Many companies now integrate social media into their marketing and communication plans, but they often forget to focus on the conception of a social media strategy from the outset. Without a clearly defined strategy, however, your plan for a successful social media presence will not work.
Before you can even begin to make sophisticated plans, you should be aware of whether and to what extent a social media strategy fits your corporate culture and leadership.
Think about whether you really want to communicate honestly and actively with the community, whether you can release resources (manpower, time, knowledge, equipment) and whether you want to take the step towards strategic brand management. Only then can the strategy be implemented as part of an overall marketing concept – step by step.
One thing is very important: The ultimate goal must not be pure sales promotion! Just jumping into the social boat because everyone else is doing it and trying to promote a new sales channel is just as counterproductive. It’s about building real relationships, trust, and customer proximity! Social media is a long-term commitment and not a quick marketing gag. You must also be aware that there is no one key to success. You have to test, try, experiment.
First thing, then talk – this also applies to the creation of a social media strategy. Make a plan and follow it – otherwise, you’ll end up with a loveless profile that vegetates somewhere on the net.
First, you should check the current situation and create a list that you can later compare with the planned strategy:
How are you positioned in terms of social media so far?
If you already have existing profiles, you must decide to what extent they can and should be used from now on. If you want to continue to use the channels, you will certainly have to revise them.
How does the company communicate?
Take a look at the existing communication strategy in your company and consider how social channels would complement it.
What is the competition doing in this area?
Is it very active or rather small? Depending on how strong the competition is, you will have to work more or less intensively on your appearance.
What resources do I have at my disposal?
If you don’t have the time or money to invest in a proper social media marketing, then leave it alone instead of making it unprofessional and uncharitable! Social media is an elaborate marketing instrument that requires a lot of attention. But you also have the possibility to concentrate on only one platform, which saves time and money.
You should find out who your target group is and where they are active on the social web. In this way, you can make sure that your website reaches your target audience and that you don’t go to all that trouble for anything.
With whom do you want to enter into dialogue?
Do you have any idea who you want to address with your social media presence? Then it is much easier to find the right words, images, and media.
Either you are targeting an existing target audience that already belongs to your “standardized” customers, for example, or you are targeting new audiences to expand your customer base.
So you have to find out who is behind these target groups. Age, gender, place of residence, and income are the first rough characteristics that help you to narrow down. The division into sinus milieus is usually a great help to at least understand what moves people and how they can be moved.
How and where is your target audience active?
Now you have to find out where the users you want to address are. For this, you can fall back on empirical values, do research on the Internet, view studies, or use summaries such as these here. The better you know your target audience, the better you will be able to reach them later and produce the corresponding content!
How does your target group use social media?
In order to find out how your target group acts on the social web, you should know the different user behavior patterns. If you know them, you also know how to reach the right people. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff from Forrester Research, for example, divide social media users into seven different types:
These are the pure viewers among the users and thus also the largest group. They read blogs, watch videos, or inform themselves about products through customer reviews, reviews, and forum posts.
Participants maintain a social networking profile and also visit the profiles of others.
The group of critics is more active. They comment on other blogs and forums, also give product reviews, and write their own reviews of individual products and services.
Recorders post a status update or post on Twitter at least once a week on social networks.
There is also a group of creative people. Often they are also influencers who create their own content: Blog posts, websites, videos, podcasts, and much more.
Collectors are often interested in a certain topic and subscribe to newsletters or RSS feeds, vote for websites.
Inactive ones cannot be assigned to any of the groups because, as the name suggests, they are not active and are therefore neither logged in to networks nor read posts by others. So you can safely ignore them.
You should do some research on your competition. This will not only let you know what they are doing but will also give you tips on what will go down well with the target group, provided the competition does a good job.
Who is your competition?
Everybody knows the most important competitors. So pick them out and take a look at their social media activities. Make a list of the three to five most important competitors. On which channels are they active and how heavily are they frequent?
If, for example, the competition already has a hard time reaching the target group on one or the other channel, you have to consider whether the work is worthwhile for you – on the other hand, you can also define this as a gap in order to reach the people there who are not enthusiastic about the competition. Also, pay attention to how many fans/followers the competition has and how active the community is.
What strategy does your competition follow?
Take a look at what content your competitors publish and how often they do it. How does the competition get the best results? Are they rather funny, informative, or emotional contributions? The more intensively you deal with the competition, the more you can learn from it. Maybe you can already learn something here or fill a gap?
How active are the fans of your competitors?
In addition to the content analysis as such, you can also see how active the fans of your competitors are and calculate or have calculated the engagement value. It is calculated from the average number of likes, comments, and shares per day, divided by the number of fans – in my opinion, a much better comparison value than the number of fans.
As already mentioned: If you are purely interested in social media as a sales driver, then the user will notice it and it is almost impossible to gain their trust. But without trust, there are no individual customer relationships. Exactly this should be one of your highest goals: To create strong customer loyalty, a good reputation, and more intensive brand perception. How? Through regular exchange with E By regular exchange with your target group about your company and your products. It is important that dialogue is created – respond to the customers and talk to them!
What goals do you want to support through social media?
In your corporate communication, the most different goals can be defined. So think about to what extent you can and want to support them through social media marketing. A few examples:
How do you set the right goals?
It is best to first define two main objectives that you want to pursue primarily. You can also define two sub-targets that are of secondary importance. Do not concentrate on too many construction sites at the same time, otherwise you will lose sight of the essentials and achieve nothing at all in the end.
Your goals are also not particularly helpful if you do not define certain parameters – for example, when is the goal reached? Do you want to bring traffic to your website? How many users should that be 100 – 1000 – 10 000? By when should the goal be reached?
And please do not exaggerate – unrealistic and unattainable goals only demotivate. Your marketing goals have to determine how you get from point A (an unfulfilled goal) to point B (successfully fulfilled goal).
Only now do we come to the strategy concept in which you will define the social media content. Content and social media have a symbiotic relationship: Without good content, social media is meaningless and without social media, fewer users are informed about your content. Together they are simply stronger.
There are three main components of a successful social media content strategy: the type of content, the time of publication, and the frequency of posts.
What types of content are there?
The most important thing here is on which network you post – of course, that pure text is out of the question with Pinterest or Instagram. So set the type of content for each platform individually and try to be as varied as possible!
A picture on Facebook every day? Boring as hell! There are so many possibilities: Status, image, link, video, etc. Use the full bandwidth!
You should also post different types of content. Offers variety in the form of own and foreign content. Here, for example, you can adhere to the 5:3:2 rule or find out for yourself what your users like best.
Also, the context is crucial: If you’re selling customers on the website and in the magazine, it’s strange if you’re suddenly hip on Instagram.
When is the best time to publish your content?
There are many studies that say that you should spread your content on social media platforms at a certain time because this is the very best time. Maybe, but then you are a) one of many, who follows this and b) maybe your users are night active and fall completely through the grid. Of course, such infographics are just for the beginning quite good guideline, as long as you could not collect enough own data yet. But once you have built up a fan base and are active for a while, there is insight data for the individual channels that you can use.
How often should you publish content?
The posting frequency is as important as the type of content you share. You don’t want to annoy your fans and followers, do you? Finding out what the right level of published content is is often very important: it could mean more commitment or more unlikes and unfollows. Again, there are tools and insight data to help you assess what a balanced frequency is.
Only at the very end should you think about which channels you actually want to be active on, how you want to become active, and who is doing it.
Which channels do you want to use?
Now that you have a good overview of your target group and know what the competition is doing, you can also decide which social media platforms you want to be active on. It is not obligatory to start with all channels at the same time. Better do it step by step!
Start with the channel on which your target group is most strongly represented and likes to communicate. If you are satisfied with the activity there, take the next one.
A tip: Even if you don’t actively play all channels, it can’t be wrong to create profiles to “reserve” your name or brand.
How do you want to implement the strategy?
Create an editorial calendar in which you determine when you want to publish which content. Pay attention to seasonal events, your overall advertising communication, and don’t lose focus on your main topic. Do you run a carpenter’s workshop? Then stay with topics like wood, furniture, or interior design.
Think in advance of a theme world that suits you and brainstorms different ways to implement it in an exciting way. Also, ensure variety by using different species and types. Don’t forget: You almost always have a smartphone with you. Catch the little moments of everyday life, collect ideas with them, or take a look behind the scenes.
How do you plan resources and effort?
Define in advance who is to take care of social media resources internally. This person then serves either as the internal contact person and executive or as the coordinator for service providers. Also defines certain parameters: Defines guidelines on how you deal with the marketing channel internally, how communication takes place, what happens during illness and holidays, etc. Try to automate the process to give as few questions as possible.
After you have already defined your goals and thus also defined key figures, you can also measure the success of your campaigns and your presence. Even if you may not be able to record the greatest successes ad hoc, you can at least learn from your activities. Make regular analyses to keep track of your progress and thus have longer comparison periods. Here, too, there are extensive tools that help you to analyze your activity and are also suitable for monitoring your company on the Social Web.
Now it’s your turn!
The bottom line is that even smaller companies and self-employed people can use social media platforms to achieve their business goals. It’s just important to have a plan in advance. Otherwise, you’ll end up realizing that it either doesn’t work or doesn’t work at all as you imagined it would – and in the worst case you’ve just lost time.
If you stick to this plan, the time you spend on social networking is well spent on achieving your goals, driving your business forward, and achieving measurable results.