What if you took one or two afternoons to boost your business performance by 50%? Wouldn’t you immediately say “Yes, I’ll do it”?
What a rhetorical question. Every single one of us is seeking growth, which in marketing, it mostly represents more traffic, leads, and sales.
Strategy is Planning
Planning is the single best way to generate above-average results, not just in business but also in life, due to a simple reason:
When we brainstorm and plan, we swim into the mental plane (we use our mind) to identify and create patterns, ideas, and solutions.
Without a strategy, you’ll be driving an unknown car, trying to reach an unknown destination. Failing to plan a social strategy in advance means to take chaotic actions that may involve a lot of failures, and learning of course.
There is still growth, but it’s a million times slower than the growth you’d attain if you’d only pay enough time and attention to your social media marketing strategy planning.
In today’s post, I’ll teach you how to effectively approach the social media marketing game, how to plan your social media marketing strategy in 8 simple steps, and how to rock and attain phenomenal results.
Let’s get started.
1. Establish the Direction of Your Strategy
If I were to be the supreme ruler of the world, I would make it critically important for all children to identify their purpose in this life at a very young age. I would also demand all social media marketers to figure out what they’re trying to accomplish before trying to do it.
The purpose is everything.
You’re currently alive because you have one or more purposes in life. You’re developing a social media strategy because you have one or more purposes too.
Still, to some, the purpose remains unconscious. To some (marketers), the purpose is always conscious and well defined.
When you start planning a social media marketing strategy, you must establish specific objectives and align all your future decisions and actions with them. That will keep your progress balanced and steady.
Here are the 11 most common social media objectives for businesses:
- Expand brand awareness. e.g Instagram video ads, create best memes, Snapchat ads, etc.
- Improve website traffic.
- Cultivate customer loyalty.
- Teach social followers to engage.
- Improve conversion rates.
- Gain Social Proof. E.g., Get more Instagram followers, Twitter Retweets/likes, Facebook shares, etc.
- Product/service/brand education.
- Newly launched product awareness.
- Reach various target markets.
- Improve the reach and popularity of an event.
- Offer high-quality social customer service.
- Provoke user-generated content.
Choose an objective and guide all your actions in accordance with it. Don’t worry about the other goals – some of them will be achieved indirectly, while the others should be used separately, in a different social media campaign (a different strategy).
2. Understand Your Audience Better than You Understand Yourself
Why does everyone encourage you, the marketer, to understand your audience? This is one of the most commonly given advice, and yet, here I am, giving it to you again.
Well, first of all, we must assess the essence of business. A business is an exchange of value between two peers. Right now, you’re the peer that tries to sell something, and for that to happen, you must bring enough value to the other peer. That is possible only if you know and understand your peers (a.k.a. your customer/social media follower/email prospect, etc.)
Create Target Personas
Think about your ideal target audience. First, build a group image and leave it there, in your mind. Now start focusing on the individual. Imagine the ideal social media follower that will pay attention to your messages and offers. This is called a target persona.
You can have more target personas, as your audience members are obviously different. This is called audience segmentation.
Get Real Data Through Direct Feedback
To know your audience better than you know yourself, simply start engaging with the target personas. Talk to them online, on the phone, face to face, and “get a feel” for their mindset, attitude, and behavior.
You should also ask them direct questions like “how much would you spend for X solution or how much time do you spend on Instagram each day”? Ask questions that bring the most relevant answers. This will help you reach your goals faster.
Establish Your Focus – Choose the Networks
What social media channels do they mostly use? What are the places where they mostly spend their time online? Some people watch YouTube videos, while others scroll on Facebook. Others have left Facebook and started using Instagram or Snapchat only.
Professionals are barely using these channels, as their main focus is to expand on LinkedIn.
Therefore, depending on your target audience, you must identify the top two or three social media channels that’ll serve as the playground for your marketing strategy. The less, the better. To beginners, I would always advise starting with one first, then start scaling once everything’s set.
Establish the Content Types You’ll Focus On
After identifying the “places” where your audience members “hang”, you should do your homework and identify the types of content that your target audience prefers the most.
Do they consume text, audio, video? Do they prefer short or long videos? Do they like a lot of imagery in the blog posts? What do they share most?
Once you’ve identified the main focus of content consumption, you’ll be able to plan in advance the content that is likely to provide the most results.
3. Study the Playground and Examine Your Competitors
If you change schools and join a new class of students, you’ll be “the fresh meat” and they’ll be the “strangers”. In a digital marketing context, a startup is a small fish, while the big companies are the sharks.
For a fish to grow, he must stay alive. For that, he must be careful, smart, and calculated. He must think in advance and identify the patterns of the sharks. He must be smarter than them, protect himself from them, and do his best to grow each day to be able to compete in the shark’s world.
Social media marketing is pretty much the same. You need to study the marketplace, the environment, trends, and competition.
Competitive analysis is the process of identifying and studying your competition. Through competitive analysis, you can identify what other businesses are doing, you can gain inspiration from their strategies, and make better decisions in the future. I’d highly suggest you get accustomed to a few social media competitive analysis tools and take it from there.
Social listening, also called brand monitoring, is the process of staying alert and ready to act whenever certain keywords are written/used on social channels (but not only).
There are many social listening tools that are able to track the keywords you wish. These keywords could be your brand’s name, important keywords, industry keywords, etc. Whenever somebody mentions something you “track”, you’ll immediately be able to reply or get in touch. Also, you can use social listening to track your brand’s reputation, loyalty, and exposure.
Once you’re familiar with your competitors, with the marketplace, and with your audience, you’ll be able to position your brand effectively. Each brand has a position, and yours can be the #1, most popular. That can only happen if you do better than your competitors, and you can only do better if you know what to expect!
4. Establish How You’ll Measure Progress
Well, of course, a strategy without measurement is purely a simplistic way of approaching growth. Everybody takes failures differently. Those that learn from them and see them as opportunities will always improve faster than those who allow failure to forge setbacks and blocks.
Simply put, in social media marketing (and in every type of digital campaign) you must constantly track your performance.
You must establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that correspond with your strategy’s purpose. So, for example, if you are looking to improve your brand’s awareness, your “Reach” will be a primary indicator. If you seek product sales, then you’ll be tracking “Reach”, “Click-through-rate”, “Conversion rate”, “Engagement”, etc.
Approach the “track, measure, and optimize” mentality. First, make a decision. Track the effect of actions and come up with a conclusion. Can it be optimized? Or it must be done from scratch? Is the decision bringing enough ROI? If so, leave it, and scale the process by multiplying the very same process that brought a satisfying ROI.
Remember: intuition in marketing is precious, but concrete data is key.
5. Research and Choose Several Social Media Tools
Resourcefulness is an important quality of every social media marketer, entrepreneur, or small businessman. No matter what type of business you run and what’s the purpose of your social media strategy, you should become familiar with today’s digital marketing tools like Hootsuite, CoSchedule, and others we’re going to mention below.).
These serve as effective add-ons and leveraging them can speed up the entire process. There are many types of social media marketing tools, from social listening and competitive analysis, through Facebook comment moderation tools, to automatic scheduling and content creation. These little assets should serve as primordial factors in your social strategy.
I’ll recommend these tools, but you should dig deeper.
6.Create a Content Strategy Strictly for Your Social Media Marketing
Your content marketing strategy should either integrate a different social media content strategy or should be completely separate from it.
What does this mean?
The content you post on your blog, on other blogs, and on media outlets, it cannot have the same form, structure, frequency. Social media is the place where people go to relax, entertain themselves, and connect with others.
Your content strategy should be more subtle and focused because the attention of the social media user is very divided. The attention span is short, so you’ll need to say less but mean more.
How often will you post on social media? Will you be the type of page that shares 50 posts or the type of page that shares one post? Both strategies have advantages! You can also think of using social media schedulers that are Hootsuite alternatives for better cost effectiveness.
The posting schedule should include diversified content, meaning that you should alter between texts, videos, photos, audios, graphics, and so on.
You should also diversify the topics of discussion – don’t write 10 posts about the same topic, or else you’ll become boring and even obsessive.
Plan it all out – What do you need?
Once you’ve established what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post it, and how frequently you’re going to do it, you’ll need to plan even further.
Start by assessing the requirements for your content development process. Do you need more people? Do you need certain tools? Ask such questions to yourself.
Make room in your head and figure out exactly how you’re going to develop that content and how you’re going to stick to your social media strategy.
Develop exceptional content
Good advice would be to focus on developing exceptional content. Quality over quantity works way better than otherwise. But what is high-quality content? What is exceptional? What is amazing? What is art in social media marketing?
- The information must be remarkable (worth of remark, which means worth of liking, commenting, and sharing). The information should be less ordinary and less commonly discussed.
- The topics approach should have a deep effect on the audience’s subconscious, meaning that it will attract them directly because the persons will experience feelings. Simpler put, try to spark the flame of your prospects by generating emotions.
- The information should be backed up by relevant statistics, resources, or examples.
- The information should be completed by visual content (images, videos, graphics).
- The text must always be proofread and edited. Otherwise, reputation might decrease.
7.Organize Your Team or Manage Outsourcing
Considering that you’re a part of a bigger company, or that you want to develop a company on your own, you’ll need to find the right people that are willing (and totally able) to consistently dedicate time, energy, and effort on your strategy’s implementation.
Indeed, the strategy is the first step, and you can often do it on your own. But the implementation, well, that’s always harder even if the strategy is absolutely well-defined.
As an entrepreneur or marketer, you are good at certain things. Planning, strategizing, marketing, leadership, psychology perhaps…
Now, if you want amazing content but you’re a very undeveloped writer, you’ll hardly ever be able to reach the results you’re aiming for on your own.
That is why you should always try to find the best “player” fit to occupy each essential “sector”. Here are a few examples of “sectors”:
- Content development (writing)
- Web development and web design (deals with website related tasks)
- UX (improving UX)
- Brainstorming and planning
- Campaign development and analysis (developing and managing various campaigns)
- Marketplace studying (checking trends)
- HR (organization)
And it can be more, all depending on your business type, social strategy, and available resources. Be very selective when you recruit. Better don’t add anyone to the team unless you’re sure that he or she is able to meet your expectations.
8. Take Your Social Media Impact to the Next Level
Instead of giving you a last “step”, I’ll offer you something else. I like to call it the bigger picture, but that is up to you to judge.
I’ve prepared a list of details/ideas/suggestions, of what I perceive to be critical for entrepreneurs and marketers to acknowledge and develop. Simply put, this list provides several qualities that expert social media marketers possess:
- Advanced funnels (digital marketing knowledge)
- Impressive copywriting (writing and communication mastery)
- Knowledge of how people think (psychology, sociology, philosophy)
- Knowledge of how people behave (psychology, sociology, philosophy)
- Understanding of the individual and collective subconscious (again, same fields)
- Perseverance and proactivity (character traits)
- Studying & twisting other big players’ strategies (smart work)
- The ability to think out of the box (creativity)
- Passion (without it, no professional and no brand can thrive)
- FOCUS (more focus = more results)
- A network of relevant social influencers (helps at gaining amazing exposure)
- The right way of looking at social media: instead of a transaction opportunity, experts see it a connection opportunity that lays the foundation of the relationships – which will later provide transaction opportunities.
- Social channels are changing their algorithms, people are changing behavior – true social media professionals will never fall behind the marketplace.
Social media marketing is key to the expansion of any contemporary business. Whether you like it or not, social channels are part of the entire digital marketing ecosystem, and they should never ever be neglected.
You have two options. The first (and the most common one) is to create an average social media campaign and reap its benefits. That means a few leads here and there, but not something worth paying attention to.
The second option is to take your social media marketing to the next level. The first requirement is an amazing strategy, the second is the ability to take persistent action. Make your choice, do it quickly, and please get to work!