When it comes to social media strategy, there are several different approaches you can take. You don’t have to be perfectly structured to do well with social media sites, but when you work with a team, it’s typically better to be able to structure your planning so that everyone is on the same page and to be able to effectively track your KPIs.
A well thought out strategy becomes even more important if you aren’t personally going to be deploying it yourself.
Social Media management has long been delegated to the interns, but more and more companies are realizing that it is an essential part of a company's communication and image and should be treated as such. Creating a complete social media strategy is something that can (and has) filled entire books, but today we are going to outline the broad strokes that you can take to create a complete and thought-out plan. If you are really at a loss for where to start, you can follow these steps and before you know it you’ll have a complete and thorough strategy.
By the end of this guide, you should be able to hand off your work to a community manager and they will be able to hit the ground running.
Define the ‘Why’
The very first step is to figure out why you are going to be using social media. Are you trying to boost sales, grow website traffic, establish yourself as the expert, or just to entertain? The first step to getting what you want out of your social media is to figure out what you want and why you are doing it.
McKinsey did a study a few years back about the ten most important roles of Social Media for marketers: Brand monitoring, Crisis management, customer service, referrals, and recommendations, fostering communities, brand advocacy, brand content awareness, product launches, targeted deals, and customer input.
The next thing to do is to take stock of what is happening in your industry and to earmark notable accounts. The competitors, the experts, the inspiring; pay attention to what they are doing and where they are in their followers. Take note of everything, what you like, what you don’t like, what they do well and what they could improve on. This will not only help you to establish some realistic goals for followers and other KPIs, but this will help inspire the right type of content directly copying them.
To compare numbers, you can use a tool like Agorapulse to get an overview of your competitors:
The second part of your benchmark is Social Listening, aka what are people saying about your company and about your brand. What do they think of your company and how could you react to their messages? Learn more about Social Listening here.
It’s the second step to preparing your social media plan and yet you should keep coming back to this step even once your strategy is finished. Keeping an eye on the competition and public opinion can help inspire new ideas, avoid mistakes and give you more relevant insights.
Define your audience
Once you know why you are going to be launching your social media accounts and you understand the prevailing public opinion about your company, the next step is to figure out your target audience. For example, if you are trying to drive traffic to your hotel website and get people to book then you are going to be targeting your ideal client. A way of doing this that is either love-it or leave-it is creating personas. The idea behind personas is to create a fictive person and try to make them as realistic as possible to your ideal audience. By putting yourself in the shoes of your potential followers you’ll be able to better define the type of content they will react with.
Social Bakers offers free persona templates if you are looking for an easy tool.
© Social bakers
It probably won’t come as a surprise that there are different types of users and different levels of involvement. Just a Dandak proposes the following types of users, but in reality, there are all types of different ways people engage with social media.
Conversationalists: connecting with like-minded souls and sharing all aspects of their lives;
Learners: The bloggers, bookmarkers, developers of skills/understanding;
Aggregators: Scrapbooking the web. Tumbling /Posting/ retweeting
Marketers: filling streams with mainly content designed to sell services/products
Researchers: scraping content/actions into spreadsheets to quantify/dissect
Lurkers: visiting during lunch or bus rides, rarely contribute and when they do it’s an afterthought.”
The most active users are going to be essential because they have the potential to become brand ambassadors, not to mention they are probably the most dedicated to your brand. Take a look at this interesting finding by Bain and Company:
We found that customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers.
This is the moment to really define get into the mindset of these different groups. By separating these three groups, you can try to include content geared towards each subsection (high engagement, average engagement, and low engagement).
Now its time to get real, which platforms do you plan to use?
Sometimes we have a tendency to say, everyone is on TikTok, so we have to be on TikTok too! Well, are your Real Estate buyers (enter business here) really going to be doing music challenges and looking for a realtor online? It is much better to select the platforms that are pertinent to your industry and focus your time on those, rather than spreading yourself too thin. With that in mind, let’s break down the platform types and their most popular uses…
The biggest platforms for companies as of 2019 are currently Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and, depending on your industry and budget, TikTok. If you are targeting high school students, you can include Snapchat in your analysis.
- Facebook is the catch-all. According to a Pew Research Study, 68% of American adults are now active on Facebook. Users now use Facebook almost as a company storefront. They will go to your Facebook page to find out about your opening hours, about your return policy, your new posts, everything.
- Instagram is principally a lifestyle platform and leans towards a younger demographic. Another Pew Research Study found the 78% of American teens are on the platform. Photos are the king of Instagram (with some strategically placed quotes you can put it over the edge).
- LinkedIn is the leader in B2B business. Posts about hiring, company culture, corporate events, and promotions are all gold here.
- Twitter is typically associated with journalists, tech profiles and customer service complaints. In addition, their own website suggests that 80% of their users are millennials.
- Pinterest is great for content marketing and for e-commerce. As this New York Times article points out, the first adopters of the site weren't teens like a typical social media, but Midwestern women.
- TikTok is hard for me to wrap my head around it, but as a consumer, I personally fall into 20-minute TikTok brain melts. According to SensorTower, TikTok was the fourth most downloaded app last year. What is it? Mini videos from all around the world. Companies can sponsor challenges and influencers, but it’s hard for them to get a real following (source)
- Snapchat, according to The Hollywood Reporter, still has 186 Million active users per day, but this disappearing-photo platform undoubtedly took a hit when Instagram launched their stories update.
- YouTube has 1.9 billion unique visitors per month and this Google-owned video hosting social media site has no signs of slowing down.
Obviously, these are gross oversimplifications, but it will at least give you an overview of the playing field. If you want to get into the details, SproutSocial has an incredible breakdown available here.
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