According to Buffer, more than half of businesses don’t have a documented social media strategy.
And according to Benjamin Franklin, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
If there’s anything that deserves some careful strategic preparation, it’s your social media marketing plan.
It’s simple ‒ social media is a gold mine of a marketing opportunity, especially if you’re a local business. Here’s why:
If you’re a local business who wants more clients or sales, social media is something you should be targeting. And if you want to succeed on social media, you need a solid social media marketing strategy example to follow.
To help you with this, I’ve devised a step-by-step strategy for creating a social media marketing strategy that works. If you’d like to start using social media to boost sales in your business, read on.
Creating a social media marketing strategy without knowing what your goals are is like starting a business without a business plan.
Sure, you might get lucky and find some kind of success. But you’ll probably make a lot of costly mistakes along the way ‒ and you almost certainly won’t reach the level of success you would have if you had used a plan in the first place.
So, before you dive into the nitty-gritty of social media marketing, you need to figure out what you want your marketing efforts to achieve.
What’s your goal? What do you want social media to do for your business?
If you don’t know, that’s fine.
According to Buffer, the main reasons that businesses use social media are as follows:
If you’re not completely sure about what your goal is, it probably fits into one of the categories above.
If you’ve ever researched how to set effective goals, you’ve probably come across the SMART goal framework:
If you want your marketing goals to stick, they need to adhere to all five of the previous characteristics.
A specific marketing goal is one that has a clear, well-defined objective. Here are a few good examples:
While using a specific number or percentage will help make your goal more specific, you don’t have to include one. A statement like “I will drive more traffic to my blog” is also specific ‒ it’s just less specific than saying “I will increase blog traffic by 25% in the next 6 months.”
If you’re starting out with your first social media marketing strategy, I suggest playing it safe and sticking to a number-based goal. It’ll give you a concrete figure to work toward, and you’ll know the exact moment you’ve succeeded.
A key aspect in proper goal setting is being able to measure how well you’re doing.
The measurability of your goal is dependent on how specific your goal is.
A goal of “I will get 10 new patients in the next 30 days” is easy ‒ you can measure how many new patients you’ve received so far, and you’ll know exactly how many you still need to reach your target.
On the flip side, a goal of “I will become the most successful chiropractor in my town” is much harder to measure. How do you define success? Is it revenue? Even if you use revenue as a metric, you’re not going to be able to measure how you’re doing in relation to your competitors ‒ good luck getting them to divulge their earnings to you.
While a goal like increasing your new patient count is great, that’s a bit too broad to be useful from a marketing standpoint. Those patients could be coming from anywhere ‒ to know whether your social media marketing is working, you need to hone in on some more specific metrics:
Anyone can set a specific, measurable goal. The hard part comes in figuring out whether that goal is actually attainable or not.
The best way to gauge the attainability of your goal is to compare it to previous performance. If you want a 50% increase in blog traffic in the next month ‒ but it’s only been increasing by 5% per month for over a year ‒ you’ve probably set the bar a bit too high.
If you don’t have past data to compare your goal with, try to find an industry benchmark for what you’re trying to achieve. To save you some time, here’s an article containing social media benchmarks for each major industry.
Temper your expectations with a dose of realism ‒ which brings us to the next part of the SMART framework.
While an attainable goal concerns itself with what’s technically possible, a realistic goal is a goal that fits in with your other priorities.
Time is our most precious resource, and we have to use it wisely.
Increasing blog traffic by 10% next month is certainly attainable ‒ but can you fit that goal in with the rest of your life? Can you balance the time and effort required to achieve that goal with other more important priorities?
If you can’t, then the goal is attainable ‒ but it isn’t realistic.
The last characteristic of a SMART goal is a timely goal. Setting a goal that will take 5 years to come to fruition is great ‒ but it’s hard to stay motivated and keep working toward a goal that won’t be achieved within a reasonable time frame.
I define a timely goal as something that can be completed in 6 months or less. If your goal will take you longer than that, I advise breaking it down into sub-goals and then working toward the first one. You should certainly keep the larger goal in mind, but working toward a smaller goal within the larger one.
If you want to create social media posts that are effective, you need to know who your target audience really is. Knowing your audience will help you choose the right social networks to focus on, make the most engaging content, and produce a higher ROI.
The easiest way to make content tailored toward your audience is to make a detailed persona. This will give you something concrete to turn to when you’re trying to figure out which content might work best.
To make a comprehensive buyer persona, you should ask the following questions about the typical member of your audience:
Of course, most people won’t fit into neat little checklists like this. Your audience will have all kinds of people, many of whom will have characteristics that differ from what your persona says.
That’s okay though. Your goal here isn’t to map out the quirks of every single customer. You just want to create a rough sketch of what your core audience is like. Creating and posting content with this base in mind will generate more engagement and interest than if you created and posted it aimlessly.
You can certainly use your intuition to answer these audience persona questions ‒ if you’ve been in business for any length of time, you probably already know who your core customer is. It’s still a good idea to use data to provide you with insights on your target customers though. Here are a few ways to get
No matter which industry you’re in, you’re going to have competitors that are using social media successfully.
Before you dive headfirst into creating and posting content, you should do a bit of research and see what’s working for the competition. If a company with the same target market as you is finding success posting certain types of content in a certain way, you can cut through the initial “What do I post?” confusion and adopt their strategies for your own benefit.
There are a number of different ways to perform competitor research, many of which involve paid tools. While these are helpful, they are wholly unnecessary for the surface-level research you’ll be doing here.
To figure out what types of content are working for your competitors,
Once you’ve researched the competition, you need to decide which social platforms you’re going to be focusing on.
Here are the most popular social media platforms for businesses, according to Buffer’s State of Social 2019 report. The percentages represent the businesses that answered yes to the question, “Which of the following channels does your business currently use?”
It’s tempting to go all out and try to conquer every single platform.
But unless you have a large marketing team and an even larger marketing budget, I don’t recommend doing this.
Creating content and monitoring metrics for every single social platform is a lot of work. To get the most out of what you put into social media marketing, you should focus on the networks that your audience spends the most time on.
Posting on a network that your target isn’t too active on isn’t a total waste of time, but it will make it harder to convert your efforts into a respectable ROI.
No matter which platforms you decide to go with, you should at least make accounts on the “Big Four” ‒ Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Even if you don’t do much posting on some of these, your accounts on these platforms will likely show up on the first page of Google when someone searches for your business.
Making accounts on these platforms ‒ and posting at least some content on them ‒ will make sure more of the top search results for your business are populated by pages that direct people to your business. These are also the main platforms most people will search for you on, so it helps to have some kind of account set up to capture them.
Content is king on the internet ‒ without high-quality videos, blog posts, or other pieces of engaging content, no one will care about what your business posts on social media.
If you have no clue about what kind of content you should create, the next few sections should help you decide.
If your audience doesn’t connect with the content you produce and share, they’re not going to engage with you.
You could produce the best infographic on the planet ‒ but if your audience doesn’t really like infographics, you’re going to have a hard time connecting with them.
Content creation is probably the hardest part of the whole social media marketing process.
And it makes sense ‒ whatever you make needs to be good. Your content will be vying for attention with all of the other pieces of content on the internet.
Here’s the truth ‒ while all this talk of optimizing content for your audience is useful, it doesn’t matter if you’re unable to produce the content.
Any content is better than no content. Your audience might prefer videos to blog posts ‒ but if you don’t have the time or money to produce high-quality videos right now, writing blog posts is way better than doing nothing at all.
And here’s another positive to making whatever content you can at the moment ‒ you can always convert one type of content into other types of content.
Blog posts can easily be converted into videos. Video scripts can be turned into infographics. Infographics can become engaging podcasts.
You get the idea. Once you’ve fleshed out the content structure, adapting that content to other formats is pretty straightforward.
After you’ve decided which platforms you’re going to target, you should go ahead and make the accounts. Try to get the same exact username or handle on each platform ‒ it makes it much easier for your audience to find you on different platforms.
Once your accounts are created, you’ll need to beef them up with some essential information.
Once you make your audience personas and set up your social pages, it's time for the fun part ‒ making and posting useful content.
If you've never run a social media campaign before, posting your initial content can be intimidating. You might not be sure if your audience will like your content.
My advice? Don't worry about it too much.
If your first few posts aren't perfect, that's totally fine. You’ll get better at this ‒ but if you want to get better, you do need to start.
One optimization method I highly recommend is automating your posts.
Consistent posting is one of the best ways to keep your audience engaged. They’ll come to expect posts from you on certain days and at certain times. By sticking to a regular schedule, your engagement will increase.
Unfortunately, life can get in the way of posting on social media. To combat this, you can use an automatic posting tool to schedule your posts in advance ‒ so you don’t have to be online at the same time every day to ensure your schedule is adhered to.
If you’d like to try automating your posts, I recommend using Buffer. It’s a freemium sharing tool that lets you queue up content to be posted whenever you want. The free version allows for up to 10 posts to be scheduled, so you can try it out risk-free.
19% of businesses don't know if their social media marketing efforts are working or not. I don’t recommend joining the ranks of those clueless entities, as it makes it nearly impossible to know if your marketing budget is returning an ROI or not.
Most social platforms will have some kind of analytics dashboard for you to track your stats on. These are generally pretty good, but they do lack some functionality.
To get the full analytics experience, you might need to go for a paid tool. Here are a few of the better options out there:
Sprout Social is a cross-platform social media analytics tool used by marketers all around the world. Here are some of the best features it has to offer:
You can see how well the posts you share are doing in your platform’s native analytics dashboard ‒ but without a third-party tool, you’ll be in the dark about how your posts are doing when other people share your content.
BuzzSumo is a great tool for this. It’ll show you the exact social metrics ‒ across all major platforms ‒ for any piece of content you want. This also makes it a terrific competitive analysis tool ‒ you can look up your competition’s content and see which is performing best amongst your target market.
Awario is a social media listening platform that gives you instant notifications any time your business is mentioned on the web. This tool is typically used by larger businesses, though local businesses can find it useful as well.
Now that you’ve started posting content, you’re probably attracting a following. Some of those followers are going to comment on your posts ‒ so comment back! Make the most engaged members of your audience feel valued and appreciated.
It’ll certainly increase your chances of turning that audience member into a future customer ‒ and the “lurkers” who don’t post or comment will still see that you took the time to respond. The prompt engagement will make these followers will think better of your business, which could improve conversion rates down the line.
And if you’re struggling with this part, knowing what you should say when you engage with others on social media, use this rule:
If you approach each engagement as a chance to connect, be human, and represent your brand and local business well, you’ll never be at a loss for what to say and how to engage.
Once you start gaining followers and traction on your social media accounts, it’s time to promote those accounts.
If you’ve reached this point in the article, you’re probably all pumped up and excited about the in-depth, ROI-generating social media strategy you’ve developed.
All the strategizing in the world won’t matter if you don’t take action though.
So, go take the first step ‒ or the next step ‒ right now.
Write out your SMART goals. Start that competitive research. Make a piece of content.
Whatever action you need to take to make your social media marketing strategy a reality ‒ go do it.