Crush Your 2024 Social Media Strategy With Our Ultimate Guide!
If you’ve decided to get serious about your social media strategy, you don’t want to miss this!
Your social media marketing is the bedrock of your content marketing and community-building efforts.
And it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the platforms and social media management tools available today.
We want to help you crush your social media marketing goals, so we’ve created a list of the 10 must-follow steps to help you develop your social media marketing strategy.
A successful social media strategy has many moving parts, but with our ultimate guide, you can craft a social media plan that fits your business’s digital marketing needs.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Social Media Strategy?
A social media strategy is a plan with guidelines, objectives, and goals to promote your company, products or services, and connect with your target audience online.
Your plan will include the social media platforms you’ll use, your goals for each social media channel, how you’ll meet those goals and the metrics you’ll use to determine if your plan was successful.
Your focus should also be on your content marketing strategy—types of content, where to post it, and when.
Why You Need a Social Media Strategy
If you don’t have a solid social media strategy driving your efforts, you’re wasting valuable time creating social posts for your social media campaign.
No longer is it enough to post random social media content and hope it gets shared.
Being active on social media has many benefits, such as:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Social media growth
- Driving traffic to your website
- Increasing user engagement
- Generating leads
- Monetizing social media
- Getting insights into the needs of your audience to better understand which digital products or services you should offer
- Building brand loyalty
In addition, creating and following a social media strategy forces you to get clear about the tactics you’ll use to reach your goals.
You’ll set benchmarks that tell you what’s working and where you need to make changes.
And when you have a written plan of action, everyone on your team will follow the same playbook and work towards the same goals, resulting in a consistent brand image and tone.
Steps to Create a Social Media Strategy
There are 10 proven steps you need to follow to create your winning social media strategy.
Let’s take a look.
1. Make sure your social media goals line up with marketing objectives
Your social media goals must align with your overall marketing objectives.
This helps you avoid falling into the trap of posting unconnected social content that fails to draw your target audience further along in their customer journey.
To meet your social media marketing objectives, you need to set goals and establish social media metrics such as KPI.
Set SMART goals
Your social media goals should be:
For example, your social media goal might be to increase your number of Instagram leads by 6% before the end of the quarter.
So your SMART goal might look like this:
- Promote and link to your free ebook (lead magnet) in Instagram stories four times weekly for the rest of the quarter.
- Add a link in your bio to the ebook, so anyone who visits your social media profile page can see it and click over to it.
- Each social media post in your feed will have a story relevant to your followers that ties into the ebook and how it will help your audience get the desired results. Remind them to get the ebook by clicking the link in your bio.
Your goal is specific—increase the number of leads from Instagram.
Your goal is measurable—You’ll increase those leads by 6%.
Your goal is attainable—6% is a reasonable rate increase based on your experience.
Your goal is relevant—you want to grow your email list.
Your goal is time-bound—this will happen before the end of the current quarter.
Measure meaningful metrics
The number of followers and views you get are easy to track, but they don't reflect any real value to your business.
They’re known as vanity metrics.
Instead, measure click-through and conversion rates, which are more meaningful goals.
Social media engagement with your posts is another good metric to measure.
You may find that different social media platforms require different goals and metrics. That is normal and part of creating a custom strategy.
2. Analyze your target audience
Understanding your target audience makes creating a solid social media strategy easier.
Different Platform=Different Audience
Your target audience will prefer one social media channel over another. Where will you find your people?
If your target audience is professionals, you'll find them on LinkedIn and Facebook.
But TikTok might be the best place to focus your social media efforts if you want to appeal to Gen Z.
You don’t need to be active everywhere—just the places that matter to your target audience.
Design audience personas
To get a handle on your target audience, create an audience persona. Ask who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.
- Who are they? Age, gender, location, salary, occupation, etc.
- What are their interests and problems? What can you offer to entertain or educate them?
- Where do they spend their time online? YouTube? Facebook? Twitter? Reddit?
- When are they online? In the morning over coffee? During a commute to the office? At night after the kids are in bed?
- Why are they looking for content? Do they want to be entertained? Are they looking to be healthier? Do they need to improve their job skills?
- How is their preferred content formatted? Do they want text-based information? Or would they prefer videos?
If you have never created a buyer persona before, looking at your current audience can give you a place to start.
Gather data on your existing social media audience
Look at your social media analytics for your current social media following. What insights can you glean about them?
If your social media channels are new and you don't have a following, look at Google Analytics, the analytics from your email service provider, or the analytics from your customer relationship manager.
You can even gain insight by looking at your best-selling products.
3. Stalk your competitors
Look at your competition to see what they are doing and what's working for them. Use this information not to copy what they’re doing but to shape your strategy.
Conduct a competitive analysis
Conducting a competitive analysis to see what your competition is doing helps you in two ways.
First, you can understand what is expected in your industry.
Outfit-of-the-day posts are common in the fashion and beauty space but would be unusual for a business selling accounting software.
Second, use your research to find openings in the market. Is there a place where your audience is being underserved?
If so, and your audience enjoys watching videos, that's a place you might gain traction while filling a need.
Try social listening
Don't just look at what your competition is doing.
Use social listening to find out what is being said about them.
Social listening tools can point you to what others say about your industry.
Do you see an oncoming shift in industry trends? That’s an opportunity for you to change your social strategy.
Look at different social media channels and search for relevant hashtags for your industry.
Read the comments left on your industry leaders' social media accounts. What are people saying to them?
What hashtags or specific words are your target audience using when they post comments?
This is all valuable information for shaping your own strategy.
4. Conduct a social media audit
Your next step is to conduct a social media audit.
Audit your channels and efforts if you’re already using social media.
Ask questions like:
- What's working?
- What's not working?
- How is customer engagement on the social networks you’re targeting?
- How does your social media presence compare to your competitors?
Your audit may show some problems with your strategy.
For example, you might need to decide if staying on a particular social network is useful. Ask yourself:
- Is my target audience here on this social media platform?
- What kinds of content are they looking for?
- Does your content marketing strategy make sense for your overall social media goals?
5. Improve your online presence
After finishing your audit, you can improve your social media profiles.
What platforms will you use?
You can’t be everywhere, so be selective when choosing which social platform you’ll use.
Think back to your target audience.
Where do they hang out? You definitely want to be on those channels.
Next, consider your strengths.
For example, are you better at writing or video creation?
If you don't like video, and your audience is the baby boomer generation, you probably don't need to be on TikTok or YouTube.
But if you’re good at photography and pictures are relevant to your potential customers, Instagram will be a good platform for your efforts.
You may also decide to use a social media channel only for specific purposes, such as customer service.
For example, when I had a problem with a furniture delivery from Ikea, Twitter was the channel Ikea used to handle customer service issues.
My complaint and subsequent resolution were handled not by email, Facebook, or phone but via Twitter DMs.
Set up new profiles or improve existing ones
Even if you don't plan to be active on a specific social media channel, you still want to claim your name and set up a complete profile on each major network.
For the platforms you intend to use, fill out all the fields for each platform’s profile. This makes it easier for your audience to find you and contact you.
Use the keywords or hashtags people will use when they're searching for your business or industry.
And use consistent branding across all channels. Use the same profile picture on all your channels if you are a personal brand or business owner.
Use the same colors and similar image styles as you customize your social media bios.
6. Get inspired
If you're struggling to create a social media marketing plan for a social media channel, you can look to others inside and outside your niche for inspiration and direction.
Find case studies
Check each platform's business section for social media case studies that offer insight into what's working right now.
These might spark some ideas for you.
Here are examples of successful Pinterest strategies.
Check out award-winning accounts
Did you know there are social media awards?
These programs showcase brands and businesses using their social media accounts smartly and creatively.
Who do you follow?
Think about your personal social media habits.
Who do you enjoy following on social media? What content stands out and resonates with you? What content types do you see doing well for others?
Ask your followers
Go straight to the source.
Ask your followers what they'd like to see. Ask them what content types would be most helpful to them.
Better yet—get your followers to create content for you! User-generated content is an excellent way to promote your brand.
7. Now about your content...
If you want to stand out from the crowd and increase digital engagement, you need to create useful and interesting content.
Here's what you should consider.
Your content tone should reflect your brand.
Are you very serious and formal? Or are you fun and lighthearted?
Do you create funny memes or post serious statistics?
Keep the tone of your social media posts consistent across all channels.
Yes, you might be more casual on Instagram than you would on LinkedIn, and that’s okay, but too much inconsistency will confuse your audience.
Some content ideas for your social media strategy
Here are some content ideas to consider using in your social media strategy.
Creating long-form blog content is good for search engine optimization and gives you something to share and talk about on social media.
One 2000-word blog post can give you 3 or 4 if not more, points to cover in different social media posts.
Create shareable content that is useful for your target audience, like checklists, infographics, and how-to videos.
Share them on your social channels and encourage your followers to share them with their social networks.
Stories are a great way to take your followers behind the scenes.
A Facebook or Instagram Story is also a place to be more casual and personable than you might be in your feed.
And stories benefit from playing into your follower’s FOMO (fear of missing out).
Stories expire and disappear in 24 hours so your followers won’t want to miss them.
Video content is hot right now. Every platform wants users who create video marketing content.
And short-form videos don't have to be difficult and time-consuming to make.
Many social media channels have built-in social media tools to help you create something in just a few minutes.
Bring your humanity
Don't be afraid to be yourself.
It's okay to be silly, throw a one-person dance party, or just chat with your people while taking a coffee break.
Your authenticity helps you stand out from the crowd.
Share a picture of your new puppy and talk about how excited you are about your new family member.
Tell your followers about the new chocolate chip cookie recipe you tried.
Talk about the things that make you you, as much as you are comfortable doing so.
8. Develop a social media content calendar
This is where you'll decide when you are going to post.
Do you post Monday through Friday or seven days a week? Do you post multiple times a day or several times a week?
What time of day will you post? First thing in the morning? Late at night?
You’ll need to know when your people are online to answer these questions.
Refer back to your social media audit and evaluate your performance metrics.
There is no one-size-fits-all schedule. You'll need to test and adapt.
Make sure you’re posting the right content
What kinds of content will you post?
You'll want to mix it up, creating a variety of content that's useful for your audience and content that helps you reach your goals, such as growing your email list.
If you're unsure about your posting ratio, there are two schools of thought—the 80/20 Rule or the Rule of Thirds.
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience.
20% of your posts should promote your brand.
The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds says that one-third of your content should promote your business, one-third should share ideas and stories from your industry, and one-third should be personal interactions with your audience.
Reply to your customers
This is the make-it-or-break-it strategy on social media. After all, social media is social, right?
If your followers leave comments, respond to them.
If they tag you while they're showing off your product, give them a thank you for sharing.
If they have a complaint or a suggestion, listen and reply.
The two-way communication is noticed and appreciated. And it increases the know, like, and trust factor you need to turn followers into loyal customers.
9. Analyze and adapt
Your social media strategy should be a living document.
That simply means you monitor your social media activity and update your methods as necessary.
Evaluate performance metrics
Analyze each social channel’s metrics regularly to see how your posts perform.
Are your social media posts driving traffic to your website?
Is the audience converting in terms of email subscribers or sales?
Rinse and repeat
Compare your results to your goals and make the necessary changes.
With social media algorithms changing constantly, you must keep testing and refining your strategy.
Look at what's working, change what's not, test it, and analyze the results.
10. Don’t forget about your other departments
The marketing department doesn't operate in a vacuum.
If your business has multiple departments, your social media manager should keep everyone informed about the information you collect.
Those insights will be useful for others.
Which departments should you collaborate with?
It will depend on your business structure, but the sales department and product development teams will benefit from the information you share.
Those insights make their jobs easier and help them better serve the customer, resulting in more sales and business for your company.
Make it a point to check in with those departments consistently. Share the new data as you collect it from your analytics.
Are You Ready to Create Your Social Media Strategy?
As a marketer, it's time to plan your social media strategy.
Pulling together an effective social media strategy can definitely feel overwhelming.
But if you follow our 10-step process, you’ll have everything you need to create a strategy that rocks your social media marketing goals.
Remember to always act by serving the audience first. Focus on the content that works. And always be testing and refining.
What is the first action you need to take to crush your social media goals?