Whether you’re a freelancer, an agency, or a small business, if you want to make the most of your social media networks, you’ll need to spend time and effort on a solid social media strategy. With the soaring popularity of social platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the best networks to interact with and learn about your audience.
There’s a process behind every social media marketer that makes their work great. Sometimes it’s a lot of improvisation, but 90% of the time it’s hard work, research, and a well-designed social media workflow.
To stay relevant and succeed in today’s social media landscape, you need to stand out through consistency, value and relatability. If you’re looking to create a thorough social media strategy to guide your marketing efforts and reap the benefits down the road, here are the exact steps you’ll need to follow.
So what exactly is a social media strategy?
A social media strategy is the plan of action you create for each client or brand. As any business strategy, it lists a set of plans and decisions that will help you accomplish the organization’s goals and vision. To craft a successful social media marketing strategy, include a roadmap for the long-term plan of action you propose.
Establishing clear, concise, and measurable objectives for your social media efforts will guide your action plan, hold you accountable and enable you to turn more followers into customers. A comprehensive social media strategy focuses on content impact, social media presence audit, audience insights, competition, and performance tracking.
How To Build a Social Media Strategy
Let’s start with why, as the awesome Simon Sinek says. When taking on a new brand to represent on social media networks you have to understand the marketing strategy and compile the social media strategy.
Target Audience & Channels
It’s clearly important. However, what’s also important is not only to know it but to map it out when taking on a new brand as a social media manager. Know what the target audience doing online, what social media networks they’re in love with and where they’d be most probable to interact with you. This is at the very core of your social media strategy.
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Here’s what I mean: there’s a difference between where your target is and where your target is open to hearing you out.
This becomes more clear in context. Why does your audience spend time on Instagram? Probably to see awesome photos, hear about food, vacations, fashion, beauty in general. Now if you’re a software engineering company that is looking for clients – Instagram would probably not be the way.
Instagram is very popular right now and most probably, your prospects are there, but are they in the right state of mind? Do they want to hear about software engineers in between photos of amazingly delicious burgers? Probably not.
Topics / Categories
Remember that intersection between what they want to hear and what we want to say? This is it. If you decide on the objectives (both business and comms) and have mapped the target audience – it shouldn’t be very difficult to figure out. Not hard, but extremely important. You shouldn’t have too many categories of topics, just a few.
I wouldn’t be a good marketer if I wouldn’t use this opportunity to tell you that you can do that in Planable. With our awesome labeling feature, you can categorize your posts, see at a glance what topic or campaign they belong to, and make sure you keep a balanced distribution. #humblebrag
Timeline & Frequency
Everything starts with the target audience. So a social media manager should understand their behavior, the rush hour, the time they spend online and when he can meet them there.
It’s important to decide upon the timelines and the frequency because, in time, the audience has to know what to expect from the brand. As its social media manager, you basically build a sub-brand on social media so what is it? Will it keep me very updated with one post per hour every day? Will it share rarely but heavy pieces of content? When should I expect them?
A chaotic rhythm creates confusion and even frustration. It’s exactly the same as it is with our friends. If a Facebook friend will post once every two months and all of the sudden he/she starts sharing every second of their life – I’ll probably get pissed and unfriend them. Because I don’t get them and I want my feed to remain calm and steady.
This should go without saying. It’s obvious that we want more awareness, a better presence, and a loyal audience. But that’s not enough. When discussing with your client, try to get specific about the expectations that they have from social media, but moreover, the objective behind these demands. This will help you track the results and plan the content accordingly. It will also save both you and the client from difficult conversations in the future.
It’s easy to give an example here. Picture this: the client is a B2B SaaS. They come in and say they want engagement to their posts – likes, shares, comments. At the same time, their content is technical and heavy, for a certain niche of professionals and their objective is to make those professionals trust them. Do those two add up?
Not really. It’s easy to assume that a more appropriate KPI would be clicks – get those people to read the content. So a social media manager has to go through that process and find the root objective, not the dictated KPI.
How To Think About Your Creative Assets
Social media creative assets are of two types: copy and visuals. We’re talking about the social media strategy so we won’t go into the details of a good or bad copy or visual. But where do you start from?
The brand and the audience of course. The copy has to respect the brand’s tone of voice, but it is your responsibility as a social media manager to point out if the tone of voice is not social-media-adequate. Because that will translate into the content expected.
When developing a social media strategy for a new account, research all the brand’s content and comms. How do they communicate, what is the style, what are the keywords and what’s the tone?
After defining the main directions that you and your team will follow, make sure you respect a few ground rules.
The social media content should be:
Snackable. There’s a big debate around how consumers are perceiving snackable and if that’s really the best choice. However, we’re not discussing articles or main piece of content. We’re discussing social media content which has remained the same – better consumed in small bits and on the go.
Clear. Lots of great copywriters out there have the tendency to be witty and play with their copy. That’s amazing, but keep in mind the clarity. Be witty as much as you want, but clarity should never be compromised.
Eye-popping. Not to be boring, but have you heard about our constantly decreasing attention spans? Apparently, attention span is very task-dependent but still – social media is social media and scrolling happens fast. So fast. So there’s a main goal to keep in mind always – make that thumb tap not scroll!
Consistent. We’ve talked about this above. On social media, your fans have to know what to expect from you. So keep a certain style in content as well.
Keep in mind that social is nothing by itself. If you hook the audience’s attention on social, you have to keep the standards high for the rest of the journey. So when you’re taking them to your website, make sure it’s a good one. If you’re having trouble building a great website, use an easy website builder to get it done.
When it comes to imagery, we gave a few dos and don’ts a while back in the guide here. Keep in mind that you can enjoy awesome photos from Unsplash, Moose, Pexels and many more.
If you want to deep-dive into types of visuals, we recommend going with the trend. For the last couple of years, video content has been ruling social media and it doesn’t seem like it will go away. Some of us might’ve thought it’s just a trend, it takes a lot of effort to do it, so let’s not hop on. Well, those assumptions have been proven wrong. Video might be overthrown someday by a new trend, a new form of content. However, for now, it’s the best way to win the attention of your audience (and impressions due to Facebook) so embrace it.
If you’re struggling with creating videos, there are several video marketing tools that might help. Take a look at Animoto, Lumen5, BIGVU, Animatron, Rocketium, Animaker, Adobe Spark.
How To Organize Your Team And Define The Workflow
A social media manager and his team should have the speed and flexibility of a team of burglars. If something goes wrong, decisions have to be made fast and intelligent to prevent a crisis. Any misstep might cause a crisis and/or a lost client.
For that, you don’t only need the best people on your social media team, but you require a well-thought workflow. The process has to be clear since miscommunications will create disasters.
Agencies and social media managers aspire to have full autonomy so that their teams are efficient and productive and processes occupy close to no time. There might be a dreamland out there where that happens, but most clients will want to be in, have transparency and be able to give feedback. Don’t be quick to judge that mentality – it’s normal. Just like the social media manager has to be careful, the client’s representative has the same responsibility and his job is probably on the line.
Due to the inter-company and inter-team communications that have to happen, workflows become even more important. How the client approves that content, how the feedback process takes place, how the content is visualized, and many other questions have to have an answer. For more details on social media management, check this out.
This is it, my friends. One quick guide to help you be an awesome social media manager with a great social media strategy.
There are plenty of tools that will help any social media manager with their social media scheduling burdens. When it comes to collaboration, team alignment, and visual accuracy though, we obviously recommend Planable. But you’re already here so take a look if you don’t know us by now.
Miruna Dragomir, Marketing Manager @Planable. Social media fanatic, tech geek & a sucker for learning. Past experience? Social Media Comms Manager @Oracle & Marketing Coordinator @Uber