If you can’t see the wood for the trees when it comes to your social media channels, perhaps you need to take a step back and create, then implement an effective social media strategy. As with any form of marketing a well devised strategy is central to maximising the outcome of your social media efforts, however it’s important that you don’t plunge headlong into pumping out content on your social channels without clarifying these key factors…

  1. The Who

Remember – Audience, Audience, Audience! Social media speaks directly to your audience, so it’s vital you understand who they are and then speak to them in their language. What is it that makes them tick? What messages/images will get them to respond and engage with your brand? The more you know and understand them, the better!

A great strategy to get under the skin of your audience is to create detailed personas for each of your ideal consumer types. When putting these together try and include particulars like a suitable persona name, an age bracket, their likes/ dislikes, media habits and motivations. The more you flesh this out, the better you will understand your target market.

  1. The What

What are the Joneses doing? Create a list of other similar brands and carry out an audit into their social channels. Learn from them so you can avoid any costly mistakes they may have made but also be sure to utilize the approaches that are working for them. When analyzing your competitor content, look at the tone of voice and how it changes across the different channels. What is the split of direct brand product mentions versus other topics? How much content is created, versus curated? Where is content curated from? And, don’t forget to make a note of the amount of engagement that the different content types receive so you can integrate this learning into your own strategy.

Brand messaging! Consider what your own brand’s key messages are and how to make them resonate with your audience. Use what you have learnt from your competitor analysis but also find a way to set your brand messaging apart from your competitor.

  1. The Where

Identify your channels. Consider what each available social channel is used for and what best suits your brand. Don’t try and spread your brand too thinly across all the possible channels. Select the most suitable channels and remember to consider the resource you have available to you. It takes a considerable amount of time to continuously create engaging, appropriate and timely content, not to mention the time it takes for community management.

  1. The Why

SMART goals. Set simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and time oriented goals for your social media channels. Be clear about where you are heading and how you will know when you have arrived. Are you trying to increase your brand awareness? Do you want to drive more people to your website? Or are you most interested in using social for customer retention?

Whatever your objective, be sure that you can measure your achievement. For example, if you are looking to drive website traffic using social, then establish your benchmark by measuring the traffic driven by social referrals over the past year/month/week using Google Analytics. Set a goal accordingly and measure your development at regular intervals. Remember, if your business has seasonal peaks and troughs then be sure to take these into account.

  1. Don’t Forget the How

Implementation. Now for the fun bit – to create a plan for your content! Consider how your content will achieve your messaging objectives and the channels to post it to. Mix up your media type from video to infographics to help maintain your audience’s interest. Plan how you will reuse your content to maximize the output. Remember the importance of regular posting to keep your feed relevant and timely!

Outreach. Do not underestimate the power of word of mouth on social. It’s great to get your brand messages out there, but people will always trust other people more than they will trust branded messages. So, establish who your key social influencers are and build relationships with them to help promote your brand.

I hope this summary helps you find a path to social media success!