1. Identify social media goals
Before doing anything, map out your brand’s top-level goals and figure out how your social media efforts can best support them. Whether you’re reporting to your manager, CEO or Board of Director, or leading the charge for the company’s communications, it’s a must that you define the correlation between your work and their present needs. At the end of the day, decision-makers (who may not be sold on social media spending yet) want to know how your hours on social media contribute the bottom line.
Let’s say hypothetically, you’re working at a nonprofit that aims to attract more volunteers and you’re asked to build a social media strategy. One of your social media goals would then be to discover and build relationships with influencers who can spread your message to a new audience.
As always, make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T.(Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; Time-Bound). Once you determine the direction you’re heading, nail down the metrics you’ll use to measure success. Go beyond likes and retweets, and discover which social media analytics are worth tracking. These are the metrics that will act as signals that momentum has started building behind your brand’s larger goals.
2. Social media audit
It’s a hard look in the mirror that many brands neglect. A deep understanding of where your social media efforts currently stand is necessary, and it will play a leading role in the following steps. Look at each of your platforms and ask yourself these questions:
- Who is your online audience?
- What social media channels are they using?
- How does your engagement compare to your competitors?
When analyzing your engagement, pinpoint the posts that performed best and those that disappointed. When you better understand this data, you better understand your audience. You should also take a look at your followers, and find out which ones have the widest reach. This will be useful when looking for influencers to champion your brand.
Once this is done, determine the channels you’re going to use and which audience you’ll be speaking to. If you want to know where people are listening, check out this guide to social media demographics.
3. Turning goals to tactics
It’s time to take take your goals and break down specific actions needed to accomplish them. If your goal is to discover and build relationships with influencers, your tactics might look like this:
- Build a list of 50 influencers who resonate with your target audience
- Reach out to two influencers every week
- Partner up with one influencer every month
- Ask influencers you know for introductions to new influencers
4. Create a social media calendar
There are often multiple people working on a brand’s social media platforms. A shared social media calendar allows all the contributors to see what others are posting, simplifies scheduling, and ensures that your digital efforts are well coordinated.
Don’t complicate it. Break down every day and platform, the post’s content, and whether there will be pictures, videos or links attached. If you want to save hours trying to build a calendar on excel, download this free template.
When executing the strategy, you should schedule your posts in advance rather than constantly updating. If you aren’t sure how to balance the types of content you post, follow this simple rule of thirds:
- ⅓ promote your brand, convert readers and generate profit
- ⅓ share ideas and stories that are relevant to your audience
- ⅓ should be interactions with your audience
5. Assign tasks and timelines
Now that you know exactly what needs to be done, add two elements to each tactic:
1. Assign people: who’s completing the task
2. Set timelines: when does it need to be done by?
When assigning tasks, make sure that your team members thoroughly understand the strategy and its goals. Once you start doing the work, it’s easy to forget about the ‘why’. Whether you know it inside out or not, look back at your strategy regularly!
6. Analyze and adjust
Every section of your strategy matters, but this one should be bolded.
At this point, you looked at the data and formulated a plan that you think is going to work. You don’t know with certainty that your approach is going to be effective, so you should constantly make adjustments, and adapt your goals and tactics as you move forward.
Our strategies are driven by data, so we like using analytics to help determine success. Generally speaking, we like to analyze social media analytics, link clicks through particular platforms, and page visits driven by social media.
We know that 9 out of 10 companies fail to execute strategy, so meet with your team for at least an hour every month to see what’s working, where you could improve, and determine whether you’re missing out on new opportunities online.
Hitting the road
Think of your strategy like a road trip. You know what your final destination is and why you’re heading there. Then, choose the most efficient way there and regularly check your Google Maps to make sure you’re on track.
Anyone who’s been on a road trip knows that there are almost always speed bumps along the way. Your route could change, and so could your destination. These adventures can be stressful, so make sure you enjoy the scenery along the way.