Nowadays, print advertisements and TV commercials aren’t enough for business success; social media marketing is now one of the leading forms of marketing strategy, and if you don’t have a social media marketing strategy in place yet, it’s time to start. In this article, we discuss the basics of developing a social media marketing strategy and some excellent resources to help you along the way.

Set Your Goals

First, you want to set your goals. Think about what outcome you want to gain from social media marketing. Is it to build brand awareness through a large following? Or to gain more website traffic? You will need to clearly define your goals before proceeding with the rest of your strategy.

One method you can use is the S.MA.R.T goal setting strategy. This acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. By following this strategy, you can clearly layout your goals and gain a better picture of what you want to obtain from your social media marketing strategy.

Choose Your Social Media Channels

Not all social media channels are the same. For your social media marketing strategy, you are going to want to consider the various social channels and choose the ones that fit your business best; you do not need to be present on all the social networks out there. Take into consideration these factors:

Time. How much time do you want to be spending on social media? The more networks you choose to engage with, the more time required to manage those channels. Do your research on the various social media channels to pick the best ones for your business.

Resources. What types of posts can you create? For example, do you have the means to create compelling images and videos, or are you limited to creating text-based posts? Channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the main text-based social media channels, whereas channels like Instagram and Pinterest are image-based, and TikTok and YouTube are video-based. Choose your channels based on the resources you have to create the types of posts they specialize in.

Audience. Pick your social media channels based on your target audience as well. Do some research to see where your audience likes to hang out and get on board with the channels that are most popular to the crowds you’re aiming for.

Create Your Brand Image

Your brand image is going to be how users perceive and identify your company as a brand. You will need to establish both a physical appearance and a reputation image for your brand.

The content you post should represent your brand image physically. Choose a color and font scheme that suits your brand and can be used in content creation. Making a set of brand guidelines is useful to help creators keep your content in code.

Also, you will need to establish a marketing tone. This is your brand voice; how do you sound to your audience? To come up with a marketing tone you can ask yourself these questions, as shared by Buffer:

  • “If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer? (a coach, friend, teacher, dad, etc)
  • Describe in adjectives what your company’s personality is not.
  • Are there any companies that have a similar personality to yours? Why are they similar?
  • How do you want your customers to think about your company?”

By creating a brand image for your social media marketing plan, you will give your users a means to identify your company and connect, building and strengthening your customer relationships.

Research Your Audience and Competition

Knowing who will view your content and whom you’re up against is essential in creating the right social media marketing strategy.

First, you’ll need to define your target audience. To do this, focus on these data points, as explained by Hootsuite:

  • “Age: You don’t need to get too specific here. Focus on learning which decade of life your social media target audience is in or their generation.
  • Location (and time zone): Where in the world does your social media audience live? This helps you understand which geographic areas to target. You’ll also learn what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online. And when you should schedule your social ads and posts to ensure best visibility.
  • Language: What language does your target audience speak? Don’t assume it’s your language. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of their current physical location.
  • Spending power and patterns: How much money does your target audience for social media sites have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category? Do they have specific financial concerns or preferences you need to address?
  • Interests: What does your target audience like to do? What TV shows do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?
  • Challenges: What pain points is your social media audience dealing with?
  • Stage of life: Does your social media target audience include college students? New parents? Parents of teens? Retirees?”

Now that you have defined your target audience, do some research on who your competition. You can learn a lot from them. You can do this by searching keywords about your company in Google or other search engines. For example, if your company is a shoe manufacture in Seattle, search “shoe companies Seattle” or “shoe companies USA” Check out who the big names are but also the smaller, upcoming brands.

Once you know who your competition is, check out what kind of content they are posting and how well it’s being received by their followers. If what they’re posting is working, then you’ll want to follow a similar strategy, while adding your own flair.

Start Posting Content

Now that you have the foundation to start launching your social media marketing strategy, it’s time to start publishing content. You will want to create a social media content calendar that you can follow to help keep your posting consistent and organized. Without consistent posting, your brand will appear sloppy. Users want some predictability as to when they can expect new content to come out. A great tool to use to help post content consistently is Hootsuite, a social media management system that allows you to publish content into an interactive calendar interface and will automatically post your content at the times you schedule, so you don’t have to worry about manually posting every time.

It’s also important that your posts are quality content. Here are some great tools you can use to create compelling graphics and videos:

  • Canva: A design platform that allows you to create compelling graphics for social media and more.
  • Adobe Spark: A mobile design app for creating still and moving graphics.
  • Adobe Photoshop: A top-of-the-line application for creating graphics; it can be tricky to use for beginners, however.
  • Apple iMovie: One of the best free and easy video creation tools out there.
  • Boomerang: Instagram’s video app that allows you to take short stop motion videos and share them directly on Instagram.