Nowadays, nobody questions the importance of a social media presence. Gone are the days when social media marketing (SMM) managers needed to convince a top manager that it’s an effective channel to raise awareness about the brand and new products and convert more visitors into customers. Every company seeks to establish a two-way conversation with clients and build a community around the brand. Thus, they work with negative feedback and raise the number of active customers, making purchases within a specific period of time.
We’ve compiled the latest trends and some obvious steps into a comprehensive guide on creating and managing social media strategy in the upcoming year. Marketing activities usually go in order: you first plan campaigns and prepare materials, execute the strategy, then evaluate the results, revise the plan, and then start all over again. Hence, the article follows the same logic.
What Has Changed?
This year has brought a lot of changes, and some of them have affected the marketing field. To build an effective social media strategy for 2021, you first need to understand how the environment has changed.
First and foremost, the outbreak of the pandemic transformed the way people make purchasing decisions. Physical stores were either closed or less attractive to the customers due to safety precautions. Customers no longer relied on physical touch while choosing a product. They had fewer chances to run into a product accidentally. It pushed companies to rethink their online presence and find new ways to be closer to the audience.
Second, social media has grown to be much more than personal pages and pictures of cats. This year, Instagram and Facebook launched in-app stores. TikTok partnered with Shopify and launched its own shopping feature. According to Facebook data, 70% of shopping enthusiasts use social media to discover new products. This year posed a question of how to make use of these features and meet the audience’s expectations.
Another variable to consider is the rise of new platforms. TikTok is a hot topic this year, and the ever-growing audience attracts big brands and million-dollar contracts. Even though many people still hold to their prejudices about TikTok, it’s already a platform you can’t ignore.
Planning An Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy
Planning is half of the success, the more time you spend researching platforms, elaborating on your target audience, and finding your unique voice, the more benefits you’ll get. But don’t overdo it. The key is to put something out there and not just think about it.
The topic of strategy development is worth an article on its own. But to keep it short, here are the three most important things: audience, channels, and metrics.
How To Define Your Target Audience?
A target audience is a group or combination of segments most likely to be interested in what you offer. Consumers within one group can share the same demographic information like age, gender, location, have similar interests and needs.
By developing a clear understanding of who is interested and buying your products, you’ll be able to identify what channels to use. You’ll know where your customers consume information and won’t waste your marketing budget on people who don’t even have the problems you solve.
Some companies create personas based on the information about the clients they have. To match personas’ identity, a brand can elaborate on a tone of voice. For example, if your products are targeted at experts in the field, you adjust the language and use terminology and jargon. Overall, knowing your target audience, you can create content your potential clients will relate to.
To define your target audience, you need to conduct research:
- Analyze your current customers and what they have in common;
- Analyze your social media follower base;
- Conduct competitive analysis.
You may find out that you have several segments, and it’s completely normal. For example, you provide software as a service (SaaS). Some of your clients may be small startups that don’t have enough resources to develop the solution in-house. They pay for the minimum package. But large scale companies may pay for the all-inclusive plan and address other pain points. Understanding their needs and paying capacity, you’ll promote content respectively.
How To Choose Your Channels
Once you’re done with the target audience and competitive research, it’s time to choose channels where you’ll post the content and engage potential customers and brand ambassadors.
The demographics play a significant role in that stage of strategic planning. Take a look at two social media — Instagram Reels and TikTok. At first sight, these are two identical platforms, both featuring short vertical videos. But the majority of TikTok users are aged between 16-24, while the largest age group on Instagram is 24-35 years.
Another factor is the type of company: B2C or B2B. 91% of companies on the B2B model opt for Linkedin as their primary marketing channel, followed by Twitter and Facebook.
What Metrics To Track
All metrics can be divided into four categories: brand awareness, audience engagement, sales conversion, and customer activity. If you define metrics wrong, it may mislead you into thinking your social media marketing strategy doesn’t work and the other way around.
If you focus on the most obvious indicator, likes, you may get frustrated. If it’s not your ideal number, but social media still generates leads to the website and converts new clients, then it’s a win.
Striving to increase the wrong metric can harm you. There are plenty of examples of how business accounts were going for a significant number of followers, participating in all kinds of activities. But in the end, all the gained follower base was entirely irrelevant for the products the company was selling.
Execution Of The SMM Strategy
Let’s move from goal setting and planning to the actual posting and content preparation.
The Importance Of Diversity
There is a hackneyed saying that content is the king. But it truly is the most important part. The content must be personalized to your target groups but, at the same time, diverse and inclusive. Recent Google research shows that audiences want to be seen and recognized. And if an ad reflects their reality, 64% of people are more likely to consider or make a purchase. The number is even higher among specific consumer groups. What does that mean for the brands? You need to showcase more than one type of person, race, and body image.
Diversity also relates to the type of content. It’s not just captions that attract people. 68% of consumers want to engage with images, while 50% want to engage with video content. There are also polls, games, tests, Instagram stories, guest posts with influencers and experts in the field. A considerable part of effective social media marketing activities is user-generated content (UGC).
Benefits Of The User-Generated Content
90% of US shoppers admit that UGC plays a massive role in their purchasing decision making process. It can be photos of customers wearing your clothes, reviews, ratings, and blog posts. It helps to humanize a brand and bring you one step closer to the customers. Your clients are the most authentic advocates of the brand. At first, it may be hard to convince followers to share their pictures and stories, encourage them with contests, discounts, and always give credits.
Developing Your SMM Voice
But in the whole variety of content, you need to be consistent in conveying your messages. The best option is to sum up all the rules and how-tos in a style guide. It’s an internal document that will help to keep the communication coherent. Imagine you have four people responsible for different social media channels. For better cooperation, they need to be on the same page. And if a new person joins the team, you can refer them to the document.
The detailed guideline will help to communicate your requirements in case you work with agencies and freelancers. A new writer can bring fresh ideas and a different perspective on the product and your social media activities. But you need to choose wisely as the cost of the mistake is pretty high. Social media scandal can be a game-changer, turning away all your customers and investors and ruining the reputation.
Before reaching out to writers on freelancing platforms or professional writing services, read the reviews and go through their previous works. For example, Upwork regularly lists top-rated writers and editors. There is also a platform called EssaysAdvisor.com, where William Grabe writes thorough reviews on professional writing services.
Making Sure You Are On The Right Track
Social media marketing isn’t solely a creative process. Every action follows a concrete business goal. Thus, it’s essential to know how to measure SMM performance and adjust the campaigns according to the findings.
In the first part of the article, we’ve covered the importance of metrics’ write choice. But social media is a part of the overall customer journey. Thus, it’s important to go beyond social media metrics to understand if your SMM strategy works.
To understand the effect SMM campaigns have on business, take time to analyze your social media traffic to your website. Google Analytics and other tools give insights into customer behavior and common patterns of those who came to the website from your social media pages. Track what percentage of visitors conducted the desired action. It can be a sign up to the service, scheduled demo calls, a purchase. That way, you will see the bigger picture.
An in-depth analysis of visitors’ actions will also give some content ideas. You will see where and why visitors bounce, pinpoint the issues that confuse potential customers. Make a list of the roadblocks and think about how you can clarify it on social media. For example, customers start completing the form and then bounce when they reach a certain point. Look at this part in detail. Maybe you’ve used some terminology that needs an extra explanation.
It’s a brief overview of how to start and step up your SMM game. Every section and aspect mentioned earlier deserves an article on its own. And as you go, you’ll uncover even more sides of social media management: content marketing strategy, posting schedule, influencer marketing, and much more. But don’t let a vast array of information scare you away and stop from stepping foot on social media and expanding your brand online presence.