Let’s not beat about the bush: every brand worth its salt needs a social media strategy. These are the basic building blocks you need to help your brand flourish on social media. From brand messaging to content alignment, this approach to social will give your social media marketing the basis for tangible success.
1) Form an integrated brand message
First up – start by working out the platforms you want to use. This isn’t a bad move – it is, after all, important to outline what you want to say and who you want to say it to before you deliver your message. By identifying key USP’s for your product or service and matching them to your brand strategy and messaging, you can pick the platforms that suit them best. Kicking things off on the right platform will help your content seem that much more relevant to an audience if it is aligned from the start rather than rushing in unprepared.
You’ve probably got the building blocks of a brand message in place already, but it may not be as coherent as it needs to be for a social media strategy that will roll it out across multiple channels.
Things to think about when working out your brand message include:
- What is your ‘brand persona’? Are you informal and amiable? Edgy? Soothing? Establishing your social media brand persona will help you to find your unique ‘voice’.
- What are your brand values, and how well does your marketing message tie in with them?
- Is this message simple enough? Can it be integrated across an entire campaign? Will it work across social media channels and non-social media channels alike?
2) Pick the best channels for your social media strategy
All social platforms have differences in audience and types of engagement, so it stands to reason that they’re not all the same. When it comes to messaging and content, sometimes the most subtle differences can provide opportunities for a more tailored message. Each social media channel is unique so tackling each one individually is important, rather than using a one size fits all approach to your social media strategy. Understanding each platform’s nuances will help you to familiarise with how each one works, from user base, to posting formats, to marketing guidelines. It’s very important to make sure that you’re not only picking the right social media channels for your message, but also using those channels correctly.
A lot of this process is pretty much marketing 101. First, you need to work out who your audience is, and what social media channels they’re hanging out on. There’s a wealth of general information out there about social media user demographics, but, as a rough rule, younger demographics are using Instagram and Snapchat, Millennials and Gen Z both spend a lot of time on YouTube, and everyone is on Facebook – albeit, often engaging with it in different ways. Publicly available data can often be hard to come by for free, although demographic information is often released by the platforms themselves every couple of years or so. The alternative is to invest in some form of social listening service which will allow you to go deeper into demographic segmentation on an almost limitless scale. One way or another, there is a wealth of social media user data out there, so there’s no excuse for skimping on your research! The better tailored your content is to your audience, the more receptive they’ll be. And let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is waste time and budget on a platform that has very little likelihood of delivering your objectives.
Understanding the resources you have available will also play a part – allowing you to pick the channels which play to your strengths, both on a messaging and logistical level. How much time do you have to devote to social media content? How much manpower can you spare? What are the resources at your disposal? If you’ve a fantastic copywriter on your team, go for ‘wordier’ channels. If you’ve got photographic resources, pick something like Pinterest or Instagram, which focus on imagery. Try to identify those areas you most need help with in order to spend any available budget on the best possible support.
3) Work out your content strategy
Once you’ve picked your channels, you’ll need to work out how to use them. Not all content will appear the same on all channels, and not all content will be distributed in the same manner. You need to take a detailed, in-depth look at how social media marketing works on the channels you’ve picked, and then put some effort into filling out compatible marketing profiles on each of these channels.
With any content strategy, for social media or otherwise, it is vital that everyone involved knows exactly what their own responsibilities are, and what their co-workers’ responsibilities are. Communication between different people, and different branches of your marketing team are also essential. If your brand message is to be coherent, cohesive, and integrated across all formats, it’s essential that everyone is ‘in the loop’. When devising an overall content strategy, communication really should be your number one priority.
Always refer back to your brand message when devising your content strategy. When creating content, your brand message needs to be integrated in as creative and channel-appropriate manner as possible.
As with all marketing activity, timing is everything! You need to come up with a set of aims, a timescale for fulfilling these aims, and a content-release schedule to tie in with this. Perhaps your campaign planning is built around particular events, or holidays – in which case, your content, and its emphasis, needs to build up as the key dates approach. You also need to be prepared to react to current events – for better or worse – when devising your content strategy. Social media reacts at lightspeed, so ensuring a degree of flexibility and reactive activity can often boost your relevance to key audiences.
Things to think about are:
- What campaigns will your content be used for? What are the timescales involved? What is your content-release schedule?
- How should your content be tailored for each of your channels?
- Is your brand messaging and ‘persona’ coming across?
- How are you seeking to engage your audience? And what is the end-game or call-to-action?
4) Create your content!
Time to get cracking! Or issue the brief at least…this step is pretty self-explanatory but remember to refer back to your brand message and content creation strategy. Also, think about how easy it will be for your audience to share what you’re creating – it’s no good having a social media strategy if it’s lacking that crucial ‘social’ element. Try to anticipate which aspects of your content will encourage Likes and Shares and integrate this wherever you can without deterring from your brand messaging.
5) Manage your campaign
Few things are more ‘alive’ than a social media campaign. Once your content is out there, you need to be constantly managing and curating it. While social media campaigns can be incredibly successful, it is important to include regular monitoring as part of any activity. Better still, it’s well worth considering the inclusion of crisis communications in your social media strategy, and vice versa at an organisational corporate communications level.
Ultimately this will give you live access to the conversation as it happens so stay engaged with your audience, respond to queries, recognise praise, and carefully manage any criticism if it happens to come your way. Watch the trends and topics rising to the surface of your channel and be aware of the impact they might have on your campaign. It might sound like hard work, but it’s important to make sure your campaign stays on track so. Attentive campaign management will make sure all the effort you put in to planning and execution aren’t wasted once they go live to the world.
6) Analyse and measure your campaign results
Some of the most insightful data out there can be generated from your own campaigns! One of the most important parts of your social media strategy should be how you plan to monitor and measure. Be sure to agree the most important metrics and results before you begin and track campaign activity wherever possible while live. Before, during and after the campaign, analyse what went well, what went poorly, and use this to establish learnings or guidelines for your next social media campaign.
Creating a social media strategy might not always seem an easy step to take but it is an important, and potentially lucrative, opportunity for your business/brand so we hope this article gives you a good outline as to what is involved. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments, otherwise we’re sure your social media agency can help you with any or all of the above.