As social media marketers, we often engage with clients who want to launch a social media presence or campaign quickly. And we get it – when you’re ready to get the word out about your product or services, you really want to hit the ground running. But, if you want to ensure your social media efforts are an effective and strong representation of your brand, it is so important to develop a strategy before you jump in and start posting.
When you set aside time to plan out your social media strategy, you can…
Make Sure You’re In the Right Place
Often, those who are new to social media feel like they should be everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube…you name it. But really, being on too many social media platforms can be detrimental. If you’re on too many platforms without good reason, you could be wasting time trying to maintain a channel that isn’t speaking to the audience you intend. Conversely, if you choose to forego certain platforms without research, you could miss out on promising engagement opportunities.
When selecting your social media platforms, you’ll want to consider who you’re trying to reach, what kind of content they’re interested in, what you can provide that’s of value to them, and how much time you have to stay active. You can find some of this information for a few of the most widely-used social media platforms here.
Then, once you’ve selected your social media platforms, you need to set them up correctly. Start by making sure that your images are crisp and compelling, that your descriptions are optimized for search, comprehension, and tone of voice, and that your branding is aligned across all platforms. First impressions are critical on social media, so think through how to do it right.
Decide On Your Destination
Before launching anything, you should be able to answer “why?” Do you need greater awareness of your products or services? Are you hoping to increase revenue or donations? Are your customers looking for a more personal buying experience? Define your objectives carefully, and identify the metrics you will need to track. Make a plan to report these metrics and analyze your data on a regular basis. This will allow you to make adjustments and improvements along the way.
Develop a Strong Voice
Just like in a conversation, your tone and voice are incredibly important on social media. If you already have a strong sense of the persona you’d like to express, taking the time to write it down in detail will go a long way in making sure you get it right. Putting it in writing also means you’ll be able to share your voice and messaging guidelines with your team, if they should ever need to post on your behalf.
If you’re unsure of the voice you want your brand to convey, look at the brands you admire and write down what you like most. Do you want to be casual and witty? Speak more formally? Come across as a friend, a mom, or an authority figure? There are so many ways you can position your brand, and what you decide will have a big effect on the extent to which an audience will engage with your posts.
Make Room for Creative Ideas
Once you know who you’re talking to, where you need to be, what others are doing in your sector, and how to be efficient with your time, you’re in the best possible place to come up with creative ideas. Take CTC International’s #LoveIsProject. Earlier this year, the organization launched a social media campaign in promotion of a new crowdfunding effort, encouraging people to connect with each other by posting their own stories of love with the hashtag #LoveIsProject. With careful planning, they saw enormously high participation rates, and exceeded their crowdfunding goal of $5,000, raising a total of $32,844.
Or take a look at DoSomething.org, a non-profit that brings young people together to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems by creating and joining social impact campaigns. Through careful strategic planning, they've developed a strong voice that appeals to their target audience: young, motivated individuals who want to make an impact. Their humorous and engaging content has prompted thousands to get involved in their campaigns, which have made an impact a range of issues, from bullying to homelessness to literacy.
Ensure Efficient Management
Every platform requires a different posting frequency, and posts are more effective on various platforms at different times of day. Maintaining social media feeds can be time consuming, and sometimes overwhelming; but, it doesn’t have to be. By planning ahead, you can utilize time-saving social media management tools to schedule posts and monitor relevant activity from others automatically. You can develop content calendars that ensure consistent messaging across platforms. And your management strategies will free up your time to focus on authentic engagement with your audience.
Review Best Practices & Content
Make sure to look at what others in your space are doing well or poorly, as well as how different types of content are received on different platforms. When you go in blind, you miss the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and successes of others.
No matter how well acquainted you are with social media, or how excited you are to launch your social campaign, you will find great value in taking the time to strategize. Developing a focused strategy will make a huge difference in your long-term results.