Social media is one of the most critical and powerful marketing tools businesses have at their disposal to attract prospects and retain clients. Serving as a direct B2C advertising platform, a customer service channel, a data-driven benchmark for success, and a storytelling medium, social media is a readily available, all-in-one marketing tool.
While the ROI on social media messaging continues to appear nebulous to some, a clear and deliberative social strategy directly tied to annual organizational goals has been proven to result in better brand recognition, increased sales, and deeper customer loyalty. Through thorough planning and careful execution outlined below, brands can create a winning social media messaging strategy of their own.
Build a plan and align your social media goals
The first step to an effective social media messaging strategy is to create an annual plan. Similar to a business plan, your social media plan should be a high-level view of your objectives, or the general outcomes you’d like to accomplish through social media messaging.
The objectives laid out in your social media plan should be directly tied to your organization’s overarching annual business plan and goals. For instance, if one of your annual business goals is to grow your brand recognition, your corresponding social media goal would be measured through an increased number of followers and upturn of your content shared on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Just like your annual business goals, be sure that your social media goals are specific and measurable to determine an accurate ROI and to inform subsequent goals.
Once your high-level social plan has been written, creating a detailed content calendar is the next step toward success with your social media marketing strategy. A content calendar is a strategic breakdown of your big social media objectives and is often organized by month, allowing brands to take a more detailed approach to planned social posts. Often, content is organized around monthly ‘themes’ that correspond to annual events, holidays, or seasons. Try to create a healthy mix of content that drives traffic back to your website, demonstrates your brand’s values, and generates leads.
You can also share relevant content from other sources to supplement your brand. Content calendars can be managed through various online social media management tools or can be manually executed through programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
Determining audience, platform, and voice
Knowing your audience is one of the most important pieces of any good social media messaging plan. Understanding who your brand is talking to allows you to develop content that strongly resonates with your brand’s most loyal population(s). Learning the age, gender, geographical region, hobbies, income, and other specific demographic data about your current clients and followers can inform your organization on how to target new audiences with your service or product. Knowing this detailed information will also help you create more specific advertisements or subject matter that can help drive the success of your overarching goals, such as brand awareness or increased conversions.
Part of knowing your audience also means learning which social media platforms they prefer. Different platforms appeal to different populations, and harnessing this information will help you use your resources wisely to better reach your target audiences.
If your brand’s customers largely consist of young American women under age 21, your brand should consider platforms like Instagram or even TikTok. Conversely, if your target demographic is college-educated men aged 25 to 44, Twitter and Facebook are more useful and appropriate vehicles. When using multiple social media platforms, ensure you’re diversifying your content specific to each platform, rather than repurposing content across your different channels. This appears as sloppy content marketing and could cause your brand to miss out on potential audiences by failing to optimize content specific to their interests.
Remember, pinpointing your audience and their interest in your brand is never a finished task. Just as your target market will grow and change over time, so should your brand evolve and reevaluate its approach to continue to meet your audiences’ needs and expectations.
Finally, once your audience is determined, you should solidify your brand’s ‘voice’ and style. While your brand’s voice should be unique to your business and directly relate to your industry and service or product, taking your target market into account can help you further relate to the people that are interacting with your brand. For example, a software company and an organic dog food manufacturer would have very different brand voices because they’re selling two different products to two different audiences. Whereas the former would strive to sound exciting, modern, and cutting-edge, the latter would want to sound empathetic, warm, and dependable. Be sure to officially document your brand’s social media voice and style to ensure that your sound is consistent over time, and to assist during staffing changes or times of crisis.
Use quality images and video
By now, audiences expect brands to use quality images and videos in the content that they create. Poor image or video quality directly translates to poor service or product quality from a viewer’s perspective; therefore excellent visual content is critical to your brand’s success on social media. Be sure to use attention-grabbing, high-resolution images that are aesthetically appealing and adhere to your brand’s established style guide. The video must also be shot in high resolution and should accurately represent your brand through its use of color and style. Music and voice over work should be clear and well-balanced, and videos should be no longer than 2 minutes.
Research shows that viewers on social media respond more often to visual content, especially video, but these same viewers have short attention spans. Ensure that your visual content is enticing, visually appealing, and succinct in order to draw in viewers and prompt them to complete your brand’s desired behaviors.
Track your metrics
Regularly tracking various performance metrics on social media is absolutely critical for evaluation of your content and strategy, and in setting future goals. Build a review of your social channels’ performance into your communication team’s monthly or quarterly duties to audit information about your followers, interactions with your posts, and the kinds of content that seems to resonate most strongly with your audience(s). Employ A/B testing to learn what kinds of messaging generates action, such as shares and comments, versus passive behavior, or “likes”. Determine the best timing for your posts in order to maximize viewership and engagement with your content. Use a social listening tool to discover mentions of your brand and the sentiment of those consumers’ posts.
Once you have recorded this kind of data, use it to make informed decisions about your content and strategy. Be sure to track any changes and record the results to determine what your audience is or isn’t responding to. Ask your followers to reveal their expectations for your brand and the kinds of content they’d like to see more or less of. Direct audience feedback, in addition to observed patterns of online behavior, can help your brand make better data-driven decisions moving forward.
Storytelling and the ‘Rule of Thirds’
When you’ve established your social messaging goals, brand voice, and tracking methods, you can move on to more creative and detailed pieces of your social media messaging strategy, including storytelling and leveraging testimonials about your product or service. Your followers are more likely to trust their peers’ opinions about your brand over your enthusiastic description of your own product, so it is in your best interest to capitalize on positive, authentic reviews.
These testimonials can come from both well-known influencers within your industry and reviews from recent customers. Collaborate with influencers to highlight your product on their blog or on their social channels and encourage clients to share their experience with your service or product online. Organize your storytelling content by following what is known as the Rule of Thirds: share an equal amount of your own original posts that generate conversions (advertisements), posts from influencers about larger trends seen in your industry (which may or may not contain your product), and storytelling posts that boost your brand’s reputation.
When you organize your social content by following the Rule of Thirds, you’re positioning your brand as an authority within your industry while being regarded as collaborative and relatable to the average consumer.
Invest in your social media advertising
If you’ve ensured that your social media messaging plan is strategic and consistently engaging, you’re more likely to see increased organic activity surrounding your social channels.
However, social campaigns almost always perform best when they receive a boost from paid advertising. Marketing through social media is more cost-effective than traditional advertising and will likely have a larger reach to prospective clients, arguably allowing for a more significant investment in a business’ social media messaging strategy.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer sophisticated targeting capabilities that allow you to place your brand’s ads in front of demographics most likely to interact with your business, which at the very least helps with brand recognition and at most helps to convert viewers into customers.
If your business is struggling to get started on social media or isn’t seeing results with its current social media marketing plan, contact BNG Design, and let us create a winning strategy for you.