Everyone knows that social media marketing is important in modern business - it’s rare to find a company that doesn’t see the value in posting on at least the key social channels. But even so, brands often underrate its power. They set up their account to tick the ‘social media marketing’ box, then they go about posting impulsively, or not at all.
For your social media efforts to be worthwhile, you need a strategy - here are seven reasons why.
1. It creates direction
Without a strategy, you’re shooting from the hip. There may be some kind of loose plan involved – you vaguely know in which direction you’re aiming – but there’s no precision, no overarching pattern. You wouldn’t conduct any other part of your marketing this way, so why do it with social media?
It’s probably the ‘social’ bit. People underestimate the strategy required to make social media work, so they just throw stuff out there and hope it sticks. But your social channels are valuable assets that should have a defined place in your marketing plan.
With a strategy in place, every part of your social media can be tailored towards your marketing and business goals. From your profile imagery and each individual post, to a month-long campaign, everything’s working together, and progressing towards the same objective.
Your accounts will actually pull their weight, building brand awareness and drawing in new prospects, rather than being there just because it’s the 21st century and you need to be on social media. And with a reason for existing, social content creation will be easier, and more effective.
2. You can measure, report and improve
If you’re handling your social media day-to-day, monitoring can tend to fall by the wayside. Without monitoring and measuring your activity and engagement, you don’t know what’s working - and if you don’t know what’s working, you could be pouring money into ineffective content, or the wrong platforms entirely.
In your strategy, you need to stash time aside for analyzing your posts’ performance, and then using the insights gleaned to guide your content. The strategy itself acts as a framework and reference point, so if you see a pattern among the posts that work well and those that flop, you can hold it up to the wider plan and make adjustments at the source.
The strategy is also where you’ll set your goals, which you’ll use to see how your overall strategy is shaping up.
You'll fine-tune your tactics, and that will pay off. Instead of wasting time on things that don’t work, or getting stuck in a rut posting the same ineffective stuff, you’ll be able to dynamically respond to your audience and the changing of the digital seasons. And you’ll have clear-cut goals to aim for, and to measure your success against.
3. Everything’s more efficient
Creating a strategy and pre-planning your content takes time, but it’ll save you some in the long run.
Having a clear direction, and your goals mapped out in alignment, will make you more efficient. You’ll be focused on what you need to do, and will therefore spend less time thinking about what to post or scrabbling for content at the last minute.
It’s also easier to keep track of your time - unplanned social posts can rack up the minutes if you don’t keep an eye on the clock. With a strategy, you can set aside a chunk of time and stick to it.
Overall, your social media management experience will be less stressful. It'll be much easier to keep to your budget, and you’ll be saving time overall, which you can then use to create better content, analyze your efforts or even 'get Zen' with a five-minute meditation break.
4. You’ll remain active
One of the biggest barriers to social media success is inconsistency - sporadic posts and big splurges of social activity followed by days of silence.
This is the kind of approach that fails to ingratiate your brand with a social audience, making it harder to gain new followers, while also driving older ones away. Such impacts are greatly lessened with a strategy – you’ll know what to post and when to post it, so you’ll never overload or starve your audience content-wise.
And, with a pre-planned calendar, you’ll never kick yourself for missing a big event.
You’ll be able to better build and maintain your organic presence with steady, sustained activity. Also, you’ll be keeping your brand fresh in your audience’s mind, so that when they’re ready to buy, they'll think of you.
5. It enables bigger, better campaigns
With the little stuff covered, you can then look to bigger things – things that are too complex and time-consuming to do ad hoc, but are relatively easy to put together in the planning stage.
Here, I’m talking about things like Twitter chats, cross-platform campaigns, influencer marketing and big-brand partnerships – really wringing every drop of potential out of your social assets. This is where social media gets exciting. If you put the time in to create something good, with a considered strategy to guide it… well, you’ll see the results for yourself.
You’ll be seriously upping your social media game. Bigger, better content means more engagement, traffic, shares and follows.
6. It’ll keep you consistent
I am a big advocate for consistency.
As well as the aforementioned consistency of regular posts, you’ll also be able to ensure the posts themselves are always in line with your brand identity, tone of voice and goals.
Your strategy can act as a playbook, which any employee, agency or influencer can pick up and use to create content that matches your social media standards. As your team changes or expands, new staff can quickly get to grips with your social assets. They’ll know exactly what kind of content to post or create, when to do it and why.
You’ll establish a more consistent, cohesive social presence, no matter who’s writing for the brand. And you’ll save time while you’re at it, as handovers become more efficient and everyone can refer back to the strategy if they need to.
7. You’ll be prepared for everything
What happens when your two social media leaders are out of the office? One’s off enjoying some leave, the other’s fallen sick unexpectedly - she’s got the lurgy and is off for a few days at the least.
Is it radio silence until one of them returns, or do you hand the task to someone else and hope they don’t hash it?
Neither. With a strategy, all the key posts will already be created. If you're really organized, they’ll also be scheduled too - the only thing left to do will be to replying to your audience, and you’ll have procedures on how to respond set out in your strategy, covering everything from praise and queries to negative comments and complaints.
You’ll never be left in the lurch, even when the unexpected happens. And, with procedures in place, you'll always answer your audience’s questions and comments, effectively and efficiently, showing them that you’re there, you care and you’re happy to have a conversation. It is social media, after all.