With 2018 coming to a close, many brands are planning budgets and strategies for 2019. The fun part about social media marketing is that things are always changing, and there's always something new to test.
However, when thinking about all the possibilities available, social media marketers need to also be realistic. While planning for 2019, ask yourself, "Where do I want my brand to go?" But don't forget to follow up with, "How will I get there?"
To help you "get there" in the coming year, the social media marketing team at THAT Agency has put together the following tips for planning your 2019 social media strategy.
1. Audit Your Social Media Content Strategy
First and foremost, you should audit your social media content strategy. This requires going through the content you published throughout the year and figuring out what resonated most with your audience - and what didn’t.
You'll likely collect a lot of data, so you'll want to have an assessment process in place. Start by categorizing your content into buckets, then measure the performance of each 'bucket' against one another.
A platform like Sprout Social will help a lot with this – Sprout has a really nice tagging feature which enables you to categorically organize content to measure results from a top-level perspective. You can also export post- and tweet-level data from the individual social platforms and measure accordingly.
Bear in mind the goals of your content strategy audit are to:
- Double down on the content that's generating the most impressions and engagement
- Refine the content that isn't hitting the mark
Often the perception of what kind of content “works” is different than the reality - sometimes one might think that a highly stylized custom graphic will work the best, when the data shows that an image featuring people in a contextually relevant situation performs better.
Keep an open mind, and trust what the data reveals about your strategy.
2. Audit Your Social Advertising Strategy
Next, you need to turn your attention to your social advertising strategy and conduct an audit there as well.
Begin by analyzing all your paid efforts from the perspective of results, considering cost per result, cost per impression, and number of conversions. Use a few different key performance indicators (KPIs) to establish a more accurate idea of the impact of your ads and campaigns.
If your company operates with a monthly campaign structure, you'll want to measure the results of the campaigns against one another and the performance of each ad set, and ads within each campaign. This particular audit can become very data heavy, but it'll enable you to understand which targeting types are working the best, as well as grasp the true performance of the ad creative.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the paid advertising side of social media is that you'll need to decide exactly what success looks like to you.
For example, is a Facebook campaign that's driving traffic to your site for $0.25 per click, but not converting, more “successful” than a campaign that's driving traffic for $0.75 per click with conversions? You need to define success before you can optimize for it.
And one quick tip here - unless you're working with the Facebook Pixel, conversions will likely be through last-click attribution, which means the last action taken before the conversion will get credit. This last click doesn’t usually come from social media ads - the logic of "see the ad, click the ad, buy the product" is rare.
Remember to keep this in mind when conducting your social advertising audit and when planning your 2019 social media strategy.
3. Invest in Social Media Content Creation
Now that you've audited your social media content strategy and your social advertising strategy, you'll likely see some opportunities to improve the content used in your social posts and ad creative. We highly recommend that brands invest in content creation for their 2019 social media marketing strategies.
Conducting photo shoots, video shoots, and creating fun graphics is always a good idea when planning for the coming year. The key here is to take the lessons learned from your audits, and apply them to produce more of what works the best.
Not every brand has a big budget, so if you need to repurpose content year over year, it's no big deal - it's highly unlikely that a user will recall the repurposed creative and call you out on it. However, if you are in budget planning, and can set some funds aside to properly create fresh assets for your social media strategy, you'll win out – especially with video content.
4. Activate the Right Influencers
Just like any other digital marketing trend, influencer marketing will likely morph and evolve into something else, but currently it's here and making a lot of noise. Partnering with influencers can be a great thing, so long as you clearly define your expectations, outline the deliverables, and thoroughly vet those with whom you might partner.
Now that literally anyone can build a platform and a personal brand online, there are a lot of shysters and unrealistic individuals out there claiming to be social media influencers, and seeking considerable compensation for partnerships, despite not having tangible performance data. Don’t fall in love with the concept of “influencers” and become blinded by the tactical reasons that they're relevant.
Connect with influencers who are relevant to your brand or industry - analyze the types of content they put out, and evaluate how much engagement their work generates. Depending on the platform (and the willingness for transparency), you can also ask for screenshots of the analytics any influencer claims to have.
Definitely include influencers in your 2019 social media strategy - however, do it for a strategic reason, not just because influencer marketing is the bright and shiny new toy out there with which to play.
5. Benchmark the Competition
I'm a firm believer in keeping an eye on the competition to gain insights and inspiration, and you should definitely benchmark your competitive set when planning your 2019 social media marketing strategy.
What are your competitors doing well? Can you “borrow” an idea from them and improve upon it? Analyzing your competitors in the market can be great exercise which surfaces opportunities for your brand.
A major caveat here is that a campaign or concept that looks successful for your competitor may not have been successful by their standards (and vice versa). We never really know what kind of strategy our competitors are running, or how much budget they're putting behind things. Be careful not to make a wrong turn by acting on incomplete information - instead, take a peek at what they're doing, determine where you fit in the mix, and decide where you can improve.
Competition is healthy, just don’t obsess. At the end of the day, you have to focus on your own 2019 social media strategy.
6. Carefully Test New Technologies
Last - and certainly not least - be sure to carefully test new technologies in your 2019 social media strategy.
I say "carefully," because there are always new trends popping up, but not all will apply to your brand, or are even ready for implementation.
If you came to this this blog post hoping for references to chatbots or AI, I'm sorry to disappoint you. These are two example of the technologies I'm talking about when I advise caution - if your organization is smaller and there aren't a lot of extra resources available to thoroughly test these new toys, you'll end up wasting money chasing your tail.
Be open to embracing new technologies, but be realistic about where they fit into your plan. It would be a terrible thing to have your 2019 social media strategy not generate the results you were hoping for because you were spending most of your time trying to get your chatbot to return the right response.
Be realistic. If you can integrate these new capabilities in a safe way, great, but If not, keep your eye on them, and revisit them down the road when the features are more developed.
There you have it: our six tips for planning your 2019 social media strategy. Hopefully these notes will help you maximize your success in the new year.