A practical guide to creating a working social media strategy
Getting to work on a client’s social media gives you the chance to flex your creative muscles and can be one of the most exciting parts of being a digital marketing apprentice. However – without a clear plan in place, it can quickly go wrong and could cause more harm than good. If you’re wondering how to get started with creating a strategy that works, read on, as we take you through the most basic elements of a professional social media strategy.
1. Define your goals
What are you hoping to achieve with your social media posts? Engagement, following, email sign ups? Having a goal in mind as you create your content will help you communicate a clear message to your audience. If you’re working on behalf of a client, they might already have some goals they can share with you. Ultimately, social media makes up part of a businesses sales efforts and so should be trying to accomplish a goal either directly or indirectly.
2. Know your audience
Before you start posting, you need to know who you are trying to target. There’s no point in posting Love Island memes if you’re trying to sell life insurance to pensioners. You might have more than one target audience – these are known as your segments. In which case, you need to plan content that will resonate with each of these. This informs not just what you post in terms of content and tone – but where you do it. LinkedIn, for example, is best for reaching professionals. TikTok might be your best for Generation Z. Again, make sure there is a clear definition of who you or your client wants to reach.
3. Do your research
In two ways. Firstly, you need to understand the product or service you are promoting to the best of your ability. You will struggle to post genuine and engaging content if you have no idea what you’re talking about – and struggle even more to respond to any commenters! Secondly, you should take a look at what your biggest competitors are doing. In our experience, this is the best starting point for your own strategy. What do they post, when, and how is it working for them? This should inform what you then decide to post. Is there anything your competitors could be doing better, allowing you to fill in that gap in your own content? You might want to compile your findings to help you with the next step.
4. Create some guidelines
It is best to write down in a document some clear guidelines for the content itself. The client might already have these in place – colour palettes, logos, and so on. You could even go a step further and create some ready-made templates for social media. This might make your actual content creation a lot quicker in future. When you’re doing this, you should keep the previous steps in mind, thinking about target audience and goals. Do this for all types of content – don’t forget the importance of blogs and articles, for example, for directing traffic to websites and creating content that can easily be shared across platforms.
5. Write your plan
This is the most important step, and is about you writing a detailed plan for content.
There are lots of free templates online or you can create your own. You should schedule ahead in blocks where you can, leaving some room for “reactive” content (responding to events that might happen spontaneously). At minimum, you want to define an exact post topic, a basic description, the platforms you want to post to and when. You can go a step further and define more details such as exact captions, links or images to be used. Depending on your client, this might be a two-way process. Planning in this way not only allows you to organise your own workload, but makes it easy to communicate your plans with a client.
6. Take advantage of the data
Plans are dynamic – they should be constantly updated based on the feedback you receive. Data comes in the form of client feedback – comments or direct messages, or if you want to get more technical, unsubscribe rates as an example. This can be positive or negative but can help you understand how people are reacting to your social media presence. Helpfully, most social media platforms also allow you to access actual statistics regarding individual posts or whole profiles – you should take time to review and understand the most important of these to know what content is doing well for you and what you can disregard. Then revise your plan based on this! And the cycle repeats.
You should now know everything you need to get started with a thorough and effective social media strategy. Understanding the main components of digital and social media strategies in this way isn’t only helpful in your job role – it is one of the core competencies you need to be able to demonstrate as part of the Level 3 digital marketing apprenticeship. Following the information laid out here, you should be able to meet that criteria. Found what you’ve read helpful? Why not read more helpful digital marketing tips and tricks over on our blog.