21 Apr How Do I Create A Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy?
This blog is specifically intended to help anyone to create a successful social media marketing strategy for their business. If you feel your social media is lacking something, or you’re not even sure where to start, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll go through all the important elements you need to consider when building a strong strategy – and give you lots of tips and hints to create a successful social media campaign.
It’s all about the strategy.
Strategic marketing plan
Having a robust strategy in place is an essential first step for effective social media. In an ideal world, you should have a clear understanding of two key elements before you do anything else.
Our Strategic Marketing Planning Process (SMPP) explains what these two elements are in more detail, but basically the premise is that you need to have a deep understanding of both elements to create a successful social media marketing strategy. This hopefully makes good sense – we believe that you need a comprehensive understanding of what your business is and does, where it is going, the marketplace in which it operates, the products and services it offers, and all the various stakeholders you need to consider, and so on, to understand the rational part of the equation. The brand philosophy is all about the emotional side of things. This looks into the character and personality of your organisation, and should relate to its purpose (often explained as mission, vision and legacy) and its values, views and vows from a non-commercial perspective.
Once you’ve got these two elements sorted, you can then create a powerful marketing plan for your business – this includes a perceptive understanding of your customers, a deep analysis of your competitors, and the marketplace and echo chamber in which you operate. If you’ve done this right, then all three elements should converge as one, and then it is simplicity itself to create a successful strategy for any and all media – including social media, of course.
Let’s look at a few of the most important elements to consider in a little more detail…
It’s important to have a good idea of who your customer is, on both a demographic and psychographic level. Segments based on objective demographics alongside the more nuanced personalities of your customers will enable you to target each of them in more relevant and effective ways. Consumer trends and market research can provide valuable insights as to how your customers are behaving, and what you can do to meet their needs.
SMART marketing goals
You also need to understand what your goals are. Make sure they are realistic. You need to have the resources in place to deliver them, as well as be prepared with measurement criteria to gauge the success of your marketing activities. You can have a range of outcomes relevant to social media, such as recruiting followers, generating sales, increasing web traffic, raising brand awareness – and so on. Different social media channels may be more effective at achieving certain outcomes than others, so you may find that you have various social media activities on the go at the same time to achieve different goals.
SMART goals are a good starting point – SMART is an often-used acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Temporal. Obviously, social media is not all about direct outcomes. It can also be about indirect benefits from a PR angle, for example – this doesn’t make it any less valuable or warranted, but it does make it more challenging to prove a tangible result. Therefore, as with any form of marketing activity, common sense has to be applied in terms of measuring success – it is not always immediate, and it is not always attributable. But that does not infer it is any less valuable. For companies with a long-term plan in place, the benefits of a social media strategy might be felt over months and even years – whereas a digital advertising strategy will deliver real-time instant results.
Any marketing strategy is all about the best use of resource – namely, time and money. And that applies to the creative side of things too…
On social media, whilst looks aren’t everything, they are a hugely important part of an effective strategy. Content has to be visually aligned with the overall look and feel of your brand as stated in your brand guidelines or style guide (if you don’t have anything like this in place, we recommend you do so as a priority). These elements include logo and icons, typefaces, colours and photographic/illustrative style. You need to ensure a synergistic look and feel that is consistent across all customer touchpoints to deliver the most effective outcome.
There are a number of tools available, such as Canva, that offer cost-effective ways of creating professional-looking content.
Social media content
Content should be posted fairly frequently to maintain momentum and to keep your audience interested (at a minimum, we suggest this is normally once a week – but this is entirely dependent upon the quality of your overall marketing plan, one that is hopefully fully aligned with your commercial proposition and brand philosophy). People don’t tend to respond well to social media that is too ‘salesy’, so direct sales content should only make up a small portion of your overall content strategy (although this is of course once again dependent on the nature of your brand and what you are offering). You might also wish to include informational and educational posts to generate interest and add value, whilst at the same time establishing your authority and reputation in your echo chamber with proof that you are knowledgeable and trustworthy in your area of expertise. Interactive features, such as prize draws and polls, invite your customers to engage with you in a fun way, and are therefore a great (and cheap) way to develop a two-way relationship with your followers (who will come from the entire spectrum of the stakeholders impacting your business as defined in your strategic marketing plan). Make sure to set aside some time for win-win engagement, such as sharing, liking and responding to comments on your posts – this is a useful way to encourage positive affiliation with your brand.
Understanding the AIDA principles provides additional insights into the classical customer journey. AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. Your social media strategy can support these four steps by creating content supporting each step – in this way, you are more likely to achieve your end goal, rather than going straight for the sale from the word go.
Where you post is also dependent on your overall marketing plan. However, establishing a core presence across the three most popular platforms – Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn – is a good starting point for communicating with your customers (Twitter works very well for some companies too, but not – we believe – for most). Alongside this, various other social platforms can be effective for achieving your desired outcomes (think about whether they are engagement-first or content-first – and what type of content (video, podcasts, blogs etc). For video content, YouTube and TikTok are the two most obvious options. It is always important to be aware of emerging social media, such as TikTok, and which ones are right for your customers in terms of their demographics (the content is defined by psychographics). Every platform offers different types of interfaces and will be appropriate for different ages and sales channel (B2B, B2C and both). Never presume however that business customers need to be targeted on business social media platforms and vice versa. Business customers are normal people, and consumer customers are business people. As it is relatively cheap to communicate across all channels (even using the same content), then it might be effective to try more to begin with and refine down over time if you are not getting the results you want.
As with all the best marketing strategies, you must be dynamic in your approach, willing to change your approach on an ongoing basis as you accumulate evidence of how your social media audiences respond, fine tuning your strategy on an ongoing basis. Typically, we find that it takes three to six months to get a social strategy as effective as possible at any moment in time.
SEO, Social Media and Content
For most organisations with limited budgets, it is a general truth that the holy trinity of effective marketing is to invest in SEO, content, and social media. In order to optimise your social media strategy, it needs to be supported by SEO and content that is relevant. And a content marketing strategy needs to be support by SEO and social media. And an SEO strategy needs to be supported by social media and content. Pound for pound, 90% of businesses will find this approach delivers the best bang for their buck.
However, it always get down to having a robust marketing plan in place to begin with, one that is aligned with your commercial proposition and your brand philosophy. If you are interested in find out more about our integrated marketing agency offering in more detail, please get in touch. We have a variety of solutions to suit every budget, from a one-off workshop to a multi-day package. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.