Jumping onto social media is easy, you just need to make a page or register your profile. But, developing a strategy to reach your goals using social media is often hard. And what if the social media you choose isn’t the right social network for your business? That’s what we are here to help you develop your own social media strategy in order to optimize a no-fail social media marketing strategy unique for your business. We’ve learned much about how people use social media marketing to promote their brands. So here’s a step-by-step process for developing the perfect social media strategy for your business.

1. Define your target market and buyer persona

All your social media marketing efforts will be for nothing if you’re not reaching the right people. Who are your customers? Even better, who are your ideal customers? Your ideal customers from your target market are called a buyer persona. The first step might sound silly but trust me, this step is really important.

I’m surprised at entrepreneurs who can’t answer this question. Or, if they can, they are often too vague. Be obsessively specific here. While we all would love to think everyone will want our products, it just isn’t so. Identify your potential customers down to their age, sex, education level, income level, what publications they read, what websites they visit, what their budget is, are they local or nationwide? If you need help to create your buyer persona, you can check our article here to generate the ideal buyer persona for your business.

2. Define your goals and objectives

The first step to creating a winning strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI). Each of your goals should adopt S.M.A.R.T objectives, which are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • RelevantTime-bound

This is the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework. It will guide your actions and ensure they lead to real business results. Here’s an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal:

“We will use Twitter for customer support and lower our average response rate to under 30 minutes by the end of December, this year.”

With the SMART approach, all the activity in social media could be measured. But what metric and how to measure the metric? Well, it depends on your goal, but we will always recommend only measure and track the meaningful metrics.

Vanity metrics like the number of followers and likes are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus on things like engagement, click-through, and conversion rates.

You may want to track different goals for different networks, or even different uses for each network. For example, if you use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website, you would measure click-throughs. If Instagram is for brand awareness, you might track the number of Instagram Story views. And if you advertise on Facebook, cost-per-click (CPC) is a common success metric. Social media goals should align with your overall marketing objectives. This makes it easier to show the value of your work and secure buy-in from your boss.

The top three goals that most of the brands or businesses applied to their strategy are usually to grow their business, increase their sales, and also increasing online visibility. Other common goals are to get more traffic to my website, launch a new product, develop a personal brand, and do fundraising for a non-profit. You achieve all those goals with social media marketing. Trust me!

3. Define where are your customers

What’s the primary social media network your customers use? Once you’ve identified who your ideal customers are like I suggested in step one, you can identify where they are on social media. It’s likely they use more than one social network, but don’t feel like you need to be on all of them. You want to fit your marketing to the optimal social network:

  • Where your customers are
  • What are the social media that have the ability to help you reach your goals?

For example, if you are a local florist and use Instagram to show beautiful photos of your arrangements, that’s great for increasing your visibility. But if your goal is to drive traffic to your website or get people into your shop, Instagram might not work as well as Facebook is a much better choice for driving traffic. Offer Facebook fans a Valentine’s Day special, or even better, offer them an exclusive during your slow season. But that’s not always the case. Another example, if you are in the B2B industry, there are probably more prospects and higher chances to drive traffic from your LinkedIn profile than Instagram or Facebook.

If you are not sure, where your ideal customers are, you can do some testing and try to post on all of your social media. And then check on the insights page of your profile, which is the right social media with good metrics. Most likely, those are the right social media for you.

Now, if you are already using social media, take stock of your efforts so far. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s working, and what’s not?
  • Who is engaging with your content?
  • How does your social media presence compare to the competition?

Once you collect this information, you’ll be ready to start thinking about ways to improve.

4. Know your competition

When it comes to social media strategy, you need to make content that can grab the attention of your audience, unique and different from your competitor. To do this, you need to check on how your competitor is doing on their social media. What is working for them and what is not.

Conduct a competitive analysis

A competitive analysis allows you to understand who the competition is and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected in your industry, which will help you set social media targets of your own. It will also help you spot opportunities.

Maybe one of your competitors is dominant on Facebook, for example, but has put little effort into Twitter or Instagram. You might want to focus on the networks where your audience is underserved, rather than trying to win fans away from a dominant player.

Use social media listening

Social listening is another way to keep an eye on your competitors. Do searches of the competition’s company name, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Find out what they’re sharing and what other people are saying about them.

5. Differentiate your brand

The key to making a connection with potential customers in any form of marketing is the right message at the right time. The right message is one that sets your brand apart, differentiating it from the competition and a perfect fit for your ideal customers. Differentiating your brand is often the hardest step in developing a social media strategy (even for professionals).

You can try to differentiate your brand by looking for inspiration from others as well. While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses that are great on social. You can look for inspiration by checking:

  • Social media success stories: You can usually find these on the business section of the social network’s website. Case studies can offer valuable insights that you can apply to your own social media plan.
  • Award-winning accounts and campaigns: You could also check out the winners of social media awards for examples of brands that are at the top of their social media game.
  • Your favorite brands on social media: Who do you enjoy following on social media? What do they do that compels people to engage and share their content?

6. Define when will you communicate and plan your social media content calendar

How often do you plan to post to your social networks? Will it be multiple times per day, once per day, or a few times a week? Be realistic about your schedule and what you can accomplish.

What I’ve found is that most entrepreneurs get excited about starting their social media marketing, post for a month or two, and either get frustrated over a technical issue or life gets in the way. And then they stop, then it gets even more difficult to restart. It’s cumbersome for them because they’ve lost their proficiency with their social networking, and they end up having to start over again. That is perfectly okay, we all have stuff that gets in the way.

However, I do have a recommendation that makes it much easier to continue your social media marketing even during your busy season or when life throws you a curveball, this solution is called social media editorial calendar. They’re also called a content development schedule, call them what you like. But by identifying what you’ll be posting about each month and eventually each week, you make social media marketing much easier and far more likely to be consistent with it.

As for the right timing to post on your social media, you can try to check on your social media analytics insights for the right time your customer online.

7. Evaluate and adjust your strategy

Your social media strategy is a hugely important document for your business, and you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.

Look at performance metrics

In addition to the analytics within each social network, you can use UTM parameters to track social visitors as they move through your website, so you can see exactly which social posts drive the most traffic to your website.

Re-evaluate, test, and do it all again

Once this data starts coming in, use it to re-evaluate your strategy regularly. You can also use this information to test different posts, campaigns, and strategies against one another. Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your strategy in real-time. Surveys can also be a great way to find out how well your strategy is working. Ask your followers, email list, and website visitors whether you’re meeting their needs and expectations, and what they’d like to see more of. Then make sure to deliver on what they tell you.

Social media moves fast. New networks emerge others go through demographic shifts.

Your business will go through periods of change as well. All of this means that your social media strategy should be a living document that you review and adjust as needed. Refer to it often to stay on track, but don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans. When you update your social strategy, make sure to let everyone on your team know. That way they can all work together to help your business make the most of your accounts.