Social Media 101: How to Create a Social Media Strategy

May Wildman / September 17, 2020

Welcome to the third installment of our Fearless Series on SOCIAL MEDIA. Previously in our Social Media 101 two-parter, we discussed finding the right social media platform for you and social media best practices for sharing content.

Today, we’ll discuss how to create an effective social media strategy for your brand.

Social Media 101: Building a Strategy

Before we begin, a note: Social media approaches will differ depending on your product or brand’s core audiences. Is your brand business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C)? Who are the main audiences you are trying to reach? The platforms, voice, content pillars, cadence of posting and visual identity you employ will depend on figuring these questions out.

Of course, you may want to reach “everyone,” but don’t be afraid to get specific. Know who you’re trying to reach and what they want. Keep that in mind as you use the following tips to build a social media strategy that succeeds.

Creating Your Social Media Strategy

  1. Audit your current social media presence.

Take stock of your current social media channels and platforms. If you’re already engaged in social media efforts, think about what your audience likes to see and what they respond to. Are some platforms more engaging to your audience than others? What does your current audience look like, and what social media platforms are they likely to be on? More on that here.

Evaluate the value of the social platforms you have and think about ways to trim down or expand based on your current goals and needs. You’ll even want to sneak a peek at your competitors to see how they are utilizing social channels.

Other considerations: Does your “about” or “bio” section accurately represent you and how you want to be portrayed? Does your social media profile photo feature your logo (it should)?  Does your Facebook cover photo (or video) engage the initial visitor (it should)?

Just getting started on social media? Take some time to audit your brand’s presence and where you are in the process. It will inform your overall strategy, objectives and goals and make sure you put your best digital foot forward.

 

  1. Determine your objectives and measurement.

Once you’ve assessed your current social media presence, you must set your objectives and define specific key performance indicators (KPIs), the metrics you will use to define your success.

SMART goals infographic

Your social media marketing objectives should tie into your overall business objectives. They might include increasing brand awareness, gaining new customers or leads for customers or engaging existing customers.

To make sure your objectives are measurable, think SMART. You may set out to increase the number of impressions of a post by a certain percentage over time. Or, you may set out to decrease your cost per engagement on a post by a certain amount in a set amount of time. Perhaps you’d like to generate a set number of new business leads from a paid social media campaign.

If you’re just getting started, determining what makes sense for KPIs may be difficult. Over time, you’ll become more familiar with your brand’s capabilities and be able to build from there. In the meantime, consider researching average benchmarks for your industry. When in doubt, set your KPIs low and consider increasing them if you find you’re exceeding them.

 

  1. Determine your social media standards

Think of your social media content as another way for your audiences to get to know your brand. You’ll want it to look and feel in line with how your brand looks and feel. It’s usually advised that social content follow brand standards (tone and voice of your company, things you do or do not say, logo usage and font usage, etc.) For example, some brands use all lowercase letters as part of their standards. Others might be more formal.

On Instagram in particular, you might consider looking at competitor or inspirational brands to help you determine your “mood board” or what types of visual standards, including images, colors and feelings you want your feed to reflect.

You might also consider determining your “content mix.” For example, if you are a retailer, you might want X% of your posts to focus on products, another Y% on the neighborhood and Z% on user-generated content.

 

  1. Develop an ongoing social media content calendar and monitoring process.

It’s helpful to create a social media content calendar for consistent posting schedule and tracking what you are currently posting and what’s coming up. Constantly creating and sharing content on the fly can be stressful. A plan helps avoid having to always think of what’s next. Of course, you can always adjust your calendar to allow for posts you want to create in the moment around timely news or events.

Set your content calendar, then schedule. Content scheduling tools like Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Buffer often have features to narrow in on the best dates and times to post. Don’t let your guard down, though – monitor and check your channels regularly to ensure content is posting properly.

We suggest posting at least twice a week across your channels. Your content’s frequency depends on your industry, target audience and desired outcome. No matter your frequency, a social media content calendar will help you stay organized and on to of what you share.

 

  1. Consider paid ads.

In general, social media advertising is useful to help you efficiently reach your goals and target the most valuable audiences. With various social media platform algorithms, it’s becoming harder to break through noise to reach your target customer organically. However, the good news is that social media paid advertising doesn’t have to break your bank. It can be an inexpensive way to advertise and is worth looking into how it can help elevate your social media strategy.

We’ll talk more about paid ad strategy tips in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned.

 

  1. Evaluate and test.

We recommend evaluating content performance on a weekly or monthly basis. This keeps insights fresh on what is working and what isn’t. Find the reporting cadence that’s right for you – and consider tweaking the content of your posts depending on your findings.

You may also consider launching a survey to see if your social media strategy meets users’ expectations and what else your audiences might want from you. The most important thing is to stay flexible. If your content isn’t hitting its mark, consider shaking things up and testing a new mix.

When it comes to social media strategy, start small and make sure you define who it is you are trying to reach on social media and what exactly you are trying to measure and achieve with your efforts on different channels. Then further build out your social media strategy using the tips we’ve shared above.

Remember that your social media channels are another aspect of your brand. Provide value and consistent, engaging content to your audience and you will see great results.

Want to continue this conversation further? If you’d like an in-depth, personal guide to aligning a social media strategy with your business goals, we can help.

Coming up in the Fearless Series, we’ll talk about how social media influencers can help promote your brand.

Until then, stay fearless.