Why do you need a strategy?
A social media strategy allows you to be more efficient in your approach and use social media to its full potential. It lets you to harness the power of social without spending hours upon hours on platforms with little to no return.
Let’s break down the process for creating a successful social strategy.
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1. Find the party.
Rocking social media is a little about what you say, but a LOT about the right person hearing (or seeing) it at the right time. Before we even talk about what to say and when, we have to figure out the right place to be. We like to take a little mermaid approach....I wanna be where the people are. Where are your ideal audience or desired customers spending their time and paying attention. Which platforms are your people on?
Think about each of your social accounts. It’s tempting to look at the number of followers you have and swiftly conclude that the platforms with the most people are your best social accounts. Why is this not the case? Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many followers you have, it's just a number. It matters how engaged your followers are and how effective the platform is at getting them to take action. Whether it be signing up for your email list, attending your event, or making a purchase.
So how do you figure out which platform is the place to be? You can get crazy and use some profile analyzers or apps to crunch some numbers, but here’s a few things to look at to quickly compare your platforms.
- Which platform drives the most traffic to your website? You’ll want to find where it lists “referrals” or “referral traffic” in your website statistics and compare across your social platforms. (If you’re using Google Analytics, it’s under Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals)
- Which platform has the best engagement? Let’s say you posted a similar post at a similar time on each platform about launching your new spring line. Which post performed the best? Which had the most likes? Most shares? Most Comments?
Which platform drives the most sales / subscriptions / etc? Whatever your call to action is, whether it’s sales, people subscribing to your list, people attending an event, you need a way to track how successful each social platform is at getting people to answer this call to action. If it’s sales, you might use a different coupon code posted on each social account so you can track where these people heard about you. If it’s email subscriptions, maybe you have a mandatory “How did you hear about us?" field. However you choose to do it, knowing which platform drove people to take action is not only valuable feedback, its an essential part of knowing how to adapt and improve your social strategy.
2. Define your Focus.
If you are a solopreneur or don't have someone to help you manage your social accounts, then you should focus on no more than 3 platforms.
"But wait!" you're thinking, 'Won't I miss out by not being on most major platforms? It looks like the party is happening on 5 platforms!” The truth is, it's WAY more beneficial to your business to be really present and engaged on a small number of platforms than be barely present across many platforms. We think 3 is the magic number of platforms that allows you to benefit from the different strengths various platforms have, while still being manageable as you try to juggle everything else as a business owner.
Here's the other important reason you should stick to just a few social accounts: Content cloning. You’ve seen this all over the place, you just may not have paid much attention. Content cloning is where you post the exact same thing across all your platforms: same picture, same caption, same hashtags. It’s tempting because you just write one post, use a service like IFTTT to blast it out across all your social accounts then you’re done, right?
Meh. Here’s why this doesn't work: Each social platform has different strengths and weaknesses, so it's super important to adapt your content to target those strengths and avoid the weaknesses. It’s ok to use some of the same content elements, but tailoring your content to the specific platform you are posting on makes it more effective and more personal. Some examples are re-cropping your images to fit the platform (square is perfect for insta, but twitter needs a header-style image), using hashtags appropriately (30 is fine on insta, but all of those can't even fit on twitter, and you should use about a max of 3 on Facebook unless you’re trying to spam bam your audience)
“Spam Bam” - posts that come across as spammy because they don’t follow the unspoken social rules of a certain social media platform. Because of this, viewers or readers often brush the post off as impersonal due to the lack of consideration given on the part of the author.
So, focusing on just a few platforms means you can take the time to carefully craft engaging and personal content for each platform without being stretched way too thin trying to be authentic and personal on each and every platform. If it does seem like your ideal audience or target customers are partying strong on 5 platforms, then you’ve actually lucked out. You now get to pick the 3 top platforms that match the personality of your brand or your strengths as an entrepreneur. Do you prefer to be short and sweet? Pick twitter. Are you best at creating visual content? Go with Instagram or YouTube. #Winning.
Now that we know where we're at, let's chat about how we’re creating content.
3. Define your voice.
How you approach social media in the first place determines whether your strategy will be successful. Social is so different than your website in that it is not your platform, it's a shared one. Social platforms are designed to facilitate conversation & sharing (duh, right). Each platform is designed to mediate this shared conversation differently and comes with some unspoken and "spoken" rules about how to do this.
What does this mean for your business? You need to develop a conversational voice through how you post and share. This casual and conversational approach gives your brand personality and helps people to connect to your brand itself rather than just with your products & services.
Here's a quick tip for how to be conversational: Write your content like you are talking to just one person, not as if you're giving a speech or talking to a million people. This will help you stay conversational and genuine.
4. Make a plan for each platform
It's important to have a plan for each platform that is specific to both the strengths and weaknesses that platform has, but also caters to the type of people that are hanging out there. Maybe your three main social platforms are Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. While the same people in your audience might be on all three platforms, it's highly likely they spend more time on one platform than the others and might even have a "favorite." You can also be sure that they are expecting to be interacted with differently when they visit different platforms. The point is that you'll have to be intentional about different things on each platform. You need create tailored content for each platform that's focused. Here are the questions you need to answer for each platform to help you develop a strong social media strategy:
- What is your growth / outreach plan for this platform?
- What will you post on this platform?
- How often will you post?
- How much of the content will be original (created by you) and how much will be shared (reposted from others)?
- How much time will you spend on creating & curating (finding valuable content from others to share) content for this platform?
- How much time will you spend engaging with your audience, talking to potential customers, and growing your community on this platform?
- Are there any specific tools you plan to use to make it easier to implement this strategy?
You might be tempted to skip this list because some of these questions are kinda hard. DON’T DO THAT. Instead, download this social media strategy workbook to help you work through. Answering these questions will ensure you are on track with a strategy that works and that you're using each social platform to its full potential. To get the workbook, enter your name and email below, or just go HERE to get access to our whole library of FREE resources to grow your brand or biz.
5. Create content that gives.
“Create valuable content” - You might have heard that about a thousand times, but what does it mean? You know that person. You’ve talked to them at networking events or maybe even parties. They can somehow manage to make everything about them, and one-up everything anyone else has done.
(Oh, you haven’t met this person? You’re living a good life…See the video below for a demonstration)
DON'T BE THIS PERSON ON SOCIAL! Don’t post only about yourself, your company, or your products. Sharing other's content not only helps you avoid talking about yourself all the time, it also makes your social platforms a useful place for your audience or customers to be. They can visit your profile knowing that you will be offering something interesting or helpful to them instead of just trying to sell them something. As a rule of thumb, you should post about 30% of your own content and curate or share about 70% of content created by others. If you're not sure where to find quality content to share, you can use tools like Buzzsumo to find relevant and interesting content.
When it comes to creating content for your own page, forget about just sharing your products or services. Instead, be a social giver. This means your content gives something useful to your reader / customer.
Think about the posts you hit like on, or the ones you even leave a comment on. It's usually because the content was useful or interesting to you in some way. Now think about all the posts you see on social talking about a sale, product, or service. You might interact with those type of posts once...or twice if you're really interested, but over time when you see them over and over and over from the same company, what do you do? You scroll on!
That's because there is nothing there to involve you. The post offers nothing that intrigues you, helps you, inspires you, or teaches you.
You don't want to be that brand or biz that people just learn to ignore in their feed because you are never offering them something that they want to hear about. How do you avoid this? You create valuable content. How do you know if it's valuable? It's content that does one of these 4 things:
1. Fulfills a need
The content you create should be helpful. What needs do your customer's have that you can help them with? Do they need advice? Some instructions or a how to? Create some content that gives them something they need.
2. Provides a solution to a problem
What is a common problem your audience or customers face that you could provide a solution to via content? One way to research this is to read reviews on similar businesses in your industry niche and look for the types of things your potential customers are struggling with. Are there any issues or concerns they have that you can help them fix? You can also offer multiple solutions, and pose your product or service as one of them.
3. Delivers Enjoyment
Give people kudos, high 5’s and genuine compliments, or just tell a joke. The content you create and post about doesn't have to be all serious. Take the time to just engage and have fun with your audience and customers.
4. Provides a service (..but not necessarily a paid service)
Here's an example: you're a fashion boutique and you write a blog post for your website called “3 Summer Outfits We’re Loving” The post might feature a couple styles of pieces you have in stock, but also covers a couple trends you're not currently carrying in your store. Your service here is one of a personal stylist. You are a fashion curator, and they can look at the outfits in your post and use it as a guide to follow when buying new pieces or re-purposing old ones.
When creating this valuable content, remember that valuable social sharing isn't just flinging content out there that you want people to hear, it's offering them something that is useful for them.
6. Passion & Personality
DO THIS THING: Pretend your brand is a person for a sec (which, if you’re a solopreneur, we’re really just talking about you here), What are 3 adjectives that describe your brand’s personality?
Cool. Now every post you write should be able to be described using those three things.
Many of the entrepreneurs and brands we work with feel like they constantly have to share a product or offer a service in every post on social. One of the main things they tell us they struggle with is making their products and services into useful content for their readers. But this is backward!
Instead, they should be primarily using social to just talk to people and engage with their customers, no strings attached. It's ok to occasionally share and promote what you're selling, but you should spend MOST of your time on social engaging with your customers and sharing other's content. This builds a relationship - a social history if you will - that can later be more easily translated to a decision to make a purchase than if you start the conversation with, “Hey, look at this cool thing we have for sale that we think you might want to buy...” and that is all they ever see or hear from your brand.
The other thing about using social to truly engage and connect with your customers is that it gives your brand personality. If you are actually talking to people, sharing useful content, or even being funny, it helps people relate better to your brand. Don't hold back, but be fearlessly authentic in who your brand is and what you are passionate about. This is going to attract your ideal customer and it's the best way to build a brand that resonates with your customers. It's also more than that: being authentic and passionate doesn't just attract customers, but it also creates raving fans for your brand as you engage people that are passionate about the same things you're sharing.
7. Be patient & revise
A strong social strategy doesn't happen quickly, because its personal. Social media is the process of building relationships, the only difference is that it is on a platform that allows these relationships to take place virtually. It's an exchange between your brand and your audience that builds over time, and eventually leads to people taking you up on your call to action.
The good news is that the waiting is worth it. If you are willing to invest in the slow build: being authentic, listening to your audience, taking feedback and using it to adapt and strengthen your strategy, you will experience much stronger and sustainable growth. There is power in momentum. That slow build at first will pick up steam and you will see growth. It might take 9 months or it might take 2 years, but don’t scrap your strategy just because you didn't double your engagement in 6 months. Yes, might create something that goes viral, and gives you a crazy amount of growth super fast, but it still takes a lot of planning and prep to make it possible for this to happen.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your social strategy. Social platforms change fast. Remember life before Snapchat? Or when Instagram suddenly went from being just a photo-sharing platform to allowing us to share in little bursts, stories, and real time live streams? Don’t be so focused on your strategy that you don’t leave yourself space to try new things, test out new platforms, explore new features, and see what works and what doesn't.