Whether you’re looking to get your business on social media for the first time or elevate your presence across your existing platforms, having a strong strategy is key to increasing the chances of success. By building a social media marketing strategy, you can map your journey, while simplifying the decision making process, so your brand can stand out from the crowd in a competitive landscape. We understand that building a strategy can seem daunting, so we’ve put together 9 easy steps for you to follow, so you can achieve your marketing goals with social media.
What Is a Social Media Marketing Strategy?
To keep it simple, a social media marketing strategy is a plan of action which you design to achieve specific goals for your business using social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, X, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest. Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website or generate increased levels of sales, a well defined social media marketing strategy can help your business make the most of social media to achieve your objectives.
Step 1 - Set SMART Goals
The first thing you want to do is set your goals. By creating goals, you’re able to ensure that you know exactly what you’re looking to achieve and start mapping your way to success. It’s key to note that you’ll refer back to your goals throughout your strategy, so don’t be afraid to analyse and refine them as necessary.
We would suggest that you consider writing your goals in the SMART format, which we’ve written a guide for you to understand in further detail. To summarise, SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, realistic and time based/timebound. By laying out your goals in this format, you can ensure you’re setting goals with the outcome you want to achieve in mind, along with how you can measure your progress.
For example, rather than saying “I want to make £10,000 from social media”, you could make it more specific with “I want to increase my business’s revenue by £10,000 by having an increased presence on social media within the next 12 months. To do this, I’ll be much more active, posting a minimum of 3 times per week across Facebook and Instagram, as this is where my customers spend most of their time online.” With this, you can see what you’re hoping to achieve, and exactly how you’re going to do it, leading to increased confidence that you’re sticking to your plan when you refer to your goals down the line.
Step 2 - Understand Your Audience
Next, you’ll want to make sure you understand your audience. Making the most of this time will help you find which platforms they use and what type of content they like consuming. This will be beneficial to help check that the goals you previously set are right for your business and also to help create your posts later on.
If you’ve already got active social media accounts, you can dive into researching your followers and customers, so you can understand how to engage with them on social media. You could also dive into each platform’s analytical dashboards to get insight into the data of your followers, as this will help you gather an understanding of who’s actively following your profile. Alternatively, if you’re not currently on social media, the internet has a wealth of data and insights available, from Statista providing the number of monthly users per platform to TikTok showing 69% of users feel a deeper connection with brands they interact with on there. Making the most of this data allows you to dig into the information you need, so you can target the platforms where your target audience spends their time.
To make this easier, you could consider crafting personas which you can use across all of your marketing activities, in which you build a profile of your target customer. This will help you tailor your messaging and content in a way which revolves around them.
Key considerations you may want to think about when creating your personas for social media include -
- Age range
- Average income
- Job title/industry worked in
- Consumption preferences (platforms and type of content e.g. video, image or text based)
Step 3 - Learn Your Competition
In every market, you’ll have competition. No matter whether they’re local or overseas, if they’re targeting the same audience as you, then you’ll want to have a good understanding of the way they market themselves on social media, along with how they operate.
Key aspects to look for when investigating your competition’s social media presence include -
- Active platforms
- Type of content created (video/image/blog)
- Aims (Are they looking to increase sales/drive traffic to their website or build brand awareness?)
- Number of followers
You might want to consider completing a SWOT Analysis, to help you identify where you stand in comparison to your competitors, and spot any opportunities to differentiate yourself. If you’ve written a business plan previously, you may have already conducted a market and competitor analysis which identified your marketplace and competitors, which will help you get started with your research and know who to look at.
Step 4 - Conduct a Social Media Audit
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of your competitors and audience, you can look to dive deeper into what works well. If you’re already active on social media, you could also audit your previous content to analyse your performance and how it may support you towards your goals.
When conducting your social media audit, you could ask yourself questions such as -
- What’s working well?
- Who’s engaging with the content?
- What networks are active?
- How often is content being posted?
- What hashtags are used?
- How many followers are on each platform?
- How actively is the business visibly engaging with followers?
- What time are the posts and replies taking place?
We’d suggest considering writing this down, either on paper or in a spreadsheet, so you can easily analyse and compare, along with writing any further notes which you find important to the way each social platform is used.
Step 5 - Create and Optimise Your Profiles
After you’ve audited all the necessary accounts, it’s time to create and optimise your profiles. No matter if you don’t have any social media channels yet, or find that you need to be more active on a platform which you may have been away from for a number of years, now is the time to take action. From your social media audit, you’ll know which platforms will be beneficial for you to reach your target audience.
Ideally, your social media handles (the name which relates to your account) should match your business name, to make it easier for customers to find you. When creating your account for the first time, you’ll need to fill out all of the necessary fields to set up your profile, so make the most of this opportunity to hit the ground running with your social media journey.
Other great areas to look at when optimising your profiles to increase your visibility and reach include -
- Consistent branding - make sure that the logos and images you use are easily recognisable across all your networks.
- High quality imagery - utilise high resolution photos across all of your accounts to help your business look more professional and be rewarded by the platform's algorithm.
- Make the most of your bio - ensure that it’s clear what your business is all about, and the products and services you offer. Incorporate relevant keywords, so searchers have a better chance of finding your business.
- Include links to your website - make it easy for customers to get to your website. This could be in your bio, or a profile field, depending on the platform.
- Provide contact information - if you make it easier for customers to contact you, then you’re increasing the chances of them reaching your business, so you’ll achieve the goals which you've set.
Remember, you don’t have to become overwhelmed with social media channels. It’s better to use few channels and make the most of your time on there than to spread yourself too thin trying to maintain a presence across all networks with low quality content.
Step 6 - Build Your Inspiration Bank
On the back of ensuring your profiles are built for success, you’ll want to look at getting the ideas together to craft the content which you’ll be posting. Every platform tends to attract a different audience, so your content will need to be tailored to suit the user base.
While it’s important to ensure your brand is unique, there’s so much content available online for you to take inspiration from, both within your industry and from others. Great places to look include your competitors, your favourite brands, and industry thought leaders. You could take notes of the structure, what you liked about the posts, and how they could be relevant to your business. You might even want to create a document on your phone or PC, where you also copy the links or take screenshots, allowing you to refer back to the content with ease.
We’d suggest you consider building content pillars to help ensure that your content remains consistent throughout the creation process. Creating these pillars will help your posts remain structured and also direct you down the right path when you’re low on ideas. Content pillars could include -
- Tips and tricks
- Behind the curtain - team and operations
Step 7 - Create Your Social Media Content Calendar
The next step to building your social media marketing strategy is creating your content calendar. By combining the findings from your audit, with the inspiration gathered and the time which you can commit to your social media you’ll be able to create a calendar which works for you. This will be beneficial for your strategy, as you’ll be able to create content in advance and post strategically.
Every company will have a different content calendar, and you might find that you need to post at different times on different platforms. Knowing this in advance will help you plan and schedule your content accordingly. Many platforms have the functionality built in to schedule your content, alternatively, you can use a social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, to manage and post your content.
Other considerations you might want to take into account when creating your social media calendar include -
- Upcoming business promotions
- National/industry events
- Public holidays
- New and existing marketing campaigns
- The 80/20 rule - ensuring that 80% of your content on social media is valuable and useful for your audience, and the remaining is self promotional.
Step 8 - Start Crafting Your Content
Once you’re aware of why you’re using social media, who you’re talking to, what type of content you need to create and when you’ll be posting, it’s time to start crafting your content. To ensure that your customers pay attention to your posts, you need to create engaging content which is aligned with the general audience of each network.
By referring back to the pillars which were created in step 6, you’ll be able to ensure that the content you create always follows a recognisable format and allow you to later analyse what works well and where you may want to improve.
Content creation can seem overwhelming, however, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Make the most of the information which you’ve obtained through the previous steps, and refer to your inspiration bank to discover what works well. This will set the foundations which help get you started creating content that your customers will want to engage with, boosting your chances of succeeding on social media.
Step 9 - Analyse Your Performance and Adjust as Necessary
Finally, as time goes on, you need to keep your foot on the gas to ensure that you’re executing your social media strategy to perfection. By monitoring the analytics and taking notes of what works well, you’ll be able to curate content which resonates with your audience, increasing the chances of success in the goals which you set at the start.
Whether you use the analytical tools on each platform or a social media management tool, you can find key data to discover what’s working well and what may need adjusting. It’s worth giving your content some time to build traction and consistency, before making any conclusions, as it will take time for algorithms and followers to understand your content.
Great things to look out for during your analysis include -
- Follower growth/decline
- Content type (video/image/text)
- Content length
- Content style (informational/promotional)
- Engagement statistics (comments/reactions/shares)
- Top posts
Creating a social media marketing strategy is a great way to ensure that you reach your business goals and stay consistent with your messaging. By taking the time to set your goals, understand your audience, and tailor your profile and content accordingly, you’ll be able to map the road to success, while refining your strategy as you grow as a business.