How to write a social media strategy

Social media was once just a cheap and easy way to promote a brand – but those day are over. With so many profiles to manage, measure, and create content for, social media is now a legitimate marketing channel that requires real investment.

When it comes to writing a strategy for your social media accounts, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve broken it down into manageable chunks for you – follow these 6 steps and find out how to plan and execute a social media strategy that will help you amplify your brand and get results.

Step 1: Setting social media goals

Goal setting is the first step for any social media strategy – in order to plan, you need to know what you’re aiming to achieve. Your goals should align with the wider aims of your business.

For example, if you want your social media activity to increase brand awareness, your goals should be based on growing your following and expanding the reach of your posts. If you want to increase sales, you might look to set goals based on conversion (which can be done using Google Analytics).

Use the metrics that work best for you and think about how you might present these to your boss, the board, or your CEO. What will be meaningful to them? Using SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) will mean you can prove your strategy is working, as you will have measurable goals and deadlines to hit.

Step 2: Assess your current social landscape (with a competitor gap analysis)

It’s important to know your place in the current social landscape and how you fit in amongst your competitors. Ask yourself:

  • What are other brands doing in your market?
  • Which are the standout brands you aspire to on social?
  • What is your USP and how does it fit in?

Once you have a rough idea of where you stand, carry out a full competitor gap analysis. This involves doing extensive research into each brand, looking at:

  • All of their social profiles on each brand and channel
  • Metrics for each brand and channel, including followers, engagement, and sentiment

(focus on the metrics that fit with your own objectives set out in step 1)

  • Patterns in when they post, including how often and what time of day/week
  • Type of content that is successful for each brand (lists, guides, graphics etc.)

Use this information and create a list of brief takeaways – what recommendations do you want to implement for your own brand?

Step 3: Carry out a social media audit for your brand

You’ll also need to audit your own channels. Social media seems to be something that’s historically passed around different people within a business, including some who might not have been trained how to use it… If this sounds familiar, you may need to do a social media clean up.

Namech_k is a handy tool that can help find forgotten or duplicate accounts. Search a username, brand, or domain and it’ll check across hundreds of social media platforms to find relevant results.

List these a document and then decide whether the profile should be kept or deleted. Before deleting, make sure to check if the account has any useful content that can be transferred to your main account.

Consider which channels you really need to be active on. If you don’t think a channel is worth investing time in, or that it won’t help you hit your goals and objectives, remove the account.

Three final points to consider as part of your social media audit:

  1. Decide who will be in charge of uploading and monitoring the content and set up an owner for the channel.
  2. Create an aim for each channel – do you want to use it to promote services, spread knowledge, or engage with users? These aims should tie back to your objectives and ensure the content generated on that specific profile is relevant.

Step 4: Carry out a content audit for each profile

Each of your profiles will perform differently – Facebook might be thriving, while Twitter is more stagnant. To identify what is working well, take a deeper look at each profile and come up with actions. A few standard things we suggest including are:

  • Community size: What is your overall number of followers?
  • Verification: Is your account verified? If not, start working towards it – it’s a good trust signal for users and for Google (although Twitter isn’t currently verifying accounts).
  • Profile images and about sections: This is the first thing uses might see when visiting your profile. Make sure you are using the right image sizes (Hootsuite have a really useful guide on site) and tone of voice, and include all relevant information including what you do, your contact details, location, opening hours, etc.
  • Engagement: Measure this overall and break it down by content type, length, and time/day posted. This information will be useful when you create a content calendar.
  • Traffic and sessions: Compare against your objectives (e.g. driving traffic to site) to get an idea of how your accounts are performing.
  • Conversions: Look at how you can push sales.
  • Bounce rate: Are you directing your followers to relevant and interesting areas of your website?
  • Best performing content: Look at your website’s best performing content and feed this into your social strategy.

Once you have all of this information, you can carry out a mini SWOT analysis to provide actions and recommendations for your accounts.

Step 5: Creating editorial and content calendars

Once have a strong understanding of your accounts and your competitors’ accounts, it’s time to start planning your content. Create a top level editorial calendar and a more detailed content calendar.

Editorial calendar

The editorial calendar is an outline of important dates for your followers and your company. This should include anything that could be worth talking about on social, such as:

  • Product launches
  • Sales
  • PR campaigns
  • Company/brand related events
  • Other relevant events e.g. World Cup, Christmas
  • National awareness days
  • Website/blog calendar

Social listening tools such as Pulsar or Linkfluence can be a good way to define worthwhile topics of conversation. For example, a health brand probably already knows to post about fitness and nutrition, but social listening can help find other relevant topics to target, such as fashion, celebrity, or charity.

Content calendar

Your Editorial calendar will give you an idea of what topics you need to cover and when. The content calendar is a more specific list that defines the exact posts and which assets will sit alongside them.

When planning your content calendar, consider the balance of your posts – too many promotional posts might spam users, causing them to unfollow you. Counter your sales-specific messages with other useful content, company news, customer stories, and general conversation.

Outline your content calendar in a spreadsheet, splitting the posts into channels. We recommend a table a format that covers:

  • Channel (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Date of post
  • Time of post
  • Topic
  • Copy (the exact message you will use in the post)
  • Call To Action – do you need to include a link? What is the aim?
  • Asset – do you need an image or picture?

Once you have created your content calendar, it’s time to start scheduling the posts. There are loads of different tools to help you do this in bulk, as uploading posts manually is a time-consuming task. Buffer, Hootsuite and Sprout social are amongst the most well-known.

Step 6: Monitoring and evaluating your strategy

Evaluate how things are going and demonstrate return on investment by measuring the results across your social platforms via a report. The report should always follow the same format so you can easily compare it against previous months and the KPIs originally set out in step 1.

If something works well, do it again. If something doesn’t work, re-evaluate your strategy. Editing and reviewing your calendars is part of the process, and it’ll help you get the most out of your social media content.

We’ve listed a few things we regularly report on, but they may change based on your goals. Focus on the metrics that are important to your brand:

  • Followers (overall and for each channel/profile)
  • Engagement (overall and for each channel/profile)
  • Share of voice
  • Website traffic and conversions
  • Sentiment

By following these six steps, you should have a sound social media strategy that helps grow your following and hit real business goals. Though it may be a lengthy process initially, it will make long-term planning much easier and allow you to prove the worth of social media – and reap the benefits.

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