing plan by outlining at least three social media goals.

Step 2: Gain a deep understanding of your audience

If you’re not actively engaging in social media listening, you’re essentially shaping your business strategy with blinders on—missing out on valuable insights from real people discussing your business or industry online. Here’s how to start listening and enhance your understanding of your audience and their needs.

Develop audience personas:

Understanding your audience and their preferences on social media is crucial for creating content that garners likes, comments, and shares. It’s also essential for strategizing how to convert your social media followers into customers for your business.

Consider creating audience personas. For instance, a retail brand might craft different personas based on demographics, buying motivations, common objections to purchases, and the emotional needs of each customer type.

Personas refine your marketing approach. For example, luxury buyers may not respond well to Facebook ads with direct sales, but they might engage with ads promoting exclusive in-store events to preview a new clothing line. With personas, you’ll possess customer insights necessary to develop campaigns that resonate with the genuine desires and motivations of your buyers.

Collect real-world data:

Avoid making assumptions. Social media analytics can offer valuable information about your followers—where they live, languages spoken, and how they engage with your brand on social platforms. These insights enable you to fine-tune your strategy and target your social ads more effectively.

For instance, a service similar to Uber for auto-rickshaws in India utilized Facebook Analytics and discovered that 90 percent of users who referred others were between 18 and 34 years old, with 65 percent of this group using Android. Armed with this information, they tailored their ads, resulting in a 40 percent lower cost per referral.

Step 3: Investigate the competition

social media marketing strategy

Chances are, your competitors are already leveraging social media, offering an opportunity for you to glean insights from their strategies.

Perform a competitive analysis:

Conducting a competitive analysis enables you to identify your competitors and assess both their strengths and weaknesses. This process provides a clear understanding of industry norms, aiding you in establishing your own social media objectives. Additionally, it helps identify opportunities—perhaps a competitor excels on Facebook but neglects Twitter and Instagram. In such cases, you might consider focusing on networks where your audience is underserved rather than attempting to lure fans from a dominant player.

Participate in social listening:

Social listening is another valuable method for monitoring your competition. By tracking your competitors’ accounts and relevant industry keywords, you can observe strategic shifts in how they utilize social media. Additionally, you may identify specific posts or campaigns that resonate strongly—or conversely, fall flat. Keep a vigilant eye on this information and use it to assess and refine your own goals and plans.

Step 4: Conduct a social media assessment

Performing a social media audit is crucial to evaluating the effectiveness of your current social media practices.

Assess your current initiatives:

If you’re already utilizing social media tools, take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments. Pose questions such as:

  • What is working well?
  • What isn’t yielding results?
  • Who engages with you on social platforms?
  • Which social media sites does your target audience frequent?
  • How does your social media presence compare to that of your competitors?
  • Consolidating this information provides a solid foundation for planning improvements.

Your audit should outline the specific purpose of each social account. If the purpose is unclear, consider whether it’s worth maintaining. It might be a valuable account requiring a strategic shift, or it could be an outdated account no longer worth your effort.

To make informed decisions, ask yourself:

Is my audience present on this platform?

If yes, how do they use this platform?

Can this account contribute to meaningful business goals?

Addressing these questions now ensures your social media strategy remains on course as your online presence expands.

Identify impostor accounts:

During the audit, be vigilant for fraudulent accounts using your business name or product names—accounts not under your ownership. These impostor accounts can damage your brand and siphon followers that should rightfully be yours. Report such accounts and consider verifying your social accounts to assure your fans and followers that they are engaging with the authentic you.

Step 5: Establish Accounts and Enhance Existing Profiles

Determine your focus networks and optimize your accounts:

Choose your networks:

Define the social channels you’ll concentrate on and develop a strategy for each. For instance, you might use Twitter for customer service, Facebook for customer acquisition, and Instagram for engaging existing customers.

Craft mission statements:

Create concise mission statements for each network, focusing on specific goals. For instance:

Facebook: Best for acquiring new customers through paid advertising.

Instagram: Ideal for building brand affinity with existing customers.

Twitter: Primary for engaging press and industry influencers.

LinkedIn: Mainly for engaging existing employees and attracting new talent.

YouTube: Where you support existing customers with educational video content.

Snapchat: A platform for distributing content to build brand awareness with younger consumers.

If you struggle to formulate a solid mission statement for a specific social network, reconsider its relevance to your goals.

Set up and optimize your accounts:

Once your target networks are decided, create new profiles or enhance existing ones to align with your strategic plan. Ensure all profile fields are filled out, incorporate keywords people use to search for your business, and use properly sized images for each network.

Step 6: Seek Inspiration

While maintaining your brand’s distinctiveness, draw inspiration from other successful businesses on social media.

Learn from social network success stories:

Social networks often showcase success stories demonstrating how brands effectively use their tools. Explore the business section of each social network’s website for valuable insights applicable to your goals.

Explore award-winning accounts and campaigns:

For examples of brands excelling in social media, look into the winners of industry awards or competitions like [mention specific awards or competitions]. These sources can provide inspiration for your own social media strategies.

Step 7: Develop a Social Media Content Calendar

Sharing outstanding content is crucial, but it’s equally vital to have a well-thought-out plan for when you’ll share content to achieve maximum impact.

Establish a posting schedule:

Your social media content calendar outlines the dates and times for publishing various content on each channel. It serves as the central hub for planning all your social media activities, including images, link sharing, blog posts, and videos.

This calendar ensures your posts are strategically spaced out and published at optimal times, covering both day-to-day posts and content for social media campaigns.

Organize your content mix:

Ensure your calendar aligns with the mission statement assigned to each social profile, making every post contribute to your business goals. For instance:

  • 50 percent of content will drive traffic to your blog.
  • 25 percent of content will be curated from other sources.
  • 20 percent of content will support enterprise goals (sales, lead generation, etc.).
  • 5 percent of content will focus on your employees and company culture.

Incorporating these diverse post types into your content calendar helps maintain the planned ratio. If you’re uncertain about the types of content to post, consider starting with the 80-20 rule:

  • 80 percent of posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience.
  • 20 percent can directly promote your brand.

Alternatively, you can apply the social media rule of thirds:

  • One-third of your content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • One-third shares ideas and stories from industry thought leaders or like-minded businesses.
  • One-third involves personal interactions with your audience.

Once your calendar is set, use scheduling tools or bulk scheduling to prepare your posts in advance. This approach allows you to focus on refining the language and format of your posts rather than creating them on the fly throughout the day.

Step 8: Test, Assess, and Refine Your Strategy

Recognize that your social media strategy is a vital document for your business, and perfection may not be achieved on the first attempt.

Track your data:

Utilize analytics tools within each social network and implement UTM parameters to monitor website visitors. This helps identify which social posts generate the most traffic to your website.

Reassess, test, and iterate:

As data accumulates, regularly reassess your strategy. Use this information to test different posts, campaigns, and strategies against each other. Continuous testing enables you to discern what works and what doesn’t, allowing real-time refinement of your strategy.

Surveys are valuable tools to gauge the effectiveness of your strategy. Collect feedback from social media followers, your email list, and website visitors to understand if you’re meeting their needs and expectations. Inquire about their preferences and ensure you deliver on their expectations.

Given the rapid changes on social media platforms, with emerging networks and demographic shifts, and the evolving nature of businesses, your social media strategy should be a dynamic document. Regularly review and adjust it as needed. Consult it frequently to stay on course, but be open to changes that better align with new goals, tools, or plans.

When updating your social strategy, communicate the changes to your entire social team. This ensures everyone collaborates effectively to maximize the potential of your social media accounts.

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