In the words of the inimitable Julie Andrews, you should start at the very beginning. Mostly because it’s a very good place to start.
If only your social media marketing programme could be that simple. Around 90 per cent of businesses with more than one thousand employees have some social media presence, meaning marketers and social media managers often inherit an established way of doing things. And that way may not always be based on the best approach.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all over a decade old (12, 14 and 16, respectively). The social platforms have been perfecting their user experience for a while now, and tightening up on how marketing and brands fit into that. What’s more, users themselves are more social media savvy than ever, so long gone are the days of getting away with lazy anthropomorphising, taking a scattergun approach with content and hoping it’s seen by anyone and everyone.
The algorithms won’t let you get away with an unplanned approach – Facebook is now demanding ‘more meaningful interactions’, and you’re not going to achieve that by accident. You can pay, but if you’re investing not only time and resource, but also your budget, you’d better be sure the activity will deliver value for the business.
Despite all this, many brands are still stuck with delivering a fairly primitive approach. It’s difficult to know where to begin when refreshing your social strategy, and so it can seem like something of an unwieldy task to start from scratch.
But thinking through and then formalising a social media strategy for your brand can help to keep the whole team – small or large – focused on what you’re trying to achieve. And if everyone’s working towards a common cause, it’s more likely that you will deliver value back to the business.
With that in mind, here’s the biggest things you need to consider when you’re beginning to carve out your social media strategy.
Start out with purpose
Before you do anything else (deciding which channels to work on, what sort of content you should post, etc.) you should work out what you’re trying to achieve. The only way you’ll ever know that something’s working is to be able to measure it, and if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, then you don’t know what to measure.
Remember the S.M.A.R.T. framework, and make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. So don’t just say ‘we want to increase brand awareness’, but say ‘we want to improve unprompted brand recognition by xx per cent’. This will mean additional investment in the customer research (before and after), but is worth it to stay on track and prove ROI.
It’s imperative at this stage to collaborate with others across the business and get buy-in from key stakeholders to make sure everyone’s on board with what you’re aiming to do from the outset.
Know your audience
An important (and often-skipped) part of a social media strategy is the research into your audience. You may have already started exploring it when deciding on your objectives and measurement metrics, but you should do a deep dive so that you have a solid reference for content and campaign planning.
Audience personas can be a really good way to bring different subsets of your audience to life. If everyone involved has a clear idea who they’re speaking to, they’ll be able to create better content that resonates more with that audience.
You can use the audience research to better inform the ‘big decisions’ in your strategy, for example, on which channels you want to be active. If you can correlate a predominant demographic in your audience with that of a social media channel, then that’s a good basis to begin to justify investing time in that channel.
Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer
Competitor analysis can be useful for myriad reasons. On a surface level, it can inspire ideas for your own activity, or help you see what might work and what doesn’t. On a slightly higher level, it can give you an idea of the calibre of activity taking place across your industry, and give you a good benchmark to work from, helping you set your own social media goals. Take the time to analyse and document your competitors’ activity on a semi-regular basis, and learn from their successes or mistakes. See how your growth measures up against theirs.
Reflect on the status quo
It wouldn’t make sense to throw all your hitherto efforts by the wayside just because you’re drafting up a new strategy from scratch. Perhaps you’ve already hit upon a sweet spot of your audience on a given channel, and have a good rapport with them. Maybe you have qualitative evidence that a particular approach is working for you. Reflect on what’s working and what isn’t in your current practices to further inform your approach moving forward.
Formalise and get buy-in from key stakeholders
A compelling reason to put you strategy together is to ensure you’ve effectively communicated with everyone who will contribute to your activities – from assistants and interns right up to the C-suite. Formalising your strategy in a document and getting it signed off by the relevant parties can start you off on the right foot, and stop any objections or protest down the line. It can also help justify some of your decisions along the way, and gives you a solid point of reference to better shout about it when you do achieve something set out in the strategy.
Of course, a strategy is only as good as its implementation, so it’s time to get cracking! Get buy-in from the team, make sure everyone’s on the same page, make best use of everyone’s unique skillsets and be sure to keep abreast of the latest channel developments and adjust the tactics you use accordingly. Measure, analyse then amend and/or iterate continuously.
If you’re looking to develop your social strategy, get in touch today to find out how we can help.