Developing a Social Media Strategy
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Creating a promotional plan that takes advantage of social and digital technologies will help you shape conversations about your business, build loyalty, and attract new customers and partners. Social media should not replace other inbound promotional methods such as email, events, or outreach, but instead expand them and offer you a range of other marketing channels to explore. There are many benefits of a social media strategy. It will help you:
Expand your other marketing efforts- so that your content has the chance to be seen by a broad audience, and hopefully the right audience.
Build brand awareness. Gone are the days when you could only build that awareness through billboards or magazine and television advertising. Social media gives you the opportunity to bring your brand content directly to your customers, partners, and prospects. Now, you can be where your target audience already is.
Social media is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audiences. Sprout Social reports that "consumers who follow a brand on social, 67% of consumers are more likely to spend more on that brand, and 78% say they will visit that brand's physical retail store, particularly among millennial, with 84% saying they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media than from a brand they don't follow on social media."
Social media helps you attract buyers for your products and services, and gives you the opportunity to talk directly to these people at the time and place of your choice.
That sounds like a lot of opportunities, doesn't it? In fact, in many ways, social media is the ultimate way to do inbound marketing, because it's a one-to-one medium that gives you and your business the chance to market directly but very humanly.
This brings us to one of the most important parts of your social media strategy. It's also the same thing that's at the heart of your inbound marketing strategy: buyer persona. A buyer persona helps you determine who your ideal customer is. Understanding who you want to reach will guide you in many ways, from selecting the right social media platforms you want to use, to creating the best mix of content you can share, to being able to target advertising at the right audience.
Make sure you understand all the basic demographic data about your buyer personality, such as age, gender, income, profession, interests, motivations, and objections, but if you can, also go a few steps further and research their psycho-graphic to see which websites they visit, which online stores they visit frequently, and which social pages they like best. Social media give you the opportunity to be more personal and really on the right type of personality for your products and services, so that the more you know, the better you can appeal to social audiences.
There is another crucial piece of the puzzle of social media promotion: aligning your social strategy with your corporate goals. If you have business goals and goals, you will find it easier to create social media goals that turn viewers and readers into buyers. As with your corporate goals, you want your social media goals to use the S-M-A-R-T method: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
For example, if your company is aiming to build brand awareness among college students, one of your social media goals could be to create videos with content that is helpful or fun for college students, and to set an advertising goal of reaching 250,000 college students by the end of the year. Better still, set a secondary goal of letting students interact with the content in any way, comment on it, or share it with their friends, thereby increasing the brand's reach and directly measuring whether and how to achieve your goal.The ability to articulate your social media goals and plan the impact of your goals on the company's return on investment (ROI) is also key to securing executive buy-in and budget for your campaigns.
To build your social media strategy, you’ll need to be able to:
• Explain each social media channel and how each one is best used for promotion on social media,
• Understand the impact of social listening and engagement, develop a social content strategy for your social media plan,
• Identify ways in which metrics are critical to understanding the success of your digital efforts, and ultimately how to
• Integrate social media into your other efforts, including your website, conversations and blog posts.
There are a lot of moving parts in developing this strategy, but defining the actions you will take one step closer to achieving your business goals.
Social Media Channels
There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right social media platform for your inbound marketing efforts. To help you decide which channels best fit your social strategy, let us go through the basics and benefits of each of these channels.
Let’s start with the giant: Facebook.
You may have heard the saying that Facebook would be the largest country in the world if it were a country, because it currently has over 2.45 billion users - far more than the largest country in China, with 1.4 billion people living within its borders. Probably most people you know are on the social platform. Facebook has faced controversy in recent years over its stance on political advertising, privacy, and the way its algorithm dictates what its users see. Furthermore, Facebook has shifted to show users content that is more tailored to family and friends, withdrawing memes, brand posts, and a good deal of news channels. So it should come as no surprise that Rival IQ reported in 2019 that engagement rates within Facebook have dropped dramatically. Organic traffic and engagement on brand posts are no longer what they once were, but that doesn't mean the platform isn't worth it. Millions of companies still use Facebook business pages to share organic news, events, and conversations with customers. But there are two other reasons to care about Facebook- its advertising tools are some of the best to appeal to your ideal buyers, and its groups are an excellent way to build a captive audience that can prove more fruitful in many ways than other ways of reaching your customers. This means Facebook may still be one of the most important platforms for your social media strategy.
There are two types of Facebook pages: a personal page and a business page. You may have heard that organic reach on a personal page is better, which is true, but there are several reasons why you should use a Facebook business page for your business instead. First, Facebook requires companies to use business pages and can close pages that do not meet its guidelines. Personal pages have a limit of 5,000 people, while business pages can have millions of followers. With a business page, you also have access to analyses called Insights, the ability to categorize your company correctly for search, add a mission statement, create a product catalog, award awards and give your customers the opportunity to submit ratings.
But the most important reason for a Facebook business page is advertising. Facebook Advertising allows you to reach the audiences you care most about, including your own brochure lists, so you can deliver value directly. You can also use Facebook Advertising through its other services such as Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Whats App. Adding a Facebook pixel to your site even helps you target those visitors again with ads on Facebook.
On Facebook, you can post a variety of content, including text and photo posts, carousel photo posts and video posts. You can even make live Facebook videos and share "Stories," micro-content that disappears after 24 hours, similar to Snap Chat and Instagram Stories.
Finally, Facebook's nearly two-and-a-half billion users have 400 million members in a Facebook group. Facebook groups help you build a community, delight your audience, and help you reach out to fans you wouldn't normally reach with organic posts. Facebook places more emphasis on groups these days, and savvy businesses that use them find that engagement is higher than in other parts of Facebook.
YouTube is with over 2 billion users the second largest social network and interestingly also the second largest search engine in the world - of course behind Google.
To give you a sense of its importance, more than 500 hours of video per minute are uploaded to YouTube, and nearly 5 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day. It's almost mind-blowing to think about it! Google reports that 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV, which means that in many ways you have the potential to reach an even larger audience at an even more affordable cost than on TV. On mobile devices, YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-olds in the US than any cable network. This is important because television is very different today than it was a few years ago. In fact, by 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a pay-TV service.
When it comes to marketing on the platform, YouTube offers a variety of interesting opportunities. Remember when I mentioned that it was the second largest search engine? That means it not only helps with SEO, but YouTube also has some of the highest referral rates of any social platform. Also, the platform has high conversion rates when it comes to paid advertising. If you offer a complex product or service, great videos can help influence the prospects of a purchase. Creating videos is not always easy or free, but the benefits and statistics far outweigh the cost of not participating at all.
So what can you do on YouTube? Not only can you host original content and have channel subscribers, but it's also a great place to syndicate content and consider advertising, including interstitial ads or short clips that appear before a video. In addition, over half of YouTube users use the site to learn how to do things they've never done before, making it a great place to think about how to develop interesting, educational material for your customers.
I mentioned Instagram before, but let's look at it in more detail. It belongs to Facebook, but the audience and purposes are a bit different. With a billion people using Instagram each month, it's the third largest social media platform and the fastest growing. Instagram is a photo and video-based social network, and users follow people and brands to enjoy interesting images. According to the Pew Research Center, the largest demographic is men between 18 and 24 years old, while 75% of all users are between 18 and 24 years old. But even that is changing as more and more people use the platform. While the main feature is sharing photos and videos, the most popular feature is Instagram Stories. Like the Snapchat platform, Instagram Stories allow you to share quick, "instant" photos and videos, often with fun filters and visual features. Stories disappear after 24 hours for viewers, but remain stored in an archive for you to see or re-publish. More than 500 million stories are posted daily, and a third of the most viewed Instagram Stories come from companies.