Why Social Media Matters

4 Steps to Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy

New Julia Shorter
Julia Shorter MARKETING COORDINATOR

With around 3.5 billion people (45% of the world’s population) using social media, service businesses who disregard the importance of implementing a strategy will get left behind. But fear not, it doesn’t take a marketing guru to create a well prepared, intelligent social media strategy. Sometimes it just takes getting back to basics, asking the right questions, and consistency. 

We put together a 4 Step Guide that will help equip you with the tools needed to create a foundation for your business’s social media strategy while fostering a community of highly engaged, well-informed users.

Step 1: Understand Your Audience

Before you dive into creating your business’s social media strategy you should be able to answer the following:

  • Who is your target audience?

  • What’s important to them?

  • What are their gaps or challenges?

Understanding and building a relationship with your audience will dramatically increase consumer engagement. Establishing a relationship and a sense of community with your audience is more important than the products and services we sell. 

A recent Marketo Gap Analysis found that: 

  • 56% of consumers believe businesses need to have a deeper understanding of their needs.

  • 51% of consumers believe brands send too much irrelevant content.

Rather than looking at this as a failure, think of it as a major opportunity. If more than half of consumers believe businesses share too much irrelevant information, that opens up a piece of the market for you to be the business that truly understands their consumers.

Put yourself in their shoes. You walk into a store looking for a new pair of sneakers and immediately a worker approaches you. They start going on about the benefits of a pair of jeans without getting to know your needs. In the second scenario, you walk into that same store and the worker asks “How can I help you? What are you looking for today?” From there you try on the shoes based on their findings.

You’ll probably buy the shoes that you were able to try on, where the worker helped you with any questions you might have, right? Right. Use the same approach for your content. Asking the right questions and understanding who it is that you’re trying to sell to will help you provide valuable content and create a foundation for your social strategy. 

Step 2: Create a Goal and Stick With It

Now that you have an understanding of who you are trying to reach, it’s time to set some goals. Just like any other project or business process, having a set goal top of mind is imperative. Start by asking yourself, when everything is said and done, what do I want as an outcome? A popular method used to create a goal is by using the SMART method created by Peter Drucker and G.T. Doran. If you aren't familiar with this method, here's a breakdown of it: 

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Achievable 

R- Realistic

T- Time-Based

An example: By the end of Quarter 2 we will gain 10 new clients from our social sources: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Remember, every business is unique, so your goals will be specific to your audience and company goals. So, by using SMART goals you’ll be able to set an agenda and easily understand whether you met the goal or not and why or why not.

Step 3: Keep it Simple

All too often social media marketing goes forgotten. Whether you’re starting from scratch or rebuilding your strategy, simplification is key. If you’re just starting out and need to create some content, here's where to start. 

Rather than overwhelming yourself and your audience, try re-sharing, repurposing, and creating consistent content. This will help you create a strong and reliable strategy.  If you’re a team of one, it can be difficult to write copious amounts of consistent content, so use your resources. Start by writing one piece of content per month. Chances are that you have some client testimonials, best practices, or tips and tricks—so be resourceful and use the scenarios you already have data on to create or repurpose content. 

Another way to stay consistent with your content calendar is to schedule out a month in advance. One of the most trusted and reliable platforms is HubSpot. That way, rather than rushing through scheduling your content, you can carve out the time needed to produce impactful and meaningful social posts. 

Step 4: Learn From the Past

Now that you have your audience, goals, and strategy set, it’s time to ask the question, how do I know if what I’m doing is working? This ultimately starts and ends with tracking. For this part of the blog series, we’ll focus solely on identifying what social metrics are and how we can utilize them. The top 4 metrics I encourage you to track are as follows: 

The first, Reach. Describes the percentage of followers, subscribers, or connections that come across your social media page over a certain timeframe. Now, how is this beneficial? The simple act of gaining new followers isn't the only way to measure success. Audience Growth or Reach will help you understand these new followers but as a percentage over time, the rate at which your audience is growing breaks down your social media momentum and presence.

Second, we have the Average Engagement Rate. Now that you have some new followers and your social platforms are creating some traction, the Average Engagement Rate allows you to check out whether you’re creating engaging content and efficient Calls to Action or CTAs. Why is this important? Think of this as a pulse check. If your engagement rates are high or stay at a similar caliber, things are good. If there are any dips in engagement you can take the time to assess what might be causing this. Don’t panic if there’s a dip—it could be something as simple as the time of the year, but it always helps to have a handle on this. If you aren’t aware of the engagement on your posts, you won’t be able to understand what your audience is interested in and what they’re not.

It’s time to take the next step—Conversions. Conversions are the percentage of consumers who take the action you want them to take, meaning, clicking a link you post or (the ultimate goal) purchasing your product or service. This metric is an awesome way to prove the value of social media marketing. Here you can see what channels are providing the biggest benefit all while proving that social media is a consistent, reliable source of website conversions. Try tracking this month over month, so you can follow trends and see if there’s a rise in conversions, what may have caused this and vise versa.

Lastly, but just as importantly, activity. Activity can be described as the number of comments, likes, shares or any interaction you receive on a piece of content. Social activity is simple and all major social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram will have these numbers readily available to you. Why does this matter? You can see trends that show what kinds of posts are getting the most traction, like if your activity numbers rise when you share a case study. Then, you can try more of these posts in the future to keep activity high.

Now that you have our 4 Step Guide for creating a social media strategy, even the novice digital marketer can have a baseline to begin your company’s strategy. It’s easy for social media strategy to slip through the cracks, but if you're not investing in social media marketing, you're likely missing customers, no matter the industry. Get ahead and reach your audience by creating a simple, yet effective, social media plan.

 

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