The social media medium has vast and diverse capabilities and has the potential to draw more customers than any other marketing tool you may implement. Statistically:

 

Statistics aside, building a social media presence for your business can:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Help businesses find new customers
  • Increase inbound traffic
  • Improve Search Engine Rankings and SEO
  • Help you to better understand your audience
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Allow you to target & retarget customers through Paid Media
  • Deliver cost effective marketing
  • Allow you to more actively compete with your competition
  • Drive More Sales
  • Allow your brand to act as an authority.

Set Your Goals

Once you’ve decided to engage your consumers with social media marketing the first step is to determine your goals. Determining your goals will help you to identify the tactics you will take to reach those goals.

How many followers do you wish to gain, how many posts per month will you schedule, how will you create your content, and what scheduling tool and reporting app will you use to meet your goals cost effectively?

Goals are powerful - they focus attention on delivering a set outcome. Goals and objectives are important to strategic planning because they turn the project into a specific set of targets.They should be specific, measurable, achievable and timely. For example: gain 200 followers per month on facebook while maintaining an average engagement rate of 8% or higher.

Smart Goals

 

Define Your Target Audience

You wouldn’t buy a car without first doing some research. So why would you dive into social media marketing without a plan? Knowing who your audience is and understanding information about the customer buying your products is crucial to your business’ success.

In order to understand how to play to the needs, behaviors, and concerns of your audience, you first have to learn more about them. By doing so you will learn how to best capture their attention and engage them with your brand. Defining your target audience (or buyer personas) is a detailed process addressed in the ebook How To Create Buyer Personas for Engaging Content Marketing. Keep in mind that while the more detailed your research is, the more targeted your social media approach will be, if only looking to gain a top-level understanding of your audience you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my ideal buyer for my product/ service?
  • Where does my ideal buyer live?
  • How old is this ideal buyer?
  • Are they male, female or both?
  • What is their income level?What is their education level?

With a full profile on your audience, you can effectively know who you are talking to and what their needs and wants are.

Competitor Analysis

Understanding your competitors leads to smarter decisions when it comes to planning your social media strategy. In order to gain a competitive advantage, you must know who your competitors are and what they do (or don’t do) so you can gather ideas on how to outperform them. Simply looking at their social media posts isn’t enough, you need to gather data and analyze it.

We suggest conducting a SWOT Analysis of your own company combined with an Audit of your competitors social media. A SWOT Analysis is an applied tool used to determine the Strengths and Weaknesses of a company, as well as any Opportunities to exploit or Threats you should eliminate. Whereas a Social Media Audit “is a series of steps taken to evaluate and optimize a businesses social media profiles and strategies”.

For the SWOT Analysis, we recommend a trial of Alexa. List your competitors and gather data on traffic, keywords, backlinks, and more. For the Social Media Audit use this template.Knowing who your competitors are and how they use their social media platforms will not only arm you with competitive information, but it will help you to define a stronger social media strategy overall.

Assess Available Resources

Before you begin you must assess the types of resources your business has access to and how they can be utilized to facilitate your social media efforts. Which staff will be required? How many hours per month of their time can you afford? What tools will you use to create your content? Are these tools free, or is there an associated cost? How will you schedule your posts? What reporting functionality will you need to track your metrics?

Additionally, it will be important to assess your website. All of your online efforts (digital marketing, email marketing, content marketing and social media marketing) should drive traffic to your website. What actions do you want visitors to perform when they visit your website? Do you want to capture their email information as a lead? Elicit phone calls? For visitors to download a specific piece of content? Will you require specific landing pages? Ensuring that your website is fast loading, aesthetically pleasing, and an enjoyable experience for the user will assist in positive outcomes of your goals.

Choosing the Right Platforms

With everything in place, it’s now time to start choosing the social media platforms for your brand to have a presence on. 37% of the world's population—a whopping 2.8 billion people—use social media. However, understanding which platforms various demographics spend their time will be crucial to picking the social media networks that align with your desired audience.

Demographics of Social Media Platforms

 

YouTube demographics

 

Snapchat demographics 

Once you’ve formed your target personas and know their age, income level, and gender, you can easily align that data with the demographics of each platform to determine what will work best for you.

Create a Content Strategy

With SMART goals, your defined target audience, knowledge of your competitors and having chosen the channels you’d like to build brand presence on, you are now ready to create the content for your social media strategy.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media channels and also depending on the type of product or service you offer, your content can be:

  • Educational
  • Inspirational
  • Interactive
  • Connecting (behind the scenes, story based, nostalgia)
  • Promotional
  • Newsworthy
  • Entertaining

In doing so, you can create and share content including:

  • GIF’s
  • Cinemagraphs
  • Geo-filters
  • Contests
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Shareable Quotes
  • Memes
  • Infographics
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Utilize User Generated Content
  • Facebook Live
  • Instagram Stories
  • Snapchat Stories

 

The research you’ve conducted to get to this point will help you to understand the content that will resonate with your audience. If you already have existing platforms with live content, you can review and analyze your social media profile insights and re-examine the type of content both you and your competitors have previously posted to gain valuable direction. Start with the type of content that performed well and make more of this type of content for sharing across your social platforms.

Not all styles of content will work on every platform, so it’s important to consider what will work best on each and then produce content specifically for that platform. While there may be some crossover in terms of repurposing content from one platform to another, as a general rule of thumb, apply the following tactics to each platform:

  • Facebook: Videos and curated content
  • Instagram: High-res photos, quotes, and Instagram Stories
  • Twitter: News, blog posts, and GIFs
  • LinkedIn: Jobs, company news, and professional content
  • Pinterest: Infographics and step-by-step photo guides
  • Google+: Blog posts that you would like to rank on Google

 

A breakdown of which content performs best on key social media platforms

 

Publish Powerful Content

With all of the pieces of your strategy in place, the last piece of the puzzle is to begin sharing your content. While you can schedule directly in most platforms, we recommend using a scheduling tool whenever possible. From creating content, to publishing, as well as analytics and reporting, the responsibilities of a social media marketer are varied and a scheduling tool will streamline your workflow, saving you time and ensuring your published content is well timed.

While there are many scheduling and reporting tools to choose from, the list of features can be overwhelming. Here’s three we’ve tried and recommend:

 

A comparison of social media scheduling tools

 

Engage Your Followers

It’s easy to assume that with your content created and now published, you’re all set. That’s not the case. It is equally as important to engage and grow your audience following content production. Easy ways to engage and re-engage with your community include:

  • Ask Questions
  • Conduct polls and surveys
  • Offer incentives
  • Tag loyal and active followers
  • Comment, Like, Respond to Feedback
  • Re-blog, Re-tweet, and Re-post
  • Send your messages at the best times to optimize your reach
  • Write emotional headlines
  • Increase posting frequency to boost organic growth
  • Use hashtags
  • Use Images, emoji’s, meme’s and GIF’s
  • Schedule your content more than once on social media
  • Create and join groups or forums

 

Advantages of Paid Media

While there are costs involved in terms of content creation and resources, having a presence on social media is essentially free. However, organic traffic on a number of the key platforms is becoming harder and harder to come by. These days, you must pay to play. A paid media budget can help you improve your reach and fight natural attrition of followers.

Paid media (pay per click, display ads, retargeting, paid influencers, paid content promotion and social media ads) is a useful way to promote content to drive earned media (which includes mentions, shares, re-posts and reviews). By paying to promote content, you are creating exposure for that content. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites offer advertising options that can both help to boost the reach of your content as well as drive traffic to your owned media properties (which include your website, blog, mobile site and social media channels).

Summary

Having a social media presence online helps to validate your brand. By being active online and focusing on communicating with consumers, you will attract new customers and increase overall awareness of your brand.

“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience.” - Content Marketing Institute

Use this social media checklist to begin crafting your strategy today.

 Video Content Planning Checklist

 

 

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Dayna Young

Written by Dayna Young More by this author Arrow