Social Media 101: Planning
Spontaneity can produce surprising results sometimes, but you need a plan to get the most out of social media (or else you risk wasting time and energy in your marketing efforts).
You need a goal and a plan to get there.
(The goal itself is your social media strategy—the big picture. The objectives are your social media tactics, the tools and means to reach that goal.)
To get started with social media planning, follow these six steps.
1. Complete a social media audit
If your company already uses social media, start by auditing your brand’s profiles and performance.
Here’s a simple workflow you can follow:
- Make a list of all the social accounts your company owns, including the handles, display names, and channels.
- Are the handles, display names, and branding consistent from channel to channel?
- If not, consider aligning them on all channels to reduce confusion and make your business easier to find.
- Prepare social media reports so you can analyze performance for each social profile.
- Review audience growth, account reach, and engagement rates.
- Are these social media metrics improving over time, or do they spike when you publish certain types of content on social media?
- Look for patterns and identify top-performing content.
- Compare your recent social media results to your brand’s past performance, industry benchmarks, or your competitors.
- Use your insights to do a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis.
- Then use this analysis to guide your social media planning.
2. Set SMART goals
in addition, Every social media plan should start with at least one goal to work toward.
And that goal needs to include objectives that aren’t vague nor unreachable nor open-ended.
To set SMART goals, choose objectives that are …
If your brand is new to the market, your main goal might be something like “make sure more customers know about us.” Convert that general statement to a more precise goal, such as “gain [a certain number] of followers” for your social networks or “generate [a certain number] of brand mentions.”
If you can’t quantify your progress, you’ll never know whether you’ve reached your goal.
Think about how you can measure progress by tracking engagement, counting followers on your social platforms, or using other metrics.
(Just be sure to avoid those pesky vanity metrics, which just make a social media manager feel good but don’t actually generate more business.)
Sure, you can think big—but setting an impossible goal won’t benefit your team or your brand.
Instead of aiming to gain 10 million new followers for a small account, choose a realistic number you can achieve if you execute well.
It isn’t easy to feel inspired to reach an ambitious goal if the objective doesn’t really matter in the long run.
Rather than working toward a long list of minor objectives, put your energy and resources into the goals that matter most to your brand’s success.
Every goal needs a deadline …
or else you could work on it forever.
Give your social media goals target dates, so you can apply resources and measure progress effectively.
FREE Ebook:SMART Goals for Social Media Strategy
3. Establish and monitor KPIs
Once you’ve set SMART social media goals, establishing and tracking the key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to reach is much easier.
For example, if you’ve set a goal to gain 5,000 new followers during the next quarter, make sure you’re steadily growing your audience each month.
Check your follower count by logging in to your brand’s social media profiles directly, or by using social media tools to monitor account growth for every platform at once.
4. Perform audience research
Getting to know your brand’s audience is essential to market effectively.
After all, you want your social media posts to help you be engaging with your audience.
To understand your potential customers better, use these tactics:
- Survey your existing customers.
- To find out what your customers like about your brand or what problems your products solve, ask them directly, whether by email, a poll, a phone call, video conference, or even a face-to-face meeting.
- Review your current followers.
- Check the audience statistics in your brand’s social media profiles to learn about followers’ age, gender, location, and interests.
- Look at your different social media accounts and study how your audience interacts with your brand.
- Create buyer personas.
- Compile your audience research into one or more buyer personas that outlines your brand’s ideal customer.
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