Your in-depth guide on how to create a social media marketing strategy. It’s highly likely that your business already uses social media, am I right? However, you may not be getting the results that you want. In our experience, businesses who are struggling to make social media marketing work for them are the businesses who don’t have a social media marketing strategy.
The more specific and detailed your strategy is, the better your results will be. So, let’s jump in and build yours.
Where to start to create your social media marketing strategy?
Define and understand your audience
Most sources of information on how to create a social media marketing strategy tell you to set your goals first. Then choose the right platform. Then learn about your audience. How counterintuitive is that? How can you know your choosing the right platform or setting realistic goals if you don’t know who your audience is and how they use social media from the beginning?
The short answer is you don’t. That’s why whenever we create a strategy for anything at Proper Video, we start with learning and understanding who the target audience is. Putting your audience at the heart of your social media marketing strategy ensures that you can make informed decisions and set off on the right foot.
Different audiences use different social channels in different ways. For example, let’s say you’re a young women’s clothing brand targeting 18 – 24 year old women. It’s probable that you will find that a large portion of your target audience uses Instagram. But what if, after some digging, you found your audience wasn’t using Instagram news feeds, instead they were spending 90% of their time looking through Instagram stories.
First, let’s look at how you can start to breakdown your target audience.
Create an audience Persona
At this stage, you want to breakdown your audience in its simplest form. You need to think about:
Age – There’s no need to be too specific here. Try to think about whether they are between certain age ranges, for example 24 – 34 or 45 – 55.
Location – Are you a local one-person business who only serve your local area? Or are you an ecommerce brand who can sell internationally?
Income – Let’s say you’re selling watches – are you selling £25 fitness watches or are you selling Rolex watches for thousands of pounds?
Other ways you can break them down are gender, goals, interests, challenges, frustrations, job title and more.
The most common reason that businesses fail to generate engagement on social media is they often miss this crucial step. B2B brands often define their target audience by company attributes like turnover, number of employees, whether they’re a start-up and so on. That’s good and you absolutely must do that, but you also need to think about who the decision maker is. We have a saying at Proper Video ‘Companies don’t buy from people; people buy from people’. What this means is, ultimately, it’s not the company who will make the decision, it’s a person.
If you’re target audience is companies with under 25 employees it’s likely that the owner is the decision maker and therefore, the person you need to speak to. On the other hand, if you’re targeting businesses with over 250 employees, it’s likely that you will deal with a head of department or a manage. If this sound like you then yes, you must breakdown your customer by company attributes, but you must also need to breakdown who the decision maker is.
Is it Mike the 45-year-old marketing manager who often goes mountain biking with his friends on a weekend? Or is it Sarah the small business owner who spends most of her free time going for long walks. Whoever is it, what are the challenges they face in business that you could help with? What values to they look for in potential partners? You can see how all of this starts to build a picture of who you’re targeting.
If you’re an existing business you can look through your customer database. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you found that 60% of your sales were going to 45-55 year old men living in Manchester for example? If you are using Facebook, you could also use Facebook Audience Insights to find out who already likes your page and who is engaging with your content. We were working with a property investment company recently who thought their target audience were primarily men aged between 30 and 50. After some research we found that most of the engagement on their page were from 50 – 60 year old women. We were then able to question that and understand why.
You’ll see how defining your target audience at the beginning will help you decide which platforms, and which features of those platforms, to use and how that will affect the type of content you create.
Choosing the right social media platform for your business
Now you have built your customer persona, it’s time to look at choosing the right platform for you and your social media marketing strategy. Every platform attracts a different audience and has its own characteristics. For example, Instagram focuses on sharing photos, almost like a diary of your life whilst Twitter is known for its more professional users.
Before you go any further and decide which one is best for you, we’d like to say – whilst it would be great if you could have a presence on every social media platform, we think it’s best to concentrate on one at a time. It’s best to pick one and do that one really well instead of possibly spreading yourself too thin and ineffectively using all of them. Once you have mastered one and are getting good results then move onto the next.
When people talk about social media, Facebook is typically their first thought and it’s clear to see why. As of December 2020, there were 51 million users on Facebook in the UK. That’s 75.3% of the entire population. If you’re selling internationally, Facebook boasts 2.8 billion monthly active users. Let’s face it, every demographic is on Facebook so this means that any business will be able to target and reach their audience.
Whether you want to reach men aged 25 – 30 who live in Nottingham and have an interest in golf or people aged 60 – 70 living in Oklahoma, you can. Its massive audience reach potential and highly targeted audiences makes Facebook a fantastic opportunity for paid advertising.
LinkedIn is the number one social media platform for all things B2B. You’ll rarely see adverts for the latest pair of Nike trainers but you will see accountancy firms, SaaS brands and business networking opportunities. 30 million business professionals in the UK actively use LinkedIn on a monthly basis.
Whilst LinkedIn doesn’t have the reach potential of Facebook, it does have, you can start to profile your business audience in more targeted ways than you can in any other social environment. From finding relevant company profiles to the right people within them (decision makers and key influencers), there’s a wealth of opportunity in paid media to drive B2B sales.
If you’ve not heard of YouTube then you must have been in a very deep, dark hold for the last decade. Chances are you probably watch videos on YouTube daily. Although YouTube isn’t usually thought of as a social media channel, by definition, it is. It’s also the second largest search engine in the world with over 2.3 billion users worldwide searching for a variety of content each month. Although we couldn’t gather any hard data (we’ll update this blog when we find some), it’s estimated that as of 2016 there were 35.6 million actively monthly users in the UK. There’s almost a 50/50 split between men and women and time spent on YouTube grew 40% faster amongst adults ages 35+.
Unfortunately, there is no clear data but think about your own experiences, how many how-to video have you searched in the last month? When somebody sends or shows you a video what is it usually hosted by? My guess it YouTube.
So whilst Facebook is used by literally every man and his dog and LinkedIn in the business channel someone’s got to cater for the younger audiences. That’s where Instagram comes in. 45% of the population use Instagram. Women currently lead accounting for 57.1% of users however, the highest difference between men and women occurs within people aged 45 to 54, where women lead by 900,000.
Instagram is owned by Facebook which means if you want to run a paid advertising campaign it could be ran over both platforms seamlessly which still taking full advantage of the highly targeted reach potential.
Of course, there are many more channels that you could include in your social media marketing strategy such as Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit and more but you’d be reading this blog for the next 2 years if we included them all and ‘ain’t anybody got time for that’. Instead, the 4 we have detailed above are the mainstream social media platforms that are most likely the ones you would get the best results from.
Set measurable goals
Ok, so up to now we’ve talked about how to define your audience and then to use that to decide which platform is best for you. Now it’s time to think about what you want to achieve from social media. Are you using it to increase brand awareness? Do you want to generate sales or do you want to drive more traffic to your website?
In the first part of this section we are going to share with you why setting goals is so important and then we will show you some example of realistic goals. Most of the information across the internet will tell you to set SMART goals, which is right however, we know a lot of people struggle to set goals. We’ve running social media campaigns for clients for a while now so we find it easy but when we did first start out on our journey we found it hard too. Do you aim high, perhaps not achieve them, and run the risk of becoming demotivated? Do you aim low but then run the risk not reaching your full potential? The truth is, each industry is different and the results you can get will depend on how large your potential audience is.
Why is it important to set goals?
Setting goals means that you will be able to measure the performance of your social media marketing strategy. If you set a goal but don’t reach it, you’ll know what you need to do differently next time to achieve it. Another reason to set goals is to show you how much time, effort and potentially money you need to achieve them.
If you’re just getting started with social media marketing and you’ve not got a large following yet it’s going to take a lot of time to build up if you solely rely on organic reach. However, you can run ads where you can pay to help you achieve your goals. I’m going to use an extreme example here but let’s say you want to reach 100,000 people in 1 month. It’s going to take a little more effort that posting 3 times a week. To reach that amount of people in that timescale it’s likely you will have to run a paid advertising campaign. Again, the amount of people you want to reach will determine how much money you will need to budget. I’ve made these numbers up but it may cost you £1000 to reach 100,000 people.
Examples of goals and actions
You can either set SMART goals
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time bound
Or, if you’re new to the game then we think it’s totally acceptable to set some broader goals first, review where you are in a months’ time and then start setting SMART goals once you’re comfortable with the platforms.
Examples of broad goals
‘build awareness of a new product and generate enquires’
‘increase brand awareness in the local area’
Examples of SMART goals
Increase Brand Awareness
Goal – Reach 10,000 users across Facebook in 10 days.
Action – Post engaging content once per day. Run a Facebook ad to target our target audience for £5 per day.
Build your following
Goal – Gain 300 followers over 30 days on Instagram.
Action – Post engaging content twice per day and use relevant hashtags to increase reach.
Generating traffic to your website
Goal – Increase website traffic by 50% using LinkedIn
Action – Post 2 exerts of blog posts per week on LinkedIn and direct people back to the website to read the full article.
Know your competition – really well
Chances are, your competitors are already using social media. That means you can learn from what they are doing. You can see what they’re doing well and identify weaknesses where you can take advantage.
What we recommend is identifying 6 competitors. 3 of which are your direct competitors. They operate in your location and are a similar size to your business. The other 3 are businesses that have the same target audience but are not direct competitors.
For example, we were working with a luxury accommodation provider. They offered holidays in Wigwams, Yurts and Bell Tents on a working farm. We identified 3 competitors within a 40 miles radius. These were their direct competitors. We also looked at Centre Parks and Butlins – these were companies that offered the same experience but on a much larger scale and therefore, were not direct competitors.
By analysing what your competitors are doing you can soon paint a clear picture of what types of content work best and what tone of voice generates the most engagement.
To keep an eye on your competitors you can use social listening tools. SEMRush, Hootsuite and Sprout Social all have their own tools which give you a live feed of what they’re sharing and how their audience is interacting.
Create a social media content calendar
You’ve researched and researched some more and so by now you should have laid the foundations of your social media marketing strategy. Now it’s time to decide what you want to share and when. A social media content calendar sounds like it’s a mammoth task, but in reality, it’s very easy to manage.
A calendar not only provides you with the organisation you need to be able to regularly post content, but it can also actually give you the inspiration to expand your content creation.
What is a content audit and how can it support my choices?
If you’re already using social media but not getting the results that you want conducting a content audit may be a good idea. Content is a broad term and includes video, images, text, e-books, whitepapers and more. What works for you should be what resonates best with your audience, meaning that you must take into consideration your buyer persona – that’s your buyers’ ages, what their lives look like and what they do.
By conducting a content audit, you get to compare what type of content works best with your audience, against what content you’re dishing out. Log into the analytics page of your social platform and take a look at past posts. Try to find patterns that may indicate that say, blog posts get more engagement or video reaches the most people. From there you will be able to see which types of content your audience engage with most and produce more of the same.
Determine the right content mix
Whilst thinking about what to post it’s always good to bear in mind that these platforms are SOCIAL platforms. If you only post content directly promoting your products and services, you may not receive the attention that you want. The stories that we hear about people getting really annoyed with a brand they follow for just banging on about themselves is unreal. Although you are making this effort to promote your business, you need to be a little subtle.
You might decide that:
50% of your content will drive people to your website
20% will be articles from other sources
15% will support email sign ups
15% will show company culture
However you decide there’s a 80-20 ‘rule’ that may help you decide what to post
80% of your posts should inform, educate or entertain
20% can directly promote your products or services.
Creating a content calendar will help maintain the right mix.
It would be extremely time efficient to take a look at some of the social media marketing tools on the market that could help you bulk schedule content that will automate some of the process and post your content whilst you take care of the rest of your business.
Some tools out there that we think you should look at are Hoot Suite, Sprout Social, Buffer.
Monitor, analyse, and optimise your social media marketing strategy
Unfortunately, once you think that you’ve finished your social media marketing strategy and you’re regularly posting content, it doesn’t stop there. What all businesses that use social media successfully do is monitor, analyse and optimise.
You can’t assume that you’ve got it right first time. What you need to do is use your social media analytics tools to identify possible weaknesses and strengths in your social media marketing strategy. Once you have analysed the data you can optimise your content further to deliver better results for your business.
Unlock the potential of your marketing today
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