Article by Stephanie Andrews
Social media marketing can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have much experience with it. If you’ve done any research on the topic, I’m willing to bet you found a lot of conflicting advice from experts on the internet, which probably left you even more confused. And while there are different approaches to marketing and advertising on social media, a strong, well-informed strategy is what will take you farthest if you want to market your products and services on social platforms.
There is a lot that goes into crafting a social media strategy, and if you haven’t created one before, you might have no idea where to start. Well, that’s where this blog post comes in!
When I work with my clients, we always have an in-depth discussion about their business, their short- and long-term goals, and their current approach to social media. And what I’m sharing with you today are the five most important things you should consider when crafting your own social media strategy. If you focus on these factors, I think the idea of implementing your own strategy will seem far less daunting to you.
With that, let’s dive in!
5 questions to ask when planning a social media strategy:
Who is your audience?
A key part of marketing is making sure that you are talking to your audience. That also means that you need to go where they are!
You can look broadly at what age group your ideal customers are in, as this will help guide you to appropriate platforms for those sectors of the population. If you’ve done a persona workup of your ideal client or customer, you can put that information to good use when developing your social media strategy. But that’s only one part of the equation here.
When planning your strategy, you also need to consider your industry, and where people go to talk about products or services like yours. It might be the same platform that your ideal customers already use, but there’s also a chance it could be a different platform. Only research will tell!
In this case, you need to consider ideal potential customers…but also your competition! Other businesses who offer the same products and services that you do should absolutely be researched when you’re developing your strategy. Don’t do this with the intention of copying their content, but just to get a sense of the media landscape for your product on the social media platform.
What do you want your account to do for your business?
Your strategy can help your account fulfill multiple needs, but I typically recommend no more than three overall goals inform your strategy. More than this amount can lead to a scattered approach to social media, and content that is less cohesive. It will only serve to muddle your message and could confuse your audience.
Common goals or functions that a strategy works to achieve include:
- Brand awareness
- Establishment of your expertise
- Lead generation and product advertisement
- Community building and nurturing
- Simple information sharing (think early closings, weather-related service changes, etc.)
Your strategy will (and should!) evolve over time, so be sure to choose goals that make sense for the stage or season of business you find yourself in. Your social media account is a tool in your toolbox, so let it support you no matter where you are in your business journey!
A final note: if you are a brand-new business, or launching a business social for the first time, I encourage you to include brand awareness and expertise establishment as goals for your initial strategy. These two things are essential to getting your business noticed and getting your audience to trust that you can do what you say you can.
How much time can you devote to social media right now?
Consistency is key for account growth. Now, the term “consistency” is vague, and in this context, people often assume it’s synonymous with “frequent,” but that’s not really the case. A consistent rate of posting can be once a week, or it can mean fourteen. It all depends on your goals…and how much time you can devote to your socials.
Creating content that is genuine and engaging for your audience takes time. I routinely spend hours creating my own weekly and monthly content (though I admit, I’m a bit of a perfectionist.)
When planning your strategy, it’s important to recognize that executing it, and doing it well, will take a decent amount of time. You should account for other demands on your time, both in your business and personal life. And once you’ve done that, be honest with yourself about how much you can realistically do on this front. I recommend starting small, maybe with two posts a week, and seeing how you manage that for a few weeks. You can always increase your posting frequency in the future, once you’ve gotten a sense of how long the entire process takes you.
How will you know if your strategy is working?
If you’ve ever researched strategy before, you have likely come across the term KPIs. This stands for key performance indicators, which are the analytics and statistics you should observe to tell if your strategy is working the way you expected.
Knowing which analytics will correspond to your strategy is essential. Things like impressions, reach and profile visits won’t necessarily be relevant data points for every strategy. Therefore, you need to know which category of data corresponds to the intention behind your strategy.
For example, if you are trying to increase site traffic through your social media, you’ll want to pay attention to the number of website clicks a post generates. If the goal is brand awareness, you will want to pay attention to impressions and post shares. Finally, a strategy with account growth as a goal should prioritize an increase in account follows, post reach and likes.
If you don’t know what KPIs make sense for your strategy, it won’t work as well as you expect, because you won’t understand the story that your data is telling you.
Do you even enjoy social media???
Let’s be honest – social media isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If it isn’t yours, that’s totally okay! But you need to consider this factor when building your strategy.
Most of the time, you are more likely to follow through with a plan, or work toward a goal, if the action you’re taking is something that you enjoy. When I worked in higher education, I saw this reality play out time and time again with my students, especially when it came to their academic progress. If a student switched from a major they hated to one in a subject they genuinely enjoyed, often the academic challenges they were facing would all but disappear. Grades suddenly skyrocketed, because the work they were doing retained their interest and usually allowed them to use skills they excelled at.
The same is true with business – each of us has favorite tasks in the day to day running of our organizations, and tasks we’d prefer never to do again, if it was up to us. If social media falls into the latter category for you, please be mindful of this when planning your strategy. If you don’t enjoy being on socials or creating posts, it’s not a good idea to create a lofty social goal for yourself that will take a ton of effort and time to implement. Instead, doing so will make social media an even greater source of frustration for you.
If you know that social media will help your business grow, but you truly don’t want to manage the strategy and implementation side of it, you should consider outsourcing to a social media strategist and manager. By doing so, you can get the benefits of a robust strategy without causing yourself additional stress and headaches.
A well-executed social media strategy requires precision and critical thinking, with a healthy dose of experimentation thrown in. I know what a difference it can make for small businesses, especially those who are just starting out and have so much potential for growth and success! If you want to try implementing a social media strategy of your own, the best advice I can leave you with is to have confidence, and have fun! Putting yourself out there online can be daunting, but it can really pay off for your business if you stick with it.
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