Social Media Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide
So many of my blogs have been about social media and the ins and outs of social media marketing for businesses, so for this last blog, I decided to condense everything into a comprehensive guide to creating a social media strategy for your business.
Identify Your Audience
Who are your key publics? Essentially, you want to identify the consumers most likely to buy your product and continue to positively engage with your brand. Once you identify your basic audience, you can identify sub-publics. For instance, The Top of Zion Relay has the basic public of runners. To further categorize this public, the runners can be split into previous participants as well as potential new runners.
What do your publics value? In the Top of Zion example, runners value the experience of running through scenic Utah, the companionship of relay teams, and the challenge of the run. Their self-interests are all about unique running experiences.
Self-interests can be determined by demographics (statistical population data) and psychographics (attitude and lifestyle data). For instance, a forty-year-old, middle-class, single parent would more likely be interested in a nanny service than in a luxury vehicle. Their situation can always give insights to their self-interests. It can also help you understand how to reach your audience. Millennials are easily reached through social media. Older generations, however, might be more attainable through traditional media, such as television and newspaper.
Social media is great, but you have to tailor your content to your audience. By looking at the information you know, you can determine what channels are most likely to influence your audience.
The Big Three
The three most common and largest platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Most companies use at least two of these three. In order to be most effective, you have to post regularly, have decent content, and engage your audience. For instance, Target posts on Instagram 2-3 times a week and even more frequently on Facebook. Their content is high-quality images and captions. They also usually include a call to action, which increases their engagement. Target also focuses on all of their key publics; they never only target one of their many audiences.
Using niche platforms is a way to reach unique audiences. Tumblr, for instance, is a “microblogging” tool, primarily used by female millennials, although many celebrities like John Green and Barack Obama have accounts. Tumblr is a key platform if you want to reach female Millennials.
Pinterest is another option which actually has a wide user base, primarily of females. With customized “boards” that you can “pin” to, users can pin anything from crafts to style. Pinterest, although unique, is essentially a reblogging tool for content, so it can be useful for sharing your product.
Another option is Reddit, which is essentially a website dedicated to the comments section. Users can post content and comment on other posts, creating communities of subreddits on particular topics. An even more mainstream social media platform than these is Snapchat, which can be similar to Instagram when used for marketing.
While these platforms are not as popular as the big three, they can still be used to reach new audiences and generate engagement for your brand. When you have determined your audience, you will know what platforms to use in your social media strategy.
Now that you know who your audience is and how to reach them, you need to determine the messages you want to share. Ultimately, your primary goal is to have people buy your product, but what are the messages that will influence them to do so? You’ll need initial awareness messages: who are you? By sharing basic messages about your company, you can raise awareness for your brand. You might also include messages about company culture, in order to make your brand personable. Finally, you’ll need messages about your product: what is it? Why is it better than your competitors?
Messages are created by determining the objectives that you want your audience to accomplish. Maybe your objective is to have 75% of your audience comment on your posts in order to spread your content. Another option would be to have 25% of your audience share your product when they purchase it. By determining these objectives, you can decide what messages to share.
How do you share your messages? The first step is by writing the messages for different platforms. If your website has a blog, you can write specifically for your readers. Or, if you prefer social media, you can write shorter posts that will be more relevant with bite-sized messages. If you are a marketer or public relations specialist, this won’t be too hard. If you are a beginning entrepreneur, you might need to hire a copywriter.
Photos and Videos
A picture says a thousand words, and a video says a million. Most posting platforms incorporate images into posts. For Instagram, images are the main attraction. Even Facebook has become more of a platform to share images and videos. Having low-quality images is fatal for businesses who want to engage their audience. Particularly on Instagram, the algorithm limits content that isn’t high-quality. Having a photographer and videographer produce your content will be a huge asset to your company.
If you are at a point where you can’t possibly hire professionals, you can start your account with the basics. Either use a DSLR camera, which you can rent, or a newer smartphone with a good camera. Follow the rule of thirds to set up your images and make sure you have a lot of light, preferably natural light from a window.
When you edit, you can use free alternatives to Photoshop. Pixlr.com is one option, and they even have an app for your phone. Snapseed by Google is another useful app that is very user-friendly. If you want to get fancy, you can use the filters from Priime to edit colors. The trick is to make sure that the image still looks fairly natural. If you are editing a video, you can always use iMovie, or Splice, another app. Make sure to include music in your videos, but opt for free versions to avoid copyright violations. Simply search “royalty free music” to add to your video.
Graphic design work is an essential element of any business strategy. Having great promotional material, both for print and social media, is important to legitimize your brand. Often, businesses will post graphics to their social media to make a certain message clearer. Again, hiring a professional is important, but if you can’t afford to, there are other options. Using Canva is a way to set up a post. With free backgrounds and graphics, it is useful for creating budget-friendly graphics. If you are in need of an infographic, Piktochart is a user-friendly option to set up your information in a visually-appealing way.
Influencers, influencers, influencers. Working with influencers can’t be stressed enough. Whether you gift someone your product or hire an influencer to work with, you can increase your audience by collaborating. By working with other brands, you not only spread awareness of your business to new users but also create unique content. You can find influencers by immersing yourself in social media and following accounts that have similar content. Collabor8, an app that allows businesses to advertise to influencers, can also help you to find influencers. You can reach out to influencers or wait for them to request a collaboration with you.
Having a clear social media strategy is essential if you want to use social media to grow your business. By following these steps, you can create a strategy that’s just as effective as one created by a marketer or PR professional. If you follow your strategy, your business and customer base will grow significantly.