How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Research your buyer personas and audience.
- Determine which social platforms you’ll market on.
- Establish your most important metrics and KPIs.
- Get to know your competition.
- Create unique and engaging content.
- Organize a schedule for your posts.
Although social media is constantly evolving, most of the foundational steps you need to succeed stay the same. Essentially, you’re following the same steps you would take to create a marketing strategy and narrow it to a specific channel.
Let’s cover these steps of social media marketing strategy in more detail so you can begin applying them to your business.
Step 1: Research your buyer personas and audience.
The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is to determine who your buyer personas and audience are so you can target their needs and interests appropriately.
To do this, think about the people you’re trying to reach and why, and how you would classify them as a group. For example, if your company sells trendy leggings and joggers, you might classify your target audience as millennials who like to wear stylish athletic apparel regularly — a style known as athleisure.
By considering your buyer personas and audience, you’ll then be able to determine what content will attract the type of followers and customers you hope to gain. Plus, learn how to create engaging content to keep your followers interested.
Step 2: Determine which social platforms you’ll market on.
As a part of your social media marketing strategy, it’s crucial that you determine which platforms you’re going to share your content on.
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to which social channels your business should use — it’s more about the needs of your target audience and where they tend to spend their time.
“It’s important to be where your audience of potential customers is today, and where they might be tomorrow,” said Andrew Delaney, former social media marketing manager at HubSpot. “It’s better to be ahead of the curve than behind.”
For example, if you are going for that target audience of athleisure-loving millennials, you may want to focus the majority of your social media efforts on Instagram — this is because millennials cover the largest portion of users on the platform.
Step 3: Establish your most important metrics and KPIs.
No matter your goals or industry, your social media marketing strategy should be data-driven.
That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter. Rather than focus on vanity metrics, dig into data that aligns directly with your goals.
What metrics are we talking about? Check out the breakdown below:
- Reach. Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post. How much of your content actually reaches users’ feeds?
- Clicks. This is the number of clicks on your content or account. Tracking clicks per campaign is essential to understand what drives curiosity or encourages people to buy.
- Engagement. The total number of social interactions divided by the number of impressions. This sheds light on how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
- Hashtag performance. What were your most-used hashtags? Which hashtags were most associated with your brand? Having these answers can help shape the focus of your content going forward.
- Organic and paid likes. Beyond a standard “Like” count, these interactions are attributed to paid or organic content. Given how much harder organic engagement is to gain, many brands turn to ads. Knowing these differences can help you budget both your ad spend and the time you invest in different formats.
- Sentiment. This is the measurement of how users react to your content, brand, or hashtag. Did customers find your recent campaign offensive? What type of sentiment do people associate with your campaign hashtag? It’s always better to dig deeper and find out how people talk or feel about your brand.
Step 4: Get to know your competition.
A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own.
It will also help you spot opportunities.
Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the networks where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.
Step 5: Create unique and engaging content.
With billions of social media users around the globe, there’s no question that at least some of your followers — or the people browsing your profile — have also seen your competitor’s content or that of other businesses in your industry.
That’s why you must have engaging social media content that stands out and provides viewers with a reason to click that “Follow” button and interact with your brand.
Not sure what’s considered engaging? Morgan has a recommendation.
“My number one tip to brands for creating engaging content on social media is to do market research first because what will be engaging depends on the audience,” Morgan said. “When you know what your audience likes and needs to know, you can create content that engages those interests.”
To help you get creative, consider the content your competitors are sharing and how you can uniquely promote your products. Also, take advantage of the features offered by the platform you’re using.
For example, you can create live videos on Facebook to share the latest details about a product launch or conduct a giveaway.
You can also use your current customers and promoters to help you generate content. You can do this by re-posting their content or encouraging them to use a hashtag to share their own experiences and pictures with your products.
Lastly, leverage trends. Social media trends are always coming up, especially on short-form video platforms like TikTok. Don’t be afraid to join in but you still have to be intentional about how you do it.
“If the trend started happening three weeks ago, you’ve probably missed the boat,” Morgan said. “Catching the trends early is the best way to capitalize on it without coming across as inauthentic or like you’re trying too hard, or worse [as] ‘chuegy’ – see Gen Z for that one.”
Step 6: Organize a schedule for your posts.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your content is shared as planned is to use a social media management solution. These tools allow you to write captions, prepare pictures and videos, and schedule posts in advance. They also automatically share your content on schedule and monitor all post interactions and engagement for you. Social media management solutions save you time and allow you to focus on your other tasks.
There are a number of solution options available — here are a few examples.
HubSpot offers a social media tool — as part of the marketing software — to help you publish and monitor your content and create real connections with your followers. You can schedule and publish your content in advance and compare in-depth reports on your posts’ engagement to understand the performance of various platforms, types of content, and posting times.
Sprout Social is a social media marketing and management solution designed to help your team organize and plan content creation, manage campaigns, understand engagement, and review content reports and analysis.
Hootsuite is a social media management platform for finding, scheduling, managing, and reporting on your content. You can schedule posts in advance on all of your channels at once and measure your ROI with comprehensive content analysis.
How often should you post on social media?
Now, you might be wondering how often you should post content on your social media channels.
As a rule of thumb, you should only post on social when you have quality content to share. Meaning, there’s a reason you’re posting the content. This is how you’ll strike the right balance when it comes to your posting frequency.
Morgan says the top mistake she sees brands make in regards to social media marketing is focusing on quantity of content instead of the quality of content.
“They think they need to post every day, so they force themselves to create posts to fill up the calendar,” she said. “Odds are, every single one of those posts isn’t going to be very valuable to the ideal customer, I’ve coined this ‘clutter content.'”
Instead, she recommends downsizing in quantity and upping the quality.
“It’s better to post two or three times a week with super valuable content, versus posting seven times a week with only one or two valuable posts,” said Morgan.
There are plenty of studies and resources available explaining social media post frequency standards by industry and platform for you to follow. Every business is different, so find what works for your audience.
Then, you can begin experimenting with more or fewer posts – as well as other factors such as the time of day you’re posting on social – to determine what provides the highest level of engagement.
Next step is How to Analyze Your Social Media Marketing Results.