Whether physical or virtual, businesses are now transferring most of their marketing to social media strategy since it has the most significant number of people visiting every day. Any business prospecting to grow and attract the most customers has to plan how to reach the multitudes of potential customers who are always online on one platform or another, interacting and socializing. The fact that most purchasing decisions are made online also makes it prudent that businesses use social media as a selling point.
With the multitudes of social media platforms available today, each with its unique functions and features, and mode of communication, it would be foolhardy to step into the arena without a plan.
Being able to impact that will help improve sales, build lasting customer relationships and attract new clients is not just about posting on every platform available. It requires tact and careful organization, including knowing what potential customers like and how to attract them. Therefore, the need to carefully plan the business’s entrance into social media and what to do to get the desired effect requires a strategy.
What is a Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy defines how a business will use social media to realize its communication goals and the supportive platforms and tools it will adopt to accomplish this. It is simply a declaration of intent that outlines the goals and objectives of the business for making use of social media and the target results to be achieved.
The social media strategy is created in the context of the overall business plan so that social media works in harmony with all other business channels. A detailed plan of action is required after forming a social media strategy, as it is only through it that the plan’s activities can be prioritized.
In short, a social media strategy is the master plan for how to create, post, and engage with social media content, surrounding the social content strategies, posting pace, social media marketing campaigns, and engagement plan.
An excellent social media strategy should be actionable and understand the customers helping the business converse with them about what they care about on their already engaged platforms. Having a strategy with a consumer-led insight at heart makes creating content and generation of conversations much easier.
For a Social Media Strategy to Work
Any successful social media strategy should, at the end of the day, help a business;
- Reduce costs or increase the customers’ and potential clients’ willingness to do business
- Establish strong relationships with potential customers and
- Strengthen already existing relationships and do more than advertise the business.
However, social media’s primary purpose is to help people connect and unwind from the day’s hard work, and a strategy that is plain business jargon may be a hard failure for the business. A good strategy should thus serve the company by reducing costs and increasing willingness to pay and serve the customers’ social needs to establish and strengthen relationships.
Therefore, for a social media strategy to work, a business owner can pursue any of the following ways:
- reduces costs by helping people meet
- increases the customers, willingness to pay by helping people meet
- reduces costs by assisting people in strengthening relationships
- increases the customers’ willingness to pay by helping people strengthen relationships
Why Have a Social Media Strategy?
As earlier mentioned, businesses are getting themselves involved in social media in droves; thus, choosing not to get actively involved puts one’s competitors on a pedestal. The choice to stay out of social media means that competitors get a higher potential customer chunk.
A business can also manage its brand’s reputation by knowing what people are saying. Most of these conversations are held on a social media platform, and it is therefore only sensible to be part of the wave to benefit from these conversations fully.
Below are some key reasons why a business needs an articulate social media strategy.
1. The use of social media is rising fast.
Globally, improved mobile connectivity increases social activity from catching up with friends and sharing content to watching videos. People in the current world spend more time on social media and consume more content than ever. However, this does not mean the space is congested. A business can create a social media strategy that will help it focus its energy on the right platforms to connect with existing and new customers while avoiding adding to the social media noise.
2. Social media influences purchase decisions.
The current era of social media has shifted its energy from audience building and engagement to focus on commerce and personalization. Every single social media platform has heavily invested in its advertisement solutions to lure marketers. Some of the promises made are smart targeting and improved Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Most social media users use their social media platforms with the thought of making purchases. In contrast, others tend to make purchasing decisions based on what they see on social media platforms. Recommendations especially peer recommendations and reviews, play a huge role in helping people decide what to buy. Thus, a good social strategy will encourage people to share and talk about the business and its products/services.
Social media platforms are not all the same; subtle differences can be used to a business’s advantage such that each plays its role in being a different part of the purchase cycle. Therefore, a company needs a good social media strategy to know what role each platform plays in one’s customers’ purchase cycle.
3. Lack of strategy gives competitors an upper hand.
A social media strategy gives a business a framework to plan, make priorities, execute the plan, measure its effectiveness and optimize the execution. The whole process usually leads to better results. Rather than being done haphazardly, the activities have a direction that may evolve or change as the business owner learns from the ground.
Investing in social media without a strategy results in a lack of knowledge on whether the social media campaigns are working. A lack of a structured approach to communication and measurement risks resource wastage. In the meantime, competitors who are working smart to engage customers based on clear goals, aims, and targets to get a measured performance get the upper hand.
4. Potential customers/clients are active social media users.
Current technology has created an atmosphere where people can access, use and share information on their terms using mobile devices and social media. Therefore, social media plays a role in customer communication since most people are constantly on one social media platform or another. However, how to reach a customer is crucial and thus needs a strategy since those play an essential role in updating a business’s customer service framework by factoring in social media interactions.
5. Every social media platform has key influencers.
Peer and influencer recommendations can spur a business several steps ahead. Social media influencers include celebrities and self-made social stars. These individuals who have high traffic on their social media handles can help enterprises to magnify their marketing messages.
6. Social media can build or break a business’s reputation.
Social media can help provide a voice to people and groups considered voiceless and struggling to be heard. It also makes material clear and portable. Consequently, it also magnifies the voices of discontent. Therefore, having an online presence can help a business magnify the good noise to help further build its brand and clean its name during controversies. Only a good social media strategy can help a business run a campaign that will ensure its reputation remains in the good books.
Before planning and executing a social media plan, one may need a number of tools to help in the process. These include;
- A calendar
- Curation tools to create content and fill gaps in the calendar
- Google Analytics to help in research
- In-app analytics to monitor performance in each platform
How to Create a Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy of its mettle should answer why a business wants to be on social media, who the target audience is, what will be shared, where/what platform it will be shared, and when. If a strategy can answer these questions and provide a measuring yardstick to check its performance, it can be considered great.
Therefore, to create a social media strategy, a business owner should:
1. Set goals that align with the business’s vision
When creating the social media strategy, the goals set answer why the business wants to be on social media. The goals will define the content strategy and the amount of time and energy needed to be dictated in the social media campaigns. Common goals that align with businesses of all shapes and sizes include:
- Increasing the brand’s awareness means getting the name of the business out there.
- Generate leads.
- To grow revenue by increasing sales.
- Grow the brand’s audience by bringing new followers into the fold.
- Boost brand engagement by exploring ways to keep current followers engaged.
- Increase traffic to the business’s website
- Increase press mentions
Picking out the best combination of goals may also advise a business on which social media platforms to take their campaigns. Too many objectives may confuse and muddle a strategy. It is thus desirable to stick to a manageable number at a time.
2. Research the target audience
After knowing why a business uses social media, the next step in creating the strategy is to answer who the target audience is. Research on who the target audience is can also advise a business on which platforms to capitalize on. Each forum attracts its audience. Demographic information and social media analytics tools exist to help companies to understand where the audience they need to reach is in plenty.
An excellent target audience research must be able to point out
- Who the audience is
- What interests they have that can be provided by the business
- Their favorite online platforms
- The times they search for the content of what the business provides
- Why they consume said content and how they consume it.
3. Curate engaging social content
Content is what is to be shared. The information on the target audience will help guide the kind of content to create and share. Cycling between content types such as memes, photos, videos, and user-generated content can be adopted as a content strategy. Personalization of content also makes a business stand out on social media. Other content strategies one may choose to put in their social media strategy include;
- Sticking to content themes that ensure that they are identified with one’s business brand and
- Sharing content with a human touch shows the business as a human and not just an emotionless entity.
A business can also carry out competitive analysis to ensure that its content stands out.
4. Select the platform to share
The social media platform a business chooses heavily relies on the goals set and the target audience. It is not necessary to be on all social media platforms. Still, it is advisable to be on the big four, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, because they are likely to show up on the first page of Google search results when the business brand is searched.
5. Make time an ally
Choosing the best times to post content is an added advantage for a social media strategy to work. Thus, when creating one, decide on the best times to engage, especially during hours when the business’s target audience is likely to be online. Posting to the time’s target audience is online makes engagement possible with the audience, making communication between the brand and the intended market fruitful.
Responding to queries and shout-outs from customers and prospective clients places the business in a better light because being present and talking to the audience makes the brand gain respect. Prioritizing social customer care is crucial to building audience awareness. Engagement with audiences, therefore, takes precedence. A company can adopt the use of Socialays to achieve this since the AI reads social media comments, categorizes them, and takes instant action, ensuring that nobody is left hanging.
6. Establish metrics and Key performance indicators
A successful social media strategy is data-driven, with social media metrics taken seriously. Some of the metrics incorporated into the social media strategy include reach, clicks, engagement, hashtag performance, organic and paid likes, and sentiments. These metrics can help a business keep track of how its social media campaign performs and whether the strategy is doing its intended work.
Continuous analysis and assessment of how the social media strategy is working using the metrics mentioned above can help the business know which content they should keep promoting and those they should change due to stalling.
Make your social media campaigns better by constantly improving your content. Monitoring the metrics behind every social media campaign in real-time make a small tweak to the social media strategy. A business should be diligent about its data to be reactive in the short term to get the most out of already running campaigns while proactively using the takeaway to inform the next major strategy.
There are several templates online that can guide one to create a good social media strategy. That said, this should not replace actual work or research. Being hands-on with the process makes the execution of the strategy much easier since one has all the specifics they need to make the plan leading to the execution possible.
But How Are You Going to Execute this Strategy?
With the business’s social media strategy, complete all information regarding why social media, the target audience, the type of content to be shared, the platform, the time to post content, and all assessment tools; the next step is execution. Executing the social media strategy to yield the desired results requires more than just establishing accounts on social media platforms. Some of the best practices to be mindful of to ensure perfect execution is:
1. Set up social media accounts
Establishing accounts on the social media platforms of choice is the first step to executing a social media strategy. Once the business accounts are open, one can ask people they know to follow them to start building a social media presence. In addition, one can also increase their social media presence by following existing and previous clients and businesses. Following influential users can also help to build connections.
2. Produce quality content
Posts created should be of great interest to the target audience. Self-serving posts may be detrimental to the business since people go on socials to interact mostly. So, the content shared should be engaging in a way that captures the audience without outrightly rubbing business on their face. Keep the information about the business to a minimum of twenty-five percent of the overall posting.
3. Post frequently
Regular posting ensures that content remains fresh and up to date with ongoing trends and news in the market. News gets stale too quickly on social media due to the constant flow of information. Keeping up with this flow keeps one’s business abridge with the ongoing issues.
4. Create an editorial calendar
Pre-plan and schedule content early by creating an editorial calendar. In addition, new content can be made to respond to the latest trends, news, and industry development.
5. Gauge performance
There exist many tools that can help one review their social media performance and progress. Tools such as Hootsuite can help a business monitor most social media platforms.
6. Polish performance
Reports on various metrics received from different tools and used to refine the social media strategy.
7. Watch Competitors
One may want to be in per with their competitors regarding the amount of content shared online because a competitor with a more online presence is likely to win the game by getting more customers, hence making more sales. They may even shift the concentration of a business’s online community due to their aggressiveness. It is therefore key to watch what the competitors are doing and do better.
8. Encourage sharing
Ensure that all the business’s blogs, websites, and email signatures contain the relevant social media buttons to follow the business’s social media handles with a simple click.
The execution of a social media plan requires time and effort. Social media may not cost much in cash except for the optional costs incurred in promotions and tracking tools. In addition, the time to execute, refine social media strategy, and meet business goals is where the real challenge lies. Patience and willingness to learn as time goes on are crucial.
Without a proper strategy, it is practically impossible to develop an executable plan to get the desired results. For this reason, it is key to pay close attention to every step made when creating a strategy. Investing in proper research on every avenue and the best possible courses of action will likely save one. The willingness to learn with the process can also help in improving one’s strategy.
The changing times bring with them new things, especially on social media platforms. The platforms are constantly changing into better and improved versions, which force people to upgrade the way they do things. The same applies to the creation of social media strategies. As social media platforms morph, business owners will have to evolve to ensure that results remain at their peak. Every day is a learning process, and besides the old ways, one can discover efficient ways to obtain results.