10 steps to a successful social media marketing strategy

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Summary/Overview

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Since its inception, social media has become an important part of marketing strategies across all industries. With millions of people using social platforms each day, it’s essential to have a multichannel social media marketing strategy in order to grow your brand, generate leads, retain customers, and develop your brand persona.

Why is a social media marketing strategy important?

In recent years, many brands have taken a passive approach to social media marketing, assuming that they can simply hand it over to anyone with free time on the marketing team to post ad hoc. There’s also the assumption that going viral takes no effort and just happens on its own.

These practices make us cringe because social media can be a hugely valuable marketing tool, when used correctly. Executing a successful social media marketing strategy requires a lot of time, strategic thinking, competitor research, reviewing and assessing analytics, creative thought, and so much more. Social media simply cannot be executed on the fly or as an afterthought. Instead, social media strategy should be seen as a huge opportunity for greater brand awareness, lead generation, and brand loyalty.

The average person bounces between seven different social networks per month, while adults are on social media for an average of 95 minute per day, which is an all-time high.

One of the best ways to get your brand in front of your target market is via social media. Including social media in marketing strategy is the only way to ensure that your brand has a fighting chance of long-term success.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the use of social media for customer support as social media channels (and particularly Twitter) are often going to be one of the first places where your customers, or even potential customers will approach you with concerns questions or concerns. This is a key consideration if you’re creating a social media marketing strategy for business (especially if you’re a B2C business).

Having a social media presence will allow you to have a more interactive relationship with your target market and create brand loyalty, while having a specific social media marketing strategy will help with lead generation, brand awareness, and make your brand more likable.

How has social media changed marketing strategies that we use?

The birth of social media marketing completely changed the marketing game. Thanks to social networks, brands now have the opportunity to foster interactive relationships with individuals their target audience. Brands can use paid advertising to suggest relevant products and services to the people who are most likely to buy. Finally, there’s a much greater opportunity for brands to show more personality and humanity.

As the stats we presented earlier suggest, people spend a lot their downtime on social media. As a result, social is an obvious place to get in front of your target audience when they’re least expecting to see marketing — and might be more receptive to your message.

There are huge upsides to social media marketing versus traditional forms of marketing. After all, if you see a billboard in passing and want more information, you’ll still need to take out your mobile phone and manually search for the information you need. Social media marketing makes the process of discovering content and then taking action simple by comparison.

On the downside, social media has also created a marketing environment that is incredibly saturated and hard to compete within. However, as long as you are consistent with your social media management, aware of new trends and network updates, and have a good understanding of your audience there should be any reason why you still can’t get good results from your social media efforts.

Getting started: How to implement a social media marketing strategy

Set realistic social goals and KPIs

Many businesses set out to make a splash on social media without fully understanding why they’re there, or what they’re specifically trying to accomplish. Nailing your goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) will ensure that you are carefully considering what you want to get out of using social media and will help you stay focused when you come to crafting your strategy in more detail. Goal setting is an essential first step for any social media marketing strategy.

When creating a social media strategy for business, you need to begin by thinking about your overall business plan and how your social media goals can complement the wider plan. Everyone wants to get millions of followers in the first month, but it’s important to keep your goals realistic and attainable. This will make it more likely that you will actually meet your goals and feel motivated to keep meeting goals in the future.

As the adage goes, slow and steady wins the race. This is very true of social media marketing.

Examples of social media marketing goals:

Remember to make every goal measurable, otherwise it’ll be hard to judge whether you’ve actually achieved the goal or not. For example, increasing brand awareness might be measured by looking at the reach of your posts.

Choose the right social network channels

Throwing all of your resources into every social media platform might seem like a good idea, but this approach can be a waste of time and resources. Recognizing where your brand is best suited and the types of content that work well for you is one is the smartest ways to build your social media following.

For example, most businesses can benefit from existing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but not all will have content suited to Pinterest or YouTube. LinkedIn will absolutely be a useful tool to ensure your business is looked upon by current and potential employees, plus investors and potential partners, but it might not be where you’ll find your customers. If you’re not sure where might be the best channels to get started, considering surveying your existing customer base to discover where most of them are spending their online time.

As you’re researching channels, you should also take the time to craft a social media toolkit to share amongst your team.

Check your competitors social media content and engagement

An easy way to get inspired is to look into what your competitors are doing and see what content is performing well. It’s important to be unique to your brand and offer valuable content, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some pointers from companies in your field that are handling digital marketing well. You can also look at the engagement received by competitors who are a similar size to you for guidance when setting your social media targets.

Keep it real (your content, that is)

Authenticity plays a huge part in social media (especially if you’re a B2C business). Don’t be afraid to deliver something that isn’t totally polished. Showcasing behind-the-scenes content, letting the audience get to know your team, and providing your take on social media trends helps to show off the humans behind the brand, encouraging an emotional connection.

People are looking for an emotional connection when they visit their favorite social media sites, so make sure you’re creating content that your followers want to see. If you don’t have something engaging to say, maybe say nothing at all.

One of the easiest ways to have a presence on social media platforms is to repost relevant articles from your industry. While this approach might be quick, relying too much on reposting will lose your audience’s attention. Mix up your content by adding original copy to your retweet or repost so that your audience is still hearing your brand’s voice and message.

Need help brainstorming authentic content? Read our long list of social media post ideas that’ll help boost your business.

Be consistent, but switch it up

Consistency is key to all great social media marketing strategies, so you should post regularly to stay at front-of-mind with your customers. Episodic content is a great way to keep people engaged and wanting more and it's worth taking time to think about unique content series’ that your customers will love.

However, being consistent doesn’t mean being complacent, so you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. One of our top marketing tactics is to split your content 80/20 — 80 percent tried and tested, and 20 percent new. This allows you to find out what does and doesn’t work for your brand while keeping your content relevant and fresh.

Confused about how often you need to share content? Check out our guide on how often to post on social media. We also have guides that you can reference for the best times to post on social media, including breakdowns for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in order to increase engagement.

Social media calendaring tools take all the manual work out of running a consistent social media channel. This guide will teach you about content calendars as a key part of your marketing technology stack. Once you absorb that information, be try out Adobe Express Content Scheduler.

Engage with your audience

It’s not enough to simply churn out content and wait for people to notice you. You need to go out there and get involved with online conversations that are relevant to your audience. Moreover, you need to be responding to comments and direct messages on your own content in order to build more of a relationship with your audience as well as provide customer service.

It’s also a good idea to share your followers’ content if you think the rest of your audience will enjoy their posts. Here’s everything you need to know about how to repost user-generated content on Instagram.

Be patient; if you are continuing to seek out conversations and form connections, over time the conversations will begin to find you. This step is often neglected when it comes to social media marketing strategies; don’t make this mistake.

Create a community

Influencers aren’t the only people who can advocate for your brand. In fact, a comment section full of happy customers who vouch for your company is just as, if not more, compelling than an endorsement from a paid influencer.

Be sure to engage with your customers, answering each comment or query, and provide stellar customer service each time. Don’t be afraid of negative comments; see them as an opportunity to convert a customer into a loyal subscriber. Encourage engagement with a clear call to action (CTA), questions and polls to show that you care about your customers’ opinions.

Embrace paid social in your plan

While organic social media should be a large focus of your strategy, don’t forget about paid social media. Consumers are familiar with sponsored content and aren’t put off by seeing it on their feeds. If they already have an intent to purchase, a well-placed and engaging ad can make all the difference between a sale and a scroll. The best B2C marketing strategies will feature a mixture of both.

Paid social can help get your brand name in front of the right people and doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Even a small monthly budget can specifically target your ideal prospects and lead to a new customer or opportunity.

Track your results and keep adapting

Your first attempt at a social media marketing strategy might not be all that successful, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is burying your head in the sand and expecting your results to change without taking any action. Your social media analytics will provide you with some of the most precious and valuable information you can have when it comes to social media marketing.

Check on your analytics at least once a month to assess which of your content is performing best and what isn’t doing as well as expected. You can also use your analytics to find out more about your audience demographics so you can make even more specific and tailored content over time.

What’s considered a good engagement rate varies by social media channel, business type, and industry. We’ve researched some good social media engagement benchmarks to include in your analysis.

Building a social media marketing strategy is not easy, but the work is worth it and will pay off for your marketing bottom line. Now that you know how to build a social media marketing strategy you know not only how and where to start, but also how to improve over time.

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