Social Media – What’s your Strategy? #81 #cong15

By Greg Fry.

I thought I would be all fancy and create a Video for my post, but that was never going to work for an e-book. So here is a blog post.

One of the biggest challenges when helping a client with their Social Media efforts is that they want to jump in and make a bunch of noise with no clear plan.  They are so obsessed copying their competition’s poor social media tactics that they forget to attach any meaningful Business KPIs to their Social Media efforts.  And whilst great social media tactics are a key ingredient of a successful Social Media Strategy………….Tactics do not equal a Strategy.  Time for a thought provoking quote:

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

According to Smart Insights 2015 survey 50% of business where using Digital Marketing tactics, but had no clear strategy in place to support their efforts.

In many ways having no social media strategy is as “bonkers”as setting up a buisness with no business plan. So what exactly is a Social Media Strategy and how can you develop one that will deliver results for your or your client’s business?

A social media strategy is a working plan that maps out the actions needed in order to achieve your business goals. Rather than “high five” yourself for getting a shed load of “likes” on your Facebook page assign real business KPIs to your Social Media efforts. A clear plan will also help employees and key stakeholders “buy” into your strategy, increase effectiveness and make it easier to measure your Social Media ROI.

So what should be in a Social Media Strategy? 

In a nutshell clear objectives, a defined target audience, a structured content plan, agreed social media channels, an approach and budget for social advertising and detailed costings for all Social Media activities. Smart Insights have some brilliant resources for a company or consultant looking to develop and implement a Social Media Strategy. Check out their RACE model -   Reach, Act, Convert, Engage

Enough about Smart Insights……here are my 10 steps to developing  a Social Media Strategy that develops real business ROI:

1. Align with existing business goals – Look at your existing business goals and even your offline marketing and business efforts and make sure all Social Media efforts are complementing existing efforts and working towards achieving the same business goals. Like a good football team – social media working together with all your other business efforts will out perform independent efforts.

2. Set Objectives – What is the job of your Social Media efforts? What do you need to achieve from your efforts? Clear objectives will make everything you do measureable. Don’t be afraid of attaching ambitious “Sales” and “Lead Generation” objectives to your Social Media efforts. Make sure your Objectives are SMART ones. (They need to “Specific”, “Measureable”, “ Attainable”, “Realistic” and have a “Time” frame that they need to be completed by.)

3. Identify Ideal customers, Advocates and Influencers – Be clear who your audience is and take some serious time out to understand what interests them. Make sure your content and advertising efforts focuses around their “needs and wants” rather than targeting them with a “self serving” sales pitch.  You should also look at where your target audience are “hanging” out online and what conversations they are having and what content they are engaging with. This will help decide on what social platforms to use and what content to create. Many companies will create “Buyer Personas” to try to get a better understanding of their existing and prospective customers interests.In fact Salesforce Pardot have life sized cardboard cut outs of their customers throught their office so staff are always thinking about their clients needs and wants. Check out Hubspot’s free persona tempate here

 Savvy Marketers will not stop at listening to and identifying prospective and existing customers online, but will also spend time looking for influencers and brand advocates. Develop a plan to enagage and collaborate with these advoactes and influencers. With 90% of people trusting an endoresement from a friend or influencers over a brand message….Imagine the ROI you can get influencers and advocates share your content and champion our brand. 

Some cool tools to identify influencers online include – buzzsumo.com, followerwonk and Klout.

4. Research Competition -  Rather than follow the competition’s poor Social Media tactics…….analyze what they are doing. Look at what platforms they are on, what the they are posting, how big their online communities are, who is engaging with them, what influencers are talking about them etc. Look at what they are doing badly as well as what they are doing well. Now develop a plan that trumps their efforts. Hootsuite have a nice competitor analysis spreadsheet which you can download here 

Some free tools to help you benchmark your Social Media activity against your competition include:  Agorapulse’s Facebook Barometer - and Simply Measured social media tools.

5. Select channels and develop tactics – Remember it may be better to be on less social media channels and build a meaningful community rather than taking a “supermarket sweep” approach and try to be everywhere. Pick the right channels to achieve your Social Media goals and “implement like hell”. Most successful social media strategies will have a variety of content. Eg. Short videos, Images, text updates, website links etc.  Some tactics that you may curently want to consider - Use images and GIFs on Facebook and Twitter, add links near the beginning of your updates, Use relevant trending hashtags in your updates (check out ritetag.com), create 15-30 second videos, post content when your fans/followers are most likely to see them, tag and mention influencers and advocates in updates, involve your target audience and encourage user generated content. 

6. Create a Content Marketing Plan - Once you know what you are trying to achieve, who you are targeting and where you are going to “hang out” online, it is vital that you engage you’re your audience through great content. The content you create should be “valuable” and “useful” to them. So don’t fall into the trap of creating boring, self serving and too “salesly” content. Consistency is a vital part of a company’s content plan: Companies should know where they are posting to, how often they are posting and what type of content they are going to create. This is vital as a sporadic approach to social media does not yield results. A well-thought out Content Calendar is the framework that helps many companies succeed in the social world. So open excel and start putting together a Social Media structure in place. 

A few tools that may help craft your content include: Buffer’s new content calendar - https://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-calendar (NB. Only works if you use Buffer to schedule or post content), Canva – to add text and even logos to your images, Pixabay – for quality non copyright imagery (of course - where possible use your own images for your social media updates),  Feedly.com to find great third party content for inspiration or even to repost, Pocket for bookmarking great content, Grammarly – to ensure one’s posts are spellchecked and well structured and finally Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer to craft the right titles for your blog posts.

7. Have a plan for Social Ads – In 2016 creating great content is not enough you will need to invest in advertising to ensure your content reaches your desired target audience.  

Social ads have become so advanced; you can now be “super” targeted and serve up the right ad, to the right person, at the right time on the right platform. What is also great here is that social ads are relatively inexpensive if done right.  

Create three types of ads to generate ROI:

  1. Ads to generate awareness
  2. Ads to build a relationship
  3. Ads to convert

Remember you need to build awareness and a rapport with your target audience before they are likely to convert into sales.

Ads that are proving very successful right now include Re-Marketing Ads on Facebook and Twitter, Video Ads on Facebook (check out the new Slideshow Ads),  Facebook Unpublished/Dark Posts, Instragram Ads, Slideshare.net lead capture ads and Facebook and Twitter Lead Generation Ads.  

If you are creating multiple ads on Facebook you may want to look at AdEspresso a tool to help you manage and optimise the ROI of your Facebook ads. 

8. Set a Budget  - Social Media is not free. So you need to set a clear budget for it.   Some of the costs you should factor in include:

  • Salaries (A staff member spending 40% of their day on Social Media should be factored in. So 40% of their salary needs to included in your Social Media costings).
  • Social Ads – How much money are we going to factor in for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram ads etc?
  • Tools – What 3rd party tools are we going to use in your social media marketing that require investment? e.g. Listening tools, scheduling tools, video production tools etc.
  • Equipment – Do you need to invest money software or hardware for your Social Media efforts? e.g. a tablet or video recorder.
  • Images – Do you need to buy copyright imagery?
  • Outsourcing costs – Do you need to hire a digital agency or even a graphic designer from time to time for your social media activity?
  • Crisis Management Fund - Do you need to have money in the kitty in case of a crisis? It is a good idea to have some spend available should a social media crisis break out.

9. Assign Roles and Take Action – Decide who in the company needs to be using Social Media and make sure everyone has a clearly defined job description and relevant training. Remember Social Media stretches well beyond the marketing department.  Looks at the Sales team, the Customer service team, the HR & Recruiting team, the IT team etc. Develop a process for all communications relating to social media across different departments. Eg. If a customer service query comes in via the marketing twitter account how is that message passed on and tracked to the Social Customer Service team. 

10. Measure and Refine - Be brave enough to listen to the data and ditch what does not work. A Social Media strategy will constantly evolve. There is no end point. Review your activity regularly. Set and stick to schedule.  Use Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics etc to measure your Social Media ROI. That said if your Social Media Goal is sales don’t forget to focus on the money in the till;) If using Facebook ads make sure you use conversion tracking pixels to calculate the exact ROI of your ad campaigns.

Finally – the Social Media world is constantly changing and what works today may not work in the future. A Social Media strategy will require regular reviews and constant change.  Today’s inovative strategy will become tomorrow’s dinosaur if you do not tweak and iterate.


© Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie