How to create a social media strategy

Published: 01/09/2020

For business owners juggling countless responsibilities, one of the most important elements to not dropping any balls is staying organised, and a clear social media strategy is a great tool to help.

With 45 million active social media users in the UK in 2020, there’s no doubting the value it can provide to businesses when it comes to consumer engagement, so in this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of social media strategies and provide an eight-step plan to putting one together today. 

What is a social media strategy?

A social media strategy lays out how your business will utilize social media to achieve its goals, and includes:

  • Which platforms you’ll use,
  • What goals you want to achieve,
  • Your target outcomes, and
  • Measurable objectives.

With so many other elements involved in running a business, alongside the ever-growing options available on social, without a strategy it can be easy to end up with ‘analysis paralysis’ - leaving you trailing behind the competition.

Nail it and you’ll have a clear focus - setting you up for success.

Why do you need a social media strategy?

If you’re still sitting on the fence wondering whether creating a strategy is right for your business, here’s three more arguments for the value of a social media strategy:

1. The social web is continually growing

You could be forgiven for believing social media is already saturated with businesses vying for consumer attention - but you’d be wrong.

Social media adoption is growing year on year, and while it used to be seen as a platform for younger generations, older age groups have begun to adopt usage at a rapid rate.

When it comes to shopping on social, a recent study found 59% of active users use the sites to make purchases, and 83% to compare their options - so creating a steadfast social strategy will help you focus on connecting with new and existing customers.

2. Social media influences purchasing decisions

All the major social platforms have ploughed substantial investments into their advertising capabilities, and it’s reflected in consumer behaviour.

40% of social users admit to actively using the platforms to influence their next purchase and nearly half use the platforms when considering a purchase.

So, without a strategy, you could be losing out on potential sales. 

3. Your competition probably has a strategy

...and that could hand them the advantage over you. A business with a strategy is arming themself with a framework through which to execute and optimise their social media presence to its full capability.

Without one, you won’t know whether your efforts have had their desired effect since you haven’t outlined what your desired outcomes look like. 

Without a strategy, you put yourself at risk of wasting your resources on fruitless activities while your rival reaps the rewards of a smarter approach.

Creating a social media strategy in 8 steps

1. Set SMART goals

To develop a winning strategy the first step is to create objectives and goals on which you can measure your success and the SMART framework is a simple way to do just that.

Specific - be clear about exactly what is it you want to achieve.

Measurable - if you can’t measure the outcome, how will you know if you’ve achieved it?

Attainable - don’t set yourself unrealistic or unachievable goals.

Relevant - align your goals to your specific business, industry, and customer needs.

Time-bound - set yourself a time-scale to maintain focus.

 

Here’s an example to get you started:

“We will use Facebook to provide customer support and our aim is to reduce our average response rate to below three hours by the end of October.”

Top tip: don’t fall into the trap of tracking vanity metrics such as likes and number of followers since they don’t necessarily lead to any real value. Instead, focus your attention on metrics like click-through rates and conversions which actually impact success.

2. Social media audit

Already on social? Then now’s the time to take stock of how you’re performing:

  • What’s worked well for you so far?
  • Has anything totally bombed?
  • Who’s engaging with your business?
  • Which platforms are your target audience most prevalent on?
  • How do your efforts compare to your competition?

During the audit process work out what benefits you’re gaining from each social platform - and if one in particular isn’t pulling its weight, consider letting it go. You might be able to work this out by asking yourself:

  • Does my target audience use this platform?
  • Am I seeing engagement here?
  • Can this platform be used to help me achieve my business goals?

Cutting the wheat from the chaff will help keep your strategy focused and successful. 

3. Audience awareness

In order to create content on social that leads to consumer engagement, you need to know who your audience is and what they want to see - after all, the aim of the game for businesses on social is to turn your followers into customers.

Map out your target customers - sometimes referred to as creating a persona - and find out information like their:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Typical job title
  • Average income
  • Interests, etc.

Armed with this information you’ll be able to target and engage with your followers successfully.

Remember: Don’t make assumptions. You might think you know who your target customer is, but without doing the work you could end up barking up the wrong tree. Make use of social media analytics tools which will provide heaps of useful data on your audience. 

4. Competitor analysis

Competitive analysis involves finding out who your competition is, what they’re doing right (and possibly wrong), and using this information to your advantage. Getting a feel for your industry’s efforts as a whole will help you set your own targets.

Look out for possible opportunities - for example, is your main rival super active on Twitter but not so much on Facebook? Then focus your efforts on the platform your audience is currently being neglected on and get yourself noticed.

Social listening is a great tool to use when scoping out the competition, and it’s the simple act of keeping an eye on your market’s activity and making note of any campaigns that are successful - or a total flop - and then using this info to inform and boost your own strategy. 

5. Decide which platforms to use

Armed with all the above information, it’s time to decide which social platforms to use and define your strategy for each. For example, some businesses choose to focus on one platform in particular for customer service, and another for images and videos. 

Top tip: for help deciding which social platform is best for your business head here

To really nail this down in your strategy it’s a great idea to write down a statement of intent for each platform, for example:

#1: “We will use Instagram Stories to share tutorials of our products and boost customer engagement”

#2: “We will use Facebook for customer support to keep email communications down”.

Once you’ve honed in on which platforms you’re going to use, it’s time to either create your accounts or improve the ones you already have. Here are our top tips for nailing it:

  • Be sure to fill out all the profile fields available
  • Include any keywords potential customers might use when searching for your business
  • Consistent branding is key - this includes logos, tone of voice, imagery, typography, etc. 

Remember: the last thing you want to do is spread yourself too thin. Quality is always better than quantity, so using fewer channels but maintaining a strong presence is always preferable. 

6. Get inspired

While you want to be unique and stand out from the crowd, it doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration from other companies who’re at the top of their social game. 

A great way of doing this on Facebook is by looking at their Awards page which details the accounts which have nailed their social media presence - and looking at what they’ve done to deserve a nomination.

It’s not just Facebook, most of the leading platforms have a business page on which you’ll find similar information. Other ways to get inspired include:

  1. When using social platforms yourself, be mindful of which pages really pique your interest and ask yourself why? What are they doing well? What are you enjoying about their page?
  2. Ask your customers! It might sound obvious, but there’s no better way of finding out what’s hot and what’s not than straight from the horse’s mouth. You might be surprised to find they’re more than happy to share their opinions.

7. Develop a content calendar

We all know life as a business owner is hectic, and it’s not uncommon for social media posts to fall to the bottom of a hefty to-do list, so creating a content calendar is a great way to prevent this from happening.

Your content calendar should achieve three things:

  1. Your posting schedule - how often you’ll post, at what time of day, on which days of the week, and on which channels.
  2. The type of content you’ll post - this should be a reflection of your business goals and could be a mix of various content types with different aims. For example, posts to drive traffic to your site, to inform, educate and entertain, for lead generation, customer engagement, etc.
  3. Determining the amount of time you’ll spend on customer interaction - it’s super important you don’t miss out on opportunities to interact and engage with your followers and customers on social.

Remember: By shaking it up and including different types of content in your calendar you can be confident you’ll achieve a healthy mix.

8. Analyse and adapt

Once you start to implement your strategy it’s super important you don’t let all your hard work go to waste by letting it go stale.

Track the results of your efforts: 

  • Did you achieve your goals? 
  • Have you learned any valuable lessons?
  • How can you improve?
  • What went well and why?
  • What went wrong and why?

It’s also important to keep on top of your competitor analysis and audience awareness. Because consumer desires regularly evolve, you need to stay on your A-game to meet their needs. 

Remember: Social media moves fast too, so keep an eye out for any changes in regulations and algorithms to ensure your efforts are as successful as they can be. 

Your social media strategy, just like your business, is a living thing that should grow with you. Regular evaluation and maintenance is the key to success.

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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