First of, before we start creating our winning social media strategy, we need to quickly address the ‘why?’. Why do we need a social media strategy?
The rise in social media is a massive challenge for many organisations (Effing & Spil, 2016), customers have all seamlessly adopted social media into their daily lives and this forces a pressure onto companies to have a presence on multiple social media platforms, as customers expect them to be there (Larson and Watson, 2011). It’s a time where simply using social media is not enough and companies should be using social media strategically in order to benefit from it (DiStaso & McCorkindale, 2013).
So, simple answer; to be successful with social media, you need a strategy.
A strategy helps you to post with a purpose and ensure you post content your target market will actually want to see. Strategy also helps to define the target market and work out how best to reach them. Finally a strategy will allow you to understand what is working and what doesn’t work with your business. This allows you to save time posting content your audience won’t love and spend time posting content they will love! (See West, 2015: How to create a social media strategy).
So how can a company create a winning social media strategy?
- Plan your platforms
There are loads of platforms that businesses can utilise, but which one is best for your business? You first need to understand each social platform, what their unique purpose is and whether or not this platform will help you to successfully reach your target audience. The best way to do this? Create (or find on the internet!) a platform profile, this profile will tell help you to align your businesses goals with a platforms purpose. For example, if your goal is to improve customer service, Twitter would be the most beneficial as its primary purpose is to answer a high volume of posts.
For more information on how to successfully choose which social media platform is right for your business check out my last blog post on the subject!
It’s important to remember however, you do not need to be on every platform! It’s recommended that small businesses stick to a few platforms to start with and put aside time daily for them; 15mins a day for the first few months so that the task of beginning and growing social media isn’t overwhelming (See Conley, 2014: A Beginner’s Social Media Guide for Small Businesses).
- Brand your social media
Having a consistent brand across your website and all social media platforms allows your viewers to identify your business and help to establish your brands personality online. Social media is a great opportunity to show the ‘personal’ side of your business and using colours, fonts and images can all add to conveying your businesses personality.
Branding social media basically means ensuring all your content is recognisable as yours. Profile pictures, cover photos and social posts need to stay consistent with your brands colours, fonts and imagery. 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual, so ensuring great design will be more likely to increase social engagement (See Perkins, 2014: How to Develop a Strong Visual Brand on Social Media)
- Develop content strategy
Content strategy is easily the most important part of your entire social media strategy. Without a plan of what content you’re going to post and when, you can easily get it wrong.
Creating a content calendar can make the task of committing to a social media plan seem less overwhelming.
Firstly, you need to have the reader in mind when selecting or creating content. Businesses that share useful content that viewers want to read and share will help to create a much stronger brand image and reputation (See Agius, 2015: The 4 Essentials to Building Your Brand on Social Media) and as a business on social media you want to be seen as an industry leader and expert promotions (See West, 2015: How to Create a Social Media Strategy).
So, let’s consider content types;
- Links to relevant articles/blogs
- Humour (Be very careful with humour, it can be hard to pull off properly and all posts to social media will affect your brand image!)
- Current Events
- Behind the Scenes
- Seasonal (e.g. Easter posts)
It’s not always necessary to share your own content, add in a mix of industry blogs and news stories that are relevant as many followers will become turned off to endless self promotions (See West, 2015: How to Create a Social Media Strategy). Do however share lots of pictures! Followers are twice as likely to engage with a post with a picture than just pure text (See Agius, 2015: The 4 Essentials to Building Your Brand on Social Media)
Adding a good range of content will help to engage your followers and keep them interested, however it’s important to ensure the content is relevant to your industry/business or your followers will be less likely to interact with it.
Next, plan how often you’re going to post.
Check out this great infographic by Buffer!
However this is more of a maximum guide when interaction will start to drop and followers stop being engaged, so you could definitely get away with posting less if time is a constraint.
Overall, a strong social media will really help to focus your social media postings and thus increase engagement and help your company to achieve their goals!
Agius, A. (2015). The 4 Essentials to Building Your Brand on Social Media. Entrepreneur. [Online] Available: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244677
Conley, M. (2014). A Beginner’s Social Media Guide for Small Businesses. Social Media Examiner. [Online] Available: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-guide-small-businesses/
DiStaso, M. W., & McCorkindale, T. (2013). A benchmark analysis of the strategic use of social media for Fortune’s most admired U.S. companies on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Public Relations Journal, 7(1), 1–33.
Effing, R., & Spil, T. A. (2016). The social strategy cone: Towards a framework for evaluating social media strategies. International journal of information management, 36(1), 1-8.
Larson, K., & Watson, R. (2011). The value of social media: toward measuring social media strategies. Thirty Second International Conference on Information Systems Shanghai 2011, 1–18.
Perkins, M. (2014). How to Develop a Strong Visual Brand on Social Media. Hubspot. [Online] Available at: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/strong-brand-voice-social-media
West, C. (2015). How to Create a Social Media Strategy. [Online] Available at: http://www.chloesocial.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/How-to-Create-a-Social-Media-Strategy.pdf