Many businesses find social media overwhelming – there is so many networks available, and they are always adding new features that you can learn and incorporate into your plan.
If you don’t have a team of full-time social media experts, your success depends on creating a simple, sensible strategy that matches your resources and goals.
By the end of this guide, you will know how to develop a social media strategy that will not only generate traffic but also soothe that overwhelming feeling you get every time you open Instagram or Twitter.
What is a social media strategy?
Your social media strategy is your blueprint for how you create, post, and engage with your social media content.
It encompasses your guidelines for social content, post cadence, social media marketing campaigns, creative plans, and engagement strategy.
Why you need a social media strategy
The three main challenges that social media marketers face include reaching their audience, measuring ROI, and meeting business goals.
Developing a social media strategy can help address these challenges and more. Social media strategies also allow you to set goals and guards, track their performance, and adjust your benchmarks over time. Without a starting point, you can’t measure what’s working and how to change your business to meet your goals.
A social media strategy Also helps you set expectations for broader team involvement and align everyone with what they should (and shouldn’t) be doing on your social media.
How to create a social media strategy
- Define your target audience.
- Start blogging.
- Create educational content.
- Focus on a few key channels.
- Develop a recipe card to guide you.
- Measure your results.
- Adjust your tactics.
Let’s find out how to start building a social media strategy from scratch.
1. Define your target audience.
If you have not already identified and documented your the buyers, start by defining the key demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach – age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies and interests, etc.
Consider their challenges and the problems they solve on a daily basis. Focus on no more than four types of people who make up the majority of your buyers. Don’t dwell on exceptions or outliers, or you’ll never get started!
2. Start blogging.
New content is the backbone of a successful social strategy, so commit to creating quality new content on a consistent basis. Compile a list of common questions from prospects and commit to answering those questions with at least one new blog post per week.
3. Create educational content.
Create downloadable content like eBooks, checklists, videos, and infographics that address your buyer’s issues. If your content is really useful, people will likely share it on social media and expand your reach.
4. Focus on a few key social channels.
Most startups and small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to establish and maintain a quality social media presence on every channel. It is also difficult to learn the rules of engagement on a bunch of different networks at the same time.
Here is a video of HubSpot Academy Explain the social channels where you can post content for your business.
So start small. Research key networks to find out where your target audience is spending time and focus your efforts on building, growing and sustaining a community the before switching to another channel.
5. Develop a recipe card to guide you.
Social media isn’t an exact science (and doesn’t work the same for all businesses or industries). To view the results for your business, establish a consistent assignment and engagement schedule.
Develop a reasonable recipe card – one you can stick to and get your team to follow. Set goals for your posting and engagement frequency, and hold yourself accountable for following your recipe.
6. Measure your results.
There are countless things to follow on your social media channels. Start by looking at the traffic generated from your social accounts to your website or blog.
Look at your posts to see what people are responding to and look for trends related to particular topics or keywords that generate more interest than others. Once you have a feel for your average traffic and post performance, set goals for key metrics and keep a dashboard to measure your progress.
Make sure you choose measurements that are easy to collect – if it takes too long to follow, you’ll fall off the wagon! Examples of simple (to start with) metrics include new net fans and followers, number of interactions, and visits to your website from social media.
7. Adjust your tactics.
Social media won’t start to work overnight. It takes time to build an audience, establish your brand, and start seeing results. Experiment a bit to find the right mix of channels, content, and messaging that’s right for your audience.
Over time, you’ll be able to adjust your recipe card, content, and characters based on the information you collect – which will help you refine your strategy and drive more consistent results.
Social media marketing strategy
Social media is a versatile business asset. It connects you to your audience and also promotes your products, services and brand. Both functions are equally important.
Building a social media marketing strategy is a little different from the process we discussed above. How? ‘Or’ What? For example, your benchmarks and goals may be more specific to the metrics you’re tracking for other marketing efforts.
When using social media to market your business, make sure the experience on your social media is positive and consistent. All images and content on your social media accounts should be consistent with those on your website, blog, and other digital real estate.
Pay close attention to any questions or comments your audience posts and respond to them promptly (as that engagement could make or break a conversion or purchase).
Finally, align the content you post and the way you post it marketing campaigns you use other channels (for example, email or advertisements). This brings us to our next section …
Social media content strategy
Content is at the heart of any social media strategy. Without content, you can’t engage with your audience, promote your products, or measure performance.
The somewhat fleeting (and brief) nature of social media can lead you to believe that you don’t have to plan their content as much as you do for, say, your emails or blogs. It’s wrong. Social media content might not be as static as your landing pages or blog content, but it’s just as important for engaging your audience and representing your brand as a whole.
For this reason, you must also have a social media content strategy. This should include:
- Publish guidelines and specifications for each network you are active on (e.g. share GIFs on Twitter but avoid on Facebook)
- Target audience nuances by network (for example, the youngest segment of your audience is more active on Instagram than LinkedIn)
- Reuse plans for long content from your blog, podcast, eBooks, etc.
- Who on your team is allowed to post and who is responsible for subscriber engagement
- The businesses, posts, and individuals you’ll repost (and those you don’t want / can’t)
For more on building a social media content strategy, here’s a helpful video from HubSpot’s Aja Frost.
Social media strategy templates
Social media is overwhelming; I understand. Starting your strategy from scratch is even more overwhelming, which is why we have developed 10 free social media templates help.
In the free download you will receive:
- Planning models for each channel, because social media channels are not universal
- Complete holiday calendar with hashtag, so you never forget to participate with new fun content
- Social audit template to track your followers, engagement rates, etc.
- A social media content calendar to organize campaigns across all channels
- A social reporting model to track your monthly social successes
- A paid social model to help you manage and optimize your paid budget
It’s time to get social
Still feel like social media is overwhelming? Its good; I’m not sure this feeling goes away completely. You can definitely reduce it by taking advantage of the tips in this guide and the free templates above. Remember: attack only one social network at a time, prioritize your audience, and focus on content that works. You will see results and traffic in no time.