Over 2.34 billion people use social media. That’s over one third of the world.
And 93% of businesses have at least one social media profile.
Let that sink in for a second.
What does this mean for you? It depends where you’re at.
If your brand isn’t represented on social platforms, you’re missing out.
If you think LinkedIn is the only place for business, you’re behind the times - today 74% of businesses use Facebook.
And if you have some sort of social presence but it could be better, it’s time to think about how you could get a better return on your investment.
Whatever your situation, if your social media strategy isn’t well thought through, you’re failing to fully leverage the power of this potent marketing tactic.
But before you commit time and money, you need to set yourself up for success.
This article provides everything you need to develop a social media marketing strategy that will help your business grow.
From aligning your social media to business goals and establishing ROIs to understanding your audience and choosing the right social media channels. It’s all included in this guide.
Social Media Strategy Shouldn’t Be a Tug of War
Jumping into social media without a good plan can result in an overall marketing strategy that’s pulling in different directions.
Whether your social media marketing strategy forms part of your wider marketing plans or relates directly to organisational objectives, it needs to support broader business goals.
Aligning your plan doesn’t need to be complex. Think about your organisational objectives for the year and consider how social media can support them.
Want to launch a new product?
Run social media campaigns to advertise product launches and raise awareness with engaging content.
Want to increase sales?
Engage new customers with your brand to generate brand recognition and trust making sales 57.5% more likely.
Continue to delight your new clients post-sale so they become repeat customers and social referrers.
Want to expand into a new market segment?
Your social media marketing strategy can help you identify respected sector authorities who can recommend your brand.
Target these social referrers and customers with top-of-funnel marketing content to familiarise them with your brand and build a relationship that will lead to sales.
Too Difficult? Align to Marketing.
If aligning your social strategy to your business goals feels too difficult, try aligning it to your broader marketing strategy. Here are some ideas about how you could do this.
However you set your goals, your social media strategy should work in support of your marketing and business goals. It could refer people to your website or link in with wider marketing campaigns using traditional channels.
The key is to ensure all your messaging is pulling in the same direction regardless of the channel you use.#offer
Measures and ROIs
If measuring social media marketing success leaves you scratching your head, you’re not alone.
Over 60% of marketing professionals say measuring ROI is their biggest challenge.
As the chart below shows, this is the number one concern for intermediate and advanced marketers and the second biggest concern for beginners after setting up a strategy.
What does everyone else use to measure the success of their social media marketing efforts?
The 2016 Annual Report into The State of Social Marketing shows business are heavily invested in measuring engagement ahead of conversion and revenue.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean engagement is businesses’ number one priority, it is the easiest to track and therefore is the most measured.
When developing your social media marketing strategy, ensure you align your measures to the business or marketing goals you’ve chosen to support. This could mean measuring conversion and revenue as well as engagement to ensure you are securing sufficient return on your investment.
Make measuring success a painless process by working with a social media strategist. You’ll get access to the best analytics tools and receive reports on campaign success and ROI so you can see the impact of your investment.
Keep an Eye On the Competition
Social media is constantly evolving.
What’s trending one year can be old hat the next: from the platforms people use to content type, hashtags and user demographics.
Keep an eye on industry trends and your competitors to see what customers respond to best and what your competition is doing well.
Go one step further and identify what your competitors are missing and fill the gap to become the leader in your sector.
Work Out Who Your Audience Is
As with all marketing, you need to know who you’re talking to.
If one of your goals is to improve engagement with your existing customer base, dive into your data to generate an avatar that represents your core customer(s).
This will help you target your content and scope out the best channels to use.
Your existing social media channels will have their own analytics tools; access these to gain insight into who’s interacting with which types of content on each of your channels.
To do this in Twitter, go to your profile page, select ‘analytics’ from the tool bar and then ‘audiences’. This gives your audience demographics, the types of content they’re interested in, country and region.
Other platforms offer similar insights via their analytics.
Audit Your Existing Social Media
If you don’t currently have any social media presence, move on to the next section.
If you do, audit your profiles to give an overview of your current activity, successes and areas for improvement.
Start by setting out which platforms you have a business presence on, then identify how you use each and see which are performing best.
Ask questions like, which has the largest number of followers, and which has the most suitable followers who are actively engaged? Then rate each platform to identify which is adding most to your business.
If time is short and resources stretched, invest in a social media strategist to provide you with detailed insight and recommendations about your current position.
Source: Start to Spark
Measure Current Performance
What good performance looks like will depend on your business goals. If driving engagement is your priority and Twitter delivers the highest levels of interaction amongst your target audience, keep it.
If it generates engagement but with the wrong people or fails to generate engagement at all, you need to check whether you’re using it in the right way.
It’s super-easy to do this on Twitter – simply click on the graph at the bottom of a tweet to see the total number of engagements a post generated and the actions taken.
The image below shows 1,754 impressions, 34 engagements, 14 likes, 10 retweets, four profile clicks, two detail expands and one hashtag click. Not bad for 30 seconds work.
This is a fairly basic insight to the effectiveness of your social media presence. A social media marketing strategist can add significantly more insight and make recommendations on the best ways to optimise to super-charge your approach.
Decide on the Right Platforms
While Facebook has most users, it doesn’t mean they’re the right users for your business.
Source: Business Insider
Deciding on which platforms to use really depends on where your audience likes to hang out. And that might not always be on the big networking sites.
Social Media Rules of Thumb
There are some rules of thumb you can use to get a general idea about which social media platforms could work best for your business.
You need to consider:
- Where your audience likes to get their information
- Which media works best for your product or service
- Your business goals
For an audience of professional business people, LinkedIn and Twitter are safe bets. However, Facebook’s strong growth in the business arena means it could be worth considering.
This infographic summary gives more insight into the different platforms and also covers other sites like Reddit.
Use Demographic Data to Guide You Further
While physical products lend themselves well to visual platforms like YouTube, Instagram or Pinterest, they can also be advertised on platforms like Twitter by including a photo or video.
But be warned. Some of these sites attract a specific demographic that may not be suitable for your business. Take Pinterest – it might be a great place to post photos of your new product but if your target audience is male you won’t get much traction because the vast majority of the audience is female.
This handy demographic guide shows you the kinds of people each social networking platform tends to attract. Align your sector and business goals to the right social media platform for best results.
Source: Marketing Land
How Many Channels to Maintain?
How many channels you are able to maintain effectively will come down to your budget and headcount.
Even with a dedicated social media resource, it’s worth limiting your social media channels to three. Maintaining a quality presence with regular posts, good customer engagement and response times is more effective than trying to chase every potential customer on every platform.
Develop Your Messages
Now you’ve decided on your channels, it’s time to think about what you want to say.
For each social media platform, develop a mission statement to clarify the purpose each will serve for your business and social media marketing goals.
You need to identify which messages will resonate with your audience for each channel while maintaining aligned messages across different types of content such as organic and paid.
This can be as simple as ensuring a consistent tone of voice and having coherent, complementary messages that align to your marketing plans.
Create or Optimise Your Existing Social Media Accounts
Not got any social media accounts?
Then sign up to our blog to ensure you don’t miss out on the next blog in this series. It will take you from creating your social media accounts to developing content and being an advocate within your industry.
Make the Most of What You’ve Got
You spend time optimising your website to make sure it can be found on search engines. Social media accounts are no different.
Adopt the following six steps to ensure your social media accounts are working as hard as possible for you:
- Choose a great profile picture or a clean company logo
- Be clear about what you do – make it easy for people to understand your business at a glance
- Complete your business’ information – don’t be that business who forgets to add their website to their LinkedIn profile
- Apply SEO tactics by using relevant keywords in your profile and content
- Tell people where in the world you are - particularly important if you target local or regional businesses
- Fill your timeline with backdated posts so you don’t look like a new business
Make Social Media a Lead Generating Machine (or Whatever Else It Is You Want)
Whatever your goals, the first thing you need to do is grow your social media following. This will increase the reach of each post and improve your chances of improving engagement or generating leads.
There are two main ways to grow your following and both are needed for success.
Firstly, promote your social presence everywhere.
This means including buttons for each of your social media profiles on your website, at the bottom of presentation slide decks, banners, on your business cards, flyers, letter heads.
You get the idea.
Do this and you’ll get people who are interested in what you do to follow you on your various platforms. The people who come and find you are called earned followers and they’re the people most likely to engage with your business. The more followers you have the greater the impact of your social media campaigns.
You can also earn new followers through your social media platforms. Issue interesting or useful content with social sharing buttons to make it easy for people to share promoting your business in the process.
Here at Red-Fern Media, we clip the social sharing icons to the left side of the screen so you can see and share them at any point when reading one of our blogs.
As with other marketing tactics, it’s possible to pay for your social media posts to be put in front of a targeted audience.
Also known as pay per click (PPC), paid search complements organic search to maximise your inbound marketing efforts.
Social media platforms are focussing on paid advertising to monetise their generally free-to-use platforms. Algorithms on many sites have been changed to give preference to paid content in search engines over organic content.
This is where a social media strategist really comes into their own. They know the ins and outs of PPC advertising and will ensure you get more bang for your buck without overspending.
While organic can deliver good results, combining it with targeted paid advertising can significantly improve reach and number of followers. As Castrol Moto discovered when they analysed the results of their targeted ad campaign.
Now you’re set up and ready to go what should you talk about? And how should you communicate?
What to Say
The social media rule of thirds recommends promoting your business, generating leads and selling in equal thirds.
Source: Niche Marketing Strategy
Social content can include sharing useful or interesting ideas and stories from related industry thought-leaders.
Promotional content can include adverts and customer testimonials but also blog posts. Like case studies, that promote what you do.
Ensure you engage your audience personally by responding to comments, commenting on, liking or sharing the posts of followers, industry leaders or other people you are following.
How Often to Say It
There’s no right or wrong number of posts as this research from HubSpot shows. To a degree, the ‘right’ number will come down to time, budget and resource. However, consistently posting and not over-sharing are good rules of thumb.
A social media strategist can provide data on industry norms and test frequency rates using analytics to set sensible targets and generate the best ROI.
A good way to organise your posts and keep on track with the right content mix is to develop a content calendar. Or you could use this one from HubSpot.
It’s fine to use content scheduling tools that post content automatically for you as long as you remain engaged and respond on a real-time basis.
How to Say It
Social media is about more than posting a link to your latest blog. Images, video, Facebook Live, interactive surveys, infographics and memes are all used to engage different audiences.
Understanding how to stand out on different social media platforms is half the battle. Employ a social media strategist to keep you up to date with new developments and you’ll be well on the way to winning the war.
One of the biggest marketing developments of recent years is video and its reach has extended to social media. If you’re not convinced these stats might persuade you:
- Almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store
- 100 million hours of video are watched every day on Facebook
- 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter
And it’s not just Facebook and Twitter who use video. LinkedIn has recently added video upload capability to its platform to enable users to showcase work or products via videos.
Be Alive to New Opportunities
And video is even more of the moment with Facebook Live. This livestreaming video capability enables users to stream video as it’s recorded providing the audience with the opportunity to interact on a real-time basis.
Imagine the power of demonstrating a product or presenting your service offering live, engaging with the audience to answer questions and remove blockers. You can’t get much more interactive and personal than that.
A good social media marketing strategy and company will identify emerging opportunities like this and enable you to take advantage of them. If you’re quick enough, you could be one of the first to use new features and get your work in front of a new audience.
Test Effectiveness and Adjust
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”
Sir Winston Churchill
Or in the case of social media, regularly look at the results.
Remember those KPIs you set way back at the start of this process?
These are what you need to use to check whether your strategy is working. The metrics you would track will differ by platform but will likely include:
- Followers – how many people follow your social media account
- Reach – how many people have seen a post
- Click through rate - how many people click through to whatever you’re promoting
- Bounce rate - percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page
- Web referrals - number of website visits driven by social
- Mentions - how much are people talking about your business on social
- Number of comments left
- Number of shares
- Number of likes
- Number of leads generated
- Conversion rate of leads - if conversion from social media leads is higher than from other avenues this can boost the business case for shifting investment to the social media strategy
One thing you can be sure of is that the social media landscape will change. Which means these KPIs shouldn’t be set in stone.
Track your progress and keep on top of what’s working and what isn’t and remember to amend your KPIs as your business or marketing objectives change.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool but only when properly thought through and planned.
With the vast majority of businesses active on social media networks, it’s crucial to ensure your brand is effectively positioned to capitalise on this growing marketing space.
Developing your social media marketing plan will link your social activity to your business goals and provide clear line of sight between aims and outcomes.