Step 1. Set social media marketing goals that align to business objectives
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
The first step to creating a winning strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success or return on investment (ROI).
Each of your goals should be:
Track meaningful metrics
Vanity metrics like retweets and likes are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus instead on targets such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rate.
For inspiration, take a look at these 19 essential social media metrics.
You may want to track different goals for different channels, or even different uses of each channel. For example, Benefit Cosmetics drives brand awareness with its paid social campaigns, but measures acquisition and engagement for organic social posts.
Make sure to align your social media goals with your overall marketing strategy. This will make it easier for you to show the value of your work and get executive buy-in and investment.
Step 2. Learn everything you can about your audience
Create audience personas
Knowing who your audience—and ideal customer—is and what they want to see on social is key to creating content that they will like, comment on, and share. It’s also critical if you want to turn social media followers into customers for your business.
Try creating audience/buyer personas. These allow you to think of your potential fans, followers, and customers as real people with real wants and needs. And that will allow you to think more clearly about what to offer them.
Step 3. Research the competition
Odds are, your competitors are already using social media—and that means you can learn from what they’re already doing.
Conduct a competitive analysis
A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.
This analysis will also help you spot opportunities. For example, maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the networks where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.
Step 4. Conduct a social media audit
Examine your current efforts
If you’re already using social media tools, you need to take a step back and look at what you’ve already done and accomplished. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s working, and what’s not?
- Who is connecting with you on social?
- Which networks does your target audience use?
- How does your social media presence compare to that of your competitors?
Once you gather all this information in one place, you’ll have a good starting point for planning how to improve your results.
Step 5. Find inspiration
While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses that are great on social.
Social network success stories
You can usually find these on the business section of the social network’s website. (Here’s Facebook’s, for example.)
These case studies can offer valuable insights you can apply to your own goals for each social network.
Award-winning accounts and campaigns
Your favorite brands on social media.
Who do you enjoy following on social media? What do they do that compels people to engage and share their content?
National Geographic, for example, is one of the best on Instagram, combining stunning visuals with compelling captions.
Step 6. Create a social media content calendar
Sharing great content is essential, of course, but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact. Your social media content calendar also needs to account for the time you’ll spend interacting with the audience (although you need to allow for some spontaneous engagement as well).
Create a posting schedule
Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times at which you will publish types of content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images and link sharing to blog posts and videos. It includes both your day-to-day posting and content for social media campaigns. Your calendar ensures your posts are spaced out appropriately and published at the optimal times.
Plot your content mix
Make sure your calendar reflects the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile, so that everything you post is working to support your business goals. For example, you might decide that:
- 50 percent of content will drive traffic back to your blog
- 25 percent of content will be curated from other sources
- 20 percent of content will support enterprise goals (selling, lead generation, etc.)
- 5 percent of content will be about HR and company culture