The social media landscape may be constantly evolving and changing, but one thing’s for certain: It’s more popular than ever. According to this 2015 Pew Research Center study, nearly two-thirds of American adults use social networking sites. That’s a pretty large chunk of the population. So, needless to say, if you’re aiming to promote your business—or even your blog—social media is undoubtedly a space where you need to be active.
But, with all of that being said, there’s no denying that establishing a social media presence can feel daunting. With the ceaseless arrival of new platforms, new algorithms, and new tools, it can all start to seem impossible to keep up with.
This is why having a social media strategy in place is so very important. It’s the plan that keeps you focused, and ensures you channel your time and attention into the activities that will have the greatest impact for your business.
Sounds helpful, right? But, now comes the next question, how exactly do you develop your own social media strategy? This can be as detailed and complex as you’d like. However, if you’re just getting started, I recommend going back to the basics. Follow these six steps, and you’ll wind up with a simple plan you can follow to take your business’ social media presence up a couple of notches.
Step 1: Identify Target Market
As with anything, in order to craft effective messaging, you need to know who exactly you’re talking to. You hear a lot about your target market when it comes to establishing marketing plans but, it’s just as important when creating a social strategy.
Of course, you’ll want to dive into the nitty-gritty to really understand your ideal customer: What are her goals? What are her challenges? Why should she be interested in what your brand offers?
However, when it comes to social, you need to pay attention to one more important thing: What social media platforms is she engaging with the most? Is she really active on Pinterest and Instagram, and rarely logs into her Facebook page? Or perhaps she’s addicted to Twitter.
This is important information for you. Why? Well, when you’re just getting started with your business’ social media presence, you likely won’t have the time and resources to be active on every single platform. So, you’re better off putting in your best effort with one or two networks where your audience is really engaged—rather than spreading yourself too thin and struggling to keep up with a bunch of different accounts.
You’re better off putting in your best effort with one or two networks where your audience is really engaged—rather than spreading yourself too thin with a bunch of different accounts.
Step 2: Determine Goals
Any strategy you create for your business should be pushing you toward larger objectives. So, in order to ensure that your plan has you on the right track, you need to be clear about what your goals with social media are. This needs to extend past the simple idea of increasing your followers and “likes”—those are social media goals that everybody has.
Instead, I challenge you to think broader: Do you want to use your social accounts to push your followers toward a specific product or service you offer? Are you aiming to position yourself as a thought leader or authority in your industry—a resource people can look to for information and insights? Do you want to build a strong, engaged community around your cause?
Pick one key objective, and then continue to form your strategy in support of that goal. This will keep your efforts both focused and effective.
Step 3: Pick Platforms
As mentioned previously, you likely don’t have the time to be active on every single platform. So, analyze the information you gathered in the first two steps in order to determine the bare minimum accounts where you need to be active. These networks should help you meet your target audience right where they are, but should also support your business goals. This might involve a little give and take, but you should be able to identify at least two platforms that fit the bill.
Once you determine where you need to be active, you’ll want to take some time to polish up your profiles before beginning to post new content. This is a step that many people skip, but it’s important for making a great first impression! Make sure that you have a clear, crisp profile photo—whether that’s your business logo or a professional headshot. Next, craft a bio or “About” page that accurately captures exactly your business does and who you do it for. This gives people a clear snapshot of what you’re all about—which allows your target customers to immediately recognize you’re someone worth following.
Doing this before going any further with your strategy ensures you’re setting yourself up for success right from the get-go.
Step 4: Gather Inspiration
Now you’re getting to the tough part—determining the sort of content you’ll share on social media accounts. You’ve laid the groundwork, and now you’re stumped as far as what you should actually be posting.
I recommend digging in and seeing what some of your competitors are doing on social. What types of content seem to really be performing well for them? Is there anything that they could be doing better—where you could swoop in and beat them to the punch?
Since this is your competitor, you and this business likely have similar target customers. So, pay attention to what sorts of content people are really actively engaged with—do followers love videos? Photos? Questions? And, one more thing: Do you notice any trends as far as what times these high engagement posts are shared? Sometimes timing can be even more important than the actual content. So, if you can identify optimal posting times, that’ll already help you take steps in the right direction.
Step 5: Create a Calendar
Establishing a social media plan is one thing. But managing to stick to it? Well, that’s an entirely separate battle. This is why setting up a calendar for your social media accounts is so helpful—it gives you a clear path to follow and stick to.
To get started, you should determine how frequently you want to post. This is up to personal preference, but this eClincher article shared some business “sweet spots” that might be helpful to you:
- Facebook: 1-2 times per day
- Twitter: 4-15 tweets per day
- LinkedIn: 1 post per weekday
- Google+: 1-4 posts per weekday
- Instagram: 1 post per day
- Pinterest: 4-10 posts per day
Once you have your frequency decided, it’s time to actually create your calendar. You can go ahead and use a simple spreadsheet to list everything out, or even make use of a more advanced tool like Sprout Social, which has a calendar feature built right in.
At its most basic, your calendar should include a few straightforward things such as the publish date and time, the account, the type of content (article, video, photo, etc.), the actual post you plan to share, and any necessary media you’d like to accompany it.
This calendar will ensure that you’re spreading your efforts out appropriately instead of sending out a bunch of posts at one single time. Aside from that, it’ll also help you share a great mix of content—rather than blanketing everybody’s feed with the same thing over and over again.
Step 6: Automate Scheduling
“Well, that all sounds great,” you’re likely thinking, “But, once I establish my strategy, where am I going to find the time to constantly monitor and update my social accounts?” I get it—you’re busy running your business, and you don’t want to waste hours getting sucked into your Instagram feed.
You’re busy running your business, and you don’t want to waste hours getting sucked into your Instagram feed.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and programs that can automate many of these processes for you. Check out Buffer to queue up your social media posts ahead of time. Using this, you can spend a few hours scheduling a ton of posts, and they’ll all go out and their set date and time—without you having to do anything else.
BoardBooster is a great scheduling tool for Pinterest, with a ton of different functionality that you’re sure to love. It’ll automatically spread your pins over ideal pinning hours. Beyond that, it’ll also check your boards for broken links and show you your best performing Pinterest boards—information you can use to further refine your strategy.
So there you have it! Six basic steps that will have you up and running with your social media strategy in no time. All that’s left to do is get to work!