Social media has come a long way in recent years. With the buzz-filled honeymoon phase definitely over, brands are now looking to implement a social media marketing strategy that is in tune with the rest of their business. This short guide is intended to cover all the bases and give you an easy to follow checklist for creating your 2018 social media marketing strategy.
Summary: 5 Minutes read, Level: Advanced
It’s important to note that the operative word today is “strategy”. Most of us were allowed to experiment and decide what to do in the social media arena on a tactical level in previous years, but it’s important to understand that having a social media marketing strategy in 2018 really means doing all the prerequisite work to make it a strategy in the business sense. As a marketer, you will be held accountable by the now informed management for your brand’s performance, so it’s much better to come prepared. It’s best if you show initiative in defining the social media marketing strategy yourself.
What this guide will cover:
Everyone and their grandma is on social media today. This makes it both easy and hard to collect competitive data on what other companies are doing and what seems to be working for them. It’s best if you can rely on your partners from sales, or other forms of already existing research, to inform you on who your main competitors are. Once you define them, try to systematically decipher what they’re doing with their social media marketing strategy:
There are tools out there that can help you analyse and compare this data too. The goal is to quickly inform you about what’s popular, what success looks like in your industry and what you can expect to achieve with your efforts. Serious marketers will use this data to perform what’s called a SWOT analysis as well.
Having a strategy isn’t just about deciding what you’ll do. It’s just as much, if not more, about making reasoned decisions about what you will not set out to do. A useful tool for setting clear, on-strategy goals is called SMART. Having SMART social media marketing strategy goals means that they are:
If your goal checks out on all SMART items, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to successfully reach it. When it comes to setting social media marketing strategy goals, you should review the following:
Socio-demographic and behavioural research is the cornerstone of all modern marketing. Your social media marketing strategy should be firmly based on available first and third party data. The point is that there’s no place for assumptions in the world of Big Data.
For example, if you know your core customers are female, aged 25-45, with an average household income of $30,000, you should analyse the social media landscape to understand where they are most likely to be found. All social networks release stats and data regularly, not to mention the vast array of free and paid third party data sources you can tap into.
In the example of the women we identified earlier, let’s say the research shows they’re on Twitter in droves. So, should we immediately decide to use Twitter as a channel?
Not necessarily. Just because the people we’re looking for are there, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily receptive to our messages or would look favourably upon us showing up. This is crucial information and something that separates classy brand-building communications from the spam that’s clogging the internet’s arteries.
So, choosing tactical channels is an exercise in mapping high-potential social networks with what our messages are all about, because each network has a different etiquette and feel to it. If there’s a match, we go for it. Again, social media marketing strategy is about making strategic decisions with limited resources.
There was a time when anyone could claim success on Facebook by showing their boss how many organic likes their generic post got. Not anymore. Likes, organic shares and other similar metrics have proven to be nothing but vanity boosters for us marketers. Facebook itself has changed the rules of the game so many times, we’ve lost count. Even their own research shows no correlation between the activity of “clicky” users and their attitudes and preferences when it comes to actual shopping behaviour.
It’s best to align the goals of your social media marketing strategy to the wider marketing goals of your company. In that sense, there are only three sets of measures that are sensible for social media:
Each of these sets comes with its own KPIs and success definitions. The worst thing you can do with your social media marketing strategy is to try and make it be all things to all people, because then it loses all meaning and purpose. Therefore, you should separate the roles for each channel and likewise define separate budgets and campaigns for each set of goals they are to achieve.
All the above steps should ultimately lead you to a place where you can sit down with your content creators and discuss what’s best for the purposes you have defined. The tools at your disposal are plentiful, and the information you should by now have gathered will inform the process of creating effective content to bring your social media marketing strategy to life.
Remember that each platform has its own culture, and that some are more suited for text, some for video and others for photos. Also, keep in mind that regular people will happily consume stuff that interests them, regardless of whether it was made by Joe YouTuber or your brand.
That’s both super cool and very scary. On one hand, nothing is stopping your brand becoming a global sensation, but on the other hand, whatever you do you’re competing with every other cat video currently doing the rounds.
A social media marketing strategy should not be written on a metaphorical stone tablet. This is easily missed, due to our traditional notions of strategy being this unchanging, law-like thing. The truth is that strategy must be a fluid and responsive framework we use to guide us, without becoming cumbersome or disconnected from reality.
So every campaign needs to have a reflective, learning component. These findings and data should find their way into the next revision of the strategy document. This way we make sure our social media marketing strategy is a living, breathing expression of how the real world operates and how we fit into our customers’ lives.
Our social media marketing strategy is an expression of everything we do as a company, done in communications channels most likely to cause real, unfiltered customer feedback. That’s why it needs to make space for us to listen, at least as much as we talk.