How to create a social media strategy that delivers

Time to shake the dust off your social media strategy. Breathe new life into your content by starting with clear objectives, consistent branding and understanding your target audience.

Social media plans are a key part of your overall digital marketing strategy. It will help increase brand visibility, drive website traffic, and support overall business and marketing goals.

Read on for your comprehensive guide to creating a social media marketing plan that *actually* works.

Why is having a social media strategy important?

A social media marketing strategy helps promote your brand and sell your products or services. Without it, you’ll have your head underwater, floundering for content and Reels views.

Additionally, a social media strategy is imperative to allocating resources efficiently. By identifying which platforms and content types are relevant to your audience, it can help you plan for success. Without this guidance, it’s akin to throwing pasta (content) at the wall and seeing what sticks (gets the most likes).

A strategy helps define your social media goals. From brand awareness to website traffic, you must have defined goals and objectives to measure your success. Outlining and understanding your target audiences helps you create content that resonates, rather than posting anything and everything.

Social media networks are known for their constant updates and changes. Meaning, it’s rare for lots of time to pass without any notable developments.

What’s the longest we’ve gone without a significant social media platform change or announcement? Honestly, we don’t know. It’s been evolving at warp speed since 2012, when Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp.

Tips to perform a social media audit

First, you must do some research. Take a moment to review your social media accounts. See what your social media managers are doing well. Identify areas where they can improve.

From identifying pain points to reviewing past content, here are our top five social media audit tips.

  1. No one is perfect. Don’t be afraid to identify weak points and areas of improvements.
  2. Analyze your competitors and see if you can identify their content strategy.
  3. Pinpoint popular content themes and topics. What types of content resonate with your ideal customer?
  4. Assess effectiveness by checking engagement rates. This helps you determine which content works and which channels are primed for growth.
  5. Assign action items to help jumpstart your strategy development.

Typically, your audit results will vary across social media channels. You may discover that LinkedIn is driving traffic, but Instagram increases brand awareness.

Set social media goals that make sense

Goals are what helps bring your strategy to life. We just can’t live without them. And yes, they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

For example, aiming to gain more followers is not a sensible goal. However, committing to increasing followers by 7% each quarter would be right on target.

You may be excited to hit the ground running, but make sure not to pick an increase of every statistic. We’re not saying don’t be aggressive, but the bottom line is to make sure they are achievable.

We recommended setting no more than three marketing goals related to social media. Remember, these goals are not set in stone. Social media is fluid, and your strategy should follow suit. You can adjust goals over time based on performance and industry trends.

Creating content relevant to your marketing strategy

If goals are what bring your strategy to life, than the content are the legs your strategy walks on. Good news – by this point you’ve already put in the heavy lifting by defining your goals, audience and branding. This should give you a confidence boost when planning what to post. 

When working with clients on developing their strategies, we suggest using content pillars. These pillars give a framework for your content creation team. They help you filter your ideas by giving support to your goals and objectives.

These pillars are useful if you work for a company where employees like to suggest what to post on social media. Most importantly, content pillars help your entire business or company stay on strategy.

These content examples will help kickstart your strategy:

  • To help educate your audience, publish blogs and share news related to your industry.
  • If you’re wanting to boost sales, use customer testimonials and showcase your products or services with high-quality creative.
  • To help boost job applications or retention, showcase your employees’ accomplishments and other company updates.

Develop a social media editorial calendar

An editorial content calendar helps you plan content and execute your social media strategy. These calendars help you coordinate what to post, when to post and why you’re posting.​

First, it keeps your organized. A content calendar reduces stress and allows you to take time to plan and write the best possible content. It’s easy for important dates to slip off your radar. With this calendar, there’s no need to memorize every hashtag holiday. ​​

Second, it helps you brainstorm. Once you start organizing topics, you’ll most likely end up with even more ideas. Additionally, content calendars serve as an archive, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year.

Lastly, calendars encourage posting consistently. Irregular posting leads to your page being out-of-sight and out-of-mind. This sets up your team for long-term success without stifling creativity through heavy processes.​

Evaluate your social media metrics

Most likely, your social media strategy will never be fully complete. We don’t say this to scare you, but you may find in your analysis that a certain social media tactic isn’t working. A new platform update may require you to steer your strategy in a new direction. These changes can be exciting, as they’re an opportunity to learn and enhance your social media marketing.

You’ll want to consistently keep an eye on social media metrics. Generating reports helps you identify what content resonates with your different audiences. You can see how many interactions (likes, shares, comments, etc.) posts are received throughout the month, quarter or year.​​​​

This is where a social media management tool comes into play. With Sprout Social, social reports show us our top-performing content and identify what our audience finds engaging. Not to mention, the colorful report dashboards will help demonstrate ROI to stakeholders.

Analyzing reports will help your team determine the changes that need to be made to your content and strategy over time. If something didn’t work as planned, try changing the creative or copy for the next month or quarter.

Remember, implementing a social media strategy takes time, and it requires some experimentation. Test various social media formats and try out different send times. As always, be ready to adjust your social media strategies for better performance.

Overall, a social media strategy provides direction, focus and accountability. It’s no secret that social media takes time and valuable resources. Set yourself up for success with a social media strategy, helping you make the most out of your social media efforts and achieve your business goals.