Did you know that a social media strategy is critical to your business success?
In today's digital world, social media is everywhere. Billions of users around the world use social media platforms to connect with others and share information.
According to Social Media Examiner, 97% of small businesses use social media to attract new customers.
Unfortunately, too many business owners underestimate the power that a solid strategy can provide. Not surprisingly, they struggle to build brand awareness.
This is why I invited Stewart Dunlop, a Content Marketer for Foundr Magazine to talk about how to create a social media strategy in 8 easy steps.
Take it away, Stewart!
If you want to increase traffic on your website, improve your rankings in the search engines, or get better leads, you have to harness the power of social media. However, with so many established channels and new ones showing up, how do you know which one to choose? As it turns out, it’s all about strategy.
What is a social media strategy?
In today's business world, this term is tossed around a lot. This is why its meaning is a bit murky. Before we discuss how you can develop a social media strategy, let’s first see what it entails.
In plain words, the term defines everything from the type of content that you share to the times of day that it's best to post, to the way you expect followers to react. Planning things ahead of time helps you build a solid campaign that will bring you results. If you act on a whim and just post whatever comes to your mind, you will only waste your time and energy.
Furthermore, it’s important that you document the entire social media process so that your campaign can be analyzed and improved as things move forward. The good news is that you don’t need specialized help to put together an effective social media strategy. Here are 8 easy steps that will allow you to create a social media strategy that works.
1. Choose The Right Channels For Your Marketing Message
Not every social media channel will be useful for your campaign. More importantly, the channels you’ve used before may not be a good fit for your current campaign. Furthermore, there could be incompatibilities with the type of content that you want to share.
Each social media platform is designed for a certain type of campaign. For instance:
- If you’re looking to engage professionals or other businesses, it’s best to consider platforms such as LinkedIn, SlideShare, or Twitter.
- A campaign with video content will work best on YouTube, Vimeo, Periscope, or Facebook.
- If your campaign has more image-based content, you should consider Pinterest (93% of active members use it to plan for purchases), Instagram (to build brand awareness), or Tumblr (if you’re looking to attract younger audiences).
- Written content works best on LinkedIn or Medium, but you can also use Facebook.
As you can see, the right channel(s) are highly dependent on the type of content that you want to share, the audience you target, and your campaign’s final goal.
2. Create High-Quality Content
The content that is begging you to hit that share button should always be original, useful, easy to assimilate (regardless of type), and relatable. Furthermore, your content needs to be targeted towards a specific audience. This is the best way to ensure that it truly stands out from the crowd (which is rather large, considering that social media generates new content every minute).
According to Foundr, choosing the right content for your strategy is key. However, how do you decide on the right type of content? How do you know if you should use articles, videos, infographics, eBooks, or images?
There are many types of content. When deciding which platform you are going to use, it's important that you consider your audience’s preferences and your skill set. For inspiration, I encourage you to check out how successful businesses use Instagram stories to improve their social presence and customer engagement.
3. Build Your Engagement
In order to effectively do its job, content must make readers want to share, comment, or click that call to action button. Engagement is anything that moves people to take action. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners struggle to figure out how to create engagement.
This is where we can take a lesson from big brands like Apple or Nike. They consistently create content that appeals to people’s curiosity. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need, well before they realize it themselves.”
If you aren't taking the time to interact and connect with your followers on a deep level, you are missing opportunities to build your engagement and create brand awareness. The best campaigns aren't loud in nature. Rather, they are the ones who create massive value. Keep in mind that engagement is a process, and requires that you do it on a consistent basis.
4. Harness The Power of Visual Content
You could be publishing the best content on social media, but if it fails to capture people's attention, it's useless. Let's face it… people have a limited attention span. They no longer have time to read or consume a lot of information. However, visual material is a different story altogether. Why not convert your text-based posts into creative and colorful visual images that incite interest?
In most social media campaigns, the use of visual material is crucial. This is why it’s important to learn how to adapt your campaign to various channels. Infographics, memes, and videos are just a few ways that you can create engagement with your audience.
5. Follow the Right Success Metrics
The success of a social media campaign is not measured by the number of followers alone. In order to determine if your efforts are successful, you should establish the metrics. This will help you in determining whether or not you have reached your goal.
Some metrics to consider are conversion rates, increase in new leads, audience reach, brand mentions, number of comments, and total shares.
6. Use Social Media Tools
It’s not that difficult to run a social media campaign because there is a wide range of business tools that you can choose from. A social media management tool is every content creators dream, especially if they have multiple social media channels.
This type of tool is designed to help you schedule posts ahead of time. This means that you can spend an entire day setting up a month’s worth of activity on social media and then let your campaign unfold on its own. I encourage you to consider chatbots. This is a growing trend for a lot of business owners, especially for those who use Facebook.
7. Don’t Push the Competition Away
While it may seem natural to avoid your competition, it’s not the smart thing to do. Brands that pair together on social media enjoy the benefits of a broader reach and a more diverse audience.
Also, you should think outside the box and partner up with brands and companies that don’t relate to you in a direct fashion. For instance, the funny tweets between Taco Bell and Old Spice put both brands in the spotlight. There is a lot of power in giving a rival brand a shoutout for a great product or service.
8. Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
In social media campaigns, you can’t get everything right the first time around. There are a lot of challenging variables to navigate in the social media world. The only way to find the perfect solution is through trial and error. This is true for every new campaign you run. Every step that you take must be carefully planned and then re-evaluated as the data from the metrics kick in.
The data is the only reliable element, so let it drive you. An effective social media campaign is based on observation, patience, and data analysis. As long as you know and understand your target audience, you’ll have the foundation to build a solid and engaging campaign.
Are you ready to build your social media strategy?
As a business owner, social media is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. If you learn how to use it effectively, it can take your business to a whole new level. However, none of this will be possible if you don't have a solid strategy in place.
Keep in mind that a social media strategy is a never-ending work in progress that will require modification as your business grows and the market changes. All that matters is that you just start. In the words of Dan Schultz, “Social media creates communities, not markets.”
How will you build an engaged social media community?
That's a wrap! Thanks so much, Stewart. Without a solid understanding of what your goals are or who your target audience is, it will be challenging to get results. If you don't already have a social media strategy in place for your business, now is the time to create one. There is no better way to expand your social network and grow your brand. I see a lot of entrepreneurs shy away from social media because it feels overwhelming. However, it doesn't have to be. Just focus on mastering one channel at a time. In the words of Erik Qualman, “We don't have a choice on whether we do social media. The question is how well we do it.”
Stewart Dunlop is a Content Marketer for Foundr Magazine, a go-to digital resource for the growing ranks of self-made entrepreneurs at every level of experience. To learn more about Foundr Magazine, connect with them on social media: