Many companies find social media overwhelming – there are so many networks available and they keep adding new features that you can learn and incorporate into your plan.
Unless you have a full-time team of social media experts at your disposal, your success depends on developing a simple and sensible strategy that matches your resources and goals.
At the end of this guide, we’ll tell you how to develop a social media strategy that not only increases traffic but also suppresses the overwhelming feeling you get every time you open Instagram or Twitter.
What is a social media strategy?
Your social media strategy is your master plan for how to create, publish, and interact with your social media content.
It includes your social content guidelines, cadence, social media marketing campaigns, creative plans, and engagement strategy.
Why you need a social media strategy
The top three challenges social media marketers face include reaching their audiences, measuring ROI, and meeting business goals.
Developing a social media strategy can help address these and other challenges. You can also use social media strategies to set goals and guard rails, track their performance, and optimize your benchmarks over time. Without a starting point, you cannot measure what is working and how you move your activity towards your goals.
A social media strategy will also help you set expectations for wider team participation and align everyone with what they should (and shouldn’t) be doing on your social networks.
How to Create a Social Media Strategy
- Define your target audience.
- Start blogging.
- Create educational content.
- Focus on a few key channels.
- Develop a recipe card to guide you.
- Measure your results.
- Adjust your tactics.
Let’s unpack how to build a social media strategy from scratch.
1. Define your target audience.
If you haven’t yet identified and documented your buyer personalities, first define the key demographics of the audience you want to reach – age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies and interests, etc.
Look at their challenges and what problems they solve on a daily basis. Focus on no more than four types of people who represent the majority of your buyers. Don’t get involved with exceptions or outliers, or you’ll never get started!
2. Start blogging.
Fresh content is the linchpin of a successful social strategy. So commit to creating new, high quality content on a consistent basis. Compile a list of frequently asked questions from prospects and commit to answering these questions with at least one new blog post per week.
3. Create educational content.
Create downloadable content like e-books, checklists, videos, and infographics that solve your buyer’s problems. If your content is really helpful, it will likely get shared by people on social media and expand your reach.
4. Focus on a few key social channels.
Most startups and small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to build and maintain a high quality social media presence on every single channel. It is also overwhelming to learn the rules for engaging in a number of different networks at the same time.
This HubSpot Academy video explains the social channels you can use to post content for your business.
So start small. Research key networks to find out where your target audience spends time and focus on building, nurturing, and sustaining a community there before switching to another channel.
5. Develop a recipe card to guide you.
Social media is not an exact science (and it doesn’t work the same for every company or industry). To get results for your business, create a consistent schedule for the booking and the job.
Develop a sensible recipe card – one that you can actually stick to and let your team follow suit. Set goals for your frequency of posting and engagement, and blame yourself for following your recipe.
Manage and plan your social media content with our free practical calendar guide and template.
6. Measure your results.
There are tons of things to keep track of on your social media channels. First, see how much traffic your social accounts are driving to your website or blog.
Check out your posts to see what people are reacting to, and look for trends on specific topics or keywords that generate more interest than others. Once you have a picture of your average traffic and post performance, set goals for key metrics and run a scorecard to measure your progress.
Make sure you choose metrics that are easy to collect. If the chase is too time consuming, fall off the cart! Examples of simple metrics (initially) are new fans and followers, the number of interactions and visits to your website on social networks.
7. Adjust your tactics.
Social media won’t work overnight. It takes time to build a fan base, establish your brand, and see results. Experiment a little to find the right combination of channels, content, and news that is right for your audience.
Over time, you can customize your recipe card, content, and personas based on the information gathered. This will help you streamline your strategy and get more consistent results.
Social media marketing strategy
Social media is a multi-purpose economic good. It connects you with your audience and also advertises your products, services and brands. Both functions are equally important.
Creating a social media strategy for marketing is a little different from the process outlined above. How come? For example, your benchmarks and goals may be more specific to metrics that you track for other marketing efforts.
When marketing your business on social media, make sure that the experience on your social networks is positive and consistent. All of the images and content on your social media accounts should match those on your website, blog, and other digital real estate.
Pay close attention to any questions or comments your target audience posts and respond to them quickly (as this engagement can result in a conversion or purchase or abandonment).
Check out these social media marketing examples to see what to stop, start, and continue in 2021.
Finally, align the content you post and the way you post it with marketing campaigns that you run on other channels (such as email or ads). This brings us to our next section …
Social media content strategy
Content is at the core of any social media strategy. Without content, you can’t engage with your audience, promote your products, or measure performance.
The somewhat volatile (and brief) nature of social media can lead you to believe that you don’t have to plan the content as much as you do for your emails or blogs, for example. That is not true. Social media content may not be as static as your landing pages or blog content, but it’s still just as important in reaching your audience and representing your brand as a whole.
For this reason, you should also have a social media content strategy. This should include:
- Publish guidelines and specifications for each network you are active on (e.g. share GIFs on Twitter but avoid on Facebook)
- Target group nuances per network (e.g. the younger segment of your target group is more active on Instagram than on LinkedIn)
- Repurposing plans for long-form content from your blog, podcast, e-books, etc.
- Who on your team is allowed to post and who is responsible for engaging followers?
- The companies, publications, and people you republish (and those you can’t / can’t)
For more information on creating a social media content strategy, check out a helpful video by Aja Frost at HubSpot.
Social media strategy templates
Social media is overwhelming; I get it. It’s even more overwhelming to start your strategy from scratch. That’s why we’ve created 10 free social media templates to help you out.
In the free download you get:
- Schedule templates for each channel as social media channels are not one size fits all
- Complete calendar of hashtag holidays so you never forget to participate with new, fun content
- Social audit template to track your followers, engagement rates, and more
- A social media content calendar to organize campaigns across all channels
- A social report template that you can use to keep track of your monthly social achievements
- A paid social template that you can use to manage and optimize your paid budget
Download our free social media template pack to manage, tweak, and create more social content without sacrificing quality.
Time to get social
Still feel like social media is overwhelming? That’s OK; Not sure if the feeling has completely faded away. However, you can certainly reduce this by taking advantage of the tips in this guide and the free templates above. Remember: tackle one social network at a time, prioritize your audience, and focus on the content that works. You will see results and traffic in no time.