The best social media strategy is one that can be implemented. Having a complicated plan isn’t useful if you don’t have the means to execute it.
“Hope is not a strategy”
We help Canadian public companies and businesses articulate and execute social media strategies. Our work delivers results.
We’ll walk through the five key areas that define the best social media strategies so you can achieve your marketing objectives.
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We write social media strategy plans that we implement on behalf of clients or they can implement using their own resources.
The best social media strategies start with the target audience.
Audiences consist of “must haves” and “nice to haves”; these are often small groups of related people.
Everyone agrees that pursuing the best social media strategy possible is important. Narrowing down your audience at the beginning of the strategic planning process makes the rest of the process clear.
If your strategy is to offend 24 year old gamers, why write a media plan that seeks to offend everyone? Conversely, if your strategy is to win the hearts and minds of young mothers, why reach out to all mothers?
The question is: how do you narrow the target down? Often it takes a couple of steps.
Social media strategy has five components:
- Business objectives (sell more wine, increase foot traffic on Saturday, be “known” by people who matter)
- Audience definition (gender, age, behavioural tendencies, things they believe in, things they buy, where they live…);
- Timing (duration of campaign, season, special event/holiday, ongoing);
- Creative considerations (branding, tone, history, anything that must be factored into the creative);
- Social media platforms or channels used (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit…)
Our Social Media Planning Process
As part of our social media planning process, we first thoroughly research the competitive environment. This helps us to understand the strengths, opportunities and threats.
These factors may be influenced by internal or external conditions. An example of an internal condition might be that the company tried the same strategy last year and it fell short, so the appetite this year is to try something else.
The research process involves capturing competitive tweets and posts so that we know what the competition and related peers are doing. Knowing what others are doing is the first step to formulating a strategy that will actually work. This step can take up to a month depending on how established you and your peers are.
Extremely useful trend for social media marketers: internet users say social media is just as important as other channels for shopping decision research. Up to 36% from 27% in just 3 years…up 30%! via @emarketer #smm #socialmedia https://t.co/WE1KktUDK2 pic.twitter.com/3CoXUYoZnB
— Sky Alphabet Social Media (@skyalphabet) December 14, 2018
During the research phase we develop a discussion document.
This document covers the fundamentals of the social media strategy. It’s best if we can bring in as many relevant team members as possible into the discussion so that we can get different perspectives of the challenges and opportunities.
The Six Principal Areas Covered Off By Our Strategy Document Are:
1. Business objective – what are your specific goals that you want to accomplish? Is your goal to establish awareness about a particular product, issue, person or situation? Can your goal be measured by revenue or financial performance or some other measure?
2. Audience – who or what is your audience? This can get pretty creative, depending on your product or service. There are circumstances when it is appropriate to start with a very broad audience (everyone) and then measure who responds to the creative. Once the data reveals what targets are the most receptive, alternative creative is developed for other audiences. This approach works if you don’t know who your audience is and are relying on existing creative to find out.
Some categories such as autobody repair might fit a broad targeting approach since anyone over 22 (minus cyclists and transit users) own a car, even though some subsegments are more likely to require autobody repair.
We always attempt to pursue an “audience first” strategy.
Our approach seeks to identify the universe of potential targets through a combination of several categories: An actual group (such as members of the North American Airports Council), Affiliation (political party or grassroots movement), Affinity (cord-cutters); Behavioural (users who left an abandoned shopping cart; a user who has returned to look at a washing machine more than once); Demographic (18-24 males), Community (wine drinkers visiting the Okanagan) and anything else you can think up (neighbourhood, favourite website, Banana Republic shopper).
By combining audience segments, we expand beyond purely demographic characterizations. This enables us to find the right social platforms, influencers and opportunities to hone in on the audiences where your product or service could be a home run.
3. Timing – When is the campaign going to run? When are the start and end dates? Is this a seasonal campaign? Does it run constantly or only during the weekends? Does it run when people are asleep or when most of the audience is online on specific platforms? By defining the timing we save money. Or at least we don’t waste money running ads when our audience isn’t watching.
4. Creative considerations – If we are developing the creative, we write a separate document known as the creative brief. The creative brief ties back to the audience and business goals.
If we are altering or using existing creative, what do we need to know? We’ll want to know about sizes, tints, audio levels, subtitles, broadcast approval (ie Google), copy changes, scene additions, rotoscoping, and any other elements that impact the creative we have been provided.
5. Social media platforms – the best social media strategy includes a discussion about the platforms that will be utilized for the duration of the campaign. We operate social campaigns across 11 social media platforms. This section of the strategy makes specific reference to the intended audiences and the rationale for including them.
6. KPIs and measurement – How will the effectiveness of the campaign be measured? Views, clicks, impressions? Depending on the creative and user intent (we want people to get the message, we want people to enter the contest, we want people to make a choice on what colour the new logo should be), various metrics pulled from the various social platforms are compiled on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. For the purposes of measuring performance, these metrics may need to be presented against established benchmarks.
The best social media strategy is carefully planned, well written and signed off with an understanding of the budget and timing.
Good luck! if you have any questions, please contact us at any time.
Two Flavours of Social Media Strategic Plans
We offer two flavours of social media planning services. The first is a plan that we execute. The plan is required so that all stakeholders know what the goals are. If there are changes mid-stream — external events can trigger changes — the plan is then updated to reflect the new environment.
The second type of social media marketing plan one that clients implement using their own team and resources. There are usually areas where we provide key services such as creative or audience development. Our social media strategy service is useful for medium-sized organizations that have a defined business objective but don’t have the time to write a standalone social media marketing plan.
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About the Author
Steve Yanor writes social media strategies like it’s his day job. Oh wait. It is his day job. Steve has more than a dozen years of experience advising large public companies and investment banks on strategic marketing executions.
Social media strategy will define the approach, creative direction and platforms used. But in the end it all comes down to what your audience wants.
5 star review for our Twitter services:
Brilliant insights. Great value. Helped us understand and capitalize on the voodoo known as Twitter.” (Sean Carter, Carter Hales Design Lab).
The price of our social media strategy services vary by market capitalization and audience size, but for most TSX listed clients, startups and brands under 5 years old the price is $$ out of $$$$$.