Not sure how to approach your social media strategy, or looking for ways to improve it? Over the next few weeks, we will share a sensible framework for creating a social media strategy – from start to finish. The insights we share, are a combination of best practices worldwide, as well as solid experience gained over many years, by members of our own team.
Step 1: Conduct an audit
You cannot compile a plan to improve your social media presence and activities, unless you know exactly what it is that you need to improve. Commence your process with a comprehensive as-is analysis of your current social media status. Here’s an outline you can use as a guide:
Start with the basics
- Locate: Track and document all your social media profiles on every social media platform.
- Record details: Record who’s responsible for managing each profile and what the handles, passwords and hashtags are – where relevant. This needs to be maintained and updated on a frequent basis.
- Check consistency: Check whether the positioning statement or company description, as well as your logo and imagery are consistently applied and aligned with your corporate identity – across the board.
- Conduct measurement: Note the statistics of each social media platform such as the number of likes and followers, how frequently posts are made on each platform and whether the engagement with your content is low, medium or high. Some platforms such as Facebook will also have growth insights that you can include.
- Clean out: Carefully investigate underachieving social media channels. These can create a poor reflection of your company. So either shut it down or provide tactics in your strategy to bring it back to life.
- Do a comparison: Find the two or three greatest influencers or leaders in your arena and examine and document how they manage their brands on social media platforms.
- Log and track: Use a social media log to list all of your social properties, follower counts, engagement rates and average activity per week. This will help you to create benchmarks and have data at your disposal to measure the success of your strategy – going forward.
Analyze conversion rates
The conversion rate of your social media activity is of critical importance. Simply put, the conversation rate is a measure of how many people take the action you want them to, when they engage with your content. These are examples of typical actions you’d want them to take:
- Click on read more, to go to your website. This will both increase awareness and opportunities for them to engage with your further.
- Contact you for more information. It can either be done by completing and submitting an online query or by emailing your directly. This will generate leads and present your staff with an opportunity to get in touch. It will enable them to gauge the client’s requirements, offer a solution and seal the deal.
- “Buy now” or “order now.” This is rather self-explanatory, as it will instantly generate sales and boost growth.
So, in practice, a high conversation rate implies that the desired numbers of people is responding to your social media activity – and are taking the actions you wish them to take. This also explains the significance of the conversation rate, and why it forms one of the key cornerstones of your social media plan. If your social media activities are not converting, you should:
- Restrategize or try different approaches.
- Re-allocate your budget to platforms that are indeed accomplishing the desired results.
If you are not sure how to measure the conversation rates on all the various platforms, consult with your IT techies, or specialists in the field.
Map your audience
You cannot engage your audience effectively if you don’t know who they are. These are the very bare essentials you absolutely have to know about them:
- Income bracket
It is not always possible to determine this straight away, but it would also be extremely useful for you to know their lifestyle, interests, buying and behavioral patterns and/or emotional triggers. Even better if you can draw pictures and describe your typical clients. For example: Andrew is a 35-year old health fanatic, who is passionate about healthy diet and lifestyle and into all sorts of extreme exercise and adventure sports. Can you see how knowing who Andrew is; can be useful in understanding how to appeal to him?
Also, different channels are popular amongst different people and age groups. LinkedIn, for example, is more of a professional channel. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are more social platforms. But Facebook is generally more popular amongst older people and Instagram is more frequented by younger users.
These are but a few reasons why you cannot compile a social media strategy without proper target audience insights. Here are a few ways for you to get it:
- Sync with your marketing department, as they will very likely have the info on hand.
- Send out online surveys.
- Conduct qualitative interviews with a strategic sample of 5-10 customers or businesses in your target market.
- Check for advertiser data on media websites.
Conduct a competitive analysis
The next step is a competitive analysis. This involves basic intelligence gathering. Look at your competitors’ social media profiles, sign-up for their email promotions and analyze how they are reaching customers.
A few questions to guide your research:
- How do your competitors use social media?
- Do you share a similar audience? If so, what type of content seems to resonate best with their audience?
- Do they run promotions? If they do, what approaches and channels do they use to hook their audiences?
- Are there any valuable components of their strategy that you could integrate on your own?
Ultimately you want to take a careful look at what approaches work, and what doesn’t work, so you can build on what works and learn from what doesn’t work. However, do be sure to only use these insights as a learning curve, not to necessarily copy them. To get your audiences to resonate with you, originality and authenticity is key.
Step 2: Pick goals
You won’t compile a business plan without goals. Setting concrete goals in your social media plan; will ensure that your social media activities proactively drive and support your overall business goals and objectives. Here are some guidelines for creating social media goals:
- Be realistic: For example, if historical data shows that your sales have been growing by 15% per quarter, you cannot expect your social media efforts to achieve a 100% increase in sales. Look at case studies instead to determine a realistic figure.
- Define the purpose: Every social media activity must have a clear goal and must speak to a specific area of improvement. For example, does it increase awareness, showcase your work, boost sales or improve your image and reputation?.
- Set time limits: The outcomes of your social media efforts have to be time-bound. Clearly outline by when you would like to achieve what.
- Check measurability: One of the main benefits of social media activity is that it can be tracked and measured. Determine upfront whether you can set a target for your social media goals, whether these targets are measurable and what tools you will be using to measure it.
- Tracking and monitoring: Set parameters for tracking and monitoring the progress and performance of your social media throughout.
Step 3: Define your voice and brand purpose
Clearly articulate your brand voice and purpose, so that you can align all your communication accordingly and so that you can shape the right picture of you, in the minds of your target audiences.
Check with your marketing department first, because they will most likely already have a document in place that defines or guides this. If you don’t have a marketing department, or you’re just starting up, these are questions you should ask when articulating your brand voice and purpose:
- Is the image I am creating authentic and true to our company?
- Does it integrate all the main building blocks of a good reputation: credibility, transparency, reliability and continuity?
- Is it aligned with best practices and principles of PR?
- Can we truly deliver on the brand promises we are making?
- Do we have the kind of personality that will resonate with our target audiences and that will let them connect with us?
Most importantly, will our brand voice touch, move and inspire our target audiences, capture their minds and imagination, let them engage with us or take the actions we want them to? And how will it impact our community building approaches?
Your brand voice should be defined in the finest detail, and should at least include all the following elements:
- What do we do?
- What is our vision and mission?
- What are the values that drive our business?
- Who are we and who are we not?
- What are our approach, tone and personality?
Once you have determined your brand voice and purpose, it must form the foundation of your content and communication across the board, on every social media or other communication platform.
To achieve this successfully in the long run, it is important to not only share the information with everyone who will form part of your social media activities, but also every other person in your company.
Step 4: Define reporting intervals
You cannot improve what you cannot measure. So do establish reporting intervals upfront, to ensure that it doesn’t fall by the wayside.
When it comes to general social media activities, you could consider monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly reports, as you will need to have a sensible time lapse to determine the impact of your efforts. Analysing the stats, will enable you to discard what doesn’t work and do more of what does work. Or it will point out that you need to take a different approach all together.
In instances where you’re running a specific campaign however, such as a competition or promoting a special offer for a limited period only, you will want to keep a close eye on its performance throughout – as it will enable you to take corrective action immediately. If not enough people are responding to your ad or post for example, you could consider boosting the post to reach a wider audience.
Step 5: Add your content calendar
It is highly advisable to create an editorial roadmap and content calendar in advance. Of course there will be instances where ad hoc events occur that you need to communicate about. But a content calendar will at least enable you to source the relevant content timeously and have sufficient time to control the quality of it, for the majority of the time.
Your content can comprise a mix ranging from short posts or blog articles, to videos, infographics, and photos. It can be created by your team, crowd-sourced from your community, or curated from relevant, reputable sources. Keep in mind that content can be repurposed from one channel to the next. For example, a photo essay from your blog may be divided into multiple posts on Instagram and Facebook. Creatively repurposing your content will maximise your resources and will help keep your messaging consistent.
Step 6: Measuring your success
The best time to think about how you’ll measure the success of any given strategy is in the development stage. Before you undertake a certain strategy, take the time to establish baselines, targets, and benchmarks, so when it comes time to report, you can clearly articulate your progress.
There are two basic ways to measure success: through quantitative and qualitative reports. The main difference between quantitative and qualitative reports is that quantitative reports look at the numbers from a more general perspective, while qualitative reports consider the finer details.
Quantitative measurement focuses on numerical values and their growth or decline over time. Here are a few ways to measure using quantitative metrics:
- Track follower growth.
- Set goals for follower growth. This is an excellent way to prove success. Setting a concrete goal – such as “we’ll grow from 10,000 Twitter followers to 15,000 in three months” – helps you clearly define what success looks like.
- Measure the engagement rate. Engagement helps to show whether the content and messaging actually resonates with your audience. For example, if you have 10,000 Twitter followers and your campaign only gets 50 shares then clearly the messaging is not resonating. Engagement metrics typically include the number of shares, blog comments, and mentions.
- Check the conversion rate. This is one of the metrics that matters the most, as it determines whether your audiences are responding to your call to action and taking the action you want them to.
In some industries— such as legal or B2B—a prospect might not share your campaign on Facebook but they will contact sales after reading your new eBook. Conversion metrics include a number of downloads, email sign-ups, qualified leads, and sales transactions.
In contrast, qualitative measurement is a more nuanced approach to collecting insight and is best done on a post-by-post basis.
For example, you may have set a goal to increase interactions on your brand page. And while the number of comments on your content has gone up, it’s necessary to also examine the nature of the comments.
Do they include many positive expressions of love for your products? Or is there a lot of disgruntled feedback expressing frustration with your service?
Sharing a really positive Tweet or email sent by a customer who loved a blog post isn’t hard data but does show success and can be a very impactful addition to your reporting.
Adjust your course with data
Once you have gathered the data on your key performance indicators, it is time to adjust the course by either optimising your strategy or pursuing a different direction.
- Examine posts: Carefully look at the social posts that were successful in leading visitors to your website and think about how you can adapt them to other social networks to generate similar results. Or perhaps that type of content did not resonate with your community on a specific network. If so, think about what can be done differently. For example, can it be better targeted or can it be posted at a different time?
- Monitor response. Monitoring the responses from your community is also crucial. Followers will often be vocal about what kind of activity and content they appreciate, and what they don’t. It is therefore important to ‘listen’ to what is being ‘said’ in your space. If you broaden your social media listening beyond your own brand name as well, your customers (and competitors) will give you a good guide to where and how you should be active on social media platforms.
- Benchmark: Benchmarking yourself against competitors can reveal good insights. Is their following growing at a significantly faster rate? What are they doing that’s working well and could you incorporate some of their ideas into your own social media strategy?
Remember that digital space is ever evolving and so should your social media plan. Remain attuned to new developments and as new popular channels and networks emerge, you may want to add them into the mix. Also, as and when you achieve your goals, you will need to set new targets. Unexpected challenges will occur that you need to address. As you scale your business, you might need to add new roles or grow your social presence for different branches or regions.
Lastly never hesitate to be bold. Dare to try different approaches and go places where no one has gone before. There is a lot of noise in the social media space and you need to be ultra innovative to make your own voice heard, even if it sometimes means you have to be completely off the wall. As long as it remains within the parameters of your brand voice and purpose.
We trust this information will create a good basis for you to build your social media plan. Feel free to contact BWD for any further information or professional assistance with social media strategies, measurement of social media activities; content creation, or online campaigns.