There’s a difference between your brand being active on social media and your brand using social media effectively. Hannah Ratcliffe, our Digital PR Exec, explains some of the basics of social media.
With more than 1 billion users active on Facebook and millions more using Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram daily you might think we’d all be experts in social media. However, getting the most from your social media isn’t easy and doesn’t just happen overnight. Creating a social media marketing plan for your business and clients takes a lot more thought than simply liking posts and uploading the family holiday pics…
Social media success requires planning and to build an effective plan, I try to use a step-by-step process:
1. Decide on targets and what you want to achieve 📈
A good starting point for any project is to come up with some targets and goals. This helps to give shape to the rest of your strategy and influences the types of content and posts you’ll produce.
There are many benefits to using social media as a business which can also be areas that allow you to track change and improvement. Don’t just pick vanity targets like increasing your followers by X amount. Examples of meaningful targets include:
- Reduced marketing costs
- Reach to a wider audience (including international audiences)
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase customer engagement
- Increased sales
- Increased traffic to your website
- Improved ranking on search engines
- Opportunity for customer review/feedback
- Easier communication with customers
You need to know what you want to get out of your social media channels before you start creating anything, this way you know you’re spending your time, effort and budget on the areas that are going to be most effective.
2. Identify audience demographics 🕵️♀️
Before you start writing and posting, it’s important to figure out who your audience actually are. Think about different core demographics like age, gender, religion, income, education and occupation.
Figuring out your audience will help set the tone and content for your social posts. You can also use your demographic information to look at what styles of content will be most effective, from blogs and polls to memes and videos. This can all tie into different audiences in different ways with some being more responsive to one type of content than others.
3. Choose your social media platforms 📲
Social media allows you to engage with a potentially massive audience with ease. However, you need to make sure your audience is active on the platforms you have in mind. Therefore, it’s important to decide which social media platforms will be the best to reach out to your audience.
Once you have established your audience, this will come with ease. Keep in mind that different audiences might use different social media platforms in different ways. For instance, if you’re trying to reach a younger audience, you can use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter to cast a wider reach. However, older audiences might restrict their social media usage to just Facebook.
The right research and insights into who and where your audience is can help you to better tailor any campaign or strategy to reach the people you need it to.
4. Detox 🙅♀️
Before you start executing your big social media plan, it’s always good to have a detox, especially if you’re taking a social account over from someone else.
This involves deleting previous posts that are inappropriate, irrelevant or didn’t create much engagement and unfollowing accounts that won’t benefit your business. Having a greater number of followers to following is always a bonus; it shows that most users are interested in your content and business, not just following you back because you follow them. So unfollowing irrelevant accounts is definitely recommended to bring down your following figure.
This general housekeeping is always a good idea before you start any campaign, especially as it can give you a better-quality baseline to work from.
5. Make sure your details are up to date ✅
Do you have an eye-catching profile picture, header/cover photo, short and snappy bio and up to date company details? You need to make sure your social accounts are looking tip top and are the most effective they can be for users.
Assessing this and making sure everything is correct should be a key part of your preparation work, potentially even as a part of your detox.
6. Agree a schedule 📆
When and how often you’re going to post is just as important as what you’re actually posting. You want to share content with your audience regularly but also don’t want to spam them. Before you start feeling like you can’t win, you need to analyse your products and services. If you’re doing the social schedule for a bakery, for example, you may want to post on your social media more regularly with daily specials and offers. However, if you’re posting for a hotel, you may only want to post around 2-3 times a week highlighting events or availability.
As well as how often to post, you also need to consider the peak times to post on your social accounts; you need to evaluate your audience and figure out when they’re most likely to engage with your content. After all, the main purpose of social media is to share information to a wide but engaged audience. To figure out the peak times for your social media plan, you can:
- Look back on which posts have worked well before and what times they were posted
- Do some research; this article from HubSpot explains the peak times to post
- Experiment! Try out a few posts at different times; if they don’t work, make a note. If they do, carry on posting at similar times.
- Common sense. Posting at 2am won’t create much engagement, you need to post when people will be active.
7. Create content 💥
Now time for the hard bit…what are you going to post? You need to consider the best way to engage with your audience; what content will your audience share, like, comment and tag their friends in?
Trying to think of fresh, new content every week can seem exhausting but there are lots of content options. For example, you can share blog posts off your website, create polls to get your audience interacting, promote offers & events, share product images and positive customer reviews.
8. Record and report 📋
So, your social media marketing plan is coming together nicely, but how do you record your success? Think back to your targets you set out to reach, record progress and whether you have achieved them and how.
Most social media, such as Twitter, allow you to access your analytics for the month so you can see exactly how your posts have performed in terms of impressions, profile visits, mentions, new followers etc. This means you have statistical evidence to record your success in terms of your targets and allows you to set new goals. For example, if your target was to increase engagement by 10% month on month, you can compare the impressions statistics against other months and work out the percentage increase.
This also allows you to constantly assess what’s working and what isn’t. One key part of social media management is the constant refining and adjusting of what you post, when you post and who you’re trying to engage with.
If you’re starting a social media marketing plan from scratch; research, use your common sense and put yourself into your audience’s shoes. This should help you to get started and define a process that will end up with you creating fantastic, shareable content in no time.
Your social media presence needs to be carefully considered. Not only is it important for building your brand and engaging with your audience but it can also be a huge support to your digital PR efforts.