5 Easy Steps to Create an Effective Social Media Strategy

We all know we need one but how do you start a Social Media Strategy? Here’s 5 easy steps to help you hit the ground running…

1.  Set Goals & Objectives

Be clear about what you want to achieve, why, when and how. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound).  Your goals should be aligned with your overall marketing strategy and working towards your overall business objectives.  Everything should complement the other – your social media is not a stand-alone.

Platform Specific Example:  On LinkedIn I will share 3 updates & 1 post per month that help to establish my expertise.  I diarise planning and uploading into my diary.  I also share links to my posts in at least three of my groups per month.

Example of Overall Goal:  To increase website traffic from Social Media platforms in October by 500 unique visits.  I do this by posting links to my website in at least 3 updates per platform per week.

2.  Social Media Audit

Before you can implement a Social Media strategy you must first evaluate what is currently working for you, which platforms work best, why and when.  Write down each platform you currently have a business account with.  Then, look at levels of engagement, how many posts per week you are currently doing, and are the platforms on-brand?

Once you’ve look at your current Social Media situation you can make an informed decision as to whether or not a particular platform is working.  If you find there’s one platform underperforming, please delete it.  It’s better to have fewer platforms than lots of half completed platforms.  However, you may also decide to start new platforms that better suit your needs and your audiences’ needs.  Just don’t overwhelm yourself.

It’s important to focus your energy and efforts where you’re going to see results.  Make sure the platforms you choose are the ones you feel comfortable using, are suitable for your audience, and have potential to grow.

3.  Watch, Learn, Share

Now you have established your goals & appropriate platforms, it’s time to assess what works best, and how, why and what to post.  Take the time to really examine what other successful businesses are doing with their Social Media.  Watch their posting techniques, times of day, types of content. Learn what works for them and what you could implement in your own strategy.

Of course you can’t copy your competitors or even other industry leaders, but you can learn to replicate successful techniques.  More importantly, you can learn from their mistakes and avoid a steep learning curve.  Take the best principles from your favourite online influencers and adapt to suit your audiences needs.

Once you’ve absorbed all of these lessons it’s time to test the waters with your audience and start building your online relationships.  It’s time to start sharing…

4.  Social Media Calendar

Nothing makes us more productive than deadlines.  That is why having a content calendar is imperative to a successful Social Media campaign.  In your calendar you will map out key dates/moments in the year, how you will build up & promote during the lead in to those dates and commit to regularly posting relevant content to your audience.

I advise using a monthly calendar so you can be flexible.  Try implementing your new techniques but if they’re still not working, or need adjusting, you can be flexible within your calendar.  Whatever you do, make sure you commit to delivering it – steady progress will prevail, ad hoc posting will produce lazy results.

5.  Social Media Analytics

With every good strategy comes reflection!  As you fulfil your strategy, make sure you allow time to reflect, learn, develop and enhance your efforts.  Social Media is a forever changing sphere and if your strategy is static, you’ll be left behind.

Measure results based on numbers, it’ll really help strengthen your future goals and targets.  Look at impressions, engagements, website visits and sales figures.  Which pieces of content delivered the highest results?  How can you replicate or better this success next month?

You don’t have to have highly technical metrics, you just need to be able to pinpoint successes and develop them.  Most platforms have their own insights/analytics tools to help you easily establish what is working but I also recommend checking out Cyfe (http://www.cyfe.com) for an easy to use, multi-platform, analytics dashboard – oh and it’s free!

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This article was written by Social Media Trainer Jo Booth of Social Media Makes Sense. Jo has overseen the social media successes of projects like the BBC hit series Poldark through to running a series of ‘Digitally Savvy’ workshops for the Business Growth Hub. She blogs for diverse brands including Sage, Microsoft, Yahoo, Guardian Small Business and Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.