For 90% of businesses developing a social media strategy involves creating some nice posts and putting them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and expecting traffic to flow in like locusts. Nothing is further than the truth.
Developing a social media strategy involves some deep study and innovative thinking and a lot of experimentation before you can get it right.
A good social media strategy will benefit your business in many ways:
- better customer satisfaction/retention
- better customer service
- more traffic
- relationship building
If you are developing a social media strategy, you can use some pointers below:-
Step 1: Understand how your customers think.
Do you think your elderly father or grandfather is on Twitter? Of course not! So if you’re in the business of say providing health care solutions for the elderly would you start building Twitter followers? You will never get any serious traffic even if you do everything right.
The foundation of your social media strategy has to delve upon who who your target audience is and why they use social media. To do so, we need to utilize demographics & psychographics data points to segment your prospective consumer.
Demographics tell you the who: Demographics refer to statistics that describe a group of people including:
number of children
Not all of these will be relevant to your business. For example: if you’re targeting the elderly in a certain geography then demographic parameters like age, gender, income and location would be critical factors to consider.
Determining your demographics, will depend on whether or not you already have a site and traffic. If you do not have a site or traffic yet, what you will need to do is to find a similar site and use it for your analysis. If you have a site that does have traffic, you have a few options.
First, you can use Alexa. Enter your site or a competitor’s site into the search bar at the top. More popular your site will be, more accurate data you will get.
Another option is to use the Google Adwords Display Planner. Enter in a keyword that describes your niche.
After clicking the blue button to submit, the next screen will show useful age & gender information at the top:
Try several keywords to get a concrete idea about your target market.
A final way to get demographic information is with Google Analytics (or your analytic tool of choice).
In Google Analytics, navigate to “Audience > Demographics > Overview” using left side menu. If you haven’t enabled this before, you might have to do so and wait 24 hours to get data.
Once data is collected, you will be able to view graphs for both age and gender.
The best part about this data is that it represents your actual audience. It’s the best source of information for you, if available. You can also find similar data about location and language under the “Geo” section in your “Audience” panel.
Psychographics tell you the why: When you are developing a social media strategy, it would be very useful to understand the motivations of consumers. Psychographics tell us how to o create content and products that our target audience actually wants. Understanding your consumer psychology is the first starting point of creating good content that they value.
You can learn more about your audience’s psychology via sources given:
Source #1 – Subreddits: Start by searching your niche in the subreddit search. There is a subreddit for almost every community imaginable, which is why this is a good place to start.
For example: when you search for “nutrition”:
Based on these search results, you can go with /r/nutrition. Try to find a relevant community with at least a few thousand subscribers.
Source #2 – Forums: Another place where you can see your target reader’s interaction is in a forum. Just search Google for “[your niche] forum” . I chose Diabetes and you got a list of results.
Source #3: Comments. If you can find a famous blog that relates very closely to your niche, then this may be an social media strategy option. Read through the comments of several articles and record observations of what the commentators are saying about that product. It will give you insights of what they are thinking..
Step 2: Choose you’re most effective social media channels
More often than not businesses tend to over extend themselves by being on practically every social media channel. That’s a bad social media strategy to adopt. At a max be present on 3 social media channels and focus all your efforts on them. Do not worry about missing out on traffic; there is more than enough traffic on any single major network to build a business. You will get quicker & better results by investing extra time and effort in a few networks rather than spreading yourself thin across multiple channels. Quality always scores over quantity when it comes to developing a social media strategy.
So, which social media channel should one choose?
While selecting the channel for your social media strategy, opt for the ones that have the highest population for of your relevant target audience. Use demographic data for the same
Vine and Tumblr are usually better options for a young demographic, while Facebook and LinkedIn are better for an older demographic. With younger demographics, Facebook is losing popularity, although 70 percent of adults use it actively. Snapchat on the other hand is highly popular among the younger generation.
In most cases, you want to match your audience demographics to the demographics of a social channel:
But age doesn’t paint a full picture. On a network like: LinkedIn, people are engaged in discussion about professional topics, not about hobbies. Use these tips for LinkedIn marketing
Step 3: Build content that has value to your audience.
One of the key factors to consider when developing your social media strategy is content. What you put up on social media has to be relevant to the context of interest that your audience has. If it is irrelevant it will have no value whatsoever.
While building content, it is equally important to build a content bank of future posts that you intend to publish on your social channels. This will ensure that you are continuously posting content regularly.
The format of the content that you put up as part of your social media strategy could be any of the following, depending on the network:
The right kind of content depends on your network.
Michael Hyatt shares 20 pieces of valuable content made by others with every piece of self-promotional content.
90% of Buffer posts are non-promotional and 10 percent are promotional content.
There is no golden rule of what the ratio should be, but always prefer being non-promotional, especially at first.
What content, other than yours, should you share? You can use Google Search Keyword Planner Tool to find out what people are searching for and look up the top 10 results for the top 10 keywords in your category and use that as a basis for posting or sharing content that is not yours.
At the end, you will have a giant list of proven content that you know your audience will love. For this you need to put in little effort, but it is one of the most important steps.
Step 4: Get followers as part of your social media strategy
Sharing content without any followers is pretty useless. Period.
Without people seeing, reading, and re-sharing the content you post, you’ll never build relationships, trust, or see significant traffic.
Starting from scratch is hard but possible. What you absolutely do not want to do is to buy a few thousand fake followers, not only it will make impossible to track your results accurately but it will also lead to fewer followers seeing your posts because of the lack of engagement from those fake followers. For you, at first, the most effective way to get followers is to simply follow as many of your target users as possible. Another option is to use your social channels advertising functionalities drive relevant target audiences to your social media page. Many of them will end up following your page.
As your follower count starts growing, you can slow down on following other people because the exposure from the content you share will start to earn you significant follower growth & heavy traffic.
Step 5: Develop the right frequency of your posts
Now at this stage, you have accumulated some followers who are interacting with the content you are posting – That’s nice. You will notice that you are getting a few clicks every time you share something. Many people make the mistake immediately of increasing the frequency with the thought that “If I shared twice as many posts, I would get twice as much traffic.”
This is correct but upto an extent. You don’t want to share so many that your readers begin to think of you as a spammy business. Too less would keep you off your reader’s radar all the time. What you need to do is arrive at the optimal frequency level of your social posts
1. Facebook: The Facebook algorithm has gone through significant changes in the past few years. Now, readers have more & more content in their feeds that moves faster than ever, which means that you can typically get away with posting more often.
Hubspot analyzed the Facebook sharing data of their customers and found that the ideal frequency depends on the size of the Facebook page’s following.
It turns out that the smaller your page is, the faster you observe diminishing returns. The ideal posting rate for a small page (1-200 followers) appears to be 16-30 posts per month, or about once every day or two.
The graph above shows click rate, so the overall number of clicks will likely be higher even if click rate declines.
The data shows similar results for medium-sized pages, but for large pages with over 10,000 followers, you should post at least 31 times per month, which works out to once or twice per day.
2. Twitter: While feeds move fairly quickly on most of the social networks, Twitter is a different beast altogether. Within hours, your post will be buried beneath thousands of others.
Peter Bray observed that most of the retweets occur within the first hour of a tweet being made.
It is logical to deduce that most clicks & comments also occur within the same period. And because tweets have such a short lifespan, one needs to post more often.
A good social media strategy to adopt would be to start posting between 5 & 20 times per day. I would recommend sticking to the lower end for now as it is more sustainable.
Again, though, you want to test what times work best for you. It’s possible that the times when fewer people are online are best because fewer other tweets will be shared. But Always test
3. LinkedIn: LinkedIn’s own sophisticated guide for marketing revealed that the ideal frequency to post is about 20 times per month, or once per day. But again, test this as it will vary.
Step 6: Automate your social media
Automating your posting process makes life livable and ensures an effective outreach program. Depending on who your target audience is, you will discover when the right time is to post your social media posts. Practically it might not be possible to ensure that you are able to post at that specific time.
Automate Twitter with Buffer: There are other alternatives also like Hootsuite , but Buffer seems to update its feature on a more regular basis & has a few other important features we’ll go over that soon. With Buffer, you start by creating a sharing schedule. Click on “Schedule”once logged in.
Automate Facebook, LinkedIn, G+, Instagram and Pinterest with Buffer: You can automate these networks in exactly the same way as you did for Twitter. You create a separate schedule for each network. When you create a status to share, you can add it to any combination of networks that you would like all at once.
Automate Google+: Unfortunately, on Google+, you can automate only pages with Buffer, not personal profiles. This is because no third-party tool can use the personal Google+ API- it’s a pain.
The best alternative is to use Friends+Me . Once you register and connect your account, you will have to install a Google Chrome plugin. When you click the icon, it will bring up a new tab that looks very similar to the Buffer UI:
Write your post as you would normally, and click “Add to Queue.” Once you’re done adding however many posts you’d like, go to the main dashboard (not the plugin), and click “Schedule” in the side menu:
The rest will look very similar to Buffer. Just add whichever times you’d like, and you are set.
Step 7: Driving more traffic should be part of your social media strategy
Your social media strategy is almost complete. You are sharing tons of great content, building up followers, and maximizing your post exposure. Now, finally it’s time to think about what you’re getting out of it. Typically, you’ll share one of your own posts for every 4-10 posts. Depending on the channel you focus on, this could be every day or even every 10 days.
If you’re focusing on creating truly great data-driven posts, there is a good chance that you won’t have enough of your own content to share – that is if you share it only once when you first publish it.
To maximize your traffic, you should be sharing old posts as well as new posts while maintaining your ratio of promotional to non-promotional shares. This is the most easiest way to double, or even triple, your traffic.
At the same time, don’t share the same post three times in a row; that would be silly. Share it every once in a while. For example: Here is what posting across different networks could look like:
There’s one more key to maximizing your traffic: don’t duplicate descriptions. If you do, you’re far more likely to be marked as a spammer or ignored.
Step 8: Track results after developing a social media strategy
If you don’t track results, remember you’re driving your car with a blindfold on. The chances of going off road are high! Tracking your data allows you to understand what is working and what is not and gives you the flexibility of making changes in your social media strategy
Step 1: Record all your shares in a spreadsheet:
You need to analyze which posts are attracting the most clicks & engagement, which ones are not. Over time, you will learn how to write descriptions that get the most clicks for your posts.
To get stats such as clicks, shares and impressions, head back to Buffer. Click on the “Analytics” tab at the top, and make sure you are on whichever network you want to start with. You will see each post you made as well as its stats:
Record them in your spreadsheet, or click “export” on the analytics page if you have a paid account.
Every once in a while, look at these numbers (graph them). They should be going up slowly but steadily over time.
Step 2: Analyze overall traffic in Google Analytics (GA):
Understanding which posts do well on your main social channels is a good start, but you need to make sure that you’re effectively pushing traffic to your website.
Sometimes, your followers (or friends of your followers) will come to a post on your site and share it. If you are just looking at Buffer, you will miss this traffic.
Start by looking at overall traffic – this is most important. In GA, navigate to “Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals.” This will show you how much traffic you’re getting from individual networks.This alone will tell you if your traffic is increasing over time or if you need to figure out why it isn’t.
In addition, you can often find out where that traffic is coming from by adding a secondary dimension of “referral path.” The referral path refers to the text that comes after the main domain.
When you can, you want to look at the posts that sent the most traffic (that aren’t yours) and build relationships with whomever posted it. You have a good chance of getting significant recurring traffic.
Remember the golden rule of digital marketing. If you can’t measure it or analyze it, it’s not worth doing at all. The end point of developing a social media strategy is to ensure that what you have planned is actually working or not. Data gives you that information.
Up Next: Get the step by step guide to using Google Keyword Tool for best keyword research
Also read our 10 B2B social media strategies that you could adopt