If you are planning on doing social media marketing in any capacity, one thing is certain: you need a strategy. At least that’s the case if you’re hoping to find success!

The truth is that in the absence of a strategy, you’re merely posting on social media platforms for the sake of posting. And with this approach, it’s going to be hard to achieve the results you’re seeking.

In its most basic form, a social media marketing strategy will provide a summary of all the tactics you plan on employing, and goals you’re hoping to achieve on social media. This plan allows you to pinpoint your exact audience and will serve as that all-important blueprint to guide your actions; allowing you to determine whether you are succeeding or failing. With a strategy, every post, reply, like, and comment is made with a strategic purpose.

The more time you put into your strategy, the better your execution will be. Of course, it’s also important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for a winning social media strategy. The strategy that you should employ will depend on your specific objections and your audience.

In this post, we’ll look at eight steps that you can take to create a winning social media marketing plan of your own.

First Up: Identify Your Social Media Goals

But before we get into the specifics, let’s first identify some goals and objectives.

First up, what does success mean to you?

Individually or as a group, it is crucial to determine what you aim to achieve from social media. Why exactly do you want your business on social media?

You need to be able to answer the ‘Why.’

Some of the most common reasons that most businesses turn to social media are:

  • To grow revenue: by increasing signups or sales
  • For lead generation: by increasing traffic to your site
  • To provide better customer service

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these top-tier objectives.

To grow revenue (by increasing signups or sales): Social selling is gaining momentum in the marketing world. Customers are increasingly shunning generic pitches. Instead, they’re interested in more ‘give and take,’ conversations and transparency. In short, the more interest you take in your customers, the more interest they will have in you.

For lead generation (by increasing traffic to your site): Your website is the most powerful conversion tool in your marketing arsenal; which is exactly why you should be focused on generating traffic to your site if you want to make sales and find new customers. More than just generating traffic, though, it’s important to generate the right traffic to your website. You need qualified buyers who are interested in your product or service. Increasing relevant traffic to your site will allow you to establish your brand as an authority in your niche.

To provide better customer service: Social media has become the first line of defense for customer service. These days, people often vent on social media before picking up a phone or writing an email. It’s essential that you have procedures in place to satisfy unhappy customers effectively and efficiently.

Some other goals and objectives you may want to consider are:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Generating new leads
  • Boosting brand engagement
  • Building a community around your business
  • Increasing mentions in the press
  • To monitor conversations about your brand

Often you may have a number of different goals when it comes to social media. That’s okay, just start by focusing on one at first, and then branch out from there. Just make sure you create a solid strategy for each and every objective.

Once you have your goals established and understand why you need a social media presence, you can start employing vital strategies to ensure your success.

Step #1: Focus on Customer Interaction

If you’re not focusing on converting followers to brand influencers, then you need to reassess your social media strategy. Customer interaction should be an integral component of your plan.

Customer interaction means addressing every single customer comment, good or bad, when running your social media channels. Eliciting engagement is difficult; so don’t waste this valuable social capital. Have you ever messaged a company on Twitter or Instagram, only to see your comment wholly ignored? Think about how you felt about that company afterward. Not that highly, right?

To effectively manage this component of your strategy, you should establish a ‘first responder.’ This person’s number one priority is to ensure that every question gets answered within the day, fixed if possible, and escalated if necessary. If you can provide this person with a flow chart and options for quick fixes, even better.

A final point: treat your social media channels as an opportunity to showcase to the public the fantastic customer service your company offers, while at the same time using it as an opportunity to quickly and efficiently field customer support requests.

Step #2: Tailor Goals to Solve Your Biggest Challenges

Instead of simply setting social media goals that, while they might sound great, have little to do with your overarching, big-picture objectives, it’s important to ensure that you’re taking a strategic approach. This means identifying your goal or problem that needs solving and then working backwards from there, applying social media tactics that’ll help you to reach your objectives.

Looking for some standard items, you can fold into your strategy? Here’s a look at some actionable goals that you can apply to your brand, regardless of size or scope.

  • Improve the quality of sales. You can vastly improve your ability to reach your core audience by monitoring or listening to specific keywords, phrases, or hashtags. Consider setting Google Alerts for your brand or company’s name, so you’ll receive notifications when someone mentions you online.
  • Improve brand awareness. Put your followers ahead of the hard sell by focusing on providing them something of value: useful, engaging content. Create posts that are authentic and work towards creating lasting brand awareness. Try to avoid publishing promotional messages.
  • Optimize for in-person sales. If you have a traditional brick-and-mortar business, are you being successful in driving in-store purchases? Tailor messages that alert customers to what’s going on in your stores. Include promotions and live action shots of your store.
  • Improve ROI. Gaining traction and positive ROI on social media isn’t an easy feat. You must put in the work. This means auditing your channels, tracking ads, and keeping labor costs down. This may mean outsourcing some of the work to an agency or virtual assistant but the end result is winning way more out of your social spending.
  • Develop a loyal fan base. You customers could very well be your best source of influencers and user-generated content. If your followers automatically react positively to your content, then that’s a good sign. Consider rewarding these loyal followers by adding them to a custom audience on Facebook, and then send them special promotions, discount codes, and exclusive opportunities –such as a first look at new products.
  • Gain deeper industry insights. Social media can be a goldmine for valuable data on your customers. Listening to your audience can help you to see how to better position your brand better both online and off, while monitoring what’s working for your competition can also prove to be a great source of information and can go a long way in helping you to develop a strategy.

Any combination of these goals can help you better understand what approach to take, and which platforms you’ll want to focus on as well. It’s also key to keeping your social media marketing strategy simple; you’ll want to avoid muddling it with too many objectives that’ll only end up distracting you in the end.

Step #3: Narrow Down Your Channels

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Keep is simple. Keep it tight. In most cases, it’s best to focus your energy on one or two mediums that provide the most opportunity, at least initially.

Be diligent with your research. Identify who your customers are, and where they hang out the most. Once you cement a respectable following on or two channels you can diversify and promote your brand across various other channels.

It’s also important to recognize when a platform just isn’t working for you. If you have committed significant time and resources, and can’t seem to move the needle, it may be time to realign your resources.

There are typically two types of social media platforms you’re going to encounter. Those with broad appeal like Facebook or Instagram, and those that are more targeted and niche –think forums.

Your job is to consider your target audience carefully, find out where they’re assembling, and focus there. For example, if you have a younger audience, then Snapchat and Instagram are where it’s at.

Step #4: Bots Bad, Humans Good

We’ve all had that icky feeling when we encounter a social media channel that looks like it’s being operated by an autobot. Don’t be that company. The disdain you’ll receive from your customers is inescapable.

All of your brand’s interactions on accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, should be personable and genuine. Little details like saying hello in the morning and posing updates on your work day will be of interest to your target audience.

This doesn’t mean you can’t utilize chatbots, but it does mean working hard to create a winning chatbot strategy, one that has a genuine feel. Chatbot strategies vary considerably in terms of personality and effectiveness so if you’re going to go this route make sure you get it right.

Your customers want to feel like they are dealing with a real person when asking a question or alerting you to a problem –so keep it real.

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Step #5: Discover Data and Analytics

Analyzing reams of data isn’t necessarily for everyone; however, if you take the time, you’ll be able to glean loads of useful info from it.

So be sure take to get ahold of a good analytics program like Google Analytics or Kissmetrics, and use it to see what’s working, and what’s not. Sites like bit.ly and Buffer also allow you to see which content received the most clicks and shares.

Establish a day after every month to sit down with your team and focus on the data. Look at the actual numbers behind your social media efforts and measure your success.

Some details you need to be keeping your eye on include:

  • How are your click-throughs? Are people getting to your landing page/website?
  • How many page views are you receiving?
  • How are your conversion rates?
  • Likes, shares, and impressions. (Remember a share is worth 100 likes)

If you have a hard time tracking down this data on your own don’t fret, there are a couple of options available to you.

There are a ton of free software options out there that can help you to track data.

Or, if this isn’t really your thing, then outsource it. Hire an agency or virtual assistant that specializes in analytics and task them with compiling all of your data in a reader-friendly report that will be easy for you to digest.

When analyzing, keep your eye out for any trends or overall themes, and expand on any success. Are there specific articles you’re gaining traction on? Make more of them. Crunching the numbers allows you to capitalize on success.

Step #6: Master Content Creation and Curation

No doubt your social media marketing strategy centers around content.

By now you should have a good idea of what type of content best aligns with your brand identity. You should also have a good handle on what channels you need to be covering.

Now for the million-dollar question: What should you post?

It can be very overwhelming to determine which creative pieces best suit your brand. Or what your mix of promotion and personality should be. But it’s an important consideration when 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand that posts too much promotional content.

To help you nail down what type of content you should be publishing, let’s look at some of 2019’s social trends and best practices. Any combination of these is ideal content pieces to add to a social media marketing plan.

  • Video is King

Creating compelling video content should be an essential component of your content strategy.

Video is among the most-viewed and shared types of content across all networks. The two top networks, Facebook and Instagram, are pushing video hard right now.

There are a ton of emerging options for video right now: Live, long-form or short looping video can all play a part. Regardless of your budget, there’s a video format that can work for you.

  • Curate User-Generated Content

Curating user-generated content from branded hashtags is a perfect way to save some money, in addition to gaining some social capital from your followers.

Authentic content is always a hit with customers. It lends credibility and clout to your brand. Not all content needs to have that sort of professional, polished touch.

  • Develop Content Themes

A significant challenge to visual content is in creating it on a day-to-day basis. Therefore developing content themes can go a long way in helping you section out and pre-plan your content. In creating a theme, the thinking is already done for you.

Look at Pantone’s timeline for example:

A theme can go a long way in creating consistency in your social media marketing strategy.

Be Consistent

It’s also important to note that when it comes to social media, consistency and patterns can help to boost engagement as well. People will engage more when you post roughly the same time every day and week, and consistency is key here. Having a daily theme is a good way to focus on specific topics that’ll help to generate conversations. So try “Trending Tuesdays” for new products that people like or “New Design Mondays” for products that you’d like to test. Give people a reason to tune in.

Boost Your Content

In addition to what to post, you’ll also want to look for ways to boost your content.

Generally speaking, if you want your content to get noticed by a sizable audience, then you’ll have to pay to play. So consider boosting your posts for $5-10, depending on your audience’s size. This will help to jumpstart organic reach.

Generate discussion. Ask questions, start engagement, and then follow up their answers with an additional question for each comment. The more engagement, the more organic reach, the better. You’ll also want to see who’s liked your posts and invite them to like your page as well.

For really successful posts, you can re-share them –don’t post them again as a new post.

For two ninja tactics that’ll help you to supercharge your social media content strategy, be sure to get your FREE download!

Step #7: Develop Your Team

Any successful social media strategy is going to require a ton of teamwork and coordination. Whether you’re working with in-house or remote teams, you’re going to have to organize your resources and have a system in place.

A common mistake for many business owners is to assume that this is a one-person job. This is usually not the case. A concerted social media campaign requires a varied skillset –copywriting, analytics, PR, and sales all play a role in a campaign.

Indeed, it can seem a little overwhelming when looking for staff to work on content creation, content strategy, client interaction, and brand persona management. Another question you may be asking yourself is how can you afford all of this and still maintain a healthy ROI.

There are typically a couple of scenarios that come into play. The first is to farm the entire project out to an agency. The problem with agencies, though, is that they are often expensive. Another solution is to employ the services of a virtual assistant. Many people are surprised at the amount of value a virtual assistant can add. There are some terrific options out there for affordable and highly skilled workers that can contribute a significant part to your social media campaign.

Step #8: Know Your Competition

Any savvy business person is going to take the time to scope out their competition before entering any new marketplace. You should be doing this very thing with your social media campaign.

Taking the time to check out your competition can provide valuable information –giving you a shortcut! Assess what is and isn’t working for them. Understand where their failures are and capitalize on them. It’s also recommended you see where their successes are, and figure out how you can replicate them.

By monitoring your competition’s social media channels, you’ll gain a significant head start with your own social media campaign strategy.

So there you have it! Eight steps that can help you to get ahead with social media.

Just remember that social media planning is a marathon, not a sprint –so look to set goals that are realistic and attainable. You probably aren’t going to gain a million Instagram followers in a month, but you can definitely grow your current list by 25%. Tacking realistic goals will enable you to scale your social efforts affordable and reasonably, allowing you to create a winning campaign.

What social media strategies have YOU had success with this year?

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