9 Simple Steps to Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy by @lisabuyer

If you don’t have a social media strategy, you aren’t alone.

According to a recent survey, 50 percent of businesses admit to not having a documented social media strategy.

State of Social Survey Question - Does Your Company Have a Documented Social Media Strategy?

Uh oh?

Yes! Without a strategy, you are gambling.

Purposeful and strategic usually wins the social media game.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an effective social media strategy.

1. Write an Executive Summary

Start your strategy with an executive summary.

This should be a one-pager, succinctly and clearly identifying your social media purpose and how it ties into your current business goals and objectives.

Establish the primary goal and specific objectives you are trying to achieve. Be sure to identify a channel focus and avoid trying to be all things to all social media platform.

Benchmark and include measurable outcomes to assure all players are defining success with the same expectations. Larger goals need granular objectives.

Example: Grow your Instagram audience by 20 percent.

2. Do a Social Media Audit

Keeping your friends close but your enemies closer is a smart way to stay ahead of the competition.

Start by conducting a social media audit of your brand’s social channels compared to two or three competitors. You can even pick a non-competing brand to use for inspiration and aspiration.

For example Zappos, Starbucks, Cisco, Buffer and Red Bull are known for their social media savviness. It’s helpful to go beyond the borders of your industry and see check out what’s working.

Compare types of content, engagement, frequency, audience size, visuals, video use, tone, and customer service messaging. How’s the response rate?

Other factors to compare and note include:

  • Emoji use
  • Facebook Messenger, chatbots and artificial intelligence
  • Keywords and hashtags
  • Third-party content
  • Online branded search results
  • Reviews

Both small and large businesses see engagement as the number one way to measure ROI of social media advertising according to the State of Social 2018 report by Buffer and Social Media Today.

What exactly is engagement getting you? Log into Google Analytics and check out your social media acquisition reports. How’s the session quality and page views?

3. Zero in on Social Media Objectives

Focus Pocus.

Let’s do a quick review of the difference between goals, strategy, objectives, and tasks – also known as G’SOT.

  • Goals: These are your broad social media outcomes.
  • Strategy: The approach you will take to accomplish your goal.
  • Objectives: These are measurable steps you will take to achieve the strategy.
  • Tactics: These are the tools or tasks used in pursuing an objective related to a strategy.

Examples:

  • Goal: Make our book the #1 best-seller in the health and wellness category.
  • Strategy: Increase the amount of content we publish on social channels supporting the book’s topics, ideas, and opinions.
  • Objective: Increase unique visitors from social channels to the book’s website by 50 percent.
  • Tactic: Through the use of health and wellness influencers, leverage the exposure with branded hashtags and behind the scenes content using Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and Twitter.

4. Develop Buyer Personas

If 50 percent of brands lack a documented social media strategy the number of brands having defined buyer personas must be significantly greater.

Brands need personas.

Marketers preach the value of personas, but when it comes down to investing the time and effort into building and using personas? Crickets.

The good news: the lack of buyer personas makes for a huge opportunity if your competition is missing the persona step.

Buyer personas + social media = a winning formula.

The results mean big wins in increased:

  • Conversions.
  • Relevance scores.
  • Engagement.
  • Efficiencies across the board.

Getting your persona started is a must!

Start with these buyer persona hacks and get to know your buyers.

#SocialPRSecret: In his book “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design”, digital analyst Brian Solis had this to say:

“You want to create personas for the people who buy from you today as well as for those who don’t, whom you’re targeting. The research that goes into the accurate portrayal of current and potential customers and their behaviors should be a combination of demographic, psychographic, and ethnographic.”

When creating your buyer personas, don’t forget to include your media, blogger, and influencers as personas.

The media is your target audience, too! Make them real people with real interests and real lives. You might relate to them more.

5. Find Your Brand Persona

Every brand needs a voice, personality, and sense of character.

Think about what adjectives describe your brand.

Are you fun, playful, or coy?

Maybe your brand is serious, straight-laced, and emoji-free?

Make a list of how you want to be perceived when interacting with a brand. Are you supporting and encouraging or sensational and bold?

In 2009, when social media was just heating up, best-selling author and PR icon Aliza Licht played the persona behind the famous (and now defunct) @DKNYPRGirl.

Of the experience, Licht said:

“Before any other fashion brand had stepped into the social game, I created an anonymous Twitter personality called DKNY PR GIRL. DKNY PR GIRL pioneered authentic voices in social media and ultimately captivated the attention of 1.5 million people around the world across platforms. In 2011, I revealed myself as the person behind the handle, which resulted in over 230 million global impressions, including a full-page feature in The New York Times.”

DKNY PR Girl persona

Licht’s persona behind the DKNY PR GIRL netted some nice gains for her personal brand.

“Over six years, my DKNY PR GIRL persona resulted in many awards, a TED talk, and a book deal. “Leave Your Mark” was published in 2015 and has successfully mentored thousands of professionals around the world.”

7. Establish Strategies & Tools

This is where you figure out how you slice up the paid, earned, and owned category.

Social paid is a must – and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Maybe the combo looks something like this:

Paid

Increase your results and once  a week boost a featured Facebook post. According to Joe Youngblood, wait a few days before boosting a Facebook post. Let it publish organically and then boost.

Owned

Introduce a branded hashtag and start using across social platforms. Publicize in bios and posts.

Encourage influencers to use the hashtag. Promote hashtag across social platforms, emails, ads and even social media covers and captions.

Earned

Monitor social media for branded keywords and targeted keyword phrases. Twitter is primed with journalists, blogger, and real time influencers. Find the conversations and engage.

Warning: This type of activity has been known to cause positive outcomes in media coverage, shares, and engagement.

#SocialPRSecret: You can’t buy good PR and you can’t hide from negative PR. Earn the positive first so you can own more positive search and social results.

Tools

I like Canva, she likes Spark, they like Hootsuite, we like Buffer. The CEO’s son wants to know why you don’t have a Snapchat geo filter.

Having 50 million tools fragmented across your social media team is no fun and not efficient. That’s a slight exaggeration, the point is to have an approved list of tools and platforms.

Everyone needs to be using the same social media management tools and platforms.

8. Make Your Mark: Timing & Dates

Timing is everything! One day late is a dollar lost.

In social media, you need to show up to the party early and never late. This means researching industry dates for conference and events. Look up tie-ins to seasons, days or official months.)

Make sure your reporting is efficient and on point for the right analysis.

The CEO gets the one-pager, the CMO gets the two-pager, sales gets the sales connection report, and the analysts get the full 10-pager.

Match the report with the right persona and what they care about most.

Figure out internal dates, external dates, and reporting dates.

  • Internal: Check out conferences, workshops, team meetings, marketing reports in your industry. Don’t forget the hashtags!
  • External: Look at seasons, themes, events and trending news to tie into your social media content.

#SocialPRSecret: From Pineapple Day to World Productivity Day, never miss a day! Check out Days of the Year and keep your editorial calendar filled with the most interesting events, festivals, and weird holidays. And bookmark this SEJ article to further help your editorial calendar: You Need This 2018 Marketing Calendar & Free Template!

9. Measure What Matters

Measuring what matters is the key to social media strategy sanity and success.

Every network has its own version of analytics. It’s easy to spend infinite time running reports. Make sure you are circling back to those measurable objectives.

Look at both quantitative for the hard numbers and qualitative for the sentiment and intent.

  • Quantitative examples can be website sessions, number of email sign-ups, impressions, and social network data.
  • Qualitative examples include sentiment such as positive reviews or comments on social messaging. For example, did you raise prices on the menu and have complaints on its Facebook Page?

Quantitative tells what happened and qualitative can usually tell the “why.” For instance, you have a positive feature story in Mashable with a link to your company website which caused a spike in website visits.

Conclusion

After following all of these steps, what’s next?

You might find yourself in a different direction as a result of your new social media strategy process.

Maybe you will continue your hashtag campaign and even add more budget.

#SocialPRSecret: After accessing your reports and progress, create a proposed action plan including next steps. Provide analysis and recommendations interpreting your findings.

While it’s important to have a documented social media strategy, it’s more important to make sure the plan is fluid and flexible.

Keep the social in social media by staying engaged and in the conversation. The strategy will follow, flow, and fill.

More Social Media Marketing Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Unsplash
In-Post Image #1: Buffer State of Social 2018
In-Post Image #2: X: The Experience When Business Meets Design
Screenshot taken by author, June 2018

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