How to Create An Effective Social Media Strategy

Social media. You know everyone is doing it, you know your business should, but you don’t know where to start. If you’re my age (37), you might also remember a simpler time…I was fresh out of high school, and there was one blissful year of owning a gigantic (non-smart) cellphone, which I really just used to call my parents, and no popular social media platform sweeping my social existence. At that time, even text messaging had barely made its first mainstream appearance. Then everything changed.

One year later: Friendster. One year after that: MySpace. And the ball never stopped rolling.  The history of social media is actually pretty fascinating, and VampBrand has a great infographic if you’re interested.

The reality now is that social media is part of our culture and a way of communication, and we simply can’t ignore it. The great news: from a marketing standpoint it can be really fun, enlightening, and it will transform how you listen and talk to your customers.

Why is a social media strategy important?

The statistical argument for getting onto social platforms is overwhelming and compelling. Here are some fun facts from Pew Research:

  • 90% of adults between 18 and 29 use at least one social media platform
  • It’s 82% for adults between 30 and 49
  • And roughly 55% for adults over 55
  • All together, that’s about half our population
  • The dominating social media sites are Facebook and Youtube, followed by Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat
  • Most participating adults are on these sites weekly, if not daily

Based on that, we know most of our target audience is out there and active on at least one social media platform, and we can’t afford to miss out. Oberlo also has a great set of statistics and compelling information around social media proliferation.

On top of the fact that your customer base is most likely to be actively engaged on social platforms, we know that between 80% and 90% of businesses use social media marketing in one form or another. That means your competition is doing it, and it also means your B2B network is engaged. It’s time to get in the game!

What is a social media strategy?

Creating a social media strategy isn’t too different from embarking on any digital marketing strategy. You need clear goals, and a set of strategies to meet them.  When it comes to social media specifically, you have the added task of figuring out:

  • Which of your target audiences are on which platform
  • Which of those platforms you want to engage on
  • And how you want to engage

The links and statistics I provided above will help you answer the first two questions. Keep reading to find out more about the third.

What Are You Hoping to Achieve?

Before developing  any marketing strategy, it’s best to start with your goals.  Ideally your goals will be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).

The basic questions you want to ask yourself are:

  1. Why social media?
  2. How will this add to our current marketing strategies?
  3. How will this move our business forward? 

Here are some of the most common reasons companies choose to engage in social media, and they apply to most digital marketing tactics:

  • Build your brand voice and personality
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Engage with your audience and community
  • Drive sales and leads
  • Increase traffic to your site and/or landing pages
  • Be more competitive in your market

Once you’ve established your reasoning and motivation, you can set more specific goals.

Choosing Which Social Media Platforms to Use & How to Use Them

This is a big one. Choosing the right platform for your business will depend on where your audience and customers are, how you want to engage, what your brand voice is, where your competitors are, and what resources you have to put into your social media marketing efforts. 

  • We’ve covered some pretty key information about where your customers are engaged. 
  • If you want to find out about your competition, start doing some Google searches, and go to your competitors’ websites – they’ll probably have social media badges for each platform they use. Stalk them on those platforms.
  • When it comes to resources, this means budget, assets (brand assets, videos, photography, designs, etc.), content or the ability to create it, employee/team expertise, and time.

Your bank of resources will largely determine your next steps. If you have time, money, and in-house team capacity to put toward a social media strategy, then you’re in a good position to tackle a whole number of marketing tactics! You’re also lucky and probably not the norm. If you’re in need of some outside assistance, you have a ton of options. And hey, did I mention that Intuitive Digital does Social Media Marketing? Just saying….

Like all digital marketing, social media platforms offer paid and non-paid ways to get in the game. 

Social Media Marketing – Non-paid

This is also referred to as organic social media, and it covers everything from daily social posts to social contests, to content marketing. It’s the pillar for community-building, community engagement, and community management. It’s how you’ll have a conversation with your target audience, and it’s an excellent way to learn more about them. Here are some examples of organic social media:

  • Posting on social platforms
  • Responding to comments/questions
  • Engaging in community discussions
  • Linking to content
  • Requesting reviews
  • Sharing posts

Social Media Ads – Paid Marketing Marketing

This is the pay-to-play option. This is a great choice if you don’t currently have a social following or really know where to begin. Each social media platform offers different forms of advertising, different capabilities, and different targeting options, but each platform will curate an existing audience of their users based on your target audience criteria. Some common examples of paid social media tactics include:

  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Sponsored content
  • Promoted content
  • Using influencers
  • Retargeting/remarketing

The most successful social media strategies will include a solid integration of both organic/free and paid media. 

Goals & Measurement

Establishing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

You’ve already laid out your goals for engaging on social media, and each goal should have an associated metric to track. These are the most common KPIs for paid and non-paid social media tactics:

Paid Social Metrics

  • Conversions
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per Conversion
  • Clicks
  • Click-through Rate
  • Impressions/Reach

There are about 100 more, but these are the top 6.

Organic/Non-Paid Social Metrics

  • Conversions – actual sales
  • Conversions – leads
  • Reach & Post Reach – number of followers, impressions, your share of voice
  • Post clicks
  • Post likes
  • Post shares
  • Post comments

Again, there are a lot more you could add here.

How to Measure your KPIs

How you measure the above metrics will depend on which social media platform(s) you use, and what kind of website analytics tracking you have in place. The good news is that all the most popular social media platforms have pretty robust analytics systems, and you have easy access to those numbers, especially if you’re running any kind of paid media. When you combine social platform metrics with a platform like Google Analytics, the sky is the limit. This topic alone could warrant many specific blog posts (or novels) of information. Here are some great resources if you’re new to this:

Stay tuned to our blog in July for more platform-specific strategy guides!

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