A lot of things have changed in social media in the past few years.
When you combine the happenings of the previous year with the emerging trends of the coming one, it can be a bit overwhelming for marketers, particularly those who are just getting started with social media marketing.
But, amid the privacy concerns and controversial algorithm changes, it’s still important for you to have a solid social media strategy that you can fall back on no matter what’s happening out there.
Without a clear plan of how to manage your social media activities, you’ll likely be left with a sense of extreme analysis paralysis, and you won’t know where to go from here.
If you want to keep your business from being on the sidelines while your competitors make off with your valued customers, then read on to find out how you can go about creating the best social media marketing strategy that will yield amazing results.
1. Set Goals to Address Your Major Challenges
The first thing you need to do is to figure out exactly what you want from social media as a whole. Is it more social-savvy customers?
Or maybe it’s a bigger share of the voice in your particular industry?
No matter what it is you want, you need to keep in mind that social media strategy is more of a marathon than a sprint.
You should try to set objectives for your business that are actually achievable. For instance, shooting for 500,000 new Facebook followers before the end of the year just is not going to happen!
But trying to tackle smaller, more realistic goals will help you scale your social efforts in ways that are reasonable and effective. And remember, your goals are going to influence everything you do – from your budget to the actual social networks you decide to tackle.
Listed below are some examples of the social media goals you might want for your business:
Example #1: Increasing Brand Awareness
If you want to create long-lasting, authentic brand awareness, it’s important to avoid only publishing promotional messages.
Rather, you can focus on content that emphasizes your unique personality while putting your followers first (and not the hard sell).
Example #2: Achieving Higher Sales Quality
It’s nearly impossible to dig through your social channels without listening or monitoring for specific keywords, hashtags, and phrases.
With more efficient targeting on social media, you’re able to reach your key audience that much faster.
Example #3: Improving ROI
A positive return on investment on social media does not happen by chance.
Whatever you investing in it, whether it’s your time, energy, or money – you need to know that the end result of your efforts is yielding a lot more than what you’re putting in.
And taking the time to audit your social channels helps to keep you on the right track.
Example #4: Creating a Loyal Fan Base
If your business promotes user-generated content, or if your followers react in a positive way without some sort of initiation, then your customers can actually be your best cheerleaders as well as the source of fresh content.
But that only happens if you encourage them to post content on your behalf.
Example #5: Getting a Pulse on the Industry
Are there things that your competitors are doing which seem to be working well? What are their strategies for driving engagement and sales?
This type of analysis is great for helping you gain a better understanding of the ways in which you can position your own brand, both on and off of social media.
Any combination of the goals listed above can help you in understanding which social networks to take on.
Whenever you’re in doubt, just keep your social marketing strategy as simple as possible rather than messing it up with too many objectives that are ultimately going to distract you from your business’s main goals.
2. Research Your Target Audience
As a marketer, you know that making assumptions is a dangerous game that can lead you down the wrong path.
Fortunately, thanks to the many tools for social media analytics, as well as the wealth of demographic information out there, there is no need to make assumptions.
A great deal of the audience data you need to know in order to influence your social media strategy can be found easily.
A quick search on Google will reveal to you all the social media demographics you need that are worth noting for all the major social networks.
If you think that demographic data is fluff – it isn’t. A closer look at these numbers will reveal to you which networks your business needs to approach, as well as the type of content you need to publish.
Here are a few takeaways:
- YouTube and Facebook are prime platforms for ads, mostly due to their high-earning user bases.
- Most of Instagram users are below 30 years of age and this signals the strength of eyepopping, attractive posts oozing with personality.
- There are significantly fewer men on Pinterest than women, and this social network boasts an average value order that is the highest among social shoppers.
- LinkedIn has a user base that is well-educated, which makes it ideal for industry-specific content which may be a lot more complicated than what you see on other social networks like Twitter or Facebook.
Now, do you see how this works?
But while this type of demographics data gives you insight into the different channels, you still need further analysis before you can truly know your own customers.
There are many social media dashboards that you can use to find out more about your customer demographics on the various social media platforms, including Hootsuite, SproutSocial, and Buffer.
A social media dashboard is a great way of getting an overview of who is following you, how they are interacting with you on different channels, and so on.
As an online business owner, you need at least some kind of dashboard that’ll give you this information quickly and easily.
Just remember to ensure that your dashboard ties in with your business’s specific goals.
You need to be where your target audience hangs out – that’s a no-brainer.
Your dashboard should help you double check that your time is being spent targeting the right channels. All these reasons and more are why it’s critical to get an all-in-one dashboard solution if you want to execute a successful social media marketing strategy.
3. Decide Which Metrics are Most Important
No matter what it is you’re selling to prospects, your strategy for social media marketing needs to be data-driven.
This means you have to focus on the actual metrics that matter.
While shares and likes are nice to see and have, the truth is they amount to very little in the grand scheme of things.
They are just vanity metrics that don’t typically result in meaningful customer engagement or sales:
- What use is it to have millions of followers if no one’s buying your products?
- Why collect them if you can’t actually do anything with them?
Of course, engagement metrics can be useful when it comes to building meaningful and lasting relationships with your fans and followers.
A large audience and likable content are both great, but there are real metrics that you need to keep an eye on in order to ensure the success of your marketing strategy:
Metric #1: Reach
Your post reach refers to the number of unique users that saw your post. It’s a measure of how far your content spreads across the social media network. Is your content reaching your audience’s feeds?
This is an increasingly important metric, particularly in the face of ever-evolving organic algorithms.
Metric #2: Clicks
This is pretty self-explanatory.
The number of clicks your content, logo, or company name get on social media is important when it comes to understanding the way in which users move through your sales funnel.
Tracking your clicks per campaign is vital to understanding exactly what drives curiosity and what encourages your prospects to buy.
Metric #3: Engagement
This is the total number of interactions divided by how many impressions there were.
This is about seeing how many people interacted with your content and determining if it’s a good ratio compared with your total reach.
This shines a light on the performance of your content, your audience’s perception of you, and how willing they are to interact.
Metric #4: Hashtag Performance
Which hashtags are the ones most associated with your business?
Which ones were used the most on your own site?
What hashtags were responsible for creating the most user engagement?
Metric #5: Organic or Paid Likes
Unlike standard likes, these are defined from either organic content or paid content.
When using channels like Facebook, it can be very hard to gain momentum with just organic engagement and that’s why a lot of businesses use Facebook ads to get the audience to interact with the brand.
Getting organic likes on Instagram, on the other hand, isn’t quite as difficult.
Metric #6: Sentiment
This measures the way users reacted to the content you published, your brand, or hashtag, etc.
For instance, you might determine if customers found your recent campaign a bit offensive, or if there’s a certain sentiment that’s being associated with the campaign hashtag.
Digging deeper to find out what people are saying is always a good idea if you want your brand to stay on top of things.
Every effective social media strategy is firmly rooted in numbers.
Having said that, you need to be able to put those numbers into context and circle back around your business’s original objectives.
4. Know What Your Competition is Doing
Prior to creating content, you need to have a very good idea of what your competition is up to.
This requires a bit more than just surface-level analysis.
Some marketers even look into third party analysis tools to help them dig deeper into the numbers so they can understand what their competitors are doing.
Being able to look at, and understand, your competitors’ presence on social media will directly inform your business’s own strategy.
The aim here isn’t to be a copycat or to steal your competitors’ ideas, but it’s to determine what it is that is working well for them, as well as how you can adapt your own social media marketing campaigns accordingly.
But don’t feel that you have to do exactly what your competitors are doing.
You can be in the same industry and use totally different strategies. No matter what niche you’re in, you have a lot of room to set yourself apart from your competition with regards to the content you create and your voice.
How do you Spot Social Competitors?
A simple Google search is the quickest and easiest way to find your competitors. Just plug in your most valuable keywords, key phrases, industry terms, and so on and you will be able to determine who they are from the results that show up.
For instance, if you sell various bath salts, a keyword like ‘handmade natural bath salts’ would be a great one to investigate.
Exclude the major retailers such as Amazon and so on, and then take a look at who else is popping up in that space. Look at both ads and organic results.
Next, you want to check out who is active on social media. You may find that some of the smaller operations actually have a social presence that is active and thriving. This makes them a good candidate for you to track.
After you’ve gathered a handful of competitors in your industry, you can then use a competitive analysis tool such as the ones I mentioned previously to track their content on social media.
This will give you a clue as to what tags they are using, and the content they are posting.
Once you’ve gone through this process with your list of competitors, you will have a far better idea of exactly what your audience wants.
Use the tips listed above to help you gain guidance and inspiration for reaching your business’s social goals for the year.
Just remember, as long as you have a solid plan for moving forward, you won’t have to worry about the ever-changing algorithms no matter what social network you’re on.
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Updated: Originally published May 19th 2019