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How to Build an Effective Social Media Strategy

How to Build an Effective Social Media Strategy

One of the most common questions we get after mentioning that we work in social media marketing is, “So, you get to be on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter all day?” There’s a huge misconception that our jobs aren’t valid or strategic. To that notion I say: bah humbug. Social media strategy is critical to succeed as a brand – both online and offline – by connecting all of your overarching marketing initiatives.

To have a successful social media presence, you’ve got to do more than just post messages that seem important or interesting to you. We actually had a client who gave their whole department access to their Facebook page. Over a dozen people were posting all about their different campaigns and initiatives without rhyme or reason. Their VP of Marketing said the page looked like a “dog’s breakfast,” and he was right! Everything was just thrown in there without thinking about how the content related to their overarching marketing and social media goals, let alone without regard for Facebook’s algorithm. We came in and showed them the key factors to a purposeful and effective social media strategy. I’ll share the CliffsNotes with you here!

  1. Goals: What Are You Working Toward? – Building a social media strategy should start with figuring out what your goals are. Are you looking to increase sales, awareness, or site traffic? Different goals determine the different types of posts you put out there and the platforms you’re on. For instance, if you’re a B2B company that’s selling something rather utilitarian to upper-management-type folks, you should likely be focusing on LinkedIn. However, if you’re a consumer products division wanting to increase awareness and sales amongst millennials, Instagram or Snapchat is the place to be!
  2. Voice: Preach to the Choir – Social media is all about having a human voice. Consumers want to feel connected to the company, and a well-developed voice can help accomplish that and build loyalty. If your writing is mechanical or boring, no one will want to engage with you. Thus, we like to have brands define their persona. If your brand was a person and your copywriters had to embody and write like them, who would that be? A beverage company we worked with had a target audience of millennials. They chose Jennifer Lawrence as the persona for their social media voice because she’s irreverent and fun. A healthcare client chose Angelina Jolie because their practice was focused on beauty, health, and doing good in the world. Sometimes the social media voice of a brand is inspired by a hybrid of people. It could even emulate the CEO, as long as said CEO sounds human and personable, of course.
  3. 80/20: Learn to Weigh Priorities – No one wants to follow a page that is purely promotional. Think about it: who wants to subject themselves to more ads than necessary? People follow brands that give them something extra. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes look at the company or education on the industry (what we like to call “thought leadership”), you’ve got to give your customer more than a sales message. We employ the 80/20 rule in our social media strategy builds– 80% of content is non-promotional, with 20% marketing/sales messages peppered in. Why? If your non-promotional content is engaging and appealing, it’ll make people more interested in your brand!
  4. Content Verticals: The Pillars of Strategy – So, remember when I said a “dog’s breakfast”? That’s what you get when you don’t build content verticals. In other words, you need to identify the types of content that you’ll be posting – without violating the 80/20 rule. For example, if you’re a fun food brand, your content verticals may be recipes, corny food jokes, food porn images, innovative industry/CPG news, food holidays (yes – every day is devoted to some kind of food. My favorite is National Ice Cream Day!), and then product placements.
  5. Quality Content: Werk It – This concept truly embodies the notion of “It’s more than just posting on Facebook.” Quality content necessitates writing that is on-brand and engaging, beautiful imagery that one would like even if they weren’t fans of your brand, and tactics that represent social media best practices, like appropriate usage of hashtags and tagging. You have no idea how many brands under-utilize or misinterpret best practices! The more relevant and creative the content is, the more people will like/comment on it, and the more potential consumers it will reach.
  6. Monitoring and Response: Being Everywhere – Over 40% of customers complaining on social media expect a response within an hour (Convince and Convert, 2015). For social inquiries that go unanswered by a brand, there’s a 15% churn rate in existing customers (Clarabridge, 2016). That’s why it’s critical to find the right monitoring tools and create an appropriate response process as a part of your social media strategy. On top of that, planning how to respond to a plethora of different inquiries ahead of time is critical to immediately answering questions, providing transparency, and not having to route responses through your PR and legal teams – which will definitely put you over that hour-long response timeframe. If you need some more tips on this, check out one of my previous blog posts, 5 Tips for Reputation Management.
  7. Tools: Make Your Life Easier – There are plenty of tools that can make your life easier on social. For instance, platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer, among others, allow you to schedule your social messages ahead of time, leaving you stress-free to complete other tasks in the day. There are also analytical tools both built into the social channels (think Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics) or provided through third-party software that allow you to analyze your posts and figure out if the strategy you’ve devised is working. By doing A/B testing and comparing results from these resources, you can fine-tune your strategy over time to get the most return on your investment.

At Everywhere Agency, we combine all of these critical success factors and more into a strategic social media playbook that guides teams in their content creation and community management. Still feel like you have more to learn when it comes to conquering the beast of social media? Reach out to us, and we’ll find a way to help.

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