Do you often hear about social media, but don’t know exactly how to build a social media strategy? Do you want to promote your brand, or your company, on social networks, but don’t know where to start?
Perfect, in this mini-guide, starting from the definition of “social media strategy”, we will see together what are the steps to follow to create a winning strategy, which will lead you to achieve concrete and measurable results on social networks.
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By definition, “social media strategy” is a digital marketing strategy that is implemented on social networks. Today, social media has deeply permeated the daily lives of more than 2.3 billion people, so much so that life on social profiles is now mixed with real life, offline.
Most of us have a profile on social networks because there we find entertainment, inspiration, escape from everyday life, but also updated news related to our profession. We use social networks for the most diverse needs, including reading news, articles, and reviews, but also to find out about places we want to go, or products we are considering buying. And many companies have understood this.
Companies, large or small, know the value of a touch point with their users at the precise moment in which a need to satisfy arises in them. The secret of an effective presence on social networks, as on the web, is “being present in the right place, at the right time”. And which? This is the moment of user need, while a purchase decision is being made, the moment in which the probability of conversion becomes more concrete. This is why an active presence on social media is the basis of a successful social media strategy.
A user looking for a product to buy, if reached by another brand before yours, will most likely be a lost customer. For this reason, for most companies, planning a communication strategy on social media is an excellent investment in terms of ROI (return on investment). But such a presence cannot be built in a day, it must be planned with care and competence.
We start with two assumptions:
1. There is no golden rule that leads you to a successful presence on social networks because the social media strategy must be modulated based on:
- the type of company involved,
- the objectives to be achieved,
- the channels that you intend to use to intercept the reference target,
- the resources and budget are available.
2. There is no social media strategy that is not inscribed within a broader digital strategy.
Given this, we can move on to the guidelines to follow to set up your own, personal social media strategy. Understanding what the world of social media wants.
The main steps of a social media strategy are:
2. Content creation,
5. Community management,
6. Insights analysis,
7. Test & Learn.
This is a crucial part of the social media strategy because once set well, the other steps will be much easier to implement. Regardless of the type of business of your company, or the one in which you work, you will first need to understand which direction to take. This is the phase in which you have to ask yourself as many questions as possible, skim the superfluous ones and find a solution to the right ones.
For example, you might ask yourself questions like:
- What social channels are my users active on?
- Do users know my brand?
- Do I have to have a website?
- How much can I potentially increase my audience by using that channel?
- How many contacts, or users, do I want to aim to acquire through social networks?
Once you have answered questions of this kind, I suggest you analyze your competitors, a benchmarking, and a competitor analysis, to study their behavior and their communication strategy on social networks. Furthermore, I advise you to study the behavior of their audience, which will partly coincide with yours (if you have selected your competitors well). A preliminary analysis of this type is essential because if you analyze your competitors’ market, you will be able to find business opportunities and you will be able to find the communication key to distinguish your brand from theirs.
Secondly, studying your competitors’ audience, and listening to what users have to say, will allow you to understand what questions your potential customers are asking. Questions and requests that will be your advantage to satisfy, better, and before the others.
Set goals and budget
Objectives and budgets must be considered together because the two elements are closely related to each other. In an effective social media strategy, you need to set goals that are commensurate with your budget. You cannot plan a trip to the moon with a budget of $100 – maybe one day it will be possible, but not yet -. This is hyperbole, but many times inexperience can lead to setting goals that are completely out of reach.
For example, if a company doesn’t even have an active Facebook page, it is impossible to think that it can reach a fanbase of 10,000 users in a month unless it is a brand that is already famous in the offline market and has a substantial budget to invest in social media marketing.
Therefore, try to set realistic goals, and KPIs (key performance indicators) that you can achieve, such as:
- Increase the fanbase,
- Generate contacts and create a database of users interested in my product,
- Acquire new customers,
- Do customer care through social channels,
- Collect useful feedback also for offline sales,
- Sell directly on social networks,
- Get a certain ROI on Facebook.
These are all examples of results you could achieve with a social media strategy. I didn’t combine numbers with these goals on purpose, for example, I didn’t write “Increase the fanbase by 10K in a month” because this, as I hinted before, depends a lot on the budget available and on the type of company on which strategy is being shaped.
And again, with the same advertising investment, a company will be able to obtain a higher ROI than another company because it has more captivating creativity, or has hit its target better. This is why, I keep repeating it, a social media strategy must be studied and created based on the type of business and product of the brand in question. Furthermore, the strategy on social networks must also take into account the point of the conversion funnel where you are: Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral. Each step of the funnel has its KPIs and metrics to measure.
In addition to the budget, in setting goals, it is also necessary to consider the human resources that are in the team, or the company, and what skills they have, enhancing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.
The choice of channels
This choice is also very important because it is good to understand where the majority of your users are and on which channels they are more likely to convert.
- Where are your users located?
- On which channel is your potential conversion rate higher?
To understand which channel is best for your brand, I recommend that you first do a detailed targeting. The ideal would be to build your Buyer’s Personas, and create surveys, to understand what their needs are, what is the tone of voice with which they are more likely to listen to you, and so on. Once the archetypes of your users have been built, you will be able to understand which channels to conquer with your social media strategy to reach them in the best possible way, optimizing the budget you have available.
But I still recommend that you experiment before allocating all your budget to a few channels. You can try to experiment with which channel has the best Engagement Rate (user engagement rate), using the Growth Hacking experimentation techniques for example. These are rapid experiments on the product and/or marketing channels, to find the most suitable ones to achieve the company’s growth objectives.
Frequency of publication
This topic falls somewhere between planning and publishing content. On the one hand, the choice of publication frequency is part of strategic planning activities, because it also depends on the budget and human resources available, such as copywriters, visual artists, designers, and video makers. Furthermore, the frequency must also be chosen based on the type of user to whom we are addressing, in order not to risk boring them with our content, making them distance themselves from our brand, which is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve.
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2. Content creation
“Content is king,” said Bill Gates and I defy anyone to blame him! Even in a social media strategy, the contents are fundamental, indeed it could be said that 50% of the success of the strategy depends on its effectiveness and the remaining 50% on showing them to the right target, at the right time. “Content” means text, images, videos, and other multimedia content, such as podcasts and resources accessible to users.
- What is the value proposition that you are offering to your users?
- What is the most effective way to communicate it?
If you have studied your target audience well, you will know how to decline your message, so that it is attractive in the eyes of users. You also have to choose the right tone of voice and again, there is no universal rule. For example, if you work for a bank, you will communicate useful messages to your users, in a tone that represents your company and the approach to your social media strategy will be different from what you would use if you worked in a toy company for children.
Each company, or product, has its tone of voice, commensurate with both the product it sells and the audience it addresses. But not only that, but every social network also wants its tone. For example on Twitter, where a tweet consists of 280 characters, communication is concise and concise, while on Facebook there is no such limit, but it must be guessed based on the reading habits of its users and the basis of continuous updates of the algorithm.
And again, while on LinkedIn, the professional social network, it will be difficult to find companies that communicate playfully, on Instagram we could find ironic visuals even in the feeds of well-structured companies. It is a question of adapting the stylistic register to the interlocutor, the channel, and the overall digital strategy that is applied.
Text, images, and videos
The text is the prince of communication, knowing how to write persuasively and convey clear and effective messages is essential in every area on the web, such as on social networks. The image, on the other hand, is the queen of content. The power of images in marketing is disruptive, as visual content crosses any linguistic boundary and is much more engaging than a string of words. In an instant, in the blink of an eye, a well-constructed image communicates more than a paragraph full of words.
Even more powerful than the static image is video, with all its forms, such as GIF, motion graphics, or cinematography. For a couple of years now in the context of social networks, “This year is the year of videos” has been affirmed and the trends confirm these assertions. This is because the moving image, combined with the audio, involves several senses at the same time and the messages are more complete, more exciting, and intriguing. A successful social network linked to video production is Tiktok.
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More than the content itself, creativity is a determining factor. Having a competent team, with ideas or the box, is just as important as having people with vertical skills in social media advertising.
How is content published? Once the frequency of publication has been established, as seen above, it is necessary to understand:
- How to schedule publications on the various channels chosen;
- On what days and at what times to do it.
We certainly cannot bombard our users with the same messages, published on the same days of the week on all the social channels on which they follow us, otherwise, we would make them run away. We need to create a PED, an editorial plan also for the social media strategy, not just for the company blog, so that the contents are published guaranteeing user variety, but also consistency in the messages.
The editorial plan
How do you create a PED? The internet is full of templates, but in reality, it is enough to arm yourself with an Excel file, open as many sheets as there are channels that we will use, and create:
- a grid with the days of the month;
- one with textual contents;
- one with images, or video.
And There you go, our PED is ready.
But is there a way to schedule all of this? Yes, some tools allow you to plan the publication of content on all of our social networks. Many are paid but offer free trials of a few days, or unlimited trials over time, but with reduced functions. Among these, I recommend trying PostPickr, which has a completely free plan, with basic features, and Hootsuite, which instead allows you to try the tool for 30 days, in full functionality. No tool at the moment allows you to schedule posts on Instagram, instead, it is possible to prepare posts in advance and download a mobile app, which will receive a notification when it is time to publish them.
When to post
The best days and times to publish your content depend on the response and involvement of your users and this data does not remain fixed over time, as it depends on the habits of your fanbase. You’ll have to experiment if you’re just starting, or if you have historical data, you’ll need to analyze it to understand which content is performing best, on which days, and at which times it was published. By performance, we mean the result of some metrics to take into consideration, such as coverage (people reached), “likes”, comments, and shares.
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Social media advertising is a very important, yet fun, part of social media strategy. In this phase, first, you decide how to allocate the budget on the various social channels, whether to do A/B testing and then you move on to sponsorship. Each social network has its advertising methods, for example, sponsorship on Facebook and Instagram is managed by a single platform, Business Manager. In this tool, you have a dashboard to manage your ads, insights, billing, and much more.
In your social media strategy, you could decide whether to do adv in dark posting, i.e. using content that is not published on your Facebook page or your Instagram profile, but is visible only to the chosen target, for the time do the sponsorship. Or you could choose to sponsor your posts published organically, i.e. on your profiles, showing them not only to users who are part of your fanbase but also to those potentially interested in your brand or product.
Facebook and Instagram have their native formats, such as PPL (page post link), video, slideshow, and carousel. Furthermore, there are canvases, i.e. full-screen experiences, where it is possible to exploit various creative solutions, such as videos, images, and text in a single moment, just like in a landing page, but internal to the social network: this allows the speed of the platform, without risking dispersing the traffic, “hijacking” it outside.
In addition to Facebook and Instagram, it is possible to advertise on all other social networks, such as Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. For example, on Youtube it is possible to sponsor one’s videos, with different formats, or on Twitter one can sponsor one’s hashtag, on Snapchat one can sponsor branded “masks” and so on. Unfortunately, we cannot analyze all possible advertising formats on all social networks here, otherwise, it would mean writing an article within an article.
Going back to a more strategic point, in general, to do advertising you have to choose the target, set the budget, create the ad, and plan for publication. In an advertising strategy on social networks, on the one hand, the choice of channels in which to target your prospect, and on the other, creativity are of great importance. Creating ads with captivating graphics, with videos that are magnets for the eyes, and adopting persuasive copywriting, is essential to stand out from the sea of your competitors.
Offering something different to potential users is the key. Another very important factor is the value proposition: what do you offer your user? Here the “do ut des” mechanism comes into play, literally “I give, so that you give me”, translated “I offer value in exchange for value”. For example, do you want to create a lead generation campaign? You will first need to establish what your lead magnet is, the grail of the social media strategist. A lead magnet is something you offer in exchange for a quality lead. For example, if you are promoting a training course on your social channels, it will certainly be useful for you to collect the e-mails of potentially interested people, to then carry out lead nurturing them and bring them, later, to the conversion, that is, to the enrollment in your course. To get these leads, you’ll need to offer something in return, such as a free downloadable resource, or a preview PDF of the course.
5. Community management
Listening, responding, and studying your users are very important in an effective social media strategy. What our users tell us freely, i.e. without prompting us, is a treasure trove of information. User feedback on a product or service is an indication to improve our offer. The community is a place where people try to get reviews from other users on products or services they intend to buy.
Today’s user trusts other users like him a lot, creating a sort of empathetic bond. A user who writes a positive review on your page will most likely be taken into consideration by more than one of our sponsored posts. A user who talks about your company in positive terms becomes your brand ambassador, a sort of testimonial, different from the influencer. Furthermore, a user who is satisfied with what you offer him will be more willing to talk about you on social networks with his friends, creating what is called a World of Mouth (WOM). Maybe he will share your post with his friends and followers, and you will be able to exploit the power of UGC User-generated content, which for you corresponds to powerful and completely free advertising.
Managing and moderating a community on social networks is not very different from offering a classic customer care service. Through social networks, you can create a lasting and continuous relationship with your users. Replying to comments and private messages, as quickly as possible, will make them feel heard and close to your brand.
We need to be careful in managing “crises”, just remember the case of the footballer who responded badly to a private message on Instagram that had been sent to him by a boy who was a fan of another team. The screenshot of those messages went around the web and the player in question didn’t make a good impression on us. Even a brand, or a company, must maintain its tone of voice even in direct contact with the customer.
The Community Manager listens, answers, and studies its users. Learn about the skills required for this role
6. Analysis of Insights
The beauty of digital marketing, unlike the traditional one, is that everything is measurable! After a few days of testing, you can understand if your social media strategy is working or not. You can correct and optimize your campaigns at any time and this translates into saving time and money, as well as maximizing your ROI.
But how can you tell if your social media strategy is working? There are a few metrics that will point you in the direction to go. Many of these metrics can be found in the dashboards within your social profiles and for some channels, you will need to switch to a business account to access this data: this is the so-called social media research. Other metrics, on the other hand, can be obtained from Google Analytics Referrals, installed on your company website.
But what are the metrics that matter? A lot depends on where in the funnel you’re working on and what your goals are. In general, the metrics you can monitor on social media are impressions, reach, link clicks, interactions, and leads generated. For example, post reach indicates how many unique users you’ve reached, while impressions indicate how many times your ad has been seen (and some people may have seen it more than once).
The interactions with your posts, such as likes, comments, and shares, also matter a lot. The engagement rate, which is calculated with a formula, relates multiple elements and provides a general picture that indicates how engaged and involved your users are concerning your content. This is the engagement rate formula:
7. Test & Learn
How important is it to make mistakes to learn? It may seem rhetorical but it is exactly like that because a perfect social media strategy necessarily goes through experiments – and mistakes. Let’s say you have a budget of €500 for your advertising campaigns on social media. Would you spend it all on one channel? Better first to spend a part of this budget on the 2-3 social networks which, from your preliminary analyses, appear to be mostly populated by your prospects. Once you have identified the channel where users convert the most, you will allocate the rest of your budget there.
But even after testing the channel, you’ll have to test the contents by doing A/B testing, modifying the target, the combination of multiple visual elements, and the times and days of publication. In short, the tests to be performed are endless but don’t worry, the important thing is to test one element at a time, in order, to keep what works and eliminate the elements that don’t perform as you would like.
Through the analysis of insights and a series of tests, you will be able to do what is called social media optimization, constantly improving your strategy on social networks.
Learn all about the Social Media Strategist
Golden Rule: Know Your Users. As mentioned above, it would be good to study potential customers in-depth, as well as competitors. And the ideal would be to build buyer personas, also studying an adequate customer journey for each segment of the target. In general, in digital marketing, we are increasingly moving in the direction of Human Centered Design, in which the user is at the center of all the strategic and UI/UX (user interface and user experience) choices that are made.
What is a social media marketing strategy based on if you don’t have in mind who your users are? We need to understand how they communicate, what they are looking for, and where and when they do it. Every day, on average, we pick up our smartphone 150-200 times a day and we are constantly connected to the internet. Between the ages of 18 and 34 record surfers, with around 2 and a half hours per capita spent on devices. And all this browsing produces an enormous amount of data and invaluable information that helps marketers to profile their targets.
As mentioned before, users also search on social media for information relating to products and services, ask other users for opinions, or try to interact directly with companies that produce such goods or provide such services. Through a well-structured social media strategy, brands can establish a relationship with their users, even a very confidential one. On social media, you can listen directly to your audience and respond to their needs, establishing a constant relationship with the customer. All these questions and answers make up a database filled with information that is worth more than gold to a business.
In traditional marketing, it was impossible to know how many people would see your billboard, read your newspaper ad, see your TV commercial, or hear your radio ad. And nothing could be known about their behavior and habits. The advantage of digital marketing is that everything is measurable! You can know how many people are affected by your advertisement, how many click on your link (even if not traceable when specifically they do so through private channels such as instant messaging apps ), how many pages they visit on your site, how many buy on your e-commerce, how much they spend.
You can get to know valuable data, which will guide your strategy to success. The Data-Driven approach, i.e. literally “guided by the numbers” will not be able to make you wrong, if you interpret them correctly and impartially.
Social media strategy integrated into the digital strategy
As we have mentioned several times throughout this article, digital strategy and social media strategy should go hand in hand. You cannot think of a social media strategy that is not part of a multi-channel digital strategy: marketing channels must communicate with each other. By collecting data from each of them, you will have at your disposal a series of information about your users that will be as precious as gold, in every phase of your company’s growth.
For example, if you want to generate a lead, you could use a campaign on Facebook and one on Google Ads at the same time, then you could send the traffic to a landing page created with WordPress, where you explain to users what are the advantages they would derive from using your service or product.
On this landing you will insert a contact form and, once users leave you their contact, you will send them a transactional email and then a series of emails to nurture leads and convert these leads into active users. In this way, referring to the funnel, you will have passed from Awareness to Activation. But this is just a small example of how a social network marketing strategy can be integrated into a more complex marketing strategy.
A case study of a powerful Social Media Strategy
Here is an example of an effective and completely outout-of-the-boxcial media strategy .ave you ever heard of Taffo funeral services? It is a funeral services agency that has a resounding success on Facebook, built thanks to a solid strategy and an unconventional tone of voice, based on black humor. Communicating on social networks and establishing a dialogue with users is not easy for a brand, let alone for a company that offers a similar service.
On a company page that offers funeral services, we would hardly expect to find irreverent content. Yet users greatly appreciate this way of communicating, so much so that TAFFO has become a real “star” of Facebook. Behind this strong user engagement, there is a solid social media strategy based on:
- Social marMarketingRecognizable tone of voice
But behind this success, there is also a communication agency, KiRweb, and a marketing director, Riccardo Pirrone, who dared to pursue such an unconventional strategy, dealing in an ironic key, and never offensive, the theme of death. The objectives of brand awareness, fan base growth, and engagement have been largely achieved, also speaking of social issues. Congratulations to TAFFO. And we hope to see you as soon as possible!
If this article intrigued you and you would like to improve your social media skills, you could:
- also, read an article on the figure of the social media strategist and find out in detail what his job consists of.
- consider attending a highly professional training course and becoming a certified social media manager.
- Learn more with the social media strategist course
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