8 Best Practices for Social Media Success.
Social media is not a new channel, but in recent years, it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. There are literally billions of social media users around the world. One study showed that there were more than 3.6 billion social media users in the world in 2020–and that number is expected to increase to almost 4.41 billion by 2025.
If you’re looking to make use of this powerful channel it’s not enough to just throw together a few posts and publish them every once in a while. Because the competition is steeper than ever, if you want to succeed, you need a plan.
Here are 8 best practices for crafting a successful social media strategy.
1. Know Your Audience.
As with almost everything in marketing you need to start with your audience first. Your audience’s engagement with your social channels will “make or break” your social media success, so it pays to get to know them and understand their wants, needs, desires and expectations. Send out a survey or conduct interviews and listening sessions to better understand their demographic and psychographic perspectives.
The questions you ask will largely depend on your business, but minimally ask your audience to answer the following questions:
• What is their job title and career progression?
• What problems are they trying to solve?
• Where do they live?
• What is their income level (or budget if you sell to businesses)?
• What are their values, habits and opinions? How do they identify? Are they health-conscious parents, environmentally aware activists, thrifty savers, foodies, etc.?
• What other products and services do they consider along with yours?
• What are the best channels for reaching them? Where do they live online, and what are their preferred social media channels?
You’ll also want to pay close attention to competitive products and services your audience considers along with yours. After you collect all of this information, you’ll want to segment your audience into personas, fictionalized representations of your target market. Each of your personas should represent different audience types, and each may have different wants, needs and preferences.
It’s worth taking the time to do this analysis up front. Getting the answers to these questions and defining your audience will give you key insights to help you craft your future social media strategy.
2. Identify Your Competition.
Once you’ve identified your audience, take a look at your competitors. Conducting a competitive analysis can give you key insights into where the “sweet spot” is for your brand, differentiation and social media channels.
Take some time the some research:
- Which social media channels do your competitors use?
- What audiences are they targeting?
- What types of posts do they publish?
- What content themes do they use in their posts?
- How often do they publish?
- How much engagement are they getting?
- Where are they succeeding?
- What could you do better than them?
- Where can you to fill the void and eclipse them?
You’ll want to pay special attention to the difference between what your audience wants and what you can do better than competitors. This whitespace represents an unmet need in the market, and that is a prime area to target for your social media strategy. If you can fill this void, your social media efforts will be much more likely to succeed.
3. Define Your Social Media Goals.
Now that you know your audience, your competitors and which social media platforms you’re targeting, it’s time to start planning your strategy.
Start by defining your social media goals. What do you want to get out of your social media efforts? Are there certain results you’re expecting? Focus on results that are important factors for your business. Most goals fall into one of these four categories. There are different metrics to measure each objective:
• Generate awareness
If this is your goal, you’ll want to make sure you’re reaching the right people and that they’re aware of your business. That means measuring follows, likes and shares.
• Create engagement
With engagement as your goal, you’ll not only want people to be aware of your page, but also make sure that people are interacting with your page. In addition to measuring follows, likes, shares, you’ll also want to measure comments.
• Drive conversions
If you want to get more conversions, you’ll need to measure clicks. This could be clicks through to your content, new email subscriptions or business inquiries.
• Provide customer support
Many businesses use social media as additional customer service channels. If this is your goal, you’ll want to capture customer satisfaction levels and your net promotor score (which measures how likely customers are to recommend your product or service to others).
4. Write a Social Media Mission Statement.
Next, you’ll need to find your social media voice. The idea is to capture the purpose of your social media channels in a well-defined mission statement.
Ask yourself why people come to your social media channels. What are they looking for? This is another place where you’ll want to refer to the whitespace you identified between what your audience wants and what resources are currently available in the market.
For example, if your audience craves helpful hints, but your competitors are simply pushing sales, then you’ll want to create content that includes lots of helpful “how to” tips. Or, if your audience is looking for troubleshooting support, consider creating a social media channel specifically dedicated to answering those questions.
Write an overarching mission statement for all of your social channels and craft a separate statement for each social channel (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). Each channel should have a state purpose.
Here’s a helpful guide for crafting your social media mission statement:
[Your business name] [social media channel] is the place where [your target audience] can find [type & styles of content you plan to produce].
Your social media mission statement will guide the tone and content of each of the posts you publish and provide direction for your social media engagement and campaigns.
5. Define Your Content Guidelines.
At this point, you’ll want to plan out the actual messages you want to communicate to your audience. What kind of content will you produce? And how will you get your message across? What tone do you want to communicate through your posts? Your social media mission statement will be especially helpful to help you find the right tone and content mix.
Some content ideas to explore include:
• Posting useful tips and tricks
• Inspiring your audience with images and video
• Asking your audience engaging questions
• Publishing content from your audiences
• Adding funny posts
• Highlighting your business culture
• Showing a “behind the scenes” look of your business
• Showcasing your product features
Whatever you do, you’ll want to make sure your tone and content convey the way you want to present yourself to the world. While it’s great to be fun and engaging, you can have too much of a good thing. A little lightheartedness may be fine but be aware of your tone and don’t use edgy humor, inappropriate slang or other terms that might be off-putting.
This is where it truly pays to know your audience. Write down your guidelines to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
6. Establish a Visual Theme.
Your content should be immediately recognizable as yours. What look and feel do you want to establish? How can the visuals you create reinforce the message of your content? To create consistency between your social media channels and your brand, you’ll want to set out brand guidelines specific to your social media channels.
Here are some examples of social media posts that all unified by the same tone, look and feel.
Here are some examples of social media posts that all unified by the same tone, look and feel.
This is a great example of how a well-defined visual theme and guidelines can create brand consistency. Creating the right look and feel can go a long way in establishing trust with your audience.
7. Create a Social Media Calendar.
Now that you have your mission statement, brand look and content guidelines established, you’ll want to create a social media calendar that outlines what content should be produced and who’s producing it.
Social media is like a cocktail party—you want to be interesting and exciting, but you don’t want to dominate the conversation. The social media equivalent of dominating the conversation is only posting about yourself. Plan your content out in advance to make sure you don’t fall into this trap.
A good place to start is to follow the “rule of thirds”:
• Make one-third of your posts about your business, including your products and services updates and sales promotions.
• Make another third of your posts about news and insights from your industry or related topics.
• Make the final third of your posts about your business culture and human-interest stories.
If you’re feeling a little stumped, review the content guidelines above for some ideas about what to publish. Planning this out in advance will ensure you always keep the right mix and frequency of content.
You’ll also want to make sure that you outline not only what’s being published, but who’s involved in content production. Do you have one person on your team who specializes in graphics? Another person who specializes in writing copy? Another person who approves publishing? Assign tasks to your team to ensure that your content is published regularly and follows the guidelines and visual style that you set out earlier.
8. Monitor and Measure Engagement.
Once you’ve started publishing, keep up the good work and don’t “ghost” your social networks. Monitor your social channels and keep on top of what is happening in and around your channel.
Make sure to always stay engaged and respond quickly to your audience’s comments and questions. This is especially important if you are using social media as a customer service channel. Nobody likes waiting around to get a response—and neglecting audience engagement can lead to dissatisfied customers and poor reviews.
Finally, you’ll want to use A/B testing to determine the right timing, frequency and content of your posts. Ask critical questions of your social media metrics, such as:
• Do morning or evenings posts perform better?
• Is your audience more engaged on weekdays or weekends?
• Do longer or shorter posts get more engagement better?
• What content delivers on your social media objectives? Blog posts, images, videos? (Visual content generally performs best, but the format of the content may vary.)
• Does your audience respond better to professional or cultural posts?
Examine what visitors are engaging with to find ideas for new content and campaigns. Adjust your content as you learn more about your audience and as your business priorities change. Remember to be flexible—you’ll likely get different results for different channels. Continue to adjust and improve your social media as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.
Using these tips, you’ll ensure that you’re always putting your best “social” foot forward. Creating a successful social media strategy and maintaining your accounts is a lot of hard work, but it will be well worth the effort when you start reaping the rewards.
Make social media an important factor in your business success. If you need help with your strategy or content development, we’d be glad to talk.