A recent survey by Harvard Business Review found that only 12% of companies who are utilizing social media felt that they were using it effectively. One of the reasons why companies don't make the most of social media is because they don't have a proper social media marketing plan laid out from the beginning.
It's imperative that you create a robust social media marketing plan if you want to see strong, measurable results.
To help with this, I've put together this step-by-step post which outlined how you can go about creating your own social media marketing strategy
1. Know your audience
If you want people to follow you, engage with your content, visit your website and buy from you, you need to be sharing content your audience likes.
To do this you need to know your audience first.
You can begin by going through your website and social media analytics and conducting an audit. After that you should audit your competitors and their social media accounts.
Once you have the necessary information about your audience, you could also consider conducting a survey and asking them questions directly (a book that can help you create great surveys and get people to take part in them is Ask by Ryan Levesque).
This research will give you an overview of what your audience is looking for from your business, and which social platforms they're active on, giving you a starting point for your plan.
2. Look to create long-form content
Most businesses have realized that in order to be successful with social media marketing, they need to be creating content.
When you create your own content, you can share it on social media and drive traffic back to your site.
According to research, businesses are currently spending around 28% of their total marketing budget on content marketing, on average.
Content marketers are also making their posts longer. As you can see from the above graph, as years pass, the average length of blog posts is increasing - the length of the average blog post has increased by 19%. More people are writing 2,000+ word blog posts - in fact the percentage of posts this long is doubling every year.
The key motivating factor here is that longer posts bring better results. Studies like these have proven that posts of around 2,000 words get the best results, in terms of shares and backlinks - critical for SEO.
Hence, if you want to get the strongest results you also need to consider creating posts that go beyond 2,000 words as part of your content strategy.
3. Focus on visual elements
Over the past few years, networks like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram have become the fastest growing social networks. On Pinterest and Instagram you can only post images and videos and on Tumblr 78.11% of all posts are images. This shows a shift in interest towards visual social media.
Based on this data, if you want your business to get the best results on social media, you need to also focus on visual elements and networks. You should invest your time into creating your own visual content, then incorporating it into your social media marketing plan.
Tools like Stencil and Canva can help you create content quickly. If your budget allows, you should also find yourself a designer who specializes in social content. If they can create infographics too, that's a bonus.
Once you know the content you need to create and the social media platforms you should use and how to get the most out of them, you can begin executing your social media marketing plan.
4. Conduct regular audits
Do you know how conversion experts come up with the perfect landing pages?
They conduct split test experiments using different variations of the landing page until they settle on one that works.
In a similar manner, you won't write the perfect social media marketing plan in your first attempt. No matter how much research you do you won't understand your audience or your social networks perfectly.
This is why you will need to experiment with different kinds of content and techniques. You can then measure your results by analyzing them with social media audits at regular intervals, like every month or every 3 months.
This will highlight what's working and what's not. You can use the data to continue doing what works and dump the techniques that aren't.
There's a lot to a successful social media strategy, a lot of elements and platforms and processes to consider that will see you maximize your efforts. Follow the steps above and you'll have a good foundation to create a robust social media marketing plan in 2017.