When my clients come to me lamenting about how they haven’t had time to revisit their social media strategic plan yet, I tell them not to worry. Because it’s never too late to hop on the strategic planning train.
Starting your planning process now means you’re already starting on the right foot to make some serious, measurable magic happen for your social media marketing.
Despite how you’re feeling about this coming year, one reality is certain: Social media is more integral than ever for marketing businesses today.And this is even more so the case for freelance, creative writers like us.
Whether it’s from a promotional, awareness boosting, or connection basis, social media remains the most cost-efficient and targeted form of marketing we freelance writers and solopreneurs have at our disposal.
With that said, there’s no better time thannow to craft a social media strategy that will focus your marketing initiatives online, and get clear on ROI-based goals moving forward.
More good news: You don’t need to pay thousands to an agency to get really clear on your social strategy. If you’re willing to put in the necessary time and effort, you can craft the plan yourself. Sound good?
Now, enough talk. Let’s get started.
Overview of Your Business
The summary portion of your strategy goes right at the beginning of your plan, on its own independent page. The importance of this piece is that you lay out the entire skeleton of your operation as a whole, and how social media comes into the mix.
If you bring on additional team members, or a co-op student, this page will serve as a snapshot of your overall business. It’s meant to be efficient and clearly communicated, providing all the relevant background information.
Consider answering each of the following questions in their own paragraph on the business summary page.
- How did you get your start/how did your business come to be?
- How is your business currently looking?
- How much business are you bringing in? And how much do you want to bring in?
- What forms of marketing are you currently initiating?
- Who are the members in your team/how many departments do you have?
- Which obstacles/variables are likely to affect your business’ social media efforts?
- What platforms are you currently active on for social media, and what are their followings? (Example: As of April X, 2018, our Instagram page started on X, 201X has a following of X.)
Lock Down Your Target Audience
This step of the strategy can often be one of the more time-consuming ones. It can also feel daunting to start this process because you might not quite know where to start. Locking down your target audience takes a few active measures, and some quality research, too.
In brief, the steps are:
- Define your service and what you have to offer.
- Study your competition.
- Look for gaps in the market your offering can fill.
- Choose a specific niche.
Once you get clear on who your target audience is, outline them in your social media strategy. Even within your target audience, there will be different categories under that umbrella. For example, my general target audience for my social media marketing business are local small businesses and entrepreneurs.
My target gets even more niche when I break it down with a fine-toothed comb. My key audiences as defined in my own social media strategy are:
- Female entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada (ages 30+)
- Small business owners in Atlantic Canada
- Small, local non-profits in Atlantic Canada
- Local marketing agencies seeking independent contractors
Get Clear on Your Main Goal
This is the singular, overall reason for why you are choosing to be active on social media. There shouldn’t be multiple goals in this portion, only one. Some solid social media goals include, for example:
- Boost awareness through audience reach.
- Obtain new clientele.
- Drive more traffic to your website.
While you’re creating your overall goal, keep it as SMART as possible. What does a SMART goal look like?
- S — specific
- M — measurable
- A — achievable
- R — realistic
- T — time-based, timely, trackable
To make the skeleton example of goals above SMART goals, they would look as follows.
- Boost local awareness through audience reach by 200% by June 30th, 2020.
- Obtain 5 new retainer clients by May 1st, 2020.
- Increase daily website traffic from 1,000 views per day to 3,000 views per day by December 31st, 2019.
Realize that your goal will be unique to the circumstance of your business and what you’re trying to achieve. Review any previous analytics and data you have available to get a handle on what a realistic goal could look like for your strategy.
Create Your Strategic Plan
Now it’s time to outline the ways you’re going to achieve your goal. You do this by taking the SMART criteria I outlined above and breaking down the strategies of those goals for more actionable, practical ways. These are called your “strategies.”
From there, dig even deeper into your “tactics.” These are administrative bullet points to your strategies, are highly specific, and leave no room for questioning what needs to be done moving forward.
Strategy 1: Send out consistent, quality content.
- Tactic: Create two weeks of content in advance. Pre-schedule using Hootsuite.
Strategy 2: Monitor analytics to determine top ROI.
- Tactic: Use Twitter analytics to measure engagement rate and reach. Identify the most popular content themes.
I generally advise jotting down at least 2–3 tactics per strategy, to make sure no single step is missed.
Remember: Your strategic plan is your roadmap to social media success. Give a clear guide of directions so that your marketing team or contractor don’t get lost.
Create Your Platform Strategy
This is the second section of the strategy. In this portion, you’ll identify the social media platforms you’ll be actively posting on, and you’ll explain why you have chosen them.
This process prompts you to do significant research on each platform you’re considering to determine if they’re right for your industry and whether it’s the best fit for your business’ audience.
Break down each platform and indicate the research you’ve found. It’s also important to indicate the following:
State the tone used for this platform.
State how many times you intend to post per week.
- To my clients, who are generally small businesses or entrepreneurs, I suggest posting 3x per week to once per day.
Find the social media platforms you enjoy actively participating in and work for you. The same goes for how often you’re posting. These goals and numbers need to be obtainable and reasonable for you to achieve.
Be honest with yourself, but challenge yourself as well for growth and development purposes.
Create Your Content Strategy
Often creating consistent, quality content is the biggest headache and difficulty of social media marketing. This portion of the strategy will help you find inspiration and stay on track with the messaging of your brand, as well as the consistency you’re looking to achieve as you post.
Research the content which your audience cares about most. Be prepared for this to differ from what you think is important.
Some questions to consider:
- What is your target audience talking about?
- What are their points?
- What are they asking questions about?
- What is unclear to them?
The answers to these questions will be how you provide the most value to your audience. Through helpful content, you give followers a reason to pay attention to what you’re posting, and you give them a reason to keep coming back for more.
Make a list of the content themes in this section to keep on track for identifying not only which content is the focus, but also which content isn’t the focus. Excluding irrelevant content is often the most important of the two.
2020 Is Your Year
A New Year is always an exciting time for planning and preparing in a business. It’s also often the time that we create goals for how we’ll make this coming year the best one yet.
Your social media marketing strategy is the best place to start. Happy strategizing.
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