By Oier Gil, on 14 October 2019
As a social media manager or social media strategist, you are tasked with designing a successful social media strategy for your brand or company. Developing a great social media plan can make or break your digital marketing plan’s objectives, so it’s important to really spend time on your strategy. In this article we’re going to review advanced social media strategies that will take your social game to the next level.
Social Media Strategy: Planning
A thriving social media community doesn’t just grow overnight. In fact, the most important work you’ll do will start long before you even write your first post. Let’s review the key steps that you should follow to develop a successful community within your social media channels.
Step 1: Set Goals
You’ve heard it before: in order to survive today’s digital marketing landscape, you have to be on social media. But why?
Social media is a versatile and flexible tool that you can use to adapt to the specific needs of your brand. Social media has the power to generate awareness for your business, connect with potential clients and encourage conversions, manage customer service, or convey your brand’s mission and goals. Whatever your objective is for your social media channels, it is essential that you have it clear before your start.
In order to define goals in a way that you can actually accomplish, it is important to make them SMART:
- S) Specific: Having generic goals such as “generate conversions” or “customer loyalty” are better than nothing, but they don’t really get you close to achieving anything. You should define your goals concretely and definitively, for example “increase Facebook leads by 20%.”
- M) Measurable: If you don’t make your goals measurable, you’ll never know if you accomplished them or not. You can use numbers and dates to measure your goals.
- A) Achievable: If you set your goals too high, then your team will overwhelmed. If they’re too low, they’ll be unmotivated. Like Goldie Locks, you want your goal to be “just right.”
- R) Relevant: Your objective must be directly related to the KPI’s and mission statement of your company. For example, having more followers on Twitter does not contribute anything in itself, so it would not be relevant to have this as a goal.
- T) Time Bound: Your goals should always have a deadline to give you something to work towards.
Step 2: Market Study
To carry out your advanced social media strategy, you have to be aware of what your competition is doing. Luckily, social networks make it very easy to see what your competition is up to, what channels they’re using, and how they communicate.
Some key aspects that you should look at:
- Tone: What kind of expressions do they use and how do they reflect the personality of their brand? Does their tone vary between different social networks?
- Content Type: What type of content do they post? Blogs, links (to where?), images, videos, gifs?
- Frequent Topics: What are they talking about?
- Frequency and Publication Schedules: What hours and days seem to be more effective in terms of engagement with their target audience?
- Interaction with the Audience: How do they respond to comments, both negative and positive?
Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself exclusively to your sector. Take a leap and analyse other successful external channels. You will be able to see what is working for them and apply it to your own social networks. Sometimes you can find inspiration in the most unlikely places!
Step 3: Choose the Right Social Network
Remember, quality over quantity! It’s much better to be on one or two networks, with a well-developed presence, than to try to be on everything and then accomplishing nothing.
To choose your social media channel well, there are two important aspects to consider:
- Your sector and the characteristics of your products: If you are a B2B company with a very expensive and very specialised product, perhaps the best option is to use LinkedIn to find professionals with purchasing power. If you are a B2C brand dedicated to tourism, Facebook and Instagram are perfect for you thanks to their more visual elements. If your product requires a lot of information in order to understand it, Twitter will not be the best channel due to its character limitation.
- The human resources within your company: Even though we try, no one can do it all. As a community manager will you also have to design? Will the social media manager also be a full video production team? It’s far better to focus on a few channels, rather than trying to cover them all and then ultimately letting a few slip through the cracks. Remember, a dead presence on social media can negatively affect the image of the brand.
Step 4: Establish a Strategy
Once you’ve set your goals, studied your market, and chosen your social networks, its time to define the basic characteristics for your social media presence. You need to decide on the following:
- Frequency of publication: This depends a lot on the social network that you choose. For example, on Facebook its ideal to publish at least 3 times a week. On Instagram, at least one grid post a day, with as many Stories as is appropriate for your brand (and not too much that you annoy your followers). Try to post at least twice a week on LinkedIn and several times a day on Twitter.
- Tone: The tone you use will depend on your company and sector. You have to decide if you are going to address your audience formally or casually. In general, using “us/we” and “you” generate a more intimate and close feel with your audience. Depending on your audience, GIFs and emojis can also be great additions.
- Content Type: You have to define the topics you want to talk about. Our general advice is to not talk about yourself in more than half of your posts. For example, if you publish on Facebook 3 times a week, one third of the posts could talk about your products, one third about the brand, and another third about content in your business’ sector, gradually positioning your company as leaders in the field.
Step 5: Comments and Crisis Protocol
A solid social media plan requires you to be ready for any situation that comes your way.
A good way to anticipate potential problems is by making a list of all the questions that your customers could ask you. Then, classify them using the traffic light method: red, yellow, and green. This will establish a management protocol for each question. For the red and yellow cases, agree upon a protocol with the teams responsible for the brand or product in question. For example, in health-related sectors, there are experts within your business that you should consult to help you in the most serious cases.
Within Step 5, you also have to think about what to do in the case of a crisis. Once again, the answers depend on your sector. It's important that everyone in your company, even those not involved in your marketing or social media teams, be aware of how the brand will proceed. In no case should silence ever be the method. Many times a public apology, in good time, can prevent the situation from getting worse.
Step 6: Choose Management Tools
Social media management tools can make or break the sanity of a community manager. There are many to choose from, such as Hootsuite, Buffer, and Agora, and all of them have their pros and cons.
When selecting the best tool for you brand, consider the following basic functions:
- Ability to schedule content
- Assign comments to other team members
- Tag comments
- Reply to comments
- Interact with reactions (likes, hearts, etc.)
- Ability to be used on a cell phone
If you’re just starting out, Hootsuite is a good option since they offer a complete free version.
Social Media Strategy: Channel Management
So, you’ve researched, planned, and then planned some more… it’s finally time to start posting your great content! The strategy that you’ve painstakingly prepared is ready to be put into action.
You should consider some of these guidelines so that everything goes smoothly:
- Publish the type of content that you would like to consume as a user. Remember to focus on quality over quantity and never let your networks become abandoned.
- Don’t be a robot. While it’s good to have your predetermined responses and protocol, you should always adapt them to each comment, in order to make it clear that there is a real human on the other side of the screen. You want to connect with people on you social networks, so be sure to show your human side.
- Manage trolls and insulting or disrespectful comments by hiding them. While some insist that the best way to handle trolls is to simply delete their comments and then inform the user that it was deleted for X reason, we believe this only makes them more angry and can start a bad situation. It is a best practice to just hide their comments.
- Monitor automation and data. Never forget that you must constantly evaluate your automation and data, lest something may slip through the cracks.Thankfully this is easy since all the social channels have an analytical section and the management tools offer complementary data. This will help you optimize data such as best times to post and most engaging content.
- Provide a special follow-up of for the most negative comments. It is likely that you will have to manage many users’ comments, so it is always a good idea to have a case tracking file in order to not lose sight of them.
Advanced Level Tips for Social Media
Here are some of our favorite tips to carry out a highly effective social media plan:
- Consistency and professionalism: These two words should your day to day mantra. The key is to publish with consistency and familiarity, while maintaining a professional position.
- Publish quality content: The saying “less is more” applies here. To test whether a publication is just “fluff” or if it really contributes to the objectives of the brand, we recommend this little experiment: Remove the logo and branding of several publications in the same sector, including your own, and try to guess who they belong to. If yours are easy to confuse with the rest, you need to work on the quality of the content to differentiate yourself.
- Use advertising intelligently. If the goal is to increase the reach of your social ad, don't just post your ads without a plan. For example, on Facebook, choose one or two of your best content pieces and start an engagement campaign with an audience who is guaranteed to be interested.
- Don’t procrastinate! Procrastination is enemy number one in term of social media planning. We recommend scheduling your posts at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance, with room in your plan to add updates of the latest news happening in your brand or sector.
- Harness the power of videos in your posts. Videos are more visual, have more retention power, and a greater chance of virality. From short videos to stories, live highly produced to prepared YouTube videos, there is an endless amount of options for brands to incorporate video into their social plans. Remember to brand your video with your logo at the beginning, middle, and end in order to stimulate brand recognition and direct viewers to the source of the video’s creation.