Social Media Marketing

How to Create an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

Master your social media marketing strategy in 8 easy steps.

Social media marketing – it’s easy to love, but it can also be overwhelming at times. I’ve heard from many clients and peers that creating an effective social media marketing strategy can be considered somewhat of a dark art.

It’s clear that social media marketing, or how to do it well, continues to baffle many organisations and marketers.

Its origin lies within the relative newness of social media as a marketing medium, compared to more traditional platforms, and the ever-changing nature of the social space.

Like many marketers of my vintage, the introduction of social media as a marketing tool was completely foreign to me. Let’s just say Facebook wasn’t even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye when I was cutting my teeth in the industry.

While I was eager to embrace these new platforms, I wasn’t so sure on how to ‘do’ social media or harness its formidable marketing powers.

That was until I realized that while social media isn’t a traditional marketing channel, it’s not all that different from most other communication mediums.

Like any other marketing channel, social media success requires a solid strategy built on tested marketing methodologies. That is, don’t look at how to ‘do’ social media from a tactical perspective, but consider how you will approach it strategically.

Developing an effective social media marketing strategy

The great news is that if you know how to make a social media marketing plan, you can master social media marketing.

And to make it a little easier for you, here are eight easy steps that determine effective social media marketing strategies.

Step 1 – Determine your goals and objectives

Like any good marketing strategy, the first thing you should do is define your goals and objectives. Measurable goals and objectives are critical to proving your social media return on investment (ROI).

Consider the overall purpose of your social media marketing activities. Is it to increase brand awareness, create sales or generate website traffic? Do you want to encourage customer loyalty and retention?

Choose one or two goals that support your brand’s overarching business goals. Then set yourself measurable or SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) objectives mapped to your goals.

social media marketing plan

Are you going to measure leads, sales, clicks, conversion rates or several of these?

Try not to rely on social media engagement or vanity metrics, such as likes and shares alone, as these are not always reliable success indicators for your social media marketing plan.

Step 2 – Create a cross-functional team

While the ultimate responsibility for a social media marketing strategy should sit with the marketing team, social media reaches into all corners of an organisation.

Marketers are great at connecting a brand to an audience, but other issues raised on social media, such as customer service and support, may be better managed by a different department.

Many expert marketers recruit a cross-functional team, comprised of relevant talent and resources across various departments of an organization to help develop and manage the organization’s social media marketing strategy.

Step 3 – Understand your audience

If you haven’t already developed buyer personas for your other marketing activities, now is the time to do so.

A buyer persona is a detailed profile of your ideal customer. It goes beyond traditional target market demographics and provides meaningful insights into customer behavior and how customers engage on social media.

Social Media Examiner explains that buyer personas inform your social media messaging, and enable you to create highly targeted content addressing your audience’s interests and concerns.

For example, you don’t want to target everyone on social media in the 18 to 35 age group if you really want to connect with upwardly mobile young technology enthusiasts. You want to give your buyer persona a name and commentary outlining their interests, motivations, fears and desires as well as demographical information.

Netflix is often credited with totally getting its target audience when it comes to social media. This tweet leveraged the power of other social media masters.

Step 4 – Conduct a social media audit

If your brand has a social media presence already, then it’s time to assess what is and isn’t working. Ask yourself whether you are on the right platforms for your target audience.

Review your social media metrics and any other relevant data such as results of any campaigns and website referral reports. Be sure to also check whether your content is up-to-date and geared towards your brand promise and business goals.

What resources are currently being used to maintain your social media presence, and are they sufficient? And does every social media profile serve a purpose?

Step 5 – Look and listen

As part of the above social media audit, make it a point to review customer engagement and determine what type of posts your target audience engages with the most. What type of posts have elicited negative responses?

You should also look at your competition to see what social media platforms they use and what they are doing well. Choose three or four of your top competitors and study their content in detail. What cultural references do they use? What is their preferred language style?

You may also like to check out high profile brands in other sectors that are killing it on social media, such as Skittles.

Step 6 – Choose your platforms

From the above you should be able to clearly identify your target social media platforms. It’s worth noting that some platforms suit specific types of businesses better than others.

For instance, LinkedIn is a good platform for business-to-business (B2B) marketing, while Pinterest and Instagram are a great fit for creative industries.

You may need to set up new platforms or de-commission ones that no longer support your social media marketing goals, or connect with your target audience.

At this point you should also ask yourself about the kind of content you will be producing. For example, if you want to produce mainly visual content, then Instagram is a good choice.

Include in your strategy how you plan on promoting your accounts and building your following on each platform.

Step 7 – Create a content plan and calendar

As part of your social media marketing strategy, you should develop a content plan outlining the kind of content you will use, when and where you will post, and how often.

Aim to have a mix of different types of media, such as user generated images, link posts, infographics, videos, guides and shared content from other sources. It’s also a great idea to have a variety of posts with different purposes and calls-to-action, whether they are to inform, entertain, engage or persuade.

Dove’s social media content has a common purpose and is heavily focused on getting women to feel truly good about themselves.

Also consider paid content options, such as sponsored posts and advertisements on social media.

As part of your content plan, create a schedule or calendar of when you will post on your preferred networks. It’s even better if you can automate the process by scheduling your posts ahead of time and even putting campaigns on repeat. You should determine the best days and times to post on each network and use a scheduling tool such as MavSocial to publish your posts for you.

Step 8 – Monitor, Engage, and Analyse

A solid social media marketing strategy needs to incorporate how and when social media accounts will be monitored, and who will be engaging with and responding to comments and questions.

Any questions or feedback, whether positive or negative, need to be responded to professionally and in a timely manner. This is also important to ensure nothing inappropriate is posted by others on your accounts.

You will need to regularly monitor and analyse data, so you can track your performance against your original objectives. Ensure you have all the tracking mechanisms and reporting functions in place, such as Google Analytics, website tracking pixels if relevant, and sales figures.

MavSocial has a built-in social media reporting dashboard with graphical data, engagement statistics, detailed follower insights, top posts and peak times, which makes analysis and reporting much easier.

You will also need to refine your content plan and schedule as needed, and like any marketing activity you should regularly test and measure different types of content and scheduling.

With these tips, you should know how to develop a social media strategy for your organization. Sign up for a free 7-day trial of MavSocial Advanced today to stay on top of your social media marketing strategy.

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