A Social Media Strategy Guide

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This post is a 10,000-foot view of the purpose and process behind a social media strategy. Social media is versatile so its role in the overall business strategy looks different based on one’s industry and company. Ideally, a business will define the social media strategy its strategic plan or digital strategy.

What is a social media strategy?

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Social media strategy is a compass for your communications activities. You may still see social media growth and interaction without a defined strategy. However, the meaning of the growth and interactions will be unclear.

The strategy should be shared with, created with and supported by decision makers in your business as it should complement business goals.

Examples of goals:

  • Serve as a secondary channel to address customer service issues
  • Increase jarware sales
  • Amplify share of voice among local pizza delivery customers

A weak social media strategy explains incongruous goals and what platforms will assist in reach them. It is produced.

A good social media strategy explains your related goals and actions that will help you reach them.

A great social media strategy explains related goals, target audience, related actions (by platform), and required resources.

[Further reading: Why most social media strategies fail (Forbes)]

How to write a social media strategy

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An effective social media strategy has four parts: Goals, Audience Analysis, Activities, and Capacity, or GAAC.

Goals (What you want to accomplish)

Identify 2-5 business related goals. For simple goals, think in terms of a 12-month cycle. For multi-stage goals, plan along a 12- to 36- month timeline. Account for implementation challenges and make sure your team can collect information to assess what is working.

Audience Analysis (Who you want to reach)

This is one of the most challenging steps because it requires specificity. Here are characteristics that can help you identify your target audience:

  • Profession: Each year, Americans spend around 2,000 hours at work. That impacts when we wake, sleep and how we spend our income.
  • Income: What you make impacts how you live. Consider how this may impact the way the audience searches for, talks about, and interacts with a product/business.
  • Age: Think about these groups in 10-20 year windows, e.g. 15-25 or 35-55, to find your core audience(s).
  • Location: Is your audience local, spread across a few states or a few countries? This inform how you create content.
  • Gender: Is your audience predominantly male or female? This will affect your tone, colors, fonts, and messaging.

Personas are a helpful way to think about your target audience. Here is a useful HubSpot article to guide this exercise.

[Further reading: Buyer Persona Template (HubSpot)]

Activities (What you are doing)

Describe relevant social media platforms and activities. Be clear about how many times you will create content each week, i.e. 3-5 times on Facebook, or each day, i.e. 2-3 posts on Twitter.

Social media platforms are large enough now that a be-everywhere strategy is not optimal. For example, according to VaynerMedia’s Gary Vaynerchuk, the fastest growing demographic on Instagram is women over 40. If your target audience is in middle or high school, plan to incorporate Yik Yak, Snapchat, or Tumblr.

Finally, set growth goals with soft deadlines and review periods, such as a semi-annual review. You will need to look at your business’s past performance and competitors to determine reliable growth goals.

Capacity (What you need for success)

Small and medium businesses are investing more in social media but are typically understaffed in the area of communication. Explaining what you need to be successful aligns expectations with goals and goals with necessary resources.

Be transparent about the number of weekly hours to implement, budget for advertising, analytics or management tools, training and additional staff support.

If you are requesting financial support to implement the strategy, state this. As Warren Buffett says, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Final Thoughts

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Developing and implementing a social media strategy can be a fun or laborious process but involves teamwork. Here are few tips to improve the experience:

  • Celebrate milestones
  • Involve a team of decision makers because they can support the plan
  • Keep management updated about progress
  • Ask for feedback about your strategy from others who have done the same
  • Schedule regular check-ins to discuss updates

Additional Resources

Social Media Usage: 2005-2015 (Pew)

Social Media Campaign Strategy (Hootsuite)

Understanding Social Media Analytics (Deloitte Digital)

Thank you for taking the time to read this. This blog post will also appear on Medium and LinkedIn. Please share your comments wherever this appears. 

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