Social media has transformed the way we live, from communicating with friends and family to checking the news. And it can transform your business marketing efforts too, with 57.5% of people more likely to buy from companies they follow on social media.
Any modern business of any size needs a presence on social media. And to fully take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media, you need a social media strategy—a plan for what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.
From outlining your social media goals to producing and publishing winning content and engaging with customers online, a social media strategy includes guidelines for all social activities.
So, if you’re new to using social media for business and want some tips, here are 9 ways to enhance your social media strategy and create a plan that makes the most of this potentially transformative marketing tool.
Set the Right Goals
Goals give us direction and focus. In fact, marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success. But, while being ambitious is important, you don’t want to be unrealistic about what you can achieve on social media.
Instead, set pragmatic targets that are attainable and in line with your business objectives, whether that’s driving sales or improving customer retention.
Ensure your goals are specific and measurable i.e. reaching 3,000 likes or 5,000 Instagram followers. They should also have a clear deadline. For example, using Twitter to reduce calls to customer support by 25% in three months.
Clear goals allow you to analyse your social data and find demonstrable evidence that your marketing efforts are working, enabling you to measure your ROI (return on investment) and justify any spending on social media marketing.
Understand Your Audience
Marketing anything is impossible unless you know who you’re marketing it to. That includes social media. If you know who your audience is, then you can tailor your content to deliberately increase engagement.
Social media analytics is the best way to research your target audience. You could also check forums or ask customers what they’re interested indirectly, via a survey in an email or social media link.
You might ask questions such as “What brought you to our Facebook page? What would you like to see more of on our Instagram feed?”
Try to determine the following:
- How old is your target customer?
- Where are they based?
- What’s their favourite social media platform?
- What’s their job and/or socioeconomic status?
- What kind of content are they most interested in?
- When are they active on social media?
- What questions are they asking?
- What problems are they encountering?
You can also use tools like Awario to conduct social listening—tracking conversations around your brand and niche, monitoring keywords and mentions of your company and competitors across the web to understand what people want, need, and expect from you on social media.
Different platforms are more popular among different demographics. For example, Instagram and TikTok are mostly used by Millennials or Generation Z consumers, while women are bigger fans of Pinterest than men. Facebook is used by almost everybody and LinkedIn drives 80% of social media B2B leads.
You don’t have to be active on every social media platform. Be realistic about your workload and resources. Choose platforms that are popular among your target audience and that are easy for you to use successfully. For example, if you don’t have the resources or skills to create attractive and professional-looking images, Instagram might not be the platform for you.
Check Out the Competition
Rival businesses will be targeting the same people as you on social media, and so looking at what they’re doing and how they’re doing it can provide valuable insights.
Analyse the social media accounts of your competitors:
- What kind of messages are they posting?
- What kind of content has the highest engagement?
- What time of day do they post?
- How regularly do they post?
- Where are your competitors succeeding?
- Where are they failing?
- Could you fill their gaps with your own social media marketing initiatives?
Maintain Your Brand Voice
Brand voice is essential to communicating what you stand for and what makes you special. Your brand voice is essentially the personality of your brand and it should be consistent across all channels.
For example, if you’re fun and playful on Instagram, use the same informal style on Twitter. Otherwise, people may become confused. Your visual content should also be recognisable. Images on Instagram or Pinterest should have a similar style, whether that’s the same colour palette or filter, or the same subject matter.
Captions should also be written in the same way. Establish basic guidelines that you always follow, such as whether emojis or slang are allowed or not.
Similarly, what’s your rule for hashtags? Using a trending hashtag can help you reach a wider audience, but you don’t want to overdo it. Hashtags should be short, simple, and relevant. Use no more than two and keep them consistent across your social media channels.
Don’t Compromise on Quality
Visual media dominates on social. But this makes it even more important that any writing that you do publish is flawless. After all, typos are more obvious when the post is only 280 characters long.
Make use of classic copywriting techniques, including strong action verbs, short and snappy sentences, and direct addresses to your audience. Try to articulate one of their unique pain points, followed by the solution you can offer. For example, “Struggling to find a Valentine’s Day gift for your significant other? We’ve got you covered with our February 14th sale.”
Image quality is also important, especially on visual-first platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Only publish professional-looking photos and follow the size specifications for each social media platform.
Don’t limit yourself to just photos. You can also use GIFs or make your own infographics using tools like Canva.
Consider Paid Promotion
Organic customer engagement—social media activity that you don’t pay for—is hard to generate, even for the biggest brands. Therefore, the best social media strategies involve a combination of organic and paid social, with many companies using targeted ads or sponsored posts.
Paid social ads are unobtrusive and appear almost like organic posts. CPC (cost-per-click) is the most popular, whereby companies pay for each click on their ads. These ads target people based on their interests, and customers are more likely to engage with ads that feel relevant.
Facebook targeted ads, for example, allow you to advertise to particular people based on everything from age and household income to purchasing behaviour and life events such as getting married.
That said, the more specific your targeting, the smaller the number of people you can reach, minimizing the overall impact of your campaign.
Create a Social Media Content Calendar
Social media content should be posted regularly and consistently. Ensure you always have something to share or say—but, equally, that you’re not sharing or talking too much.
You want a clear content schedule, including how often you’ll post on each particular channel. A content calendar can also be used to delegate different jobs to different people, as well as to plan content to coincide with popular festivals or events.
Create a good balance of content, from promotional materials telling followers about sales and deals to more educational posts. This will form part of your more general content strategy.
According to a report by Sprout Social, while 86% of social media users follow a brand, nearly 60% of them are annoyed by too many promotions. A good rule of thumb is 80% informational or entertainment content, and 20% promotional content.
Short-form video is increasingly popular thanks to TikTok and Instagram Reels and is great at driving engagement. Social media stories—videos that appear separately to your feed, available for just 24 hours—give your followers behind-the-scenes insights into your company, helping to build a connection with them.
Use software such as CoSchedule to schedule social media posts to be published automatically.
As for the best time to post? This depends on when your audience is generally active online.
However, if this is the evening and if no one on your team is available to respond to comments or messages at this time, then posting in the evening is pointless. You need to be available to actively engage with customers, so try to find a happy medium between their availability and yours.
As well as driving engagement and sales, social media platforms today are used as customer service channels, allowing customers to contact companies quickly and easily. According to McKinsey & Co., social media customer service can reduce cost per contact by as much as 83%.
People might message you on social with a problem, to ask for more information about a product, or to give feedback. If a follower asks a question or gives you a shout-out, engage with them as soon as possible. This is an ideal opportunity to prove yourself as a brand and gain trust and respect.
You can also use social listening to see what customers are saying about your brand and respond proactively wherever you can. Use tools like Google Alerts or Mention to check for conversations about your brand and resolve problems before people have even reached out.
Create templates for commonly asked questions to speed up replies. And you might also consider setting up a dedicated social media account for customer service queries so they can go straight to your customer service department rather than via the marketing team.
Regularly Evaluate How You’re Doing
You won’t get your social media strategy right the first time, so be prepared to modify and adjust as necessary.
The biggest social media networks all offer analytics with useful data on your audience and performance to help you evaluate your social media strategy. Keep an eye on metrics to see how you’re doing, where you’re falling short, and how you could improve.
Important metrics to follow include:
- Volume – how many people are talking about your brand? Facebook’s ‘People Talking About This’ is a good way to monitor volume.
- Reach – how many people are seeing your posts? How far is your content spreading? This will help you estimate your potential audience size.
- Clicks – how many people are clicking on your content? What sparks people’s interest or encourages them to click?
- Engagement – who’s sharing your content? Who’s replying to your content? What kind of content gets the most engagement?
Adopt a trial-and-error mindset. Social media and trends are constantly evolving. What works one year might not work the following.
Social Media Strategy: The Nuts and Bolts
Creating an effective and successful social media strategy isn’t simply a question of creating a profile and hoping for the best. You need to make social media work for you.
This means creating a social media strategy that has clear goals and an understanding of different platforms. It’s about looking at the bigger picture—at your social activity as a whole, not the significance and success of one individual Facebook post.
Most importantly, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one company might not work for you.
Ultimately, social media is all about connection. To connect with followers and customers, you need to listen to them. Learn what your audience is looking for and create content that speaks directly to them.