The term "social media" can be all-encompassing. Between paid campaigns, organic content development and community management — not to mention all the platforms — it's challenging to know where to start or where to focus your efforts. It's natural to want to make sure each base is covered, but unless you have several team members dedicated strictly to social, it's important to identify and execute only the most valuable tactics for your account. So, where to begin?
Instead of framing a social strategy around specific tactics such as running a Facebook ad or starting an Instagram account, it's crucial to first understand how each social tactic will provide value to the overarching marketing strategy. As is true for other facets of digital marketing, you must first ask, "What are my business goals? What is the number one thing I would like to see improved on this account?"
These seem like simple questions, and the most common answer tends to be "sales." However, as marketing professionals, we know that many moving parts contribute to profitability, and it's our job to identify what the stragglers are.
Once specific objectives have been defined — whether it be increased brand awareness, website traffic, lead generation, or something else — it's easy to work backwards. By starting in the right place, you'll find it much easier to compose an effective, focused social media strategy that will be valuable to your overall marketing plan.
Every aspect of a social strategy should directly contribute to your overall marketing objective. Additionally, your strategy should be defined by the audience you're speaking to: not only based on demographics and behaviors, but also on their level in the sales funnel.
Are you marketing to cold or warm leads? What specific actions would you like the audience to complete?
Here are a few examples:
Once this is articulated, you will have the backbone of your social strategy developed. Then, and only then, is it time to talk tactics and platforms.
Pick 2–3 social platforms where you will best be able to achieve your goals and execute your strategy. To do this, there must be significant time spent doing research on the strengths, weaknesses, and paid/organic capabilities of each platform of interest. Is your account an e-commerce site or a subscription-based service? Not all platforms accentuate every account.
Those 2 or 3 platforms should closely resonate with your strategy, while any more will begin to waste time and effort. "Go deep" on your selected platforms—dedicate your time to mastering and making the most of them—rather than casting too wide of a net and attempting to make every social platform work for you. It may be appealing to join Pinterest, but there is no need to develop a profile just for the sake of adding to your social presence.
Instead of going wide with platforms, go wide with campaigns. Spend more time on fewer platforms and excel at engaging your audience on each one. Use each platform to it's full paid and organic extent, and discover which campaigns are seeing the most success. This brings me to testing.
Testing is all about asking questions and finding answers. Social is a great place to do that—whether it be for improving social campaigns, reframing your social strategy, or contributing to other marketing efforts.
On the social front, paid social campaigns are a great place to test ad messaging, imagery, placement and audiences. Facebook in particular allows for elaborate split testing between campaigns, ad sets, and ad creative.
Comparing Click Through Rate (CTR), Cost per Click (CPC), and Relevance Scores between just one split-tested social campaign provides the social media marketer an opportunity to better optimize ad spend towards best performers, redevelop improved campaigns moving forward, or perhaps totally restructure your tactics of choice. If you have the time and resources, there really is no reason not to split test your paid ad campaigns in some way.
Testing, in theory, could be the sole objective of your social strategy and be useful to other marketing efforts. Is one ad headline strongly outperforming the others? Perhaps this headline should be used in other forms of advertising or on the website.
Is one demographic providing the majority of engagement on your social profiles? It might be advantageous to create a new persona around this audience.
Paid social be useful in sending targeted traffic to a website or landing page and testing usability. Looking to improve a landing page for a specific demographic or audience? Send targeted traffic to a landing page via Facebook and use heat maps to understand usability patterns.
As a marketer, it's easy to see why social platforms are valuable advertising real-estate. It's understandable to want to "be on social" because everyone else is doing it, or jump into a Facebook ad without first defining the meaning of a successful campaign. Social media marketers must enter this arena with a specific objective in mind—whether it be brand equity, sales, or testing—frame their strategy accordingly, and stick to it.
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