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Where to start with social media strategies

planning your social media strategyCreating your social media strategy is a key component of your overall Digital Marketing strategy, and as the beast that is social media continues to grow in size and power, it’s never been more important to have a structurally sound strategy.

Fortunately, the procedure for building a great social media strategy is very similar to that of building a digital marketing strategy. Don’t know how to do that either? Check out an earlier article that Foundry Digital’s team of Digital Marketing experts put together.


The most important part of building your social media strategy is the planning. If you’re thorough at this early stage it’ll make the activation of your strategy more consistent and most likely, more successful too. To stand you in the best stead possible, we’ve put together a handy guide to creating a solid social media strategy.

Identify your goals

This step ties in nicely with the next, and the two are pretty interchangeable so feel free to use step two to help you with step one. As with most things in life, having a plan or a strategy is generally a good idea if you want to succeed at whatever you’re doing. So great, you know that you need a social media strategy, but what are the outcomes that you want to achieve with it? By identifying a clear set of goals, it’ll help you understand how you should be getting there and which tools will be the most appropriate.

Goals can come in many different forms, you may set out to gain 20 new followers by the end of a campaign or you may want to have received 30 more views on your videos by the end of the month. It’s completely up to you what you want to achieve but the key thing to ensure is that your goals are realistic. Remember to think SMART, as you come up with your goals ask yourself if they’re:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Creating goals is a really important step and can help to keep you motivated, they’re also great yardsticks to measure the success of your strategic efforts again. After all, what’s the point of having a strategy if you haven’t got something you can identify as your achievement at the end of it?!

identify your audience

Identify your audience

If you’re happy with the goals that you’ve set up then you can use them to help you get a clear understanding of who your social media strategy is going to be targeting. Identifying your audience ultimately helps you to figure out the substance to your social media strategy; it’ll help you realise what type of content will be most appropriate, which channels to use, and what tone of voice to strike. Having an understanding of who your audience are can also guide you in making sure that your goals are relevant and realistic too.

More than just identifying your target audience, you need to learn as much about them as possible so you can make your strategy as specific as you can. Think of this step like a funnel, start broad and get more specific as you go:

  • What are you offering with your social media content
  • Who needs this
  • What age group are they/Where are they
  • What channels do they use
  • What kind of content do they prefer
  • What tone of voice is most appropriate

By being as specific as you can at this stage will increase the chance of your social media strategy being successful. Think about it, an audience of England football fans is unlikely to engage in content that’s about the South African rugby team, and an audience of fashion bloggers is going to swipe further down their Instagram feed if your post is an image full of text about how we should all try to be less materialistic.


social media metrics

Identify metrics to measure

When it comes to measuring your success, it’s easy to get caught up in chasing likes and new followers. We’re all guilty of it because unfortunately that’s the lure of the sweet honey trap that is Social Media and we’ve all experienced that buzz of watching the likes roll in. But if you’re serious about making the most of your strategy and being able to learn how to improve it, you should be focusing on the other metrics that can in reality be far more insightful.

Engagement metrics are where it’s at in this case, and many social media platforms base their algorithms on these metrics. If your post is getting more engagement it’s more likely to be populating a larger number of feeds because that algorithm will deem the content as important and relevant. Some metrics that fall under the “engagement” category are:

  • Reach – this is sort of like “impressions” in search marketing, but for social media means the number of new users that have viewed your post
  • Clicks – slightly self explanatory but this shouldn’t detract from its importance as a metric because it can tell you a lot about your sales funnel and what encourages users to click
  • Engagement rate – this is the total number of social interactions divided by number of impressions and is a really good identifier of how popular your post was

As with measuring any kind of performance, remember not to become too obsessive when checking up on how your posts are doing. It’s easy to go back every 2 minutes to see if you’ve got any more clicks but that’s not the best use of your time, instead set aside some time to check up on performance in a productive way so that you learn something from it instead of just sulking because only 4 people have viewed your post in the past 20 minutes…


Conduct a social media audit

If you already use social media for your business, it’s a good idea to analyse your own performance as well as your competitors (we’ll get to that in a bit). You’ll be able to pick out which types of post have been more successful than others, and perhaps why this is the case. This is a good place start because you’ll already have an audience to analyse, and from which to gain insight as to which strategies work better.

Think about things like:

  • What are your audience using each channel for
  • Which types of content seem to be engaged with more
  • What post timings seem to reach wider audiences
  • Which hashtags provoke the biggest reaction

This step is a bit like identifying your target audience but on a micro scale. If you can figure out what your audience is looking for from your current social media presence, you’ll be able to refine your approach and boost future social media strategy performance.

check out the competition

Check out the competition

We said we’d get to this and now we have…

Remember being told by your teacher that looking at someone else’s answers on a test was cheating? Well with social media strategies this most definitely isn’t the case, and in fact we wholeheartedly endorse and encourage doing some serious researching of your competitors’ “answers”. We’re not saying we should outright copy and steal their content for your own, but you can learn a lot from your competition’s successes and failures by looking at their content and strategy, plus you can’t really get caught doing it so there’s no need to worry about getting detention.

Think about things like:

  • Which types of content work better on which channels
  • Which hashtags get posts more noticed
  • What time are they posting to reach their audience

When carrying out a competitor analysis, it’s really important to keep your own goals and target audience in mind. Identifying their most successful strategy is good, but if it isn’t relevant to what your trying to achieve and who you’re targeting then it probably won’t work in the same way for you.

Decide which type of content suits each channel

We very briefly touched on this earlier when discussing how to understand your target audience, but it’s something that requires more of an explanation. Since the birth of social media, there has been an explosion in the number of platforms, channels, networks – whatever you want to call them. Each type of platform has its own personality and functions differently from others so it’s natural that they each function with different types of content. To figure this out think about:

  • Goals – it’s important to set mini goals for each channel so that you can identify whether that channel is appropriate for your business
  • Content – is the platform visual or text focused and does the platform support video
  • Audience – when you do your competitor analysis you’ll be able to get more of an idea of which types of content are engaged with more by audiences on different channels


content calendar

Create a content calendar

All of your research leading up to this point will be able to help you to construct a content calendar which is a vital component of your social media strategy. Having a calendar will help you visualise your strategy and will also help with measuring its success, ultimately allowing you to have more of an insight into your audience. When creating your calendar, fill it out with information like:

  • Scheduled posting times – your research will hopefully have helped you to identify the optimal times to post on each of your respective channels to ensure you’re reaching the largest audience possible
  • Content type – mark whether your content is promotional or educational so that you can visualise the proportion of each, it’s not a good idea to self-promote too often so creating your calendar will help flag up if your strategy needs to be more educational
  • Scheduled engagement time – you shouldn’t ignore your audience, and by engaging with them you add a human element to your online presence which can boost respect for your business. This doesn’t mean that you should only ever answer their questions, you can also ask your audience questions too

Having a solid calendar will help you split up your resources and time so that you’re focusing on what matters. Like we mentioned earlier it’s easy to get caught up in checking and re-checking stats, so by creating a timeline you’ll be able to set aside time for doing this and really making the most of it and ultimately it’ll help you for the next time round too.

Create great content

We bet you weren’t expecting it to take this long to get to the actual content creation stage right? But the thing is, without all of the prior planning this stage would be pretty tricky and most likely wouldn’t produce the desired effect. Producing content for your social media marketing strategy is influenced by each previous step, or at least in part. Here are some things to think about:

Branding – make sure your content reflects your business, be that in tone of voice or in colour scheme you want your audience to know who they’re engaging with
Promotion or education – a good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule with 80% of your content being educational (think industry content and thought leadership) and 20% being promotional (tell your audience how amazing you are)
Relevance – don’t write a blog article or post a visual unless it aligns with your goals, all of your content should be relevant and should be targeted to whichever audience you have created it for

Saying “create great content” sounds rather patronising because of course that is your aim, but you’ll only find out if you’ve got it right as you carry out your strategy. Taking a step back to see if you’ve been successful is the part when you discover just how “great” your content really is.


test you strategy

Test and alter

So you’ve done it, you’ve researched, analysed, planned, curated and scheduled your social media strategy – cue cheers of joy (or sighs of relief if you’re that sort of person…)! If you see yourself as doing the latter we have some bad news for you because you’re not quite done yet. In fact, this final step is perhaps the most important of them all so listen up.

You need to make sure that you’re tracking your metrics, goals and results of all of your efforts so that you can measure your progress. A few tools you can use are:

  • Google analytics – this tool is hugely powerful and can give you insights into everything from audience location to blog article popularity
  • Social media analytics/insights – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram all provide a number of analytics data that you can look into and learn from
  • UTM trackers – these are codes that attach to page URLs so that analytics tools can track where traffic is coming from so make sure to use these

As you implement your strategy you’ll begin to see results, and you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that these will be everything you hoped for and more after the first attempt. But this is why this stage is so important because by taking time to understand which parts of your strategy are more successful will help you to tweak areas that aren’t. Then next time, you’ll be able to identify which techniques didn’t work and should be avoided.

Creating your social media strategy is no mean feat and is an ongoing process. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is as a learning curve on the way to online success. Never stop learning from the data and feedback that you receive and in turn your audience will reward you with their respect, and hopefully their custom!


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