Creating a social media strategy is an essential step in ensuring the success of your social media program. Without a strategy that clearly outlines your goals, objectives and KPIs, you’ll be floundering in the dark.

But designing a social media strategy is not as straightforward as it was in the past. With today’s algorithms, custom channels, posting options and platform choices it can be difficult for a business to know where to start.

So, here are our top tips for putting together a cohesive strategy that will allow your business to set and met your objectives and provide you with a guide that will drive your content creation.

  1. Have an end-game in mind

Overall, you need to be clear on what you want to achieve from your social media channels. Know what success looks like for your business and set goals that are specific to your business framework. If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it will be impossible for you to set out the steps you need to take in order to get there.

Examples of end-game goals include increasing brand awareness, growing your database, generating sales, expanding your audience network, drive more traffic to your website – or a combination of all these.

  1. Competitor analysis

The start of even the most basic marketing plan is a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Technology today gives you the chance to look at what your competitors are doing and analyse ways you can set yourself apart. There are a variety of third-party competitor analysis tools which allow you to gain insights from their activity.

It’s important you stick to your business principals and not be swayed by what you see your competitors doing. The idea isn’t to copy – rather the goal is to seek ways to differentiate your business from the others and optimise your strategy for the benefit of your business.

  1. Know your Audience

This isn’t a new concept but you’d be surprised how many businesses aren’t able to clearly articulate their target audience or ideal client. And this leads to muddled marketing messages and, more often than not, disappointment in marketing campaigns.

There are a number of analytical tools you can use to learn more about your audience and find out if you are attracting the right clientele. Analytics tools can be attached to your website and all your social media channels to provide valuable insights into who is engaging with you, how, when, why and where.

  1. Content creation

Any social media strategy will focus on content – and most of your energy will be devoted to working out what to post, when to post, which channels to use, what times and days work best, and how to produce engaging content.

If your brand is highly visual then we recommend developing a compelling visual theme which should be in keeping with your businesses brand. Different platforms will utilise your content in a variety of ways so it’s important to think about how your visual theme can be applied across each platform.

Carefully consider the type of content you will post and when. We highly recommend the use of a scheduling program which allows you to pre-plan and load posts ready to go live at critical times. A social media calendar also allows you to look at a week-by-week or month-by-month overview to check the spread of posts and the types of posts.

  1. The magic of Metrics

As with any marketing campaign, your social media strategy should be governed by data so you need to focus on the metrics that matter. “Likes” are sometimes referred to as vanity metrics because they don’t really tell you much about your true audience.

Rather than focussing on how many “likes” a post received, it’s better to analyse the reach (how many people saw your post), clicks (did they click on the link you provided?), and engagement (did they comment or share your post?). It’s also best practice to analyse the difference between your paid posts and your organic posts as this will help provide direction for your paid advertising programs.

  1. Analyse and Assess

This step is critical in any social media plan – you must look at the results of your posts to see what is working and what isn’t. This, in turn, allows you to look at ways you can improve your posts or capitalise on something that has really resonated with your audience.

Also, it’s vital to understand if you’re not hitting the mark. If your engaged audience is not your target audience you’ll need to pivot and re-work your content to suit. Or maybe you should consider targeting the engaged audience with a special offer or personalised product?

Analysis will also let you know which campaigns were most successful and this also allows you to “test the market” with a few versions of one campaign to see which one is having the most impact. Then you can fine-tune your advertising investment accordingly.

There’s no doubt the social media landscape is a dynamic environment and platforms like to keep us on our toes by changing their algorithms regularly. But with this handful of simple steps, you can build a social media strategy that allows you to react to changes and ensure you’re maximising your return on investment.