Social media should be a part of every brand’s marketing plan.
Maintaining an active presence on the social platforms where your customers are most active drives sales, increases positive brand engagements, and boosts brand awareness.
And if you’re creating a social strategy from scratch, it pays to plan ahead.
If you want to nail your brand’s social strategy in just a month, here is our four week guide to nailing social media.
Week one: get to know your customers
In the first week, research your audience to get a feel for who they are and what they will engage with. Understanding who your customers are on a deeper level will form the foundation of your social strategy, and will inform every decision you make.
Create audience personas to visualize your customers. Use existing consumer data to identify their location, jobs, salary, and so on to build up a generalized picture of each customer segment.
Your existing web and social analytics can help form the foundation of your customer personas, but there are plenty of other ways to harvest this data. Social listening tools such as Brandwatch can help monitor customer conversations online, providing you with further audience insight.
Use this to further identify their goals and pain points — this will help you understand what kind of content to create and share in your social strategy.
For example, one of Pantene’s key consumer segments is women who care about their hair health as they go about their busy lives. In order to connect with their audience, the brand partnered with Walgreens and The Weather Channel to release targeted social adverts providing a “haircast” on how the day’s weather might affect customer hair in real time.
This kind of targeted social ad is highly effective because it uses consumer data to aim ads at customers who will likely convert.
Week two: identify your key metrics
Simply implementing a social strategy isn’t enough — you need to quantify it too. Once you can measure it, you can improve upon it.
Identify key metrics and monitor them regularly:
- brand mentions
- conversion rate
Most social platforms have detailed user analytics. Facebook offers perhaps the most expansive social metrics for businesses, providing in-depth insight into everything from your followers and branded content to your promotions and page actions.
Using social media metrics, you can track customer behaviour in your online ecosystem. Use this data to test different posts, campaigns and strategies against each other to see which are more successful.
For example, if your social strategy is focused on Instagram, invest in a tool like Owlmetrics that will help you understand follower engagement, growth, and click-through rate. It can give you insight into whether your strategy is producing meaningful results that impact key metrics like revenue or brand awareness.
Week three: plan your content
Your social strategy is not a static thing. It is active and requires constant attention. You will need to create and share interesting, engaging content on a regular basis.
It pays to plan and schedule your content well in advance. This lets you create a coherent strategy from a holistic perspective, rather than hurriedly creating content ad hoc.
Having identified your various audience personas and what metrics you want to measure, you can create and curate content that caters to each of those needs.
For example, Nike’s customers are fitness lovers who are always aspiring to the next level. Its social content reflects this by highlighting sporting heroes, as below:
It’s motivating, inspiring, and perfectly speaks to Nike’s customer base.
Unmetric’s Lakshmanan Narayan conducted a study into some top brands’ social strategies and found that great content (as we already know) sells and engages, and “targeted messaging that engages your ideal customer should be your priority.”
As a rule of thumb, only 20% of your content should be directly promoting your business. The other 80% should be ideas, stories, and interesting pieces that will pique your audience’s interest. This is a good way of engaging with customers and encouraging comments and interaction.
Indeed, sharing beneficial information such as DIY tips and recipes receives more likes, shares and comments on average than any other kind. Videos and images are also effective — they make an instant impact, and people are much more likely to share them across their own network.
Week four: track your data and evaluate your results
Tracking and evaluating your social strategy isn’t just a week four job. It’s something that requires constant attention. Keep track of what’s performing and what isn’t, and continue to refine your strategy to get the most benefit for your business.
Each of the above steps should be measured and assessed continually. If you find that one isn’t performing as well as you expected, amend accordingly.
For example, if one of your key metrics was to see a significant rise in engagement with your brand but you’re still left wanting, consider the kind of content you’re sharing. If you find a certain type of content elicits one metric but not the other, go back to the drawing board.
It’s even possible that might find maintaining multiple social channels is no better than simply running one or two key platforms.
For example, look at the successful stores for sale on the Exchange marketplace. While some manage presences across multiple social channels, there are many that only have a couple. iShip Deals is a well-performing business that sees $4500 average profit a month, and yet it only has a single social profile on Facebook.
If your metrics indicate that your Facebook and Instagram are seeing better results than your Twitter or Pinterest, it might be worth jettisoning the deadweight.
Every brand needs a solid social strategy. Before creating yours, identify your audience and your key metrics. These will help form the foundation of a social strategy that will serve your brand well into the future.
Patrick Foster is a digital strategist, solopreneur and ecommerce nerd from Ecommerce Tips. Here he writes about everything ecommerce, from design tips and marketing hacks to business acumen and social strategy. Want a piece of the knowledge pie? Find him on Twitter @myecommercetips for all the latest.