Why can’t you just post on social media?

Why do you need a strategy?

It’s only 240 characters and a nice picture, right?

Well in many cases, yes that’s right. But if you check the analytics of those accounts you might find that the posts didn’t successfully engage their audience. With all the changes to social media algorithms, that can make a big difference to whether your content gets seen or not.

What is a Social Media Strategy?

First let’s tackle this thorny question.

A social media strategy maps out, ideally in conjunction with your main marketing strategy, the communications message of your business, and the tools you use to do that. It will set out the goals and objectives of your plan, together with the outcome and ROI (Return on Investment) you want to achieve. The strategy is just the skeleton – your plan will need to go into much greater detail, but it will show how your social media works with your business as a whole and the complete Comms strategy.

With any luck, defining the strategy has made it obvious why your business needs one.

How can you make a plan without a clear strategy?

And how can you take any action in your business without a plan?

What Are the Benefits of a Social Media Strategy?

Your social media strategy needs to take into account all of the research you have already done for your business, so it will:

  • be based on your target audience’s needs & behaviours
  • seek to address them in your brand tone of voice
  • be actionable
  • exclude platforms where your target audience don’t hang out
  • put your brand in a place where your customers are holding discussions so you can be part of them
  • take into account the different demographics of your social media audience to target them strategically
  • enable you to maximise results for each different platform according to data and analytics
  • multiply your reach by building relationships with influencers

How Do You Decide Your Social Media Strategy?

First of all, you must decide your objective. If you are a new business, or you are new on social media, this objective needs to be brand awareness. Because of the way the platform algorithms work, more ambitious objectives aren’t going to work well until you have a relevant and reasonably-sized following on your channels.

Once you have reached this point, your objective should really switch to engagement. I know many of you will be raring to move to the stage of attracting leads, sales or website traffic but to do this well you need to have built an engaged audience and ideally to have connected with a few influencers in your market to spread the reach of your posts.

Only then can you move on to what you most likely feel is your true objective, whether that be to get people to networking breakfast meetings, to come to your webinar, to download your app. This objective should fit in to your overall marketing strategy encompassing all different strands of marketing such as networking, email marketing and other offline methods. Social media is an additional string to your bow.

While all these objectives can be measured against KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), it should be noted that social media marketing alone should not be measured against actual sales. It is social media marketing’s job to find leads, perhaps qualify them through discussions on LinkedIn or Messenger, and to get traffic to your website. However, once a prospect is on your website other factors come into play which might stop a sale proceeding. The prospect may not be impressed by your site, they may experience technical difficulties, they may not like the product or service. Your website may not be optimised well for mobile. Social media marketing has done its job regardless by getting them to your site.

So what are you trying to drive your audience to do?

Attend an event?

Buy a product?

Enroll on your coaching programme?

Sign up to a Webinar?

Download an app?

Whatever it is, you need as many different ways to get them to conversion as possible. If you are not already ranking on the first page of Google, social media, done strategically, can become a large source of website referrals for your business.

What is a Good Social Media Strategy?

While elements of this are going to be different depending on your business, some elements of a good social media strategy will remain the same across the board. Think of your social media accounts as a funnel which will grow, qualify and ultimately help to convert your audience.

First, build a social media profile that consistently provides valuable, entertaining or informative content (or preferably all three) which people want to keep seeing. Your aim should be to become one of the go-to accounts in your sector or local area so that you will attract followers like a magnet. Give people a reason to follow you.

Don’t be one of those businesses who endlessly broadcast about themselves in a spammy way – nobody wants to have a conversation with that brand on social media, and the new algorithms particularly on Facebook will ensure that even the fanbase you already have won’t see your posts. Take a look at this post to see how to post interesting curated content which will build your following.

Second, engage with your audience. Be social! Offer help, join discussions, initiate conversations. Not only will this help to build your business’s reputation on social media it will also help to qualify leads. Focus on people who are already active and engaged. Most people with social media accounts are not consistently active and you will be wasting valuable time trying to get them to engage with you.

Use tools to monitor specific streams of those you wish to engage with or important influencers in your field. Look out for topics being discussed by them or by key competitors. Also monitor your competitors’ feeds. If they are not using social media so strategically as you it be may be an opportunity to show how far ahead you are in terms of customer service. Link everything to your particular objectives.

Be proactive. Research prospective clients and reach out to them for a conversation on LinkedIn, having engaged with what they are posting on their feed for a while. Do not, under any circumstances, ask to connect with them and then immediately start to sell, just as you wouldn’t do this in real life (we hope!).

Third, begin to drive your audience towards your website and get them on your email list. Agree as a team what would constitute success – website visits, register leads, candidates applying for a job, app downloads, search rankings, sign ups to a newsletter.

Do you want to attract new clients or to keep the attention of existing or past clients? You always need something to measure.

The Role of Paid Social in Your Strategy

You can pay to increase the reach of your posts via Facebook advertising & targeting. This can be a low cost way of generating leads for your business. Split test with different formats, images and copy to find the best converting ad for your chosen audience. Retargeting with a consistent funnel campaign can be a good way of keeping your audience warm until you are ready to make them an offer, or until they are ready to take the next step with you.

Tweaking your ads according to the insights from your Ad Manager analytics can make your advertising scaleable and easier to predict. Remember though that people don’t visit Facebook in order to buy something and ads that try to sell directly from Facebook don’t generally do well. More touchpoints with your audience will be needed before they are ready to buy, and it isn’t a short term solution. You need to be prepared to have a consistent advertising budget in order to start seeing results, but the targeting possibilities mean this is a worthwhile exercise. Read here for more information about using Facebook Advertising well.

In House or Outsourcing?

It will be obvious by now that this is not something that can be done in the odd spare hour per week. Building a strategy and then testing and refining it to conversion point can be a full time role. Whether you outsource it to a freelance marketer or agency, or employ a person or team to perform the role in-house, it’s important that top level management is involved in setting the strategy together with the marketing person or team.

Social media marketing done strategically is a long term investment in your business which can generate a rich source of leads and build up your brand reputation as thought leaders and experts in customer service. Take a look here for what worked in 2017 and trends you may want to learn about for 2018.

If you’d like to learn more about building engagement on your social media channels why not join my free Facebook group.