A social media strategy is a necessity for any business that wants the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to play an important part in their marketing efforts. Without a clear strategy, your social media activity will lack structure and focus, and it will be harder to track results and measure return on investment (ROI).
Furthermore, you need to ensure your social plans are relevant and up-to-date, based on factors such as your target audience, the results you are hoping for and current trends in your industry.
When the time comes to refresh your strategy, you’ll want to have a clear idea of what needs to change and why. With that in mind, here are six key questions to ask before embarking on your social revamp...
What isn’t working?
To make an informed decision about what to change, first you need to have a clear understanding of the aspects of your social media strategy that are working and, perhaps more importantly, the ones that aren't.
The best way to make these conclusions is by conducting an audit, which will provide valuable insights into how you’re performing across your various social channels and platforms.
A thorough social media audit should cover everything from the most basic facts (the social platforms you are using, for example), to more in-depth data relating to the performance of your content. Key metrics to analyze include:
- Number of followers on each account
- Typical levels of user engagement on each account
- Average response rates and times
- Most popular types of content
- Average video views
- Average number of likes/shares/comments per post
The results from your audit should give some clear guidance as to what aspects of your social strategy have delivered results and where improvements are needed.
Who is your target audience?
Having a clear understanding of your target audience and what’s important to them is vital to any successful social media strategy.
When it comes to revamping your plans and methods, it’s worth taking another look at your typical customer profile and asking if it needs to be updated.
Consider whether the demographics you’re targeting on social media have changed, possibly based on recent developments in your business or a shift in focus to different products or services.
If your target audience has remained the same, is your social activity doing a good enough job of attracting interest and raising brand awareness, or do you need to come up with new ways of engaging prospective customers?
How does social media function within your marketing mix?
With Facebook alone boasting more than 1.52 billion active users every single day, social media should be a central part of any company’s marketing plans, but should it overshadow all the other channels at your disposal? As you rethink your strategy, consider the role that social has to play in your wider marketing mix.
Social media can be highly effective for capturing people’s attention, raising the profile of your brand and providing content that educates, entertains or answers questions. By and large, this all takes place at the very top of the sales funnel, the ‘awareness’ stage of the typical buyer’s journey.
When it comes to nurturing leads and moving prospective buyers down the funnel, other types of content could prove more effective, such as webinars, case studies and product demonstrations hosted on your website.
Your social channels have strong potential to raise interest and direct traffic to these other assets, so it’s worth thinking about how social content can be used in parallel with the other components of your marketing mix.
What channels and content types are best for you?
There are significant variations between different social networks and content types, as far as their potential to engage particular demographics is concerned.
Sprout Social recently highlighted how important it is to have a strong understanding of your target audience before deciding how to distribute your content across different channels, based on in-depth data from Pew Research Center.
The findings showed that 73% of adults in the US use YouTube and 68% use Facebook, underlining the power and reach of these platforms.
Instagram and Snapchat are attractive options for brands targeting younger demographics, with most of the people who use these networks under the age of 30, while Pinterest is significantly more popular with women than men.
The data also revealed that the LinkedIn audience is generally well-educated, meaning this could be the ideal platform if you are promoting in-depth, industry-specific content that is unlikely to appeal to a mass audience on Facebook or Twitter.
Analyzing the unique features and advantages of each network, and making an informed decision about which ones are best-suited to your business, should be a key part of your strategy overhaul.
Is your social media content still relevant?
Any number of trends or developments - which may or may not be within your control – can have an impact on the relevance of your output on social media.
If you have fallen into a habit of posting the same sort of content at regular intervals on the same platforms, use your strategy revamp as an opportunity to question whether your social profiles still feel appropriate and up-to-date.
There are a number of factors that could influence the perceived relevance of your brand, from the general climate in your industry to socio-economic trends. If, for example, a wave of new, disruptive competitors are making a lot of noise and changing customer expectations in your industry, your business might need to evolve too, or risk being left behind.
Similarly, big changes within the social media space itself will have an impact on how companies plan their strategies and design their content. One of the most notable recent examples was Facebook’s algorithm update, which rewards posts that encourage conversations and “meaningful interactions” between users.
Social strategy planning can also be informed by looking ahead to potential forthcoming trends, which could help you ensure your content is relevant not just today, but in the future as well.
How should you measure future results?
Another key step in revising and modernizing your social media strategy is finding the most effective way to measure your performance. To ensure you are getting satisfactory ROI, you need to have a clear idea of your goals and what social success looks like for your business.
This is particularly important if your company has gone through some significant changes or revised its broader plans and targets since you last created a social strategy.
When it comes to setting goals, one common approach is to use the SMART framework. That means creating objectives that are:
This system can help you set targets that are suitable and beneficial for your business, making it easier to strategically plan your investment in social media marketing and measure your results.
By asking these questions and taking a rigorous, analytical approach to your social strategy revamp, you can put your company in a stronger position to realize the full potential of social.