In 2020, the Chartered Institute of Marketing undertook a study of social media business use and concluded that, in the main, there was insufficient thought or planning going into the posts, the messages were often too diluted and not reaching the right audiences and there was a general misunderstanding of how to measure the success of campaigns run across the various platforms.
As well as giving a deep dive into the four main platforms, we will help you in how to create a strategy that will get you from where you are now (yes even if you’re not using any of the platforms currently) to where you want to be with your business.
Social Media can be a great way to connect with your guests or customers. But how can you use social media to reach your audience, and project your brand image online. In these sessions we’ll STOP, and THINK about your social media – and plan for success, allowing you to take control and make it work for your business.
Where social media fits within your marketing strategy
If you’ve already seen our fact sheet on ‘Demystifying Marketing’ then you’ll know that social media is just one of many tools within your overall marketing strategy. It’s no different to emails, posters, TV or radio adverts – its just another platform that you’ll use to communicate with your stakeholders so that they know you’re there and will want to do business with you. Whether that’s as a business partner, a supplier, an employer or a member of the community.
Before we dive into creating a social media strategy, it’s important to stress that ideally you want to have a balance between traditional and digital marketing (within which social media sits) and so we’d recommend that you undertake a quick audit of your overall marketing strategy by using the checklist included in our ‘Demystifying Marketing page’ that can be found within the marketing section on the website.
The first thing we need to do is assess what you are currently doing, and you can do this by completing the download at the end of this page. Some pointers to consider are: –
What are your goals?
Each channel serves a different purpose: –
- Facebook is for creating communities and building stories
- Instagram is for grabbing attention and promoting brands, products, and events
- LinkedIn is for business networking and career building
- Twitter is for hearing and creating the latest news stories
- Pinterest is for showcasing your goods
- TikTok is for showing your personality
Before we can create your content plan and strategy, we need to understand what your goals are. What do you want the posts to achieve? This will change throughout the year and your business lifecycle. But right now, what would you like for your business? Tick all that apply in the below downloadable table.
Who is your target market?
To create a strategy that will help you to achieve your goals you first need to know which sites your target visits, how they access them, when, how often and the type of content they like to read. We need to know what’s likely to get them, not just reading but also engaging.
If you have read our articles or watched our masterclass videos on finding your ideal customer, you will know the importance of really homing in on the detail.
If you haven’t got to this section yet, we recommend you head across to the Market Research section and work through the checklist in the download section of this page for your target customer. And if one of your objectives is to be seen as a favourable employer, then repeat this exercise but this time with your target employee as the avatar you are looking to create. The same applies if you are looking to partner or collaborate with other businesses, you will need to create appropriate avatars. Not weird at all! You will find it easier when you can visualise your target as a real person.
Your brand image
When you are posting across multiple channels, it’s important that you are instantly recognisable and are consistent otherwise you will confuse your target market.
This means having the same profile picture, the same banner image, your name spelled in the same way, and your offer matching. It means your colour scheme will carry through and your logo will be in the same position on each site. It also means your tone of voice will be the same, as will your type face and the types of images you use.
As well as advice within our social media video masterclass series, we’ve included a fact sheet to help you develop a brand identity for your business. It can found in the marketing section of this website.
Once you have developed brand guidelines for your business, you can either connect with a professional designer or check out the free and easy to use on-line software called Canva Here you can find hundreds of templates and colour schemes that will allow you to develop your consistent and customised branding to use across the social sites you’ve identified that your target audiences are most likely to visit.
Creating a plan
Working out what to post and when can be one of the most challenging things for a business. But if you know your target market and you know your industry then you already have more of a head start than you know.
We’ve created a prompt box below to help you get started. You can also check out AnswerthePublic.com which shows current google search trends so that you can see terms that people are searching for.
Choosing your Platforms
By now you will know which platforms your target market regularly engage with and the type of content they like to see and more importantly that they actively engage with on each platform.
Check out our video masterclasses and pages for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter which will show you how to set yourself up and make best use of the tools available.
Identifying Content type and frequency
You’ll need to consider how much of the content will be original (i.e. developed by you), how much will be curated (i.e. you’ll share someone else’s content and add an opinion or information to it) and how much will be shared from your other sites (e.g. a promotion from your website).
You’ll also need to consider how often your audience will want to hear from you (and you’ll need to be sure you can be regular and consistent with your posting).
Finally, you’ll need to ensure you mix up the methods you use so that people don’t get bored. For example, can you use videos, newsletters, polls, infographics?
Create a policy
This is especially important if you have a team of people who are posting on behalf of your business. They will need to be aware of: –
- Your brand guidelines
- Copyright laws – this relates to words and images
- Confidentiality – only sharing or releasing the information where there is permission, or which is already in the public domain
- All regulations around any promotional posts or any competitions run. Regulation exists in law for lotteries; prize competitions and free draws and each platform may have its own regulations.
- General Data Protection Regulations (2018) which requires you to obtain specific permission if sharing any images or personal information that can identify 3rd parties
- The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct Promotional Marketing
Monitor and Measure
Remember, social media posting isn’t about the number of likes or even re-shares you receive. Your campaign or strategy is only deemed successful if your target audience are taking the action you’ve intended. This is why it’s so important to identify your expectations up front and then measure your achievements as you go along. This will allow you to tweak your strategy if necessary.
Hopefully you will now feel more confident in creating a social media strategy for your business. But if you need any more help or support please contact us.
In this first of three social media masterclass videos, Deborah explains why social media is so important to a business. By the end of this video you will understand how and why you should develop a strategy based on your ideal target audience and which integrates in with your other marketing activities.