How To Build a Top-Notch Social Media Strategy

Brittany Currieby Brittany Currie

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A lot of people have the misconception that social media is not for them or their business – that social media is a place where teenagers rule, where Kim Kardashian posts her selfies, or where you can find people you went to high school with. And those things are true, but social media is also so much more.

kim selfie

Think about this: over 1 billion people use Facebook every month, 500,000 people use Twitter every month, and over 5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every hour. In today’s technology-connected world, you want to reach people where they are – which means using social media networks.

By using these platforms, you can help increase your visibility, customers, profits, and more, but only if you are using them correctly. So, how do you do that? With a top notch strategy.

1. Decide on Your Objectives

Every plan that you put in place should have an objective behind it. Social media should be no different. What is the purpose behind your use of social media? There are several common reasons:

  •            Attract new customers.
  •            Establish new relationships.
  •            Engage with previous customers.
  •            Help build brand awareness.
  •            Become thought leaders in your industry.

Once you have nailed down the reason that you want to use social media, then you need to decide on the objectives of those reasons. You want to pick objectives that are tied to your business goals. Say you want to attract new customers – then your objective should be something like “increase new likes by 65% across all platforms over a four-month time span.” Or maybe you want to improve your brand awareness – then your objective could be “gain 10,000 mentions on all platforms over a four-month time span.”

One important part of your objectives is that they need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. There is no point in saying that you want to gain 1 million Twitter followers within 2 months. It’s most likely not going to happen (but technically is not impossible). The point of SMART goals is so that you have real, set-out goals that you can not only achieve, but measure. However, be aware of your goals and objectives – you don’t want to have thirty different objectives you are trying to meet in a four-month window. Ideally, you should focus on one or two; any more than that and you are going to spread yourself out too thin, and then you get nothing accomplished

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is one of the most important tools that you can have in your arsenal. Let’s say that you own a clothing company that sells clothes for teenage girls and young women. If that is your target audience, then you need to understand them and how to reach them. In this example, you might find that teenage girls and young women engage mostly on Instagram and Pinterest. Therefore, you would want to concentrate more of your social media efforts on those two sites rather than Twitter or Google+.

When making your social media strategy, you really want to sit down and look at your target market – their demographics, their engagement behavior, their buying behavior, etc. One great way to do this is to create buyer personas – or a detailed list of the kind of people your ideal customers would be. Here are some sample questions you can ask:

  •             What gender are your ideal customers?
  •             How old are they?
  •             Where do they live?
  •             What do they do as a career?
  •             What is their income?
  •             Are they married?
  •             Do they have kids?
  •             What do they do in their spare time?
  •             What do they like or dislike?

3. Find Your Voice

find your voice

After you know a little more about your objectives and your target audience, you need to think about what type of personality, or voice, you want your company to have in order to best reach your audience and obtain your goals. For example, if you are a clothing company selling clothes to young women, you are going to want a fun and trendy personality and voice that appeals to them. On the other hand, if you are a doctor’s office, you probably want to have a more professional and established voice.

When deciding what type of voice you want your company to have, ask yourself:

  •            What is special about your company?
  •            What is unique about how you run your company?
  •            What is special about the products or services that you offer?
  •            What is your company culture like?
  •            What is the feel in your office between your employees?
  •            How do you want others to perceive your company?

These questions should help you come up with a few keywords that you could use to describe your business. Then use those keywords to help find your voice. In the end, no one can decide what type of voice you should have. I can’t tell you that – it is something that you have to decide for yourself. And there is no right answer – as long as your voice represents your company’s goals and culture, then you are on the right path.

4. Conduct an Audit

audit

Before you can start planning where you want your social media to go, you need to see where you’ve been and where you are currently. One of the best ways to do this is through an audit. Don’t let that word scare you – it doesn’t have to be something that takes hours, and which is full of numbers and statics. You basically just want to take into account what you’ve been doing and how it has been received.

Take it platform by platform. Check out what type of content you have been posting on there. How has the content been doing – are you getting likes or engagement on it? Does the content that you have been posting accurately reflect your company or your product? Does the content fit with your company culture? Does it work to help you achieve your goals? If you answered no, then you know the things that you need to change.

You also want to look at the big picture across platforms. If you go through your audit, and you see that you are spending a lot of time and effort on Twitter, but you are getting the most engagement on Facebook, that should be something that you take into consideration when you are planning out your new strategy.

One last thing for your audit: Don’t just look at your company; look at your competition, too. Your competition can give you a lot of information. After all, they are targeting the exact same people you are. See what platforms they are on and which seems to be working well for them. Also, make sure you look at their content – is it funny, or serious? Do they use more images, or editorial content?  By looking into what they are doing, you can take note of what has been successful for them, and what hasn’t worked so well, and incorporate that information into your plan.

5. Choose Your Platforms

Whether you realize it or not, there are a ton of different social media platforms out there. Here are just a few: Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Swarm, Kik, Yik Yak, Shots, Periscope, Medium, Soundcloud, Tinder, WhatsApp, Slack, MySpace, Peach, Blab, Friender, Vimeo, Buffer, Delicious, Digg, Path, StumbleUpon … We could keep going, but we will end it there.

After you learn more about your target audience – what platforms they are on – and what has worked best for you – and your competitors – you should have a better understanding of what social platforms that you should use. These are the most popular and generally do the best:

  • Facebook: An online social media network that helps to connect people and organizations with those who engage around them. Used to keep up with friends, share photos and videos, share links, and learn more about organizations.
  • Twitter: An online social media network that is considered to be a “micro-blogging” platform. It allows its users to send tweets, or 140-character messages. Twitter is used to share pictures, links, news, personal information, and more.
  • LinkedIn: A business-oriented online social media network that allows the users to connect with contacts and strengthen their networking.
  •  Google+: An online social media network created by Google that integrates with YouTube, Gmail, and other Google services. Users use the network to connect with each other via Circles and conversations.
  • Instagram: A photo sharing network where users upload their photos from their phone or tablet, and are then able to apply image filters through the app itself. The photos are then shared on the network, and users have the ability to share them on other popular social platforms.
  •  YouTube: A video sharing platform that allows users to upload, watch, and share videos, as well as engaging with other’s content.
  • Pinterest: An online social platform, favored by women, that allows users to store information via pins from any website onto their account via boards. Common board topics include fashion, home décor, recipes, weddings, and crafts.

6. Choose Your Content

After you have chosen what platforms that you are going to use, you then need content to fill them with. So, how do you find the right content? Well, let’s start with that social media audit that you did. What type of content has worked well for you in the past? If images have done really well, then you want to make sure that you keep those up. If articles have performed better, then you want to use more articles.

Basically, you want to find the holy grail of content – what you are really good at, but what is also in demand for your industry and your audience. You want to make sure that your topics best represent your company and what you want to be known for, but at the same time keep it relevant to your followers.

My top tips for selecting content is to make sure that you have a little spice in there. Even if articles work best for you, you don’t want it to just be articles. Add a little variety in there – mix it up. I try to follow a 4:1 rule. For every 4 types of posts that we use, we throw one different type in there, just to break up the monotony of it and add some extra flair.

7. Make Yourself a Spreadsheet

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.16.13 AM

The one thing that will be your absolute lifesaver when doing social media is what I like to call an editorial calendar – or, basically, an Excel spreadsheet with everything you are going to post laid out and organized for the next couple of weeks.

There is absolutely no way that you can keep up with everything you want to post across the several platforms without some sort of document that has it stored in it. An Excel spreadsheet gives you the ability to include what platforms you want to post to, what you are posting, and when you are going to post it.

8. Automate

Some people claim that social media automation is the devil, but I’m here to tell you that it’s just not true – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. After you’ve created your editorial calendar, you should have a good idea of what you are posting when, but are you going to remember to post on each platform every single day? Maybe, but the chances are that you are going to forget every now and then. By scheduling your posts ahead of time, you don’t have to worry about forgetting, because your scheduler is going to remember for you. Our top recommendation for automating your posts is to use Hootsuite, which is a social media management system that supports most of the common network. With an easy-to-use interface, scheduling all of your posts is simple and can take a lot of stress off of you.

9. Engage

Your content is out there. Your audience should be seeing it and starting to react to it. Now is your time to shine. It isn’t enough to just throw content out there – you have to engage with it and your audience. Head over to each of your platforms and see how your content is doing – are people liking it, are they commenting on it, are they talking about you? – and then react back to them. Tweet back to the users who are tweeting to you, or comment back on Facebook. If people are taking the time to engage with you, you should try to do the same. You might be surprised how many fans you can get by just engaging on social media.

10. Analyze

Analyzing your data is one of the most fun parts of social media, but it is, without a doubt, one of the most important. You have to look back and see how your campaign has done. One of the many perks of Facebook is the incredible Insights Page that they have worked into business pages. You can find out how many people you have reached, how many likes you have, where your likes are coming from, etc. Twitter also has a similar analytics page, and, if you are using Hootsuite, you should be able to access some data from them, as well.

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