Originally published August 2020. Updated January 2023.
Social media can play an important role in your business’ success as it can create a real difference for your brand. Along with email marketing and paid search, social media is a staple of modern digital marketing.
High-performance communication can be carried out on social media for both customer acquisition and brand development. Social media lets you create a unique bond between you and your customers that your website can’t deliver.
Before getting involved on social media, you’ll need to create a strategy for everything you plan to do on social media. By setting up your goals at the start you’ll know if you’re succeeding or failing.
Your plan needs to be specific and concise. In this post we’ll show you how to create an effective social media marketing strategy for 2023 with a 5-step plan.
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What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is when you use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to promote your business and sell your products or services.
Social media marketing can help your business to:
- Connect with your customers
- Create an engaged audience
- Build brand awareness
- Personalize your business
- Sell your products and/or services
- Provide more customer service
- Find your target audience
- Track sentiment around your business
- Measure performance of products and messaging
Whether you only use social media to talk to your customers or you have your entire store integrated with Instagram Shopping, it’s all comes under social media marketing and you need to define your strategy.
Once you’ve defined why you’re actually using social media for your business it becomes much easier to manage your channels. Now let’s get into creating your social media strategy.
How to create a social media marketing strategy in 6 steps
1. Define goals that align with your business
It’s important to establish your goals for social media early and clearly. Ask yourself these two questions:
- What am I trying to achieve by using social media?
- Why and how do my customers use social media?
Getting answers to these will determine the content you share and help you stay focused. Would you like to increase product/brand recognition? Get more likes on Facebook? Acquire new customers? Depending on the objective, your communication will have to adapt and the tools might be different.
Track your progress
It will be hard to know if what you’re doing is working without tracking useful data. Vanity metrics like followers and likes look pretty, but it’s hard to assign a real value to it.
You want to look at more meaningful metrics like engagement and conversion rates. If brand awareness is the goal however, then tracking likes/followers is absolutely necessary.
Your goals should align with your overall strategy though. Do you prefer to share meaningful content that really has an impact? Or do you want to get as many eyeballs on your posts as possible?
The goal should inform the metrics you track and will inform the content your share too.
2. Identify your audience
Once the goals have been defined, it’s important to learn about your followers and customers. You need to know what makes them tick on social media so you can get their attention. You should know this kind of information about your typical customer:
- Job title
- Who else they follow
This is also called a buyer persona and lots of companies use them today.
Most social media platforms come with analytics tools that lets you analyze your followers’ information including where they live, when they’re usually online, and how they interact with your business.
You likely already have some social pages with likes/followers. That’s already a great snapshot into your ideal customer.
3. Research the competition
You competitors are probably already using social media so you can get some tips and insights from their accounts. You don’t need to always compare yourself to the competition, but you should have an idea of the environment you’re playing in.
Conducting a competitive analysis lets you see what they’re doing well, and not so well. You can see what posts get the most engagement and what posts fall short. This should inform the content you put out there as you already have a big data set to look at.
You’ll also be able to see what social media channels are working for your competitors. You might discover some useful info by checking the brand’s pages on all platforms. What works on one channel doesn’t necessarily work on another.
4. Choose the right channels for your business
There’s no point in shouting about your business in a room where no one’s listening. It’s vital that you choose the right social media channel for your business. Facebook and Snapchat, for example, reach completely different targets in terms of age, whereas Instagram and Twitter are again different from each other.
You don’t need to create an account for every social media channel there is. When your goal and your target are clearly defined, you need to choose the channel where your customer base is most likely to be. Here’s a quick summary and analysis of the major social networks:
Twitter: Ideal for communicating reactively with customers or prospects. Be careful not to fall into the trap, however, of responding too quickly or emotionally, as Twitter has become a highly charged platform. Beyond that, your community will be able to tweet without a filter and the reactions will be instantaneous, which has its benefits.
Facebook: The age group of people using this social network is older than Twitter, for example, but this allows you to organize contests, for example, or even consult your followers to request an opinion on a product or a service.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is ideal for positioning yourself as an expert in your field of activity and for disseminating your job offers or information about your business. The professional network and not usually used for talking about products, etc. Often used by brands to show community and/or charitable initiatives.
Instagram: Visual language is essential when selling products. With that Instagram is ideal for sharing photos of your products or events in which you participate or organize. In addition, by using hashtags it is possible for your Instagram page to gain organic visibility and therefore followers/customers. More than 50% of Instagram accounts also use the Explore feature every month, meaning more opportunity for organic product discovery. Instagram can also be used as an effective sales channel with WebSell’s product inventory integration.
Snapchat: The major asset that makes this application a success are the photo/video filters that can be used. You can use Snapchat to allow your customers or staff to showcase a product and make them want to visit the store or visit your e-commerce site.
Pinterest: Ideal for a business that has a very creative communication strategy and is trying to become a reference in an area of expertise (example: interior decoration or beauty products). The visual element is essential when it comes to Pinterest.
TikTok: Currently the trendiest social network that pre-teens and teens are addicted to. You could promote a product by making the most original videos possible, but it will take some effort and you need to keep in mind your demographic.
To help you analyze all the most popular social networks and find out which one or which might be right for you, check out this helpful article.
Each platform works differently and has its own use cases. However, it’s possible to post the same content on several platforms at the same time. The only thing you need to ask yourself before posting is: “Is this the kind of content my online customers want to see?”. If the answer is yes, then you just need to make sure that the format is suitable for the platform.
5. Create a content strategy
Content is very important on social media, but which content should you post in order to reach your goals?
Some content has become more trendy than others over the years (so it’s important to learn about what’s new and keep up with the current trend), but it’s also very important to stay tuned to your audience and offer quality content with strong visuals and engaging videos.
Identify winning topics/subjects
Once the analysis of your online customers is complete, it’s up to you to identify the various topics that may interest them and make them loyal to your products. Adapt your content around these core topics. You shouldn’t need any more than a handful. It’s less complicated and strengthens your brand.
Adapt to each social network
As we see in the previous chapters, each social network is different. Posts adapted for Twitter may not appeal to Instagram’s audience. It is therefore essential to adapt your communication and language to each social network.
Vary the formats
You can communicate the same content on each channel, but varying the format of the content can be very effective.
Infographics: At a time when social networks are flooding us with long, informative articles, infographics are a great way to condense information and own part of the conversation.
Videos: Like infographics, videos are a fun way to communicate many pieces of information. Very popular today are live videos which are a quick and easy way to start interacting. Just got a new shipment of products? Recently redesigned your store? These can be great reasons to start live streaming to your customers.
What are the big social media content trends for 2020? Check out this article from Sprout Social.
6. Get posting (and scheduling)
The main reason to use social media for e-commerce is to create a relationship with online users. It reassures customers by giving your business a daily presence as well as providing content to social media channels that you are an active and relevant business.
There are many tools that can help you schedule your posts on all the social networks where your brand is present. It’s just important to remember that if you choose to create accounts for your business on multiple social networks, then you must keep them updated regularly. Hence the importance of really thinking about where you want to position your brand.
The key is to deliver content tailored to each social network, while also serving content that your audience is likely to engage with. The goal should not be the pure promotion of your business, but rather to share content that has added value for your subscribers.
The 80/20 Rule is an often-used golden rule for social media marketing, meaning that 80% of your posts should be informative or entertaining, while just 20% should be for the promotion of your business or products. It’s a good rule to try and stick to, even though it can be time-consuming. A way to try and stick to this rule is to use as much user-generated content as you can.
Once your objectives are well-defined and the social channels are identified for your company, all it takes is good organization and staying on the lookout for trending news or subjects amongst your audience.
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