Social media: everyone is doing it, but few businesses actually know why – or how – or for what reason. Sure, we post a few times a week, maybe a few times a day, then we measure reach and engagement and write a report every month – but – is it actually working?
This question is impossible to answer unless you’ve clearly outlined exactly what success looks like for your individual business. If the answer is simply “sales,” you’re likely setting yourself up for failure. The key is to be more thoughtful and specific.
Just like any other marketing initiative, a successful social media campaign requires a solid and nuanced strategy – one that outlines what the goals are, how to go about achieving them, and what constitutes success – both in the end and along the way.
Here’s a 6-step guide for how to get started.
Creating a Social Media Strategy Guide
For this example, let’s pretend you are a realtor, selling houses and seeking new clients in Southern Maine. You know you should have a social media presence but want to make sure the time you spend managing it is efficient and effective.
- OUTLINE YOUR GOALS
The first step in our guide is defining your social media goals. Ideally, these goals can be summed up in a one-to-two sentence statement about what you want social media to do for your business. While the temptation here is almost always to say “increase sales” or “get more customers” – try to move one step beyond that and identify what social media could do to help you achieve those outcomes. For example, ‘increase brand awareness’ or ‘drive website traffic.’
When outlining your goals, make sure you choose items that are a good fit for social media. Content conversions (like downloading a guide or filling out a form) aren’t typically a great fit for social media; it’s hard to get people to do that while they’re busy scrolling through their feed. A better goal might be to drive people to a website or landing page, where they are then prompted to download an offer or fill out a form.
For our realtor example, perhaps the overall goal is to “use social media and targeted advertising to generate awareness about MyRealEstatePro and drive traffic to the MyRealEstatePro website, with a focus on properties in Southern Maine.”
- SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES
Once you’ve identified your social media goals, the next step is to create 3-5 specific strategies that can help you accomplish those goals. For example, if your overall goal is brand awareness, one of your strategies might be to educate people about what your product or service is and how it works. Or, if your goal is focused on engagement, a specific strategy might be to increase the submission of user-generated content or boost shares on popular posts. Try to make these strategies as specific as possible, so that you have clear objectives to measure against.
For our realtor example, the strategies might include:
- Educating consumers in the target demographic about the benefits of using a realtor.
- Promoting popular properties to increase awareness of attractive homes currently on the market.
- Driving traffic to the MyRealEstatePro website to learn more about specific properties and similar offerings.
Once you’ve identified your social media strategies, it’s time to come up with tactics to accomplish them. Tactics are things like contests and giveaways, original content creation like blog posts, videos, and post promotion or social media ads, among many others. Outlining these tactics ahead of time will keep you focused and on-strategy as you outline your content plan or editorial calendar and will enable you to craft posts to help you accomplish the specific goals you outlined earlier.
For our realtor example, tactics might include some of the following:
- Easy-to-read blog posts outlining the top reasons to use a relator.
- Promoted posts (linked to the website) with images of popular properties on the market.
- Remarketing ads targeting people who have visited the MyRealEstatePro website.
The number of tactics needed will vary based on the social media goals and strategies outlined earlier – and they may change over time. As you implement tactics, you will begin to notice that some perform better than others. Don’t be afraid to revisit your strategy document over time and revise the tactics based on what’s working and what isn’t.
- CONTENT THEMES
While it’s not necessary to create a fully fleshed-out content or editorial calendar in the social media strategy phase, it does make sense to start outlining content topics that you think are relevant to the overall strategy.
In the realtor example, we outlined topics such as reasons to use a realtor and current properties available. Additional content themes might include advice for homeowners looking to sell, benefits of professional staging, pros and cons of coastal vs. inland properties, how to negotiate a good deal, or even seasonal topics like selling your home during the holidays, or in a slow market. Outlining these broader content themes in advance will help you organize and plan day-to-day content once it comes time to build monthly content calendars.
Another key piece of the social media strategy document is the decision about where to post and how often. Each social media platform has its own strengths and weaknesses and core audience demographics. With your target audience and content topics in mind, select and prioritize which social media platforms to pursue. Then, using best practice information, decide how often and which types of content to post there.
The “platforms” section of our realtor social media strategy might look something like this:
Facebook: (3 posts per week, 2 promoted)
Why: The most commonly used social network, Facebook also provides the most advanced audience targeting, promotion and analytics tools, allowing us to key in on those already in the market or considering a new home within our geographic footprint.
Goals: Increase awareness of key homes for sale in our portfolio and generate traffic to the website for more information.
Instagram: (2 posts per week, 1 promoted)
Why: Instagram is the fastest growing social network and is particularly popular amongst younger generations and those interested in home improvement and design.
Goals: Increase impressions, increase engagement, earn followers, and generate user-generated content.
- KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs)
Last, but certainly not least is the KPIs section. KPIs, or, “key performance indicators” are the metrics you’ll use to measure your progress toward each of your social media goals. When you’re building the KPIs section of the strategy, make sure you have at least one key metric for each of the social media goals you outlined earlier.
If you’ve already been using social media for some time, or have access to competitor or industry standard data, it may be possible to set specific numerical goals for each of these indicators. If not, simply start tracking the data to establish a baseline, and then come back later to outline specific targets for MOM and YOY improvements.
Common KPIs include reach and impressions, engagement (likes, comments, shares), messages, sentiment, website traffic and conversions or leads – among many others. For more tips and tricks about how and what to measure, check out How to Measure Your Social Media Marketing.
Creating a formal social media strategy not only helps to focus your social media efforts, it also helps to keep the program accountable for the goals you set out to accomplish. But remember – a strategy document isn’t set in stone. Social media is constantly changing and evolving, and your strategy document should, too.
Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside of Maine.
At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company's marketing course is by finding its core truth – its ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference for each client’s unique marketing and business objectives.
With Ethos, you get more than a marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals.