Social media is a powerful marketing channel for acquiring, engaging, and retaining your customers. Half of the world’s population (3.81 billion users) spend time on social media, almost double the 2.07 billion users from 2015. The average person has more than eight social media accounts, using each platform to engage in communities, discover new products, and stay in touch with friends and family.
But perhaps the most powerful aspect of social media is that your target audience is only a few clicks away — which, coincidentally, is the biggest challenge, too. With so many available marketing services and tools, getting started can be tough; not to mention, whether it’s worth running an advertising campaign.
In order to build a winning social media strategy, you need a clear picture of how each platform relates back to your business’s core goals. Here are three steps that will help you move forward in the right direction.
Step 1: Build your ideal customer profile (ICP)
Social media platforms facilitate discovery. Just as audiences use ecosystems like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to browse interesting content, companies can use these same platforms to discover potential buyers.
Finding the right people means understanding who will most appreciate what your company has to offer. With this in mind, a good first step is to defining your ideal customer profile (ICP). Using a laser-focused approach, you can build a high-performing social media strategy that’s on target with your audience’s needs and desires.
Here are a few resources that can help you start this process:
- How to “Know Your Audience” and Speak to Their Needs and Desires
- A Complete Guide to Customer Value
- How to Define Your Target Demographic
If you have an established business, it’s helpful to examine your customer database for your highest value relationships. Who are the people most responsible for your company’s revenue performance? What value do they gain from working with your business? How did they discover your company? Make a list of your best customers and think about their core needs.
At this stage, it also makes sense to reach out to the customers on your list to learn more about them. Ask them direct questions about their social media preferences:
- What platforms do they use and why?
- How do they use social media to stay connected to companies like yours?
- What type of content do they find value in reading?
- Do they encounter any frustrations on social media?
- How do they prefer to engage with your company?
With this insight, you can build your ICP. (This ICP template from Close, a platform for building high-performing sales campaigns, can help you organize your thoughts and ideas into a strategic resource.)
The following video offers additional ideas and context.
Step 2: Research and explore relevant hashtags
Hashtags are a powerful tool for digging into topics, discovering content, and connecting with interesting people. By browsing hashtags, explore perspectives from individuals in your target audience and gain a better understanding of their interests. Your ICP research also determines which hashtags to search for. There are also browser extensions, like RiteTag, that generate ideas for hashtags to research.
As you build your social media campaigns, hashtags will play an important part in your strategy — especially on Instagram and Twitter where people browse hashtags in search of interesting content — and your company may benefit from branded hashtags to help organize content.
Here are some important stats about hashtags, and why they should be part of your multiplatform social media strategy:
- Using one hashtag is known to double online engagement rates.
- Tweets with more than one hashtag are 55% more likely to be retweeted.
- Using more than one hashtag results in a drop in engagement rates.
Check out the following resources for developing a high-performing hashtag strategy:
- This Instagram hashtag guide from Hootsuite.
- This guide to Facebook hashtags from Sprout Social.
- This scientific, hashtag guide from Buffer.
As you conduct your research, be sure to keep a list of the hashtags you’re tracking, so that you have a strong foundation to build upon.
Step 3: Execute the best social strategies for your brand
Having completed your hashtag research, the next step is to execute your social strategy. In general, there are two approaches to building a social media strategy: organic and paid.
With an organic social media strategy, you build visibility around your brand without investing in ads, ideally building followers and engagement naturally over time.. Paid social strategy, on the other hand, amplifies your organic efforts through advanced targeting features for advertisers with defined budgets.
Keep in mind that not every company can afford to invest in paid campaigns, and that’s OK. Social media advertising campaigns require meticulous attention to prevent marketing dollars from slipping through the cracks, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to launch a paid channel campaign right off the bat.
For companies seeking a less costly way to kick off their social strategy, here are a few campaign ideas with resources to help you get up and running.
- Create social profiles. Every social media strategy starts with a profile. Rather than establish a presence on every platform, focus on the ones that are most relevant and interesting to your ICPs. Fill out your profile with engaging copy and imagery that communicates your business’s story.
Facebook is a valuable platform for reaching people based on personality, while Instagram is great for sharing visual content. Twitter, in contrast, is discussion focused and can help your company engage with ongoing conversations in real time.
For more information, this Buffer guide to choosing the right social networks for your business, in addition to your ICPs, can help you choose the platform that’s best for your business.
- Develop an editorial strategy. In order to be successful on social media, you need a strategy in place. One of the biggest pitfalls companies experience is not posting regularly enough. While sometimes time consuming, regular posts advance your audience’s engagement levels and company goals, and the best way to ensure a consistent posting schedule is through an editorial strategy.
An editorial strategy should speak to human interest in addition to deepening the connection between your brand and your audience. With your editorial calendar in place, you can connect your social media campaigns to your overarching business goals. Be sure to pay attention to the visuals you choose; and tools like Canva can help create high-performing, professional graphics even if you don’t have a design background.
- Put your hashtag research to work. In addition to posting interesting content, make sure you include a relevant hashtag, especially if you’re building a presence on Instagram or Twitter.
Hashtags help improve discoverability of your social media content, and extends your shared content lifespan. The key is to choose keywords that are directly related to your ICP’s interests. On Instagram, especially, hashtags ensure your content remains relevant for months to come.
- Create a Facebook Group. Approximately 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups and tens of millions of groups exist on the social platform. In May 2020, Facebook Group membership grew by 3.3x, which means there’s rising demand for a sense of community. So if you’re looking to organically build and grow a community around your brand, Facebook is a great place to get started. If you’re looking to create a Facebook Group, this collection of marketing strategies will help get you started.
- Build a Facebook Messenger chatbot. Chatbots nurture conversations with audiences and support a variety of use cases including managing reservations, answering customer service questions, facilitating newsletter subscriptions, and even assisting with sales.
This ManyChat resource goes over the basics of creating a chatbot. ManyChat also has templates available to help create your own bot for use cases ranging from publishing lead magnets and collecting customer feedback to answering product questions and engaging people who clicked on social media ads.
- Create a conversion-focused advertising campaign. If you’re considering investing in a paid advertising campaign, it’s important to do some research before settling on a channel. Examine how people interact with your ad, identifying your conversion rate optimization goal, before determining which paid channel platform will help you achieve your objectives.
For instance, a Facebook Collection Ad offers a mobile-only format to showcase your products in a visually appealing way on Facebook or Instagram. Learn about and gather information about your target audience including their demographics, purchase habits, location, and more, through Facebook Audience Insights.
Another option is Facebook Dynamic Ads which retarget shoppers who’ve demonstrated interest in your products on your website or app. Alternatively, Facebook Custom Audiences are an ad targeting option used to reach people who previously engaged with your business, and Lookalike Audience campaigns reach audiences based on your ICP profiles.
Conversion-focused ads are closely aligned with your company’s sales and revenue objectives, and the ultimate goal is to move people through a transactional journey.
- Launch an in-stream ad campaign. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer a range of ad formats used to target audiences while browse their content streams and news feeds. These ad formats are especially valuable for top-of-funnel brand building initiatives, and offer greater visibility for your business, products, or services. Examples include Promoted Tweets and Sponsored Posts.
Make sure to track your performance
A high-performing social media strategy is measurable, so make sure you track your campaign performance. With a clear, quantitative picture, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not, helping you hold your campaigns to the highest possible standard. Especially on social media, where attention spans are often fleeting, it’s important to put your time, efforts, and resources to good use. This guide to measuring social media performance will help ensure your social media data is communicating the right business story.
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