Creating Your Social Media Strategy: A Beginning Guide
Seven Key Pillars to Include in your Strategy
Why You Need an Organic Social Media Strategy
Social media is how your brand “exists” in the world. It’s how you connect with your customers. An organic social media strategy is a vital part of that presence. It defines for your internal teams and stakeholders why your brand participates in social media, how your company shows up on each platform, and the outcomes to expect. In a few words, a strategy sets you up for success.
In this post, we will outline the seven key pillars you need to include in your social media strategy, from platform selection to what you will post and how you will know if your strategy is working.
An important thought for consideration before starting your strategy: what capacity do you and/or your team have to dedicate to social media? If you own a small business and you are creating and sharing content solo, what kind of time can you commit? Your strategy will likely be short and sweet, and that is okay. If you run a large organization with a three to four person social media team, your plan will be more robust. Either way, as long as you establish your capacity before establishing your strategy, you are well on your way.
Let’s dive right in!
1. Organic Social Media’s Purpose
This first pillar is quite simple in theory, although requires reflection and discovery. Why is your brand participating in organic social media? To sell your consumer products? To generate leads? For brand awareness? As long as the purpose is not, “because someone told me we should,” your definition is likely unique to the type of organization you run. Define your reason(s) for participating in social media platforms. Said another way, here, you should identify your overall goals for your presence.
Pro Tip: for B2B organizations, straightforward selling via organic social media is not typically fruitful in the same way that consumer products are. As you well know, B2B sales is a long game. In most cases, we recommend you use social platforms for brand awareness and lead generation.
2. Audience & Platform Selection
As with any general marketing strategy, you must first identify your audience. Ideally, your key audience(s) are already outlined in your marketing plan, so simply include them into your social media strategy. If not, first take some time to identify who your customers are, name their pain points and needs, and define how your product or service alleviates their frustrations. Additionally, begin to consider your organization’s expertise, and what information or tips you could provide to establish your brand as a thought leader. More on this later.
Once you know your audience, discuss and outline the platforms where you will be present. Not all platforms will make sense for your business. You will want to participate in the platform(s) where your current and potential customers spend their time scrolling. In other words, don’t waste your time on a platform just to be there. Additionally, if you only have time to do one platform well, select the one that will be most likely to help you reach your goals.
What you communicate on social media is an important piece of your social strategy, especially to ensure your followers and potential customers have a consistent experience with your brand. First, identify your core brand messages for social media communication. In all cases, your messaging should reinforce your brand’s values and mission, and ideally, always provide value to your audience on each platform.
Pro Tip: We highly recommend you tailor key messages to each platform’s audience. For example, your LinkedIn messages could highlight company news and employee milestones, while your Instagram account focuses on sharing customer stories and content from creators that work with your brand.
In this section, you should also establish the voice and tone of your business on each platform. Again, this can and should vary by platform and the platform’s purpose. Your brand’s tone could be more casual on TikTok to ensure it is approachable but favor a more professional tone, always written in AP Style, on LinkedIn.
Pro Tip: if we’re being honest, social media audiences and algorithms can be fickle and tricky, and the unfollow button is a swift click away. We don’t recommend a strategy that only shares messages about your company, what it does, and the product(s) you sell. Align your messaging with your audience’s interest and pain points. Again, your content must provide value to succeed.
Similarly, one of the best ways to establish trust on social media platforms is to provide knowledge and information that has nothing to do with your specific products or services, but speaks to your customers’ challenges, interests and desires. Customers hear, “We see you and we understand you.” Not, “We’re here to sell you something.”
4. Content Approach
Here, identify your content strategy aligned to your business goals and audience needs, completed in the sections above. You should discuss diversifying the types of content you will share (helpful blogs, videos, infographics, images, etc.), expectations for visual consistency (photo types, colors for any graphics, the use of captions for video), and plans to leverage user-generated content (UGC) and/or content creators (a.k.a. influencers).
When it comes to strategy, it is imperative that you recognize the importance of visuals in social media content. Analytics demonstrates that eye-catching visuals are often required to create a thumb-stopping reaction from users. Many platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, are visual-based platforms, while others like X (Twitter) and LinkedIn prioritize images and video because users interact with those types of posts more often.
Brand consistency and utilizing high-quality, engaging visuals are also key pieces of a social strategy. In this section, identify the colors and fonts you will utilize for any graphics, image requirements and even image filters, treatments or adjustments required so that all images appear consistent. To be clearer, you would not want to use a combination of light, bright and clean images alongside dark, moody images – establish that direction within this plan.
In addition to how your visuals will look and feel, the types of content you share should be identified in two ways: subject matter and post type. Subject matter itself ideally varies between educational, entertainment and promotional, sharing a balance of curated and original content. We recommend you integrate storytelling into posts for increased engagement.
When it comes to post types, identify how often you intend to share video, photo, multiple photo, or text-only (only available for select platforms) posts. This can be a delicate balance between your team’s availability to create different post types, what is appropriate for the message you share, and what each platform’s algorithms currently promote. For example, at the writing of this blog, lately, Instagram Reels are often receiving the same number of views as single-image and carousel posts. Even TikTok has now introduced their own version of carousel images. At the same time, video typically performs the best on LinkedIn, but that is not always true for every account. Additionally, does your team have the bandwidth to create multiple videos each week for LinkedIn?
Extra tip: algorithms constantly change and aren’t always cut and dry – they are often dependent upon multiple factors. This is where analytics come in, which we’ll discuss later in this post.
In an ideal world, your photos and video are always formatted to fit each platform’s specifications, which are updated from time to time. Canva typically has templates available with the correct aspect ratios for each platform. If you use Google or another service to search for the correct sizes, ensure what you find is dated recently, at minimum within the same year.
5. Posting Frequency & Timing
Establishing when and how often you’ll post is a tactic to ensure your content is seen and interacted with by your followers and potential customers. If you’ve never posted on social media before, you can find “ideal times” to post on each platform via a quick search, and begin there. If you’ve already established your accounts, Meta platforms provide a view of “when your followers are online” within analytics. You could also download a selection of your posts to see what days and times your posts receive the most views and engagements. Scheduling tools like Later, Metricool or Oktopost often provide recommended times to post based on data as well.
What is important to note in this section is your plan to test and review the times and days you post over time. We recommend you do this quarterly, as the best times will likely change with the seasons and as your audience grows.
For example, a B2B SaaS company we work with typically receives its highest views and engagement on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, while a B2C e-commerce company receives its worst metrics on Tuesdays, and performs better on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
When it comes to frequency, this will also vary dependent upon your availability to participate in organic social media as well as platform best practices. In many cases, if you post more than once a day, your posts end up competing against one another, and a piece of excellent content you share will be overridden by another post because it receives more interactions from users. For example, at the time of writing this blog, LinkedIn posts should be shared at least 18 hours apart. On the other hand, however, if you have 100K followers, you can post more than once a day, to ensure the maximum number of followers see your posts.
6. Governance, Community Management & Engagement
Here, you will establish the behind-the-scenes processes and expectations for organic social media. First: Governance. This section is used to identify the guidelines for how content comes to fruition. Include answers to questions like, “What is the process for creating social media posts?” “Who establishes a content calendar and what does that look like?” “How far often in advance are posts created?” “Who reviews posts before they go live?” “Who proofreads and edits?” and “Who must approve a final post?”
Second: Community Management & Engagement. Here, identify ways you will manage, build and nurture an engaged community. This should include who responds to comments, messages and customer feedback, and what is considered acceptable for the timing of those responses. It also outlines how your organization will handle any negative interactions, and even if and how you will handle “online trolls.”
Pro Tip: Regarding trolls, in some cases, you could provide comments or more information, and sometimes (yes, we’re saying it), it’s OK to just delete a spam or inappropriate message. Regardless, this section should establish the steps in that process.
Engagement is another level of community management. Many platform algorithms “reward” you for being an active participant, as it helps to increase your visibility and reach. This section should include how often you interact with posts on each platform, and the subject matter you engage with. We recommend setting up social listening to ensure you see posts about your brand and products that do not tag your account, as well as topics within your area of expertise on which you could provide helpful information.
7. Expectations, Performance & Analytics
Finally, how will you know you are making headway on organic social media? That is what you will define here – your goals – Key Metrics, KPIs, and when you will review each platform’s analytics. What you track depends upon your purpose for the platform. For example, if your intention is to gain brand awareness, you will want to set goals for follower growth and impressions/reach. If your goal is to improve brand affinity, you will want to track engagement. Or, if you are looking to gain leads or convert sales, your goal will be for clicks to your shop or website.
Also in this section, you should identify how often you will review not only your metrics but also your content success. This is where you might find, for example, that your videos don’t perform as well as still or carousel photos, and you can investigate further why that might be, and/or adjust your strategy to utilize what performs best for your business on each platform.
We recommend reviewing previous analytics to help determine attainable goals. If you’re starting new accounts, ensure you establish what you want to track before getting started, but wait to fill in the specifics for each key performance indicator (KPI) until you’ve been active for a month or two.
Organic social media is an excellent tactic to reach potential customers around the world. Having a plan for this approach is essential to ensuring you are making the most of your time, energy and money spent on your selected organic platforms. Use this blog as a guide to help create your strategy.
If you are overwhelmed by the thought of creating an organic social media strategy, we’re happy to help support you. Robust annual plans begin at $1,250.
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