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Go Beyond Likes and Follows: How to Create a Social Media Strategy That Sells

Go Beyond Likes and Follows: How to Create a Social Media Strategy That Sells

Social media marketing can help you build engaged audiences where they already spend their time. It can also create multiple sources of traffic that continually bring in customers, and get your business in front of 3.78 billion people online—nearly 48% of the world’s population.

Or, it can be a time-consuming obligation that spreads you thin, resulting in a presence your target customers don’t know or care about—a drain on time and money rather than the asset you’ve seen it become for many established brands.

The difference is having a social media marketing strategy that keeps your actions focused, along with a process that enables you to execute without taking too much attention away from running your business.

But starting from scratch can be a daunting task, especially with so many different channels to build a presence on and the commitment that comes with it.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to walk you through how to approach your own social media strategy, along with tools and tips to help you pull it off.

 

Free: Social Media Strategy Template

From choosing your channels to figuring out what to post, fill in the blanks to think through how you can best use social media to meet your marketing goals.

 

What is a social marketing strategy?

A social marketing strategy gives you a big-picture view of your social media marketing goals and how you can best achieve those outcomes. Brands continue to ride the wave of social media marketing, with 73% of marketers believing their efforts have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business.

Whether it’s TikTok ads or influencer marketing, social media lets brands access cost-effective marketing. Like a Swiss Army knife, social media marketing can serve all kinds of marketing functions from:

  • Driving traffic and sales
  • Tapping into influencer networks
  • Building brand awareness
  • Amassing an engaged audience
  • Connecting with customers and prospects
  • Providing customer support

This is because you have a wide range of channels to incorporate, each with its own strengths and weaknesses to consider.

For the sake of simplicity and making it easy to get started, we’ll split your social media strategy into seven parts:

  1. Goals: The outcomes you want from your efforts and how you’ll measure them.
  2. Target audiences: Researching and defining your easiest customers.
  3. Metrics: Creating a data-driven marketing strategy.
  4. Content mix: Recurring ideas or post types to include in your social media programming.
  5. Channels: The social networks you want to dedicate your time to and what you’ll use them for.
  6. Infrastructure: Setting up the process and tools to execute your strategy efficiently.
  7. Improvements: Adapting and innovating on your progress during the year.

This isn’t a prescription for digital marketing success, only a framework to help you lay the foundation. By the end, you’ll be better equipped to understand how all of these pillars are connected and inform each other, helping you to make smarter decisions and revise your social media strategy over time.

How to create a social media marketing strategy

Over 1.3 million new users joined social media every day in 2020. Each of them spent an average of two hours and 25 minutes on social networks and messaging.

A good strategy will help your brand find the right customers in this growing space. Whether you’re new to social media or revisiting your strategy for 2022, follow these steps to create your strategy.

  • Set goals that are relevant to your business
  • Identify your target audiences
  • Decide your metrics and KPIs
  • Create your content mix

Set goals that are relevant to your business

Everything you post or do should be tied back to one of your goals as a business owner. To start, write your goals down and think about how you’ll measure the success of your efforts.

Social media marketing requires a lot of testing and trying things out. You can’t improve any particular aspect of it without knowing what signals to pay attention to. You can even use these signals to define targets for your social media goals to help you stay motivated and on track.

Beyond branding, you need all the social handles. People need to find you. They need to be able to find you on social and your website and have it all be clear and consistent.

John Cascarano, founder of Beast

Here are just some of the goals you should consider for your social media marketing:

Drive brand awareness. Reach more people to increase the likelihood of your brand getting seen by the right people. You can measure this using impressions/reach, likes, shares, mentions, or any other signal that shows a real person has seen your post(s).

Create demand for your products. Get people interested in your products with relevant inspiration or education, which you can gauge by clicks to your site, products added to a shopping cart, or comments/messages from interested customers.

Acquire leads and customers. These are paying customers, or at least their emails, which you can nurture into sales.

Network to form partnerships. Engage with influencers or like-minded brands for influencer marketing or co-marketing campaigns.

Build a loyal following. Grow an engaged audience that wants to hear from you; don’t inflate your follower count with fake or bought followers. You want to build an authentic community of people who are interested in your products and who will promote your content or products to others. You can measure this by followers you’ve added or lost in a certain time frame, or your engagement rate (total engagement divided by number of followers).

Establish social proof. Source positive testimonials or content generated by customers/influencers that casts your products in a positive light and can potentially be used in other marketing efforts.

Provide customer service. A social media presence opens you up to customer questions, complaints, and inquiries. So one of your goals will be to provide this support to customers or direct it to another preferred, private channel. One way to measure this is through your response time for direct messages. (This is displayed as a badge on your Facebook page, for example.)

Become a thought leader in your target market. Social media gives you a voice that you can use to not only participate in conversations, but shift them in the direction you think they should go in and build credibility around your products or services.

Everything you do should tick one or more of these boxes, and ideas and new tactics you plan to test out should be evaluated on their potential to achieve these goals.

Keep these broad objectives in mind as we get into the next step: figuring out who you’ll be trying to reach.

Identifying your target audiences

Social media marketing starts with understanding your ideal customer. Building rich context on your target audience takes time, but there are steps you can take immediately that will provide lasting value.

Spend some time researching your target audience, looking for demographic and psychographic data or observable patterns that help you form a mental image of who is likely to buy from you. This exercise won’t just inform your initial strategy but also help you develop a voice and tone for your brand that resonates with them.

If your business naturally focuses on a specific niche market (like cat owners, for example), your job will be easier than if you’re trying to appeal to a more general audience (like telecom and airline brands). Check out places your audiences often hang out, such as in subreddits or blogs, to see what they’re interested in.

Facebook, being one of the largest social networks and, thus, a database of 2.89 billion monthly active users, is also a great place to do some audience research. Check out your competitors’ pages, clicking through on the profiles of some of their engaged followers to get a better sense of who they are.

Once you’ve done some digging, you can put it all together to create an ideal customer, or buyer persona, who is likely to buy your product.

You don’t have to fill out every trait, but describe what you can to paint an image of this person as it is relevant to your business.

personas checklist template

The point here isn’t to be 100% accurate, but to outline your best guess at the kind of person who would be the easiest to convert into a customer.

As an example, let’s say I’ve started up my own apparel brand that sells t-shirts catering to potential customers in the Toronto area:

Location: Toronto, Canada

Age: 22 to 34 years old

Gender: Male and female

Interests: Foodie, hip hop, bars, basketball

Career/Industry: Business or tech

Income level: $30,000 to $70,000

Relationship status: Single

Favorite websites to visit: BlogTO, Toronto Life, Instagram, Facebook

Motivation to buy: Show off their pride as native Torontonians

Buying concerns: Prefer to buy from an established competitor or avoid brands that don’t seem authentic or truly familiar with Toronto

Most of these traits can be targeted directly or indirectly through social media ads, but having it written down also helps inform the kind of content I can share to resonate with them.

Keep these buyers' personas detailed. This is all subject to change or evolve as you begin getting feedback when you start to execute your strategy, pursuing the marketing goals we identified earlier.

Maybe one of your assumptions was wrong or your customers share another trait you didn’t expect at all. Either way, social media marketing is one of the best ways to find out who your customers really are, and what you learn can even be incorporated into your larger business roadmap, such as what products you’ll come out with next.

You can go further and develop several audiences or “target segments” to speak to, such as a significant other looking for a gift (not the customer themself), shoppers who already buy from one of your competitors, and people or companies you want to build connections with.

But for now, you’ll be in a better position to consider the next part of your social media strategy: what you’re going to post.

Determine important metrics and KPIs

It’ll feel like there are a million numbers to look at for your social media analytics. There’s a number for almost everything.

Each social media platform has a different analytics tool. What you decide to track on each one will depend on your goals above.

However, there are a few numbers you’ll want to keep an eye on to grow your social media accounts.

Engagement

Social media engagement involves tracking a number of different metrics. It’s used to understand if your audience actively interacts with your content and how effective campaigns are. High engagement rates indicate audience health (i.e., how responsive they are) and that your content is interesting.

You’ll look at different engagement metrics such as:

  • Likes, comments, and retweets. Engagement rates like shares or retweets are different on every platform. But likes and comments are universal across all.
  • Post engagement. This number takes the amount of post engagements divided by impressions for each.
  • Clicks. Closely tied with your click-through, this metric shows the number of times someone clicks on your content.

Awareness

Awareness metrics can tell you about your brand's visibility on a platform. If you have goals for increasing brand awareness, look at:

  • Account mentions. The amount of times someone mentions your brand on social media. These can be positive or negative and give you the chance to respond to people and shape your brand's perception.
  • Impressions. The total number of times a post showed up in a browser’s timeline.
  • Reach. The total number of unique people who see your content.
  • Sentiment. Your brand’s share of voice. It shows how many people are talking about your brand compared to competitors.

Return on investment (ROI)

One of the most important metrics for any social media campaign is your ROI. You can track sales if you’re using an in-app store like Facebook Shops. You see how many people purchased something on your website from a social channel in your Shopify Analytics under Sales by social source.

Create your content mix

Managing a social media marketing channel is a bit like running your own TV network. You can produce a content series with new “weekly episodes.” You can syndicate your own content to other channels. You can have reruns of fan favorites or #ThrowBackThursdays to fill in for empty time slots and commercial breaks to sell your products.

Defining your content mix—recurring formats and post types—makes it easier to think up and produce social content while adding a rhythm to your posting schedule to offer your audience both variety and consistency at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll wind up scrambling for something to publish every day.

Most social media accounts worth following make an implied promise to their audience that they consistently fulfill. For business owners, it often starts with a question:

Beyond your products, how can you consistently provide value to your target audience?

It’s not only about what you post, but how you allocate your resources (time, money, creativity) to maintain your social media presence. Some ideas will warrant a greater investment because they help achieve a number of your goals at once.

Within your content mix, you want to have ideas you can plan for in advance, reproduce, and schedule to go out on a regular basis. For example, you might feature a customer testimonial every Tuesday and share a quote graphic every Wednesday and Friday.

These pieces that are relatively easy to turn around can keep your social media calendar full while you build out more elaborate assets, such as a promotional video or a blog post.

The content mix you develop can incorporate:

  1. News. Information about what’s happening in your industry or posts that are based on what’s trending at the moment.
  2. Inspiration. Motivation to use your products or pursue a certain lifestyle, such as quote graphics or photos from around the world.
  3. Education. Share fun stats and facts or how-to posts from your blog or YouTube channel.
  4. Product/promotional posts. High-quality product shots of your products being used, demo videos, testimonials, or feature explanations can help you achieve your ultimate goal of getting sales. You can often run these as ads after you create them.
  5. Contests and giveaways. A contest or free download in exchange for an email is a great way to promote something of value to both you and your audience other than your products.
  6. Customer/influencer features. Shots or videos featuring your customers or the people they follow.
  7. Community events. Share meetups, fundraisers, or learning opportunities, especially if you’re a local business.
  8. Q&A. Ask your audience a question or make a request to elicit responses, such as ‘“Tag a friend who’s always late,” or answer a common question that you get from customers.
  9. Tips and tricks. Share useful information and tutorials around your products.
  10. Behind the scenes. Share how your product is made or what you’re doing to grow your business to offer some transparency that your audience can relate to. Giving your audience a look into the humans behind your business can go a long a way in creating trust or building your personal brand as a founder.
  11. And more. Get creative and try to come up with a content mix that differentiates you from your competitors.

Aim for about five to seven content archetypes to start off with, balancing your content mix with post formats that you can quickly create with a couple that might take some time to produce, like a product demonstration video, as well as posts that aim for sales and posts that just seek to delight and grow your audience.

Based on my hypothetical business selling t-shirts to Torontonians, I might start with the following content archetypes, tying each one to a different goal:

  1. Share a link to a popular product in my store. (Sales)
  2. Create and publish an original meme about life in Toronto. (Awareness and reach)
  3. Share a post from BlogTO or another Toronto-focused publication. (Engagement)
  4. Share a high-quality photo of a popular hangout spot in Toronto or a local event. (Audience building and engagement)
  5. Ask audience for feedback on potential t-shirt design ideas. (Engagement)
  6. Share a photo featuring a model wearing my shirt and tag them. (Create demand and attract influencers)

Try to vary your programming throughout the week. When new social media followers land on your account, their perception of your brand will be your last three to six posts. If they’re all explicitly selling your products or services, it will turn them off.

Note: Keep in mind that anything you create can potentially be promoted again and again to your audience over time, or on other channels. Don’t shy away from eventual “re-runs,” especially if a certain post has proven to drive traffic, engagement, or sales.

To get you inspired to come up with your own content mix, here are some ideas you can borrow from brands that are doing well on social media.

User-generated content

user generated content for social media

Fashion Nova relies on style education via its blog and YouTube channel to market its clothing, which no doubt takes time to produce.

But on its website and in its marketing communications, it lets shoppers browse looks from its Instagram account. These photos are then shared on Fashion Nova’s own Instagram account or store using one of the available Shoppable Instagram apps.

If your products beg to be shared on social media, you can harness that and source social content that you can use for your own social media posts.

Shots of your product being used

letterfolk social commerce on Instagram

While it’s great to have several content formats to add variety to your social media marketing mix, even one proven content format, published consistently, can do wonders for growing your audience.

Letterfolk’s Instagram is a great example of how developing a theme through what you post can make social media publishing less work in the long run, without sacrificing engagement. Nearly all of its posts feature the same premise: a shot of its bestselling products being used in people’s lives.

It can succeed with this strategy because each post helps it achieve several of its goals at once, namely:

  • Create high-level engagement with relatable quotes.
  • Grow a following through an account with a clear and consistent premise.
  • Drive sales by showing off the product in action.

Think about how you can develop your own content formats to chase several of your goals with a single post.

Video

The introduction of smartphone cameras has made it easy to hit Record. A Biteable survey revealed that 60% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 94% of marketers who use video plan to continue in the coming years.

YouTube is the most popular social channel for videos, with 88% of marketers using it, followed by Facebook, with 76%.

social media marketing stat

Taking videos is easy and convenient. You don’t need an entire production studio to create engaging videos. Video tours, product updates, how-to guides, and general entertainment videos make great content that attracts followers and drives them to your website.

While it’s clear YouTube is the king of video content, there are other video channels to take advantage of:

  • TikTok
  • Instagram Reels
  • Instagram Stories
  • IGTV
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook Stories

Good video content normally falls under two categories: helpful or entertaining. Fashion designer Justine Leconte, for example, runs a YouTube channel focused on ethical fashion, lifestyle, and trends. She teaches women how to create a wardrobe for their body type, work with colors, and more.

Justine’s video content sees millions of views per video, attracting the right audience to her brand.

youtube creator example on social media

The above video from Justine has over 7.8 million views and over 3,600 comments, which shows just how engaging video content is. She also links to her Shopify store, where viewers can shop her product lines, helping prove the ROI of her video marketing efforts.

Want to create social media video content? Read How to Make Your Own Online Videos (in 30 Minutes or Less)

Livestreams

Livestreaming went from zero to hero over the past few years. From 2019 to 2020 alone, the online livestreaming industry has grown by 99%, according to the latest data from StreamElements. Conviva’s latest State of Streaming report reveals that live content also earns 27% more minutes of watch time per viewing compared to on-demand video.

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn all have live video on their platforms. Social media livestreaming is authentic and engaging. And the best part? You don’t need any fancy video equipment to start a broadcast, just your smartphone.

Some fun livestream ideas:

  • Organize a Q&A session where fans can send questions about your brand and have them answered.
  • Create tutorials of tools you use.
  • Share your thoughts on a relevant industry topic.
  • Show behind-the-scenes of you creating products and services.
  • Run a flash sale.
  • Host a giveaway contest or fundraiser.

Try one or two of the ideas above for your brand. Test what resonates with your audience the most, and expand on more ideas over time.

Additional tips and resources

  • Be visual. Even if you’re not a designer or video editor, you can use free tools like Canva (social graphics), Adobe Spark or Lumen5 (videos), Meme Generator, and more to produce shareable content.
  • Always aim. Tie each part of your content mix back to your target audience and one or more of the goals you established in the previous two stages. Knowing what to measure will help you evaluate the success of a particular idea and inform your strategy over time.
  • Curate and create. To avoid becoming overwhelmed creating original content, try to curate and remix content as well. Be sure to tag and credit your original sources.

Choosing your social media channels

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest—there’s no shortage of places for you to build a presence for your brand.

But there are two mistakes that are easy to make when you’re just starting out on social media:

  1. Building your presence on more channels than you can maintain.
  2. Treating every channel the same and not playing to the strengths of each.

We’re always testing new platforms. I would say that Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok have been huge drivers from the social media standpoint.

Each channel you choose is another you have to potentially manage. You need to prioritize what you’ll be focusing on in the beginning and that starts by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each channel.

For the sake of this post, we’ll cover some of the most popular social channels. But this is by no means an exhaustive list. Look at similar brands and competitors to get a sense of where your audience lives and where you could be building your presence.

Instagram

As a marketing channel, Instagram lets you focus on building a following through a variety of visual mediums.

Unlike Facebook, you can get pretty good results without necessarily paying to play, although if you’ve the budget available, there’s the option of pursuing Instagram advertising and influencer marketing. But also, unlike Facebook, almost half of its users are millennials and Gen Z between the ages of 18 and 34.

Instagram lets you post images and videos, which are discoverable through hashtags. But there are also Instagram Stories and Instagram Live, which let you put out photos and videos with a 24-hour lifespan. This gives you the unique option of keeping your Instagram feed consistent and clean, while using Stories to test out ideas and share behind the scenes that have a more casual and personal production quality to them.

People are prepared to spend a premium amount for a fashionable product. You need to focus on what looks visually good, because being able to sell on Instagram has been a really big game changer for us.

You can also add product tags and stickers to your business profile. These tags let users tap on a product in your post and story, get more information, then head to your site to purchase it.

instagram shop example

Want to market your business on Instagram? Read Getting Started on IG: A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Marketing. You’ll learn about setting up your profile, what types of content to post, marketing tips, and more.

TikTok

Genuine content leads the way for brands on TikTok. More than other social networks, viewers prefer engaging, raw videos over highly edited content. It’s this difference that gives TikTok creators a chance to connect with their audience authentically.

If you’re targeting a younger crowd, TikTok is a useful social media channel for your brand. 62% of its audiences are between the ages of 10 and 29 years old.

TikTok is often used for building brand awareness, but it can also be a sales driver thanks to its link-in-bio feature. Shopify merchant SendAFriend was able to scale to $5 million in sales in two years driven by its TikTok marketing strategy.

tiktok profile example

If you want to run TikTok campaigns for your business, read Authenticity Sells: A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing on TikTok.

Facebook

Few social channels are built for businesses quite like Facebook. On top of a Facebook shop, the ability to add customer reviews, and a popular Messaging feature that can be used to provide customer service, Facebook is also one of most widely used social media apps worldwide.

But its biggest downside is that, unless you pay to promote your posts, you won’t be able to reach many people, even if they’ve opted in by liking your page.

That said, Facebook can be an incredibly powerful way to use social media for advertising. It’s a database of information that you can use to deliver targeted ads to your ideal customers. If you amplify content that’s set up to produce engagement (likes, shares, comments), such as a viral video, you can generally lower the cost of your advertising, so keep that in mind.

You can learn more about Facebook Advertising in our guide and by checking out these 7 common mistakes to avoid when planning your campaigns.

YouTube

YouTube is another popular way to reach your audience as an online business. It’s the second most-visited website in the world and has a global viewer base, with 42.9% of web users accessing YouTube each month.

You may think that YouTube is only for big brands getting millions of video viewers. However, the number of small businesses advertising on YouTube doubled over the past two years.

You can produce many different types of videos for YouTube, including:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Product demos
  • Explainers and tutorials
  • Reviews and case studies
  • Vlogs
  • Education videos

Whether you’re a creator or ecommerce brand, you can create video content for YouTube that attracts potential customers. It’s a tactic that the Jeremy Fragrance channel uses to gain visibility for its online store, Fragrance.One.

The channel creates a mix of reviews, tutorials, and curated lists around the topic of fragrances. His videos see millions of views each month. Each video links directly to the Fragrance.One store so people can purchase products directly from YouTube.

youtube channel example

Creating a YouTube account is free. Yet the big investment will come from producing high-quality videos to outpace your competition. Get set up on YouTube today by reading Your Starter Guide to YouTube Marketing: Tips, Strategies, and Tools.

Twitter

Twitter’s greatest strength is that it lets you listen to and engage with other voices in the world. That said, it might not be as strong as a sales channel for many brands, but can be used to showcase your brand’s personality (see the Wendy’s or Moon Pie accounts for examples).

wendy's social media marketing example

What you can use Twitter for instead, if you choose to, is networking with other brands and journalists, and connecting with potential and existing customers on a smaller scale. Many Twitter users also rely on the platform for news, if that’s a part of your content mix.

Pinterest

While Pinterest isn’t exactly a “social media site,” it often finds itself in a company’s social media marketing mix, especially among ecommerce brands. That’s because users actually come to Pinterest with more intent to actually buy something than they do when visiting any other social platform.

Unlike the channels above, Pinterest has a clearly defined user base consisting mostly (71%) of women with disposable income. So it’s not for everyone. But if you’re in the apparel, home decor, or food industry, you’d be missing out on an opportunity to get traffic and sales through both organic and paid tactics.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s greatest strength is its position as the social network for professionals. If your target audience can be identified by a particular profession or there are businesses that need your products or service, then it might be worth building your presence here.

LinkedIn is also a great platform for networking, hiring talent, and pursuing business development opportunities by reaching out to brands or people of interest you would like to partner with.

At the very least, it’s worth having your own personal LinkedIn profile set up for networking and a company page so others can learn more about your business and its employees. 

Free Reading List: Social Media Marketing Tactics

Want to learn more about how social media can help drive sales? Download our free, curated list of high-impact articles.

 

Plan your content

With an understanding of your goals, your target audience, and how you’ll be using different channels, it’s time to create the framework you need to manage and schedule your social media calendar.

There are a wide variety of social media management tools you can use for this purpose, but I recommend using Trello for planning content, and Later, Hootsuite, or Buffer for scheduling, because they all have free plans to get you started.

Collecting ideas and planning content

Ideas often seem to strike at random. So you need a place to collect and develop them as inspiration comes. Trello has worked wonders for me, because I can not only save ideas to a Trello board, but attach links, files, and notes to each idea as it comes to life. It gives you the flexibility to be as meticulous or as barebones as you want with your planning.

The content archetypes you developed earlier are good to fall back on as you plan out what you’ll be posting, but you can also stray from them with new ideas and experiments. There’s always going to be aspects of your social media marketing that are reactive, organic, and experimental.

Regardless, you want to create a process that lets you keep a backlog of ideas and develop them until they’re ready to schedule.

I’ve mocked up a template in Trello that you can copy and adapt to suit your own purposes. 

social media calendar example
Feel free to copy this Trello template and make it your own.

If you’re planning to post quality content to multiple channels, make sure the content and copy are optimized for that channel. You can attach channel-specific variations to each card for easy access when you start to schedule.

Scheduling content: when, where, and how often

With posts in the pipeline of your social media content calendar, it’s time to schedule them out. Once you’ve prepared the copy, images, and whatever else you need for your posts, you can start adding them to a queue using a scheduling tool mentioned above.

But how often should you be posting on each of your chosen channels?

While some answers can be really prescriptive, the real answer is to start slow and then ramp up to a higher frequency as you develop your routine and figure out what works. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin or spam your audience’s feeds. It’s fine if you only have time to post once every few days in the beginning. You can build up to one post a day and then test to see if a higher frequency actually nets you better results on specific platforms.

Ultimately, you want to focus your attention where it will have the most impact and when your audience will be scrolling through their feeds. If you need a good place to start, think about when people check their feeds: in the morning, at lunch, during their commute, before bed. The “best posting times” for your particular audience is something you’ll only discover through trial and error. Popular posting times will also vary depending on seasons and other variables.

What’s more important is that you schedule your posts in batches, at least a week in advance. Do it in one sitting, dedicating a few hours at a time so you can focus on other things while your social media publishing runs in the background.

Automate what you can to make time for the tasks you can’t

The reality of social media marketing is there are activities that you won’t be able to simply schedule and forget if you want it to be effective. In-the-moment posts such as Instagram Stories or real-time tweets will need to happen in the moment, and you can only plan so far in advance for them.

There’s also other social media activities, such as replying to your audience, community management, running ads, and, of course, creating content (although you can outsource any of these functions whenever you’re ready).

Social media marketing, especially early on when you’re doing it yourself, demands that you are deliberate about how you spend your time. Think about how you can be more effective with your time by republishing old posts or allocating some money on paid promotion to get a better return on the time you spent creating content.

Additional tips and resources

  • Create templates. Wherever possible, create design and copy templates based on what works to make it easier to turn around new content on an ongoing basis, especially for recurring content series. For example, you can save your most used Instagram hashtags so you always have them handy when you post, or apply the same filter to your photos to achieve a consistent look.
  • Keep an eye on the calendar. Holidays are a great opportunity to be topical and timely with what you post. Pay special attention to what’s coming up so you can brainstorm social media marketing ideas in advance. Sprout Social has a great calendar that includes hashtag holidays too, if you want something handy to reference.
  • Tailoring your post for each channel. You can share the same post or image to different social channels, but make sure to take the time to optimize copy, images, or videos for the channel you’re posting to—no Instagram posts shared directly to Twitter or tweets that automatically share to Facebook.

Track performance

As a marketer, you expect your social media efforts to grow company revenue. One way you can do that is by tracking what’s working and what’s not. Otherwise it’s hard to know whether you’re delivering on expectations.

Monitoring your metrics lets you make small changes to your strategy, rather than huge overhauls. You can be proactive in the short term and use those learnings to inform future campaigns.

Use a social media analytics tool like Sprout Social to measure performance across channels. You can deep dive into one channel, or quickly compare multiple channels at once. Sprout Social also gives you access to:

  • Engagement and trend reports
  • Social listening reports
  • CRM integrations to build customer profiles
social media analytics dashboard
Source: SproutSocial

With this data, you can learn what KPIs still align with your business goals and see if they need any adjustments. Analytics tools like Sprout Social also make data easy to access and share, so you can distribute to marketing teams and make smarter decisions, faster.

Social media strategy template 

Free: Social Media Strategy Template

From choosing your channels to figuring out what to post, fill in the blanks to think through how you can best use social media to meet your marketing goals.

 

Improving your social media content strategy

It sounds obvious, but it needs to be said: Social media is a lot different as a business owner or marketer than as a casual user.

Your aim now is to get a positive return on the time, money, and effort you spend. That requires deliberate action.

Your social media strategy is your plan of attack. But in a space like social media that literally changes by the day, with newsfeed algorithm updates and audiences always ready for something new, you need to remain flexible and remember to keep your finger on its pulse and constantly improve.

Above all else, remember three things: be authentic, find ways to provide value, and when in doubt, guess, test, measure, and learn.

Illustration by Elena Xausa


Social media marketing strategy FAQ

What is a social media strategy?

A social media strategy refers to a business’ overall game plan for attracting and finding new customers on social media. A clear social strategy should guide your tactics, help you stand out, and track successes and failures. It should revolve around your business’ value proposition, which is what you stand for, how you operate, and why people should buy from your business.

Why is a social media strategy important?

A social media plan will keep your business on track while building a social presence. The major benefits of social media marketing include: better branding, higher customer loyalty, more conversions, improved customer support, and extra traffic to your website.

What are the main social media marketing strategies?

    • User-generated content 
    • Product lifestyle shots 
    • Video marketing 
    • Livestream
    • Influencer marketing

How do you create an effective social media strategy?

    1. Set goals that are relevant to your business. 
    2. Identify your target audience. 
    3. Determine important metrics and KPIs.
    4. Create your content mix.
    5. Choose your social media channels.
    6. Plan your content.
    7. Track performance.