Social media is a staple marketing tactic for nearly every business, helping brands build awareness, share and interact with customers and prospects, and create important touch points in the changing customer journey.
However, both green and seasoned marketers are still trying to nail down what a successful social media marketing strategy looks like. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 industry report, 90% of marketers say social media is important to their business. However, just 41% say they’re able to measure the ROI of their social activities.
As any successful marketer will tell you, the road to success begins by physically documenting your strategy. As for what needs to be included, below you’ll find some essential elements to consider.
The first step in building a successful social media marketing strategy is defining the value your brand brings to your social media audiences. Why? Because if you can’t define the value, you certainly won’t be able to show any value.
Ask yourself: Why would someone follow or engage with me on social? What do I want my followers to know about my brand? What value can I bring to my audience through content and engagement on social? Then craft a simple mission statement of sorts, and use that to help guide the rest of your strategy development.
Simply put, there can be no strategy if there’s no end goal. Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next.
Use the goals outlined in your overall digital marketing strategy as a starting point. This will allow you create social-specific goals that help contribute to the larger marketing mission. Whether you want to increase your number of followers, boost referral traffic to your website, foster engagement or drive more conversions, set goals that can be measured. In addition, consider setting benchmark goals so you can gauge the success of your efforts as you go and make improvements as needed.
The success of your social media marketing efforts hinges on your ability to empathize and connect with your target audience. As a result, you need to understand their motivations, pain points, and content interests and needs.
Dig into website and social platform analytics, and talk with your sales team to uncover key customer insights and characteristics. Then use what you find to develop a customer persona—which is a general representation of who your target customer/follower is.
Each social media platform offers a little something unique. As a result, many marketers may be tempted to design strategy that includes a presence on every platform. But—as with most things in the digital marketing world—quality over quantity is definitely a good rule of thumb.
While you’re compiling audience research to create your personas, find out what channels are driving the most website traffic and on-page engagement (i.e. time on page or pages per visit), and inciting the most engagement on the platform itself (i.e. comments, likes and shares). In addition, do some competitive research to learn where your fiercest competitors are spending their time on social media and the type of engagement they’re getting. This research will allow you get a look at your internal and competitive landscape, and help you prioritize and triage your efforts.
Finally, look back at the objectives you outlined to determine which platforms are best suited for helping you reach those goals. For example, if one of your social media marketing goals is to attract or recruit new talent, a visual platform like Instagram is the perfect place to show off your company’s amazing workplace culture. On the other hand, if your goal is fostering engagement through discussion, Facebook may be a must-have platform within your mix.
In today’s social media landscape, simply sharing links to your company website or blog with a bit of text will not drive your objectives. Your followers want and expect more from you.
Use all the aforementioned elements to guide the creation of a content plan that includes the appropriate mix of images, videos, links and discussion starters tailored to each platform.
Maintaining a consistent presence on your social channels is vital to the success of your marketing efforts. If you disappear for long periods of time, it’s easy for your audience to forget about you—and can prove more difficult to build engagement back up. Similarly, over-posting can be an annoyance, and cause your audience to turn away. So, your ultimate goal is to be a regular fixture in news feeds, but not overwhelm your audience.
Develop a daily, weekly or monthly plan or schedule that details:
Measurement and data analysis are vital to any strategic initiative, providing you with the insights you need to continually refine your approach and ultimately prove ROI.
Outline the specific analytics tools and metrics you’ll use to gauge success—both on (native engagement) and off (your website) social platforms. For example, if one of your goals is to drive more website traffic through social channels, Google Analytics or your preferred analytics platform will be a critical tool to include. As for measurement, some of the metrics you’ll want to look at include time on page, number of pages per visit and assisted conversions.
If you want to achieve social media success, the importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. The beauty of social media is that you have the opportunity to show your audience who you are, not just what you sell.
Develop a brand voice that brings a human element and some personality to your social media pages. Lose the jargon or sales pitch, and talk to people on their level.
If you’re looking for a few more resources to get your social media marketing strategy on-track, take a gander at some of these other helpful posts:
What is your biggest social media challenge? Tell us in the comments section below.
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