Having a social media strategy out of your head, on to paper(!), is crucial to your success.
What is a Social Media Strategy?
I know you’ve heard of it, and you probably know you need one. Often, folks don’t know exactly goes in one or why it’s so important to have a clearly defined strategy and reason for being on social media. You likely have a lot of the pieces floating around in your head. You have a general sense of what you should be doing, what you want from social media, or even who your audience is. However, I often get clients that come to me saying that social media isn’t “working” for them… the problem is that they never used a social media strategy to define success from the get go!
If you haven’t defined objectives and you haven’t predetermined what “working” means, then how do you know if it’s really not working or not?
A social media strategy should be a living, breathing document. It’s something that should change and update as you actually execute on the strategy. As you learn new things about your audience, about the social media platforms as they change, these things should influence your strategy.
There is a tension that exists between how your strategy should be fairly static, because you have defined goals and objectives, but it also should be flexible enough to update and change as you learn new things so you will continue to get results.
Here are the sections that I put in a social media strategy when I’m creating them for clients.
While this is the first section of the social media strategy, I write it last! This is a one page summary of the contents of the entire social media strategy. I start by defining the problem and outlining why they are seeking my help. Then I write a short paragraph for each of the following sections in the strategy document, summing them up in a few sentences.
The next section is the goals section. And I love to start with goals because I think that it is the thing that people miss the most. They don’t know what they want out of their social media and they often don’t know what they expect it to do for them.
When we set goals, we are making broad statements about the purpose of being on social media and how we want it to support overall business objectives.
Our goals are NOT things like, “Get 10,000 Instagram followers by the end of the year.” Specific objectives like this ARE important and we should set micro-goals like this as we implement the strategy, but this isn’t the purpose of this section.
Instead, we use things like:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Building an audience to sell a future book to (or to secure a writing contract)
- Generate leads for the business.
Now we know what we want and as we evaluate whether things are working or not, we can look back at these goals and ask ourselves, “is this serving my purpose of XYZ?”
Now that we know what our goals or purpose are, we can move into the other aspects of our strategy. Everything we do should point back to these goals.
Most business owners have a pretty good basic understanding of their audience, primarily their demographics. They might know things like gender, family structure, location, education, etc. But what makes an audience avatar powerful is having their psychographic information. We look at motivations goals, conflicts, aspirations, objections to sale, etc. We want to know what that person really, really wants on a behavioral and emotional level, because that is how we truly make purchase decisions.
We use a combination of analytics, data sources and surveys to really hone this section.
The next section of a social media strategy is an analysis of your main competitors. This section is one that I think most people spend an inordinate amount of unnecessary time on. People like to slice and dice data about their competitors to a very granular level to know that they are posting on Tuesday at 10:00 AM.
I take a very different approach to competitor research. I don’t think those things are that helpful because that’s what algorithms are for! Algorithms are for making sure your content reaches the right people. We don’t need to slice and dice our competitor’s activities at that level.
What I’m really looking for here is stuff like: what platforms are they on? How engaged is their audience? What type of content are they posting?
I make general observations about what seems to be working for them. Are their Reels getting views? Are their posts getting liked or shared? When we look at a competitor, we can’t always assume that because they are doing something, it will be right for you and your business. Competitor info needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I use it as a general compass for a direction to start.
SEO & Keywords
As you build your online presence, your potential customers are out there searching for solutions. You want to show up when they do! Even though keywords are a little more SEO-y, I think they are crucial to understanding how people search and discover online.
Keywords should influence everything you create for social media. They should inform your hashtag strategy, your video titles, headlines… everything!
I think it’s fundamental for clients to understand what a keyword is, what role they play and have basic SEO knowledge.
Long Form Content
Every social media strategy needs a long form content strategy. If you really want to build a robust online presence you need a blog, podcast, or video blog (vlog). The hard truth is that something like 60-70% of website traffic still comes from search. If you put all your eggs in the social media basket you are missing out on a huge chunk of your potential audience.
Website traffic is critical to an online business because it is your storefront!
Social Media Content Strategy
I’ve already talked about keywords and I’ve talked about long form content. Here, we want to discuss specific types of content to create for social media. Here I’ll offer a lot of different inspiration ideas and the types of content that I think will work well for them.
You also want to consider what you are comfortable with. Hate video? I hope that you can move past this because video is here to stay! But, maybe you are a poor writer. I wouldn’t recommend text-heavy content! Maybe video or audio stuff is a better fit for you!
This last main section is what platforms that business should be on. The platforms you choose to be on should have a lot to do with what your goals are and who your audience is! You might like TikTok, or prefer Instagram, or maybe you personally check Facebook 20 times a day… but if your audience isn’t there and it doesn’t serve your goals, it’s just not where you should be.
In this section, I also talk about how to properly set up your profile or account, specific content for that platform, and optimization activities.
Finally, with a social media strategy, I include a little section on email list building. If you are going to take the time to be on social media, I think it’s really important to make sure that you capture as much of the audience as you can on an email list.
Social media platforms are changing all the time, algorithms change, reach changes, people lose their accounts… As a business owner, your audience is one of your greatest assets. These are your potential future customers, right? They represent your business’ future!
It’s really important to get your audience on an email list. Here, I provide ideas for a lead magnet, a really simple onboarding sequence, and tips and best practices for keeping in touch with your list.
There you have it. This is everything that goes into a social media strategy! If you don’t have one on paper, I highly recommend that you go through each of these sections and get as much out of your head and on paper as possible! It will help you stay the course when times are tough!
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE Instagram Strategy Guide now!