4 Steps to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you’re succeeding or failing. Every post, reply, like, and comment should serve a purpose.

The more specific your strategy is, the more effective the execution will be. Keep it concise. Don’t make your plan so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable or impossible to measure.

In this post, we’ll walk you through an eight-step plan to create a winning social media strategy of your own.

How to create a social media strategy

Step 1. Set social media marketing goals that align with business objectives

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure your success or your social media return on investment (ROI).

Each of your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

This is the SMART framework, and it’s an important way of making sure your goals actually lead to real business results, rather than just lofty ideals.

Track meaningful metrics

Keep in mind that while vanity metrics like retweets and likes are fun and easy to track, it’s hard to prove their real value for your business. Instead, focus instead on targets such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rate.

You may want to track different goals for different channels or even different uses of each channel. For example, Benefit Cosmetics focuses on achieving brand awareness through its paid social campaigns, but measures acquisition and engagement for organic social posts.

Make sure to align your social media goals with your overall marketing strategy. This will make it easier for you to show the value of your work and get executive buy-in and investment.

Start developing your social media marketing plan by writing down at least three social media goals.

Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience

Create audience personas

Knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social is key to creating content that they will like, comment on, and share. It’s also critical for planning how to develop your social media fans into customers for your business.

Try creating a customer avatar. These allow you to think of your potential fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs. And that will allow you to think more clearly about what to offer them.

Gather real-world data

Don’t make assumptions. For instance, you might instinctively think that Facebook is a better network for reaching Baby Boomers than Millennials, but the numbers show that Millennials still outnumber Boomers on the platform.

social media marketing

Social media analytics can also provide a ton of valuable information about who your followers are, where they live, which languages they speak, and how they interact with your brand on social. These insights allow you to refine your strategy and better target your social ads.

Jugnoo, an Uber-like service for auto-rickshaws in India, used Facebook Analytics to learn that 90 percent of their users who referred other customers were between 18- and 34-years-old, and 65 percent of that group was using Android. They used that information to target their ads, resulting in a 40 percent lower cost per referral.

Step 3. Research the competition

Odds are, your competitors are already using social media—and that means you can learn from what they’re already doing.

Conduct a competitive analysis

A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set some social media targets of your own.

This analysis will also help you spot opportunities. For example, maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the networks where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.

Engage in social listening

Social listening is another way to keep an eye on the competition.

As you track your competitors’ accounts and relevant industry keywords, you may notice strategic shifts in the way competitors use their social accounts. Or, you might spot a specific post or campaign that really hits the mark or totally bombs. Keep an eye on this information and use to it evaluate your own goals and plans.

Step 4. Conduct a social media audit

Evaluate your current efforts

If you’re already using social media tools, you need to take a step back and look at what you’ve already done and accomplished. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s working, and what’s not?
  • Who is connecting with you on social?
  • Which social media sites does your target market use?
  • How does your social media presence compare to that of your competitors?

Once you gather all this information in one place, you’ll have a good starting point for planning how to improve your results.

We also encourage you to check out our article on how to create your marketing plan.

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