How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

By Kelsey Jones

Maybe you have been publishing your company’s social media content regularly for some time now, but metrics have started stagnating. Or you know you need to put a strategy in place to continue to grow your company's presence online. 

For every social media manager, there comes a time when it's not enough to just publish content and hope for the best. Creating a cohesive social media and marketing strategy is the best approach when it comes to working toward the goals of growth and progression. Below are important aspects to consider when crafting a social media marketing strategy that will help you determine not only what to publish, but when it should go live and who your target audience should be.

Set SMART Goals

There are several goal-setting strategies to choose from. When setting your social media goals, consider the SMART format. 

SMART goals make sure you can identify where you're seeing results from your strategy’s efforts. It helps determine which parts of your strategy are working and which need to be tweaked in order to succeed. 

The acronym SMART stands for:

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

For example, a goal like “increase our number of social media followers” doesn’t follow the SMART goal framework. Conversely, something along the lines of, “increase our Facebook engagement 20 per cent month-over-month by December 2019” is a better goal because it checks all the boxes. Key metrics to follow include impressions, engagement, traffic, and conversions.

Profile Optimization

The first part of your social strategy should be reviewing all of your profiles, both active and inactive, to make sure everything is properly optimized. 

While proper social media profile optimization can take a while, there are three primary actions you can immediately take to improve your profiles.

  • Fill out all the basic information.
  • Make sure any preexisting information is correct. Don’t assume that just because it’s complete, the information is right. For instance, are your office suite number and hours of operation correct? When you click a link, does it go to the right page?
  • Add appropriate cover and profile photos that are correctly optimized for each specific platform.
  • Take advantage of additional features, such as profile videos, portfolio sections, and add-ons. For example, Facebook currently allows third-party API tools that let you create lead generation forms as their own tab on your business page.

Many businesses overlook incorrect information across their various social media profiles simply because they assume it was done correctly the first time, or they forget to update formerly accurate information. It's worthwhile to set a calendar reminder every quarter or halfway through the year to re-optimize all your social media profiles. You can make sure the information is still correct and that your business is taking advantage of features that may have been released since the last time you optimized the profiles.

Audience Strategy

Great social media content is only as good as the targeting it uses. If you don't know who your target audience is, you won’t know if you're creating content they actually want to read and interact with. Too often, a social media marketing plan is created with no research or awareness into who is actually reading the content and what these segments of users are actually interested in. Make sure your content aligns with your customers’ journey and research their behaviour. You can use paid campaigns to see what they click on, online discussion boards in your industry topic on sites like Quora or Reddit, and insights from existing customers. 

For instance, try sending an email survey or sharing the link on your existing platforms to ask for current users' input into what they're interested in. Set a budget to give away a few Amazon, Starbucks, or company gift cards as an incentive to complete the survey. It's also helpful to tell users their commitment upfront: Say something like, “Take our five-minute survey” or, “Answer our two-question survey” shows that just a little amount of effort is required in order to be entered to win a gift card. This gives users more reasons to engage with your request. 

Use this feedback to help you learn what types of content users are most interested in. Then you know what to post on social media going forward. Pay attention and take action to show you’re listening. After all, what you may think users are interested in could turn out to be a surprise — that they actually aren't looking for that type of information at all. You don’t need to appeal to everyone: Current and potential customers are the only ones that truly know what type of information they want online. 

Content Strategy

Knowing your audience makes creating a strategy for your content a lot easier. Once you have a good picture of what kinds of content your audience is interested in and wants to engage with, you can create an editorial calendar that has specific themes or topics you want to cover every month. Usually, with social media it's a good idea to have a monthly calendar instead of quarterly because news, technology, and changes can happen so fast.

Before starting an editorial calendar, decide which social media platforms you want to be active on. It's a good idea to claim profiles on the major social media networks: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, even if you don’t plan on posting on them. Just write a post saying as much, and indicate where users can interact with you.

Building a small business social media strategy is a complex task, but essentially, LinkedIn and Facebook are generally good for all businesses, whereas Instagram, Twitter, and other more niche platforms like Snapchat are better for specific types of audiences.

After deciding which platforms you’ll use the most, you can start to build out an editorial calendar. Consider:

  • How many times you will post per week on each platform
  • What topics you should cover

Having a calendar overview is great because it allows you to set deadlines and responsibilities accordingly. For instance, if you post an original video every Wednesday, you can back up from the due date and figure out how much time you need to create the concept, shoot the video, edit it, and write any of the promotional materials, offers, and captions that go with it. By planning your content in advance, you should have more time to create better content, which your audience will appreciate. This can lead to more engagement and clicks around what you have to say.

Engagement and Social Monitoring

After content goes live, it's important to monitor engagement and mentions of your brand and competitors online. Use a social monitoring tool to track your hashtags or brand mentions — including misspellings — and follow up on any questions, complaints, or conversations as quickly as possible. It’s also important to monitor what competitors are posting, as that can give you inspiration based on the content itself or users’ comments on and engagement with posts.

Assign engagement and monitoring duties to the appropriate people on your marketing team or block out time on your calendar each day to answer questions, respond to comments, or share more information with users. Usually checking a few times per day for a set block of time can help you structure your day. However, some social media managers prefer to have their social monitoring dashboard up on their screens at all times during the workday. Whatever option works best for you and your audience is the right one.

Final Thoughts

The cornerstone of social media success is knowing your audience. By finding out their preferences, creating content they want to see, and following up as they engage with your posts, you will publish more competitive industry content, grow your audience, and reach your goals.

About the author:

Kelsey Jones is a marketing consultant and writer under Six Stories, her marketing agency. She has been working in digital marketing since 2007 and journalism since 2004, gaining proficiency in social media, SEO, content marketing, PR, and web design. Kelsey was the head editor at Search Engine Journal for three years and has worked with Yelp, Contour Living, Bounty, Gazelle, and many more. Based in Kansas City, she enjoys writing and consuming all kinds of content, both in digital and tattered paperback form.

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