9 Key Elements of an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy, and How to Establish Them
Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.
These days, some 90% of young adults use social media to communicate with brands, and if anything, that’s only likely to increase.
Soon, social media will become the most important marketing strategy for all target markets, and whether you’re just about to start your first social media campaign or you’ve been at it for years, there’s always more you can learn to improve your strategy.
To help, check out this guide to the most up-to-date resources designed to help you maximize the impact of your social campaigns across each of the key development and implementation phases.
1. Creating an audience persona
The core of effective social media marketing is about speaking to a specific audience with your social posts. And unless you have an intuitive idea of who your target audience really is, you’ll need to create audience personas.
Audience personas are a deep look at the demographics of your audience, including their interests, fears, needs, and behaviors.
Here’s an example of what an audience persona might look like:
Notice how the persona details the person’s goals and challenges (or pain points).
Having a good idea of who your audience really is will help you choose social media platforms down the line. For example, according to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, the most important social networks for teens and young adults are:
- Instagram (32%)
- Twitter (24%)
- Facebook (14%)
- Snapchat (13 %)
- Tumblr (4%)
Here are some helpful resources for creating your audience personas:
- How to Create Buyer Personas with Social Media Data - Hootsuite
- How to Mine Social Media Data for Persona Marketing - TrackMaven
2. Goal-setting and objectives
Once you've got a good idea of who your audience is, you’ll then need to identify key goals for your social media marketing efforts. What do you actually hope to achieve with your strategy?
The top goals for most SMB social media marketing programs are:
- Building brand awareness (74%)
- Getting website traffic (53%)
- Lead generation (41%)
Whatever goals you choose need to align with various metrics that you can use to measure your success later on:
Without goals and associated metrics, you won’t be able to measure ROI, and determine if your efforts are actually effective.
Here are some resources that can help you define your goals and metrics:
- 7 Popular Goal-Setting Strategies That Will Help You Achieve Great Things on Social Media - Buffer Social
- How to Create Achievable Social Media Goals - Sprout Social
- How To Set Smart Social Media Goals To Achieve Strategic Objectives - FlypChart
With your goals set, next, you need to determine how much money you can allocate to your social media marketing strategy.
The share of overall marketing budgets devoted to social media is expected to increase from about 10% on average to nearly 25% in the next 5 years.
How much of your budget you allocate to social media will depend on a lot of factors. Maybe you’ll need to get buy-in from higher-ups, or maybe your budget is limited because you’re a small business. Itemizing your potential expenses will show you (or your boss) where all the money goes.
You’ll need enough funds to invest in:
- Your campaign content
- Paid social promotions
- Social media management tools
- Community engagement efforts
- Analytics tools
Here are some resources to help you determine your social media marketing budget:
- How to Determine Your Social Media Marketing Budget - The Next Web
- Social Media Marketing Budget Template - Demand Metric
4. Resourcing/team building
Research by Simply Measured shows that while actually developing a social media strategy is more difficult for small businesses, enterprise companies also face significant challenges in securing enough internal resources to make it happen. This is probably because SMBs are more open to the idea of outsourcing to build their teams.
Your big decision here is deciding if your internal staff will head your social media marketing strategy, or if you’ll outsource the work. You could utilize a combination of both - it’s easy to find freelancers who will manage your social accounts on Upwork or Guru. But finding someone who will develop social campaigns that speak to your target audience is a bigger task.
Here are some other tools you can use to simplify social media campaigns for you or your team:
- Blog aggregator tools - Use a tool like Feedly to aggregate all your blog feeds in one place. Easily select content to share with your audience all from one platform.
- Social media automation tools - Use Hootsuite, Buffer, or another tool and schedule your social posts to go out at optimum times. They’ll also help you analyze your results.
- Social following tools - Use ManageFlitter or FollowerWonk to identify and follow your target audience.
Here are some resources to help you build the right team and find helpful tools:
- 48 Social Media Marketing Tools and Resources - BrandWatch
- The Essential Roles and Responsibilities of Your Social Media Team - FlypChart
- How to Structure a Social Media Team - LinkHumans
Once you know who’s going to run your campaigns, and what tools they’ll use to create it all, it’s time to research:
- Your campaign content (What resonates with your audience?)
- Your posting strategy
Your social media campaigns will likely involve using a combination of your own native content and sharing content of others.
For this, you’ll need to spend some time finding relevant blog posts, memes, and other social content to share. You can do this using a tool like Buzzsumo, or by following social groups and lists related to your niche. You should also take this time to identify which types of content generate the best response from your target audience.
Next, research your posting strategy - how often should you post, and on what platforms?
Research by Hubspot found the best times to post on Facebook are:
- 3 PM on Wednesdays
- 12-1PM on Saturdays and Sundays
- 1-4PM on Thursdays and Fridays
How often you should post your content will also depend on your platform:
Here's some content that can help you in the social media research process:
- 20+ Places to Find Superb Content To Share on Social Media - TwelveSkip
- The Essential Guide to Content Sharing - RazorSocial
6. Choosing your platforms
Did you know the average social media user maintains five accounts?
If you want to effectively target your audience, you’ll want to reach them on several different networks - but that said, you shouldn’t plan to have a presence on every single platform. You’re limited by your time and resources, so you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin.
Having a social profile that hasn’t been updated in six months looks less professional than having no social profile at all, so select your platforms carefully.
There are a lot of factors you should consider when choosing the right social platforms for your business:
Consider the purpose of each platform, and how it relates to your business goals - Facebook's great for building brand loyalty, for example, while LinkedIn is best for B2B business development. You’ll also want to think back to the demographics of your target audience to help decide which platforms are the most worthwhile.
Check out these resources on choosing your platforms:
- The Zero BS Guide to Choosing a Social Media Platform for Business - WPCurve
- Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy - SproutSocial
7. Producing content
Your social media strategy will require a mix of content to be successful, so you'll need to develop a process to create this content, and maximize its worth.
If you want to ensure optimal performance of your content, make sure it’s:
- Visual - Did you know visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content? Including images as part of your social posts is one of social media marketing’s best practices.
- Emotional - Most brands shy away from sharing something polarizing or opinionated, but this is the kind of content that resonates most with people on social media. Create content that evokes awe, excitement, or amusement to encourage engagement and shares.
- Useful - People like to share content that they think might be helpful or educational for others. One study by Berger and Milkman found that people like to share useful content to help others, for self-help, and for social exchange. So find a way to offer something of value to your social followers. Create compelling social content and develop a powerful strategy to promote it.
These resources will help you get inspired and create great social content:
- 9 Best Social Media and Content Marketing Tips From Buffer - Convince and Convert
- 100 Killer Ideas For Your Social Media Content - Forbes
8. Integrating with the rest of your digital strategy
Social media marketing isn’t all about brand awareness. More than half of marketers using social media say it helps improve sales, which is why it’s important to integrate social media marketing into your larger digital marketing strategy to get the most out of it.
Thanks to tracking tools like Google Analytics, it’s easy to attribute web traffic and site behavior to different marketing channels. This data will help you visualize how to make these different strategies work together to achieve your overall marketing goals.
Some of the marketing strategies you want to integrate include are:
- Content marketing
- PPC and display advertising
- Email marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Offline marketing
All of these strategies can work in combination to nurture your leads and help them move down the sales funnel.
Here are some resources that can help you integrate:
- How to Build Social Media Into Your Content Marketing Process - Content Marketing Institute
- How to Integrate Email Marketing With a Social Media Strategy - Campaign Monitor
9. Tracking analytics
Analytics tracking is one of the most important things you can do to improve your social media marketing strategy over time. Tracking analytics gives you a detailed picture of what kind of content and promotion strategies work - along with the ones that don’t - enabling you to adjust and improve.
So how can you measure the success of your campaigns? While 80% of marketers use engagement metrics (likes and shares) to evaluate success, 56% base social media marketing success on website traffic. You may want to use a combination of the two - the specific metrics you focus on will be relative to your goals (raising awareness might better align with social metrics, while referral traffic is a better indicator of sales).
Here are the most common tools people use to measure social media marketing results:
- Native analytics tools on Facebook, Twitter, etc. (65%)
- Social media management platforms like HootSuite and Buffer (62%)
- Web analytics such as Google Analytics (59%)
- Dedicated social media measurement platforms (22%)
Measuring ROI will likely require you to look at big-picture data, as well as engagement metrics. This all goes back to your original marketing goals and associated metrics - how well have your various social media campaigns helped you achieve them?
These resources will help:
- How to Choose The Best Digital Marketing Analytics Software - Forbes
- How to Measure the ROI of Marketing Programs - Marketo
This guide is probably a lot take in, but if you look at each section as a starting place to learn about what works, then it’s much easier to implement.
Just remember that a successful social media marketing strategy is ongoing - pay attention to your goals and analytics, then adjust as you go along. This will ensure that down the road you’ll continue to get better at engaging your target audience.
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