Not creating a social media strategy is one of the key mistakes people make when they start to do online marketing.
If you are an entrepreneur, you probably started posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. because you were already using it to connect with your friends and family or because everybody else is doing it or because you heard that you must be active on all the platforms.
And that’s as far as you usually get.
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You are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, or you start posting on Facebook and are discouraged because one of your posts does so well and the next day there’s nothing (or it’s only your mum and dad liking your posts). Or you throw in the towel in Twitter because you have no followers and no engagement.
The worst is when you think about all the time you are spending on this and you see no progress, no growth, no sales…
But you can’t afford to pay to get social media done for you because you don’t have a budget or you think it’s going to take a lot of time for you to learn and do it yourself. You have so many other jobs to do… So you do what you can, cross your fingers and hope your posts will go viral.
But that hardly ever happens and if it does, would you know how to do it again anyway?
So let's get you sorted! Here's what you've got to do to create a social media strategy:
Step 1 of your social media strategy: Why?
Why are you doing social media marketing?
You do it because:
- Everybody else is doing it and you want to be recognised.
- You want to engage with your customers and provide better customer service.
- That's one place where you want to sell more products.
- Being on social media will attract new customers to your shop, your salon…
- You want to encourage customers to keep coming back to you.
These are just some answers but you get the idea: you must have a reason and, most importantly a goal.
Step 2 of your social media strategy: Who?
Who is your ideal customer? (It’s OK to have more than one, just make sure you identify your top 1-3).
Marketing experts will tell you that you must go into as much detail as possible. You can do this with a tool like Xtensio’s free user persona creator. But if you want something more basic, here are some things you should focus on:
Gender: This is important because some networks are more popular with female or male users. You will find some up-to-date (August 2017) stats and demographics for each social media network published by Omnicore Agency here.
What they do: Mums, dads, professionals, self-employed bloggers. students, hairdressers… You get the picture?
Interests: What do they like to do? What are they interested in? It doesn’t have to be related to your product or service, but it will help if some of them are.
Age: Use a range, but try to be as specific as you can.
Income: This is obvious.
Location: Is your business local or global?
Education: What is their level of education? You can be more specific and add what they studied depending on what your product is.
Values: Choose values that fit with your brand and business.
Their pain: What problem can you help them with? This is perhaps one of the most important issues because your product or service should help them to solve this problem they have.
What if they don’t have a pain? Then you look at their desires. Example: Wil I die if I don’t get a Roomba like this? No. But do I want one? Heck, yes!
Other businesses/ products they might use: Use this to do some research about your ideal customer and what they like (or research your competitors and find out how they do things).
Let’s look at an example:
A 30-year-old stay-at-home mum with an interest in crochet, looking for cheap activities to do with the kids on a weekend does not behave in the same was as a single 50-year-old male cardiac surgeon that goes to the gym every day to stay in shape and likes to collect antique scalpels.
I know, I know, I didn’t go into as much detail as I ask you to do, but my point is that they are not even going to hang around the same places online, the mum will likely use Facebook and Pinterest, while the 50-year old surgeon might be in Facebook but is more likely to be active on Twitter or Linkedin.
So now for the next step.
Step 3 of your social media strategy: Where?
Where do your customers hang out in social media?
This is quite important for creating your social media strategy because social media are not created equal and people interact with them in different ways.
The keys here are to focus on one or two social media networks so you can be more efficient. Focus on a network where your customers hang out and that suits what you do and that you enjoy using.
I will not go into detail now about which social media to choose and why. That’s something for another post, but here is one tip to figure out whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. will work for you.
Are influencers in your field or well-established competitors using that network? Look them up on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
- How many followers/fans do they have?
- Are they getting lots of engagement/views/retweets/pins?
People that have been using social media for a while know where to find their audience. So if Facebook works for them, you can make it work for you too.
What if I don’t see any influencers in my field on Instagram?
Sometimes you will see that an influencer is either not there, or not very active in a social media network.
Here are some possible answers:
- They are not there because it doesn’t work. Have you ever seen a forensic accountant post photos on Instagram of what they do at work?
- They are focusing on a different network and haven’t got around it yet.
- They haven’t figured out how to use it “properly”. This happens, there are so many things to learn about each network that people prioritise the ones they understand.
This doesn’t mean that you should not try Facebook if there are no influencers using it. It might be an opportunity for you because you will be the only one. But make sure you understand the way it works and whether you can make the most of it to SHOW what you do before you put all your efforts into it.
Step 4 of your social media strategy: When?
The fourth step to create your social media strategy is to decide when you're going to post.
First, you need to decide how many times you are going to post in each social media profile:
And when are most of your followers online?
To find out the times you can:
Guess: When is a local mum going to be online? For global audiences, this will be when your largest market is online or there is an overlap.
Check your analytics: Check Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, for example, to find out when most your users are online or when your posts perform better.
Experiment: Try different times for a few weeks and see what works for you.
So get yourself a schedule and follow it for a couple of months to see how it goes.
Step 5 of your social media strategy: What?
It’s not ALL about you.
You want to post your own content but you also want to post other things your fans will be interested in. Creating a social media strategy that will work means you have to give your fans what they want and what they like.
Make a list of possible things and where to find them:
Your own stuff:
- Seasonal posts
- How-to guides
- Benefits of using your product
- Photos of what you do
- Tips and ideas
- Relevant magazines
- Relevant Twitter handles, Facebook Pages
- Relevant/complementary products
- Funny things
Once you have those, you share 20-30% of your own posts and 70-80% of other stuff, more or less.
“Why would I want to share other people’s content?”
- You are building a relationship with your audience and are trying to build trust. If all you do is talk about yourself and how wonderful your product/service is what do they get out of it? So give them tips, share articles that might interest them, quotes that will inspire them…
- It makes you look good. Haven’t you heard that “sharing is caring”? Show them how you care about them by sharing useful stuff.
- It’s easier to fill your schedule when you are sharing other people’s content so it doesn’t take you long to do it.
- When your followers and fans engage with your posts, two things happen. One is that more people see your post. The second one is that they are also more likely to see your next post in their feeds because Facebook tries to give them more of what they like.
Step 6 of your social media strategy: How?
Use your time wisely
You can go to each platform and schedule posts manually. This will take you too long to do for all your posts but is OK for live events, interacting with your followers or to make the most of trending topics. But don’t spend the evening glued to your phone when you are supposed to be relaxing.
Everything else you should schedule in advance. Use a scheduler so you can prepare your schedule once a month or every couple of months and forget about it.
This is something that you will not regret investing in. Most scheduling tools are very inexpensive PostPlanner, for instance, starts at $3 a month for the most basic account, and is great for Twitter and Facebook. There is a range of others around the $10 a month for a few accounts. Or if you want to get a tool that allows you to recycle posts easily, go for Smarterqueue or SocialBee.
Each one of these tools will save you hours of work each week and will make finding content much easier for you.
So creating a social media strategy is not that complicated, is it?
Now you don’t have any excuses not to come up with your own social media strategy. Just follow the steps in this blog post and that’s it.
For more information on how often to post, you can check out CoSchedule’s report here.