How To Plan The Perfect Social Media Strategy
There’s something exciting about going on a road trip. You get to see new and exciting places and have a memorable experience along the way. Of course, an enjoyable experience is preferred to one filled with flat tires, wrong turns, and a lack of gas money. Your social media strategy is no different.
When you think of the perfect social media strategy, you might imagine A-level content, an enthusiastic following, stellar conversion numbers and a viral reputation. That’s a great end game, but without the proper planning, you’re more likely to end up stranded on the side of the road than stumbling backward into your ideal result.
Here are the absolute essentials for making your social media road trip as smooth as possible.
Know Your Vehicle
This is your basic research. Just like you’d choose a car for your trip with the best gas mileage and in the best condition, you’ll need to ask yourself some basic questions before getting started.
- What’s your market like now? Crowded or wide open? Any recent public successes or failures to be aware of?
- What’s your budget? How much can you afford to lose if it takes you a while to perfect your strategy?
- What are the costs of an existing campaign similar in scope? How long did it take to build? What were their challenges and how were they overcome? How big is their staff and can it be done for less?
- What are the limits of the social media platforms? Can they be circumvented and, if not, how will that shape your content?
- Which social media platforms does your target base use most? There are many sites and some skew older or younger. Can you focus on some and skip others? How many accounts do you need and do they all support the same media?
Some of these questions may only lead you to an educated guess, but that’s always more reliable than a shot in the dark. Make some decisions about your limits and then plan within them.
Consider Your Passengers
Who you ride with matters even more than what you’re riding in. Whether they’re great company or bad navigators, they’ll have a direct impact on the entire experience. Your target audience is your passenger and you’ll need to account for their:
- Preferred types of content (Videos, Photos, Blog posts)
- Preferred tone (humor, professional, optimistic)
- Attention span (90 seconds, 16 seconds, 6 seconds)
- Most effective messaging methods. (How must you speak so they’ll hear you?)
You have two things that you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign: to communicate your brand identity and connect with your target audience. It’s important that you know where those goals align and where they’re in conflict so you can adapt as needed.
Know Your Destination
While there is something to be said for just hitting the road and seeing where it takes you, there are no guarantees you’ll end up where you want to be. In order to have the perfect social media strategy, you have to determine what ‘perfect’ means for you. This requires specific and measurable goals.
While ‘going viral’ or ‘building a large following’ have a nice ring to them, they don’t really give you the info to know if you’ve accomplished them or not. They’re too subjective. Think about specific growth, outreach, sales or traffic numbers that work within your budget. Here are some examples, but you’ll want to craft your own:
- Obtain 10,000 followers within 12 months
- Increase sales 10% month over month
- Double website traffic within 3 months
- Get mentioned in one industry periodical by June.
You get the idea. All of these goals will either fail or succeed. They can be measured and adjusted over time in order to fix what isn’t working and increase what is.
Plan your Route
If you’ve only got so much gas money and time to spend on the road, your best bet for making it back home is to create a travel plan within your budget. Content is king for any social media campaign, but producing content often carries a cost. Videos need to be shot and edited, photos need to be taken and edited, blogs need writers. By this point, you ought to have a good idea of what you can spend and how much your ideas will cost. This is where you can decide how many videos, photos and blog posts you can afford to create, and how often you’ll release them. You don’t want to just jump in and then run out of money six months into your year-long strategy.
Additionally, you need to select your content with your goals in mind. How do your offerings get you closer to your targets? Entertaining posts might help you increase followers and traffic, but will probably do little for your sales, whereas advertising a sale might get people to buy, but not necessarily to talk about you.
Some of this will look much different over time as you adapt to the feedback you receive, but without at least a guideline, you’ll waste valuable time trying to choose the next step rather than improving your content.
The variety of locations on your road trip means you’ll need to be able to dress yourself for the weather, occasion or comfort of each locale. As you plot your social media strategy, you’ll need to be extremely familiar with each platform’s features and limitations.
Imagine being so unfamiliar with Twitter that you planned a schedule of blog posts without knowing about the 140 character limit? Or about the existence of hashtags? Spend some time using a test account to learn as much as you can about the tricks and tools of each platform to ensure you’re getting as much as you can out of your efforts. Depending on who is creating your content, you may need to set up a network of creative teams to assist, or if you’re doing it all yourself, you’ll need, at minimum, to take a crash course wherever you lack experience.
Find visual artists, from photographers to filmmakers, whose style is compatible with your brand and whom you can rely on. Hire writers or firms to generate your blog entries. You’ll need a schedule for your content as well so that your teams have time to prep themselves.
Prep your site for the increased traffic and interested buyers with a simplified process. There are a variety of tools and widgets that keep things simple and clear, like a purchase order widget from Shopify, or any one of the online store tools many web hosts include with your site.
At the end of the day, the idea of a ‘perfect’ social media strategy is a myth. Things come up, people respond to unexpected things and ignore others. By planning things out in this fashion, you can set yourself up for a successful strategy. After all, aren’t the surprises along the way the best part, anyway?