8 Steps to Creating a Social Media Strategy
Social networks are marketing tools that are as effective as they are changing: they seem to multiply every day, and new features are regularly developed. The challenge for businesses is significant. They must not only understand how the social networks they use function but also integrate new features as opportunities arise. Without dedicated full-time experts, success on social media relies on a simple, adapted plan, taking into account available resources and business objectives.
How to create a social media strategy in 8 steps?
1 - Define the target audience Defining the target audience refines the choice of social networks to use and the type of content to distribute. For instance, the B2B audience is primarily active on LinkedIn, while Generation Z prefers video formats on TikTok. The business formulates and implements its social media strategy based on its ideal customer profile, making this step crucial.
Companies identify and document their buyer personas by establishing the key demographic data of the audience they want to reach: age, gender, profession, income, hobbies, and interests. To enrich the typical profile, businesses consider the challenges and problems these personas encounter daily.
Once the buyer personas are identified and documented, the company focuses on the three or four profiles that represent the majority of its target clientele. Segmentation is then applied in the social media strategy implementation to avoid presenting a too generic message that would not create engagement. Instead, messages are personalized, reaching the target more effectively.
2 - Start a blog As part of its overall digital marketing strategy, the business uses various channels, including its social networks and website. One serves the interests of the other: the user can land on either the web page or the brand's social network. Sharing content on each platform ensures content visibility and reinforces the message's impact.
Users who land on the social network are redirected to the website, increasing its traffic. Conversely, users who arrive on the webpage are encouraged to view the social media, thus enlarging the community and increasing engagement rates.
A successful social media strategy relies on creating and sharing fresh, original, high-quality content. Establishing a blog is crucial for this, especially since a blog allows for longer formats than social media. Businesses can then produce higher quality and original content at regular intervals. This content is then shared in excerpt form on social networks. In essence, the company adds a blog to its website, then creates content addressing frequently asked questions by prospects and topics dear to them. The business regularly publishes this content, with at least one new article each week. Sharing blog articles in excerpt form on social networks increases traffic: the blog is the source of content, and the social networks act as marketing relays.
3 - Create informative content While the blog is a primary content source, it's beneficial to create content specifically tailored for social media: informative, short, and engaging content. Among the formats best suited for social networks are:
- Downloadable content, such as e-books,
- Infographics. To effectively engage the community, messages conveyed through these formats address challenges faced by target prospects. The more useful and informative the content, the more inclined the audience is to share it on social networks, increasing the campaign's reach.
4 - Monitor the competition Competitive monitoring is essential for efficiency and seizing every opportunity promptly. The business observes the following practices:
- Which social networks are the competitors on?
- What types of content do they share?
- Which content is the most popular? Each company has its style and crafts a unique social media strategy. Without outright copying, drawing inspiration helps stay updated on trends. Knowing how competitors position themselves on social networks also helps in differentiation.
5 - Focus on a few key social networks Most small and medium-sized businesses lack the resources to establish and maintain a strong presence on more than a handful of social networks. Moreover, learning the engagement rules for each can seem daunting. To overcome these challenges, businesses proceed in steps.
First step: identify the main social networks likely used by the target audience. Examples include:
- LinkedIn is vital for professionals. Using LinkedIn not only helps grow the professional network but also attracts new B2B prospects. Companies can post about new product launches and share in-depth articles to promote their offerings. Using LinkedIn emphasizes expertise and enhances brand professionalism, improving its image and reputation.
- Snapchat and TikTok cater to a younger audience. Especially since 2020, TikTok has risen in the social media landscape, quickly reaching an older demographic. Its short video format is playful and aligns with the audience's expectations. Businesses can also launch challenges to boost community engagement. TikTok is suitable when a company's activity justifies creative and whimsical content, allowing the brand to showcase modernity while creating strong rapport with the audience.
- Pinterest and Instagram are visually oriented. Users appreciate aesthetic visuals and engaging stories posted by the brands they follow. Using Instagram allows businesses to showcase their products or services, provided they have the skills and tools to design attractive presentations and capture effective photos. Numerous professions can benefit from these platforms, including design, gastronomy, tourism, cosmetics, and graphic creation.
- Twitter and Facebook, older platforms, cater to a broad and diverse audience. On Facebook, brands can engage their subscribers by publishing various content types: text, images, videos, or contests. A brand's presence on Facebook is advisable, as it's seen as the traditional social network: prospects may question a brand's credibility if they can't find its Facebook account. Twitter mainly targets B2B sectors, media, and politicians, publishing news at an intensive frequency.
- YouTube emphasizes video, a potent media for a company's social media strategy. YouTube allows for promotional content broadcasting and also for tutorials or client case studies. Brands can set up their YouTube channel, provided they can update it regularly. While the format is adaptable for most industries, video marketing requires significant resources, which not all organizations have. The second step: once the relevant social networks are identified, businesses create brand accounts and gradually build, engage, and maintain their community through regular and quality posts. Only after these initial efforts can companies add new networks to their communication arsenal.
6 - Develop a consistent and realistic schedule For results, companies must establish a coherent publication and engagement schedule. To start, they craft a feasible strategy that they can commit to in the long run. This involves setting publication frequency and subscriber engagement goals. Over time, the strategy adapts and becomes more precise as businesses analyze results and adjust to feedback.
A sample social media strategy could look like this:
- One blog article weekly,
- One infographic monthly,
- Two LinkedIn posts weekly,
- Four Facebook posts weekly,
- Two Twitter posts daily,
- One Instagram post every two days. Once the frequency is set, companies use social media management tools to plan and automate their posts. Several tools are available to help streamline this task:
- Sprout Social. These tools are used to prepare content in advance, scheduling posts for different networks. This helps maintain a regular posting rhythm and improves the consistency of the brand's message on each platform.
7 - Analyze and adjust Once implemented, the social media strategy is analyzed regularly. Monitoring tools help identify which posts resonate most with the audience and which ones underperform. By continuously adjusting the strategy based on the data, companies can refine their approach and achieve better results. Some popular monitoring tools include:
- Google Analytics (for website traffic),
- Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics (for their respective platforms),
- HubSpot (a comprehensive tool covering multiple platforms). In addition to the number of likes, comments, and shares, these tools provide crucial insights, such as:
- The best times to post,
- Demographic data about the audience,
- Conversion rates. The data derived helps adjust the strategy in real-time, ensuring it remains effective.
8 - Engage and grow the community A business's success on social media is also contingent upon the quality of engagement with its audience. Responding to comments and messages promptly, sharing user-generated content, organizing contests, and fostering collaboration with influencers are proven strategies for growing the community. For businesses, this means dedicating resources to handle customer interactions, ensuring quick and helpful responses. It also involves staying updated on social media trends and continuously adapting to changes in user behavior.