Social media has shaken up the global landscape of the 2010s. No longer seen as a frivolous source of entertainment, companies – be it start-ups or multinational organisations – have realised that social media is a powerful digital marketing tool. But how do you use social media effectively? Get the right answers with this ultimate 6-step social media strategy guide.
1. Set Objectives
Like offline media, the most important step in social media marketing is actually setting objectives. What is different though, is how we define objectives. Reach, impressions and engagement are the main metrics here. Impressions are the total number of times a post is delivered, while reach refers to the number of unique individuals who have seen the post. This means that an ad that was shown to a person 5 times will register as 5 impressions, but only 1 reach. Hence, reach count is lower than the number of impressions. Overall, these 2 metrics are used for brand awareness.
Another way to define objectives is to view it in terms of engagements. Engagements are the number of post clicks, likes, shares and comments. They represent consumer interest. Some companies prefer it as a more accurate method to gauge potential customers. They indicate a higher chance of conversions, which will directly increase sales. But engagements are much more difficult to achieve, and usually costs more.
Determining the right objective for you depends on the situation that your company is facing. Big retail brands like to go for reach because they are already established. After all, they just need to remind and influence a large group of people to go out and purchase their products. On the other hand, smaller business-to-consumer (B2C) companies use engagement to measure direct sales growth. Business-to-businesses (B2B) tend to aim for engagement too, because their audiences are more niche. However, if you desire a large proportion of your target audience to know your brand (without other actions like making a purchase), maximising reach will be a better option.
2. Identify Target Audience
The next step focuses on selecting the target audience. Nowadays, social media platforms offer an incredibly comprehensive set of tools to help you choose the specific target group. You can segment social media users into genders, age groups, locations and even interests. Targeting is critical because it is impossible to get to everyone, and you might end up wasting lots of money on ineffective posts. As a start, examine how a specific target group fits into your objective.
How would your ideal customer look like? Go beyond the demographics – such as age, gender and race – and delve into interests and personalities. One easy way to do this is with Google Analytics. Gain free consumer insights and evaluate how your brand will appeal to these consumers. Furthermore, you can identify the potential size of your target audience. (Note that you can do this for free with Facebook Ad Manager too.) If your target audience seems too large, you can introduce more limitations and reduce general search terms. Similarly, if your target group is too small, you can refine it to increase the size.
Once you have selected the right target audience, pick suitable social media platforms. First, find out which social media sites your target audience use regularly. A wide range of social media platform exists, all serving different purposes. Note that these platforms are not competing alternatives, and instead complement each other.
Facebook is the most popular social network, with more than 1 billion users worldwide. Users come from a diverse mix, with a slight skew towards younger age groups. Moreover, Facebook offers the most number of targeting options and customisable objectives for businesses. This is why advertisers like to focus on Facebook. Instagram, which Facebook owns, is a photo-sharing network that remains a favourite among young adults. Usually, content with strong visuals will do well there.
For those who want a more serious image, Linkedin is the social media site for professionals. Users share business-related content, and this has been especially helpful for B2B marketing. Other prominent social media sites to choose from include Twitter and Pinterest. There are too many to list here. Ultimately, find out if your target audience’s interests align with the social media site’s purpose and the type of content you plan to put out.
Now that you got the right target audience and platform, start to create content. Content can come in a variety of forms, ranging anywhere from news updates to animated GIFs. Remember that some content work better on certain social media platforms. For example, link posts do not work on Instagram, while high quality images or graphics are most effective.
Whichever you choose, create content with your audience – not what you like – in mind. This should be the basis of your posts. You can check what your audience’s likes and clicks with Google Analytics. Another easy solution is to create a simple poll and ask them directly. This way, you are getting a straightforward answer without much fuss. If your company has a low following, you can look at your competitors and identify what works out.
With the completion of the previous steps, it is time to get your content to your target audience. Plan out a schedule that your audience will likely respond to. For example, if you are targeting working adults, the best timing is usually in the morning when they get to work. Most content on social media can be scheduled in advance now, so make sure to take advantage of that. Use relevant hashtags. Keep your captions catchy and short. Drum up support for your posts by getting your own employees to share content on their personal accounts as well. This will allow the content to reach more people organically without having to spend more. If opportunities exist, you can collaborate with relevant influencers to spread your content further.
The work doesn’t end once content is out there. Social media is all about two-way conversations. If your content is well received, interested users will leave comments or ask questions. This is the golden opportunity to engage with them. Even negative feedback can be useful for companies to clear the air. While it might not be easy to engage with the audience consistently, it will build brand reputation and goodwill. This shows that you care for them. Eventually, audiences will return the favour and show greater support for your brand.
When a whole advertising campaign is over, it is time to reflect on the rights and wrongs. You can then make suitable adjustments once you are ready to start the whole social media marketing process again.