It’s time to cross social media mastery off your wish list and define your brand with this skill. For any business that wants to build an online presence and avoid missing out on opportunities, having a great social media marketing strategy is no longer negotiable — it’s a must.
Social marketing is easily one of the best ways to reach your target audience on the web. With 72% of all U.S. adults using at least one social media network, odds are, your potential customers are seeking out content online every week, if not several times per day. If your organic posts or paid ads successfully capture their attention, your brand awareness will grow and you can become the go-to company in your industry.
We’ll go over four elements you need to include in your social media marketing plan to curate feeds and develop ads that actually help you achieve your goals.
Table of Contents:
- Set social media marketing goals
- Determine social media metrics
- Define your target audience
- Outline a media content strategy
- Choose the right tools
- Choose the right channels
1. Set social media marketing goals
To set the stage for the rest of your social media marketing strategy, you need to begin by writing out your overarching goals. Once your plan is fully implemented, what should be the outcome?
Your social media goals don’t have to be highly specific. Your strategy will become more actionable and measurable as you continue fleshing it out. Instead, your goals can be short phrases that simply set you off in the right direction. When you develop the content for your social channels, these goals will provide the framework you need to easily make decisions that actually drive your desired results.
Examples of social media marketing goals
- To generate more leads
- To increase brand recognition
- To build stronger relationships with customers
- To gain more traffic on our website
- To improve our online reputation
- To increase online sales
We recommend aligning your social media goals with your business goals, so all the effort you put into this marketing channel will fully contribute to the growth of your entire organization.
2. Determine social media metrics
The next step in building your strategy is figuring out what metrics can indicate your social media success.
When selecting the right metrics, a universal rule of thumb is to stay away from vanity metrics, which include likes and followers. Growing these metrics may make your social accounts look good, but in the long run, they don’t actually prove the effectiveness of your social media strategy at all. This is because they don’t always tell the full story—for example, an influencer driving 1,000 likes per post may sound impressive until you realize they have 600,000 followers—so they can easily be manipulated, even subconsciously by you.
The best social media metrics to track are the ones that directly indicate that you’re on track with your brand’s specific goals. Here are four of many metrics that companies find useful for tracking the effectiveness of their social media campaigns:
Your engagement rate shows you how many comments, likes, shares, and more you receive in comparison to the amount of users who actually see your social media posts. This is a particularly useful metric for relationship-building goals, since it shows you how actively your following actually engages with your brand.
Sentiment is defined as how customers feel about a specific topic—usually your brand, product, or even a specific keyword or hashtag in the context of your social media plan. For example, this metric can tell you how your audience on any given social network is reacting to your posts on Facebook, or whether tweets mentioning your brand are positive, negative, or neutral.
While engagement can give you insight into the volume of users tuning into your posts, sentiment tells you how much of this engagement is actually helping you sell—or if your content is actually driving committed followers away. Sentiment is a must-track for brands that want to improve their reputation.
If you want to drive more traffic to your site—especially if you’re taking advantage of paid ads—you absolutely need to track clicks on every post. The amount of clicks you receive will tell you how many people are actually taking action after reading through your content.
When you actively track clicks, you can figure out exactly what type of content captures your audience’s attention on each social media platform. Then, you can reshape your social media marketing strategy as needed to make it more effective.
While engagement already takes into account the amount of impressions (or the amount of views) you’re getting on your posts, reach specifically looks at the amount of unique users who have seen your post. Separately tracking this metric can give you insight into how many individual people you’re actually reaching on each of your social media channels.
When you want to grow your audience and brand recognition, tracking your reach is essential, as this will tell you if you’re actually getting eyes on your content through your marketing efforts. If not, you can re-evaluate your social strategy, including the hashtags you’re using to reach new users.
3. Define your target audience
There’s no such thing as content that’s suited for everyone. If you want to boost your return on investment (ROI), you need to create a social media marketing strategy with a specific audience in mind.
Choosing your target audience does require a bit of research. You’ll want to take a look at who your competitors are targeting, as well as who is already engaged with your brand. You’ll also want to research who is actively buying products like yours. Some audience characteristics you may want to define include:
In the end, your target audience should be specific, but still broad enough to drive growth for your business. For example, the audience for a high-end e-commerce purse brand may include 26- to 40-year old (millennial) women with disposable income who are in mid- to senior-level office jobs and interested in beauty and fashion.
The target market for your social media campaigns can be a specific segment of your company’s overall audience, or they can be exactly the same.
Once you have your target audience locked in to your social strategy, you can better narrow down the social media channels you’ll focus on. After all, you’ll spread yourself thin if you’re equally using your resources on every major social platform, especially since each platform similarly has its own target audience.
For example, if you’re targeting shoppers in Generation Z, you’ll likely need to invest more in platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. If you’re targeting business owners, you’ll get better results by focusing on LinkedIn.
4. Outline a media content strategy
To round out your social media marketing plan, you’ll need to create a strategy for exactly what you’ll share on each of your channels and how you’ll share it. We’ll go over some tips for doing so in this section.
As you’re fleshing out your content marketing guidelines, you may once again look toward your competitors to see what they’re doing well, as well as how you can differentiate yourself from them. You should also think about what content your target audience would be most interested in.
Types of content to share
The type of content you share will define your brand. It’ll tell users what to expect when they follow you, as well as what they’ll experience once they purchase from your brand.
First, you’ll want to consider how your brand identity—which includes your company’s look, feel, and personality—can fit into the content you share. Will you use more photos, graphics, or videos? Will you use live videos? Will you write short captions or long captions?
If you’d like to share customer testimonials easily on social media, use our free Social Media Graphics Kit.
You may need to take your resources into account before you make your final decisions, since it may be difficult to produce a large volume of high-quality videos without an in-house video team or dedicated contractors.
You’ll also want to narrow down what topics you’ll actually post about. About four to six content categories is perfect for keeping your content calendar consistent, without getting repetitive. For example, a gym may alternate between posts about membership benefits, fitness education, smoothie bar giveaways, and more.
Create a social media content calendar
Once you know what kind of content you’re going to be posting, stay organized by creating a social media content calendar. That way you and your team will have full visibility into what you’re posting, when you’re posting, and where you’re posting.
There are lots of helpful scheduling tools that allow you to pre-schedule posts as you create your calendar. We’ll talk more about that in tip #5.
Reaching new customers
Once you’ve selected the content you want to share, the next step is figuring out how you want to share your posts. Start by selecting the frequency at which you’ll post, based on the resources you have. Figuring out the best dates and times to post may require a bit of experimentation as you start to implement your social media marketing strategy, but at least knowing how often you can share content will give you a starting point.
At this point, you may also want to note what scheduling tool you want to invest in, if you don’t already have one.
Then, think about what special techniques you may use to reach the audience beyond your own. This may include:
5. Choose the right tools
There are plenty of social media tools that can make your life easier—from content creation to scheduling and everything in between. Here are a few tools we’d recommend:
Social Media Tools For Content Creation
Social Media Tools for Scheduling
Social Media Analytics Tools
6. Choose the right platforms
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for social platforms every business should show up on. Start by considering your target audience. Who are they? Where do they spend most of their time?
Once you’re clear on that, consider your available resources—it doesn’t make sense to make TikTok an integral part of your social media marketing strategy if you don’t have any video resources. Finally, figure out what kind of content you want to promote. If you’re planning on lots of influencer collaborations and product photos, Instagram will be your best bet. If you want to start discussions and grow a community, LinkedIn or Twitter might make more sense.
And remember, if you try a platform and it doesn’t seem to be working for you, don’t be afraid to pivot or allocate more time and energy to the platforms that ARE working.
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Bonus: Social Media FAQs
- Why is social media marketing important for small businesses? Social media marketing helps you connect with customers, improve your online presence, and grow your business. The modern customer expects businesses to be active on social media. If you’re not showing up on social media, it can feel like a red flag to potential customers.
- What are the best social media apps for small businesses? This depends on which social channels you’re using. You’ll want to download any channel apps that you plan on creating content for. This might include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, or others. There are also lots of helpful software tools (like Canva and Buffer) that have mobile apps.
- What are the best softwares for business social media marketing? There are plenty of software tools that can help you create content, stay organized, and monitor your results. A few of our favorite social media apps include Canva, Buffer, and HubSpot.
Create a strategy that works
Social media sites are booming as we continue using the internet and smartphones more and more. In order to captivate your audience on these growing platforms, you need a social media plan that gives your content a clear focus, so you can reach the right audience. Though your social strategy may change over time, defining your goals, audience, content strategy, and more can help you start off in the right direction so you can boost your ROI.
Once you have your social media marketing strategy locked in, you can start to look at other opportunities to reach your potential customers on the web. Here are our tips for building an online presence that your customers can’t ignore.