10 Steps to Crafting a Killer Social Media Strategy
Contrary to popular belief, social media shouldn’t be an afterthought. Having a social media strategy is crucial to the success of every company’s marketing efforts. Given the channel’s popularity, wide usage, and ability to reach new and existing customers, it should be considered carefully as you plan your goals and budgets for the year ahead.
If you are looking to grow your brand through social media or advance as a social media marketer, developing a strategy is essential —it will help you understand your goals, who your target audience is, where you can reach them, and what they need from you.
Creating a solid plan is possible, simply follow these 10 essential steps to build a winning social media content strategy of your own.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Identify your target audience
- Know your goals
- Research competitors
- Choose the right social media platform
- Do social media research/listening
- Create a social media calendar
- Select scheduling/social media management tools
- Create content consistently
- Invest in social media video
- Track performance regularly
1. Identify your target audience
As the name implies, a social media target audience is a specific group of people you want to reach through social media. They’re the types of people who are most likely to be interested in your content, products, or services.
To really understand who your target audience is, you can start with broad categories and then narrow key data points that will guide you through the process:
Age: Which age groups do you want to target? Are they broad or specific? And what makes the generations you’re speaking to tick?
Location: Getting to know the location of your audience will guide you in determining which geographic areas to target, as well as which languages to use.
Time zone: Much like the location, knowing what hours your target customers are online will help you schedule your content and social ads to ensure visibility.
Interests: This includes hobbies, brands they follow, and the people they interact with.
Buying habits: Develop an understanding of their income, how much money they have to spend, and what they spend it on.
Answering these questions will help you understand what type of people may already be following you, and also give you a clue of who is most likely to be interested in your brand and content.
2. Know your goals
Before embarking on any form of social media marketing, try to identify the most important objective you want to achieve with the help of your social media strategy.
Image source: Heidi Cohen
For example, your goals for social media could be to::
Expand your brand’s audience: Bringing in new followers involves figuring out how to introduce your brand to people who haven’t heard of you before.
Boost brand awareness: Promoting your brand also requires avoiding solely publishing promotional messages and creating more authentic and long-lasting brand awareness.
Generate leads and sales: If you want to drive ROI from social media you need to seamlessly introduce your product and items into the on-platform experience.
Increase traffic to your website: If you’re determined to generate more leads or traffic to your website, social media can help, whether through promotional posts, social advertisements, or even influencer marketing.
Although you may be trying to achieve more than one of these goals, it’s important to keep your social media marketing strategy as simple as possible. Avoid complicating it with too many objectives that may divert your attention, resources, and efforts.
3. Research competitors (and what other similar brands are doing on social)
Knowing your competition is the next critical step when crafting a powerful social plan.
Doing a deep analysis of your competition will not only help you to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are but also how their efforts compare to your own.
Determine what content performs for them: Don’t just study the number of followers your competitors have, but rather their engagement levels too. Which types of posts are driving likes, shares, or comments and what’s their average engagement rate?.
Know what tactics they’re using: Are they working with influencers, running social media advertising, investing in short-form video, or hosting competitions? Keep a watchful eye on their strategy as it unfolds.
Determine the gaps: What are your competitors not doing or talking about? What’s missing from their approach and how are they failing to serve their audiences?
Because no two brands’ social media strategies are the same, figure out what works for them and what conclusions you can draw to tailor your own campaigns accordingly.
4. Choose the right social media platform
When crafting your social media strategy, a crucial thing to remember is that different platforms attract different audiences. Data on social media demographics can help inform which networks your brand should use and what types of content to publish.
Some key takeaways to consider are:
Women outnumber men on Pinterest, and they also have the highest average order value among social shoppers.
Instagram and YouTube are the most popular social networks among Millennials and Generation Z, indicating the power of bold, eye-catching content that exudes personality. Posting at the right time is giving the best engagement on such platforms.
Because of their high-earning user bases, Facebook and YouTube are both prime places for ads.
TikTok has the highest Generation Z infiltration in the United States, with 47.4% of its active users being between the ages of 10 and 29.
Lastly, LinkedIn’s user base is well-educated and professional, making it a destination for thought leadership and industry-specific content.
Taking the time to do your due diligence on the platforms you should be using will allow you to focus your energy on the social networks where your target audience is already active.
5. Do social media research/listening
Social media listening has become one of the most effective ways for marketers to understand how people perceive brands and trends. These tools help you retrieve key information that can help inform your overall strategy on an ongoing basis.
Image source: Hootsuite
To get started with social listening, you’ll need a tool such as Brandwatch, AgoraPulse, and Buzzsumo. Have an idea in mind of the things you want to research, whether it’s what people are saying about your own brand, your competitors, or related aspects of your product or industry. Social listening takes time and requires regular tracking and analysis to get the best impact but there are some key things you should consider:
- Know what you want to listen out for: keep a rolling list of keywords.
- Look outside of your current platforms: what conversations are you missing?
- Be prompt to respond: if you find questions or negative comments from your customers, be sure to take action and provide them with a prompt response.
6. Create a social media calendar (aligned to your marketing calendar)
A social media calendar is a planned overview of your upcoming social media posts, making it an important–and visible–addition to your social media content strategy. It can be organized in the form of a spreadsheet, Google calendar, Trello board, or live within your social media scheduling tool (see step 7!).
Using a social media content calendar allows you to create a plan that is both thought-through and well-considered, as well as being reactive to the world events, trends, and customer insights that you might want to address. But, how do you create a calendar that actually works for you?
- Plan around the key events in your marketing calendar, from product launches to sales.
- Create and schedule content that is tied to your key content pillars (the themes, topics, or concepts that align with your brand).
- Develop topical and timely content around the world and local events that are relevant to your customers.
- Promote content from around the business, whether it’s blog posts or videos.
- Highlight User-Generated content or other customer assets like reviews.
A social media calendar is a guideline to keep things flowing in an organized manner, but it will need to be flexible. Whether you’re launching a new product at the end of the month or planning a massive social giveaway, your social media content calendar should be in line with your current and future business initiatives.
7. Select scheduling/social media management tools
When it comes time to start publishing content, remember that there’s a lot of work involved in planning and scheduling your posts, including analyzing how they’re working and optimizing their performance.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available online that will not only help you reach your social media marketing goals more efficiently, but also ensure your content reaches the right audience at the right time.
With so many social media management tools available, it’s important to keep in mind that the best one for you will depend on your social media goals and needs. The main thing you need to do is to determine which features are absolutely necessary for a social media tool used by your business – and which are merely desirable. A quick exercise to help you distinguish between the two is to come up with a list with a minimum of 10 reasons why you need a social media management tool in the first place.
- Which social networks do you need to post to?
- Do you need to schedule your posts in advance?
- Do you want to be able to see a visual view of your schedule?
- Who’s going to be using the tool? How many users?
- Do you need an editor and reviewer access?
- What about other user types/permissions?
- Do you want to track down specific metrics? If so, which ones?
- Do you want social listening built-in?
- What about competitor benchmarking?
- How much are you willing to pay? And what can you live without?
No matter which tool you end up choosing, the most important thing is to find one that is intuitive, and simple to use. This will allow you to spend less time doing unnecessary tasks and provide more time for creating–and posting–great content.
8. Create content consistently
The key to any social media content strategy is consistency. When your content is consistent across your social platforms, you increase brand recognition and credibility, and your audience becomes acquainted with your brand’s voice and style.
As a result, your audience will get familiar with you and recognize your brand more easily.
Image source: Hootsuite
Consistency on social media includes the following:
- Branding, logo, and color palette
- Posting frequency (see step #8 for more)
- Ad campaigns
- And of course, the tone of voice uses in replies and messaging
The tone of voice is an often-overlooked element that is crucial when it comes to creating genuine engagement with your followers. By responding consistently to comments on your social media feeds, you gain respect as a brand by being present and talking to your audience in a friendly and personal way.
9. Invest in social media video
A social video is typically short-form video content crafted specifically to drive engagement reactions and to captivate viewers on social networks.
If you have not considered incorporating videos into your social strategy, but you´re looking to boost your online presence, it’s time to start creating video content. A few of the many benefits of using this format include:
1. Video gets more exposure and engagement: Research shows that people are 10 times more likely to interact with a video than a block of text. Whether it’s to learn about a product or just for entertainment, people enjoy watching videos. If you want to capitalize on their popularity, social media video is a great strategy to adopt.
2. Video content is popular across all social media platforms: From Facebook and LinkedIn to TikTok and Instagram, there are plenty of types of videos you can create for your social profiles:
- Live video streams
3. Video content can be short and become viral: The most popular viral videos with over one million views tend to last between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Although this timeframe doesn’t leave much room to cover topics in-depth, it’s just enough space to tell a single story quickly or even share an important highlight, be it informative or merely entertaining.
More than ever before, users demand brands to deliver engaging, entertaining content on social media, and video is one of the most effective formats for doing so.
10. Track performance regularly (and update your approach accordingly)
Studying and identifying what works and what doesn’t should be your top priority from the start. Technically, the more you track, the more insights you can gain— which is why you should monitor how well your content is performing on all your social networks.
Determine how you will track your findings. A social media management tool can be of great help here.
Don’t underestimate the power of establishing social media marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) from the beginning. They can help you know if you´re going in the right direction and whether your efforts are actually making a difference.
Following the latest social media trends is also a helpful source when evaluating and updating your content plan. For example, in 2022 more brands are incorporating social commerce into their marketing strategies, as well as showcasing social awareness across their accounts.
Nail these steps for a strong and effective social media content strategy
Creating a social media strategy is a tricky task because–like with all strategic work–it requires taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Developing one plan that actually works requires thinking beyond the day-to-day to maximize all of your resources.
No matter how small your brand is, take the time to thoroughly develop your plan. Only then, you’ll be able to be in a position where you’re not simply posting content for the sake of publishing, but actually working towards your social media goals.