**If you're more of a visual learner, scroll down to the bottom of this post for the video version of this blog!
The Chinese philosopher and military man Sun Tzu once said that "...tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Sure, you already have your social media campaign objectives and goals in mind- but how exactly are you supposed to reach those goals?
Should you find yourself overwhelmed and confused on how to go about forming your own social media marketing strategy, here are eight pointers to remember:
1. Know Who Your Customers Are
Who are you marketing for? Who are your customers? As you narrow down your target audience, your chances of getting successful conversions increase. The great thing about social media platforms nowadays is that they allow you to see or infer what people's interests, age, income, and affiliations are, which would make it easier for you to get your marketing campaign out to people who are more likely to respond to it.
2. Define Specific Goals
You can't score goals if you don't have goalposts.
The whole point of having a strategy is that you have an objective(s) to work towards. First, think about your company's needs. Then, decide on how you want to wield social media to fulfill these needs (e.g. do you want to increase brand awareness? reduce overall marketing costs? communicate with your customers?).
But don't just set goals for the sake of having goals. Too many goals will confuse you; you will just spread yourself too thin. Define what you really want for your business and be as specific as possible. To keep everything streamlined, it's best to focus all of your efforts into one or two primary goals, and two secondary goals.
3. Refine Your Objectives and Keep Track of Them
Having too general a goal is almost the same as having no goal at all. Your objectives should clearly define how you are supposed to go about moving from Point A to Point B. For example, don't just say that you want more leads and conversions- say that you want to increase your leads/conversions by at least 50% by the end of a three-month marketing campaign period. Follow George Doran's S.M.A.R.T. approach to setting objectives: keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Also, this is where analytics come in. Analytics and tracking tools help you measure your progress. They also let you know where your strategy stands in the grand scheme of things. Are you receiving enough engagement from your followers? Do your links get clicked? Are your videos being viewed by the right people? Tracking and analytics is the key to understanding your customers and gaining valuable marketing insight that you can use for future campaigns.
4. Choose The Right Platforms
Different social networks, different kinds of users. Example: The marketing approach you use on LinkedIn won't probably be as effective if you use it on Snapchat or Instagram. For one, LinkedIn is full of businesses and professionals, while Snapchat and Instagram have a more casual, more youthful demographic. A lot of businesses mistake being on a lot of social networking sites as having a "significant" online presence, when in reality, you should only be focusing on platforms that matter to your business.
If none of your customers are tweeting, then don't waste any of your marketing efforts on Twitter. If your demographic is mostly young millennials, then try marketing on Snapchat or Instagram. Where most of your customers are, there you should be- you don't have to be everywhere all at once. It's best to concentrate your time and energy around just one primary social network and a couple of secondary ones.
5. Learn From Your Competitors
You just don't *compete* with your competitors- you can learn from them too. Keeping tabs on their activities gives you the opportunity to learn more about their tactics- what works for them and what doesn't.
Aside from their strategies, you can also look at how many followers they have, how effective their engagement tactics are, what kind of content they put out (e.g humorous? educational? picture-heavy?), what their posting schedule is, and so on.
Using the data you've gathered from your competitors' social media pages, you can formulate a more concrete picture of how their engagement tactics are faring and compare it to your own). A simple formula is to divide the number of engagement activities (e.g. likes, comments, reactions, share, retweets, and others) that their posts receive on average and divide it by their total number of followers.
6. Create The Right Kind of Content
You can't talk about social media marketing if content strategy is out of the picture.
Having an excellent online presence doesn't always translate to social media success. For people to talk about you, you should be able to create content that people would want to talk about (i.e. stuff that they can share, retweet, comment and react on). These content should have the correct form (e.g. videos, articles, listicles, Buzzfeed-style quizzes, Instagram stories, image memes) and tone (e.g. humorous, educational, serious, etcetera) that is in line with the kind of image that you want to portray online.
You would also need to know what the most optimal posting times and frequency are. Tools like Facebook Insights can be helpful in figuring out when most of your followers are online, and when they are most active in engaging with your content.
7. Clearly Delineate Roles
Within your social media marketing team, know who's supposed to do what. All campaigns usually start out a bit messy and confusing at its first stages, but once you've get into the groove of things, it becomes much easier to assign people into roles that fit their skills, strengths, and interests.
There are role management/project planning tools that you can use to keep tabs on what everyone on the team is doing. Popular examples of these include Asana, Trello, Basecamp and ActiveCollab.
8. Make a Budget
Most businesses prepare a budget first before they develop a strategy.
Though this is all well and good, you might want to turn things around and develop a strategy first before thinking about the budget. This way, you would be able to first focus on and prioritize tactics with a fast and high ROI, before spending resources on longer-term plans (creating evergreen content, engagement strategies).
Your budget can include the cost of the tools and services that you need (analytics tools, CRM, email marketing, web hosting, etcetera), projected advertising expenses, as well as the salaries for the people you will hire and/or for your campaign.
Take note that the steps above should only serve as a rough guide. Throughout the course of your marketing campaign, you might find that some steps are not necessary or a few tactics need to be tweaked. The important thing here is for you to be able to recognize what does and does not work, and be able to adapt accordingly.