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November 2020

How to create a social media strategy

How to develop a winning social media strategy

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How to develop a winning social media strategy

Without a clear plan in mind, it’s hard to justify the true purpose of what you’re doing. Wow, that’s deep. This mantra (if you will) can be applied to any and all of your marketing activities.

Social media shouldn’t be treated as an after thought when putting together a digital strategy. It should be part of the early stages to help bring together your overarching marketing and business goals.

We are fanatical about strategy. But what does an effective strategy entail? And, how do you go about creating one that works for you and your brand. Let’s look at this in two steps.

Part one: It’s all about the research

What are your social media goals?

Before you begin with anything, it’s crucial to identify what you want to achieve. Are you looking to build brand awareness? Perhaps drive consideration of your product or services. Or maybe you’re looking to focus on engaging with your community.

Regardless, social media goals should focus on so much more than simply selling. If sales are your only goal, let me tell you now: you’re going nowhere fast! Sure, ultimately you want to convert your social media followers into customers. But there is a lot of groundwork to be done first. You need to build credibility.

What’s your brands personality?

Your brands identity is more than just its look. It is creating a personality through tone of voice, your content and how you engage with others. But your approach on social media is unique compared to corporate guidelines.

While your brand identity is fairly rigid on things like colours, logos and styling, personality must have a degree of flex. It’s important to remember personality is altered for platform. A bit like us, it depends who you’re talking to and where.

…and does that personality translate to social media?

So it’s no surprise that your brand personality will change for social media. Even down to which channels you’re using. Take a look at e-commerce giant, ASOS. They are players in just about every social media channel there is.

Let’s have a look:

LinkedIn – here they focus on the corporate side of things, which is no surprise

ASOS on LinkedIn

ASOS on LinkedIn

Facebook – mostly focuses on memes

ASOS on Facebook

ASOS on Facebook

Instagram – a combination of user generated content, product editorial and memes

ASOS on instagram

ASOS on instagram

Twitter – relatable posts, with a separate account to deal with customer service inquiries

ASOS on twitter

Who are you trying to reach (clue: all about personas)

Your intended audience and your actual audience can be entirely different. If you are already using social media, an analysis of your followers across your active channels will begin to paint a picture of who you are reaching.

If it’s not what you expected, examine what you’ve been doing, your customer base and of course, your personas. If you’re unable to reach your ideal customers, something isn’t working. Whether it’s your approach to your social media, the channels you’re using or if you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, you might want to consider if your branding is due a refresh.

Carry out a SWOT analysis of your competitors

Once you’ve established your goals, your personality and the audience you want to reach, it’s time to have a look at your competitors. Gather a list of up to five brands that you compete with and examine what they’re doing on social media, the channels they use, what’s working and what’s not.

SWOT analysis

Additionally, look for opportunities where you can provide your audience something different and valuable. Is there something your competitors aren’t doing? Or perhaps you can see what they’re trying to do, but you can do better.

Part two: Your plan

So, you’ve done your research on your goals, personality and competitors. It’s time to start planning your strategy. Something to keep in mind, regardless of whether you’re new to social media or refreshing your approach, is making sure you can maintain what you’re doing. It’s no good to decide to have a presence across all the platforms if you’re not going to nurture them all. There’s absolutely no shame in a back to basics approach.

Identifying the right social media channels

There are endless social media channels available, with even more launching regularly. We tend to focus on the core favourites: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

This comes in two tiers: the first is reviewing which channels will be best at helping you achieve your strategic goals. For instance, consider the advertising opportunities as well as the organic audience on each.

Next, which channels do your target audience use? Think about demographic data here. Review your personas and see what matches best with them.

How often should you post content?

The age old question. A lot of factors play into how often you should post on social media. Each of the algorithms work differently for one. In fact, posting too often without ‘enough’ engagement can actually hinder your visibility on Facebook in particular. That said, a lot of it is trial and error, much like the time of day, and days of the week you post.

Sendible says:

In reality, there is no magic formula for deciding how often to post on social media.

That’s because what works for one brand, doesn’t work for another. Sure you can read case studies of what has worked for others, but don’t make their solution your solution.

So, instead of seeking magic formulas, let’s focus on these proven posting strategies:

  • Posting consistency is more important than posting frequency.
  • Content quality is more important than content quantity (and social media networks are letting us know with all the changes).
  • Without having an objective for social media, you won’t know if your posts are successful or not.

What are your content pillars?

Once you’ve established all of the above, it’s time to start thinking about your content. You may already have a content marketing strategy in place, in which case, you’ll be following that to an extent. If not, here’s how to choose your content pillars.

Identify your service clusters

Of course you know what you sell, but have you identified the product/service clusters? There are likely to be areas that fit into groups. For example, our clusters are: web, digital and creative.

Once you’ve identified these, it’s time to work through your website. And essentially tag the pages that are most relevant to each.

Planning your social content and format

The one of the final steps is to think about how you’ll translate your website content into social media content. Keep in mind different lengths of posts serve each channel accordingly. For example, Twitter is famous for its short character limit on posts, whereas Facebook seems limitless in comparison. Sprout Social has a great guide to character limits and the ideal lengths of posts here.

Make sure you have suitable imagery for your posts, as visuals are essential for social media. If you don’t have a lot of owned images, consider stock imagery from places like Unsplash, iStock and other well known websites. You can also develop a user generated content strategy.

If you’re thinking about expanding your library of owned visuals (illustrations, video, animation, photography etc), working with a creative agency is a great option. Harnessing the creativity of a team who works on these kinds of projects day in, day out, can be refreshing and even cost effective, especially in these times.

Creating a content calendar

Finally, it’s time to start planning ahead! You can create a content calendar for the next quarter, six months or even the year. Remember, there’s always room for flexibility with digital marketing – that’s the beauty of it!

A content calendar is a great way to help you forward plan what you’ll be sharing ahead of time. Giving you and your cross functional teams notice to prepare what’s required: blogs, visuals, campaigns and so on.

Analyse, learn, adapt!

Ok, we dropped the ball on the content calendar being the ‘final’ step. It’s actually all about reporting. Analyse your social media content, learn from what’s working and what’s not and adapt your plans accordingly.

Keeping things simple, we recommend monitoring your reach, growth, engagement and website traffic from social media.

Need a helping hand?

No shame. We’re always happy to help with your digital marketing projects. Whether you are starting from scratch, refreshing or redesigning your strategy, we’re very much here. Leave your details below and we will be in touch.

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Why we love personas!

Why we love personas!

By Blog posts
Why we love personas!
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Why we love personas!

A look at why and how to create your own customer personas

If you’ve worked with us before, you might have noticed we are obsessed with customer personas. They are a brilliant resource when creating any and all content.  From paid campaigns to blogs to user journeys.

By knowing about your ideal customer you’re in a stronger position to design your brand identity. This informs everything from the colours you use, to tone of voice, your digital focus and so much more.

What information do you need, any why?

You’re building a person. You’ll want to have a think not only about how to interact with your potential customers (e.g. where they hang out online) but the kind of language to use.

The more you know, the easier it is to help. Have a think about the kinds of topics that your customers (and leads) ask you about. This will also help inform your wider content strategy.

Creating your persona

Some of these points will be more or less relevant depending on whether you’re a B2B marketer, or in consumer goods.

What you need:

  • Age group, assumptions on their life stage. (This may be more relevant for consumer goods, where you’ll need to be in tune with their personal needs, such as holidays, children, property etc.)
  • Their location (this will inform content distribution)
  • What’s their professional experience and role (this will help influence what they know/and don’t)
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are their pain points (especially interested in the ones you can solve)
  • Where they spend their time online

Also think about:

  • How they engage with you: do they prefer a phone call, emails or meeting up (hey, remember when that was a thing?)
  • What motivates them to buy? (is up-skilling their team a priority, or making their own life easier and workload lighter)
  • How do they research/how did they find you?
  • What pain points do you solve?
  • Where are their knowledge gaps, or what are the kinds of questions they ask?
  • What makes them tick
  • Are they a decision maker or influencer in the buying process?
  • What turns them off? (too much/not enough information, jargon etc.)

So, is it just made up or does data inform persona creation?

There are three main sources:

Your actual customers and what you notice about them

  • Google Analytics
  • Social media insights
  • You can also use social listening tools, but that’s not necessarily an essential tool here.

Here are some examples of what insights you can look at:

#1 Facebook

Facebook allows you to look at age, gender, location and language. This data is available for your fans, followers, people in your reach and those who have engaged.

The two areas we recommend focussing on are your fans and people engaged. While there will be some crossover, engaged people may not already be fans (or not yet accepted an invite).

Facebook audience demographics

Facebook audience demographics#2 LinkedIn

If you have a LinkedIn business page, the insights show: job function, seniority, industry, company size and location. It’s simple but relevant to the platform.

LinkedIn audience demographicsLinkedIn audience demographicsLinkedIn audience demographics

#3 Google Analytics

You can delve into your website visitors demographics using Google Analytics. There’s a wealth of data in this platform, but some basic areas at a glance:

  • age
  • gender
  • interests
  • industry
  • life stages

Google analytics demographicsGoogle analytics demographics    

If I’m already familiar with this information, why do I need to create a document??

Great question. It’s all well and good knowing this, but what about your team and if you work with any consultants or an agency? Having a persona document not only helps keep everyone in the loop, but it’s an efficient way to do so.

We recommend adding your personas to your brand guide and strategy documents. But it’s also handy to have when working with other teams, internal or external. They’re great for briefing anything design and content related, and for setting up ads.

A non-exhaustive list for when personas are useful:

  • Helping others understand your brands tone of voice
  • Designing (and refreshing) your brand identity
  • Informing content strategy
  • Training your sales team
  • Planning events (well… when that side of life returns!)
  • Planning ads (digital and offline)
  • Which marketing channels to focus on
  • Checking in on performance: are you resonating with your persona?

Short on time?

With all the will in the world, sometimes we simply don’t have the capacity to get things done. We appreciate creating a thorough and effective persona can be time consuming. Whatever the your next big project is, if you’re considering working with an agency, we can factor in persona creation too.

If you’re thinking about your next steps, but aren’t sure where to begin or don’t have the resource, enter your details below and we’ll be in touch.

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