What Is A Social Media Strategy, Anyway?
Have you ever felt that pained head-in-hands, can’t-think-of-anything anxiety when you realise you need to post on a social network and you don’t know what to say?
Have you ever spent what felt like hours scrolling through the internet, trying to find out why your hashtags aren’t working, or why you aren’t getting more Facebook comments, or why nobody is clicking your links?!
Social media related overwhelm is no stranger to most businesses; and the answer is surprisingly simple. You need a strategy.
A social media strategy is your map.
It breaks down what you are trying to do on social media, and the tactics that you’ll use to get there. Putting them together can be laborious - you need to understand how social media can support your business goals, set targets, understand your target audience, where they hang out and what they like, and then combine all of this information with the latest algorithm changes to produce tactics that will strategically help you to achieve your targets. But, the time it takes is nothing compared to the time that you’ll waste chasing the algorithm without one!
You can get started quite simply by using the 5 W’s.
Now, no strategy is going to be simple to build, but the simplest way of constructing a social media strategy is to use the 5 W’s.
Why do you want to be on social media?
Who is your target audience?
What are you going to share?
Where are you going to share?
When are you going to share?
We’ll take a quick look at them all - but bear in mind that to cover everything in detail would make this a book, so it’ll be concise!
Why do you want to be on social media?
This one isn’t too difficult - the only caveat is that you need to be sure that your social media goals support your overall business goals! In general, there are nine social media goals that you can have;
Increasing brand awareness
Driving traffic to your website or app
Generating new leads
Growing revenue by increasing sign-ups or sales
Boosting brand engagement
Building a community around your business
Providing customer service
Increasing your reputation
Listening to conversations around your brand.
You may have more than one goal - it’s quite possible to use social media to do more than one of these at a time! It is a good idea to pick a maximum of three or four, and to prioritise them so everyone is clear what is most important, should a conflict ever arise.
Who is your target audience?
This is the one that most businesses don’t do well enough. It’s not enough to have a vague idea, and you definitely do not want to try marketing on social media to everyone. It is destined to fail.
On a basic level, you need to know who you are talking to in enough detail that you’ll know what they want. For example, a travel company needs to know that it’s customers are looking for tips, advice and inspiration on where to holiday and how to make the most of each place that they visit. But, there’s a lot more that they’d need to know. If you’re looking for a holiday, you could be looking for cheap deals, for luxury deals, for childfree holidays, for honeymoons, for kids clubs… So you need to know your audience!
There are a lot of ways to build personas, but as a bare minimum, you want to know -
Who are they? What’s their age, career, gender, salary, location?
What are they interested in? Entertainment, education, case studies, product updates, deals and sales…
Where do they hang out online? Facebook, Instagram, forums, LinkedIn…
When do they consume content? Is it at work, on their commute, in the morning, at night…
Why do they consume content? Do they want to be better at their job, improve their home life, earn more money, stay healthy, stay up-to-date…
How do they consume content? Do they buy books, read social posts, listen to podcasts, watch videos…
What will you talk about?
Now it’s time to take a look at your content strategy. This isn’t just what format of content that you’re going to make - it’s what themes or topics should you talk to your audience about. Remember that social media was designed to be social, and if you’re sharing irrelevant or promotional content all the time, you will struggle to attract and keep followers!
Let’s look at an example. Huckleberry are an outdoor equipment company. They do occasionally post about their equipment on social, and there are links back to their site… but the core of their social content is about the great outdoors. They’ve built a community of people who love the outdoors and engage with Huckleberry about it, which means they have a community full of their potential customers who have Huckleberry at the top of their minds when they need new equipment.
Some brands have more than one topic, too - that’s not a problem. Gymshark, for example, are a fitness apparel brand. They share fitness news and inspiration, their latest products, and engage with things that their target audience will love - for example, tweeting along to Love Island. There’s not much of a connection between Love Island and Gymshark - the brand has no connection to the program - but the contestants tend to be fit individuals, and the Love Island audience tends to match Gymsharks’, so joining in makes sense!
Look at your persona, and ask yourself what goals and challenges those people have, and how you can help.
NB: You do want to think outside the box here when it comes to what you’re sharing - too many brands just use social to shout about themselves, and then wonder why it’s not working! But you need to be realistic too. For example, if you were a soap company targeting mums needing a break, you could branch your content into mindfulness, taking 5 minutes for yourself, hygiene and mental health… but it’d be a stretch to start talking about holidays. There does need to be a connection to your product, and a crossover in audience!
Where will you share?
What platforms should your brand be on? This will depend on a few factors, but before we go any further, please note that your brand doesn’t need to be on every platform. It really doesn’t! Being on fewer platforms can reduce overwhelm, increase focus and give you more time to focus on really getting the most from that platform. That said, it is worth claiming your profile on each of the big sites, so you have them if you want them in the future.
Now, to decide where to be, take a look at your target audience and consider the platforms that they use. What are they active on, and how do they use it?
Next, consider what your brand is good at. If you’ve got lots of great photography, Instagram might be a great match if you’re audience is there - but if you’ll struggle for photos, it needs some extra thought.
Finally, don’t dismiss the less known networks. For people who love exercise, Strava is a great platform and community. Zwift, a multiplayer online cycling platform, started a profile there to start talking to their target audience - and they now have a community of over 63,000 cyclists, and get thousands of engagements per post.
When should you share?
Remember to consider the habits of your target audience when you decide when to post. It can feel very easy to just decide 10am on weekdays suits you, but it might not suit your audience! For example, sports fans engage with sports content at much higher rates before, during and just after sports events. Athletes tend to use social media more when they’re cooling down from exercise. People who commute tend to use social most during that commute. Mothers of babies use social for company a lot when they’re awake through the night.
What should your posts look like?
This one is often forgotten. You also need to decide how your content will look and feel. What colours will you use? Will you add your branding to images? Will you use stock photos? User generated content?
Then, you need to find your tone of voice and tone. If your brand was a person, what would it’s personality be like? What relationship would they have to the consumer? How do you want customers to think about your brand?
It can be useful to write down adjectives that you don’t want your brand to be, too, to tighten the guidelines!
Take a look at other companies and see what tones they have, and whether you like them. For example, do they take an advisor position, and be formal and advisory? Are they playful and fun?
Then you’d add your plan.
That’s the level underneath, the day-to-day tactics that you’ll do to achieve these points. These wouldn’t be set in stone, but you’d have them mapped out for 30/60/90 days, and then review them and refine your strategy.
So, that’s a social media strategy! If you’re struggling with yours, I’d be happy to help - I create bespoke social media strategy plans for businesses of all sizes, and even include a review session so we can refine together. You can grab yours here!