3 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Strategy

Since we opened our doors in 2007, Ignite Social Media has developed hundreds of social strategies and marketing plans for a variety of household name brands.  As we enter into the time period where many brands begin looking to shape their 2015 plans, I wanted to share the three most important tips for marketers to keep in mind when developing a social media strategy.

Get personal and be real with your target audience

SocialTargetAudienceImageSocial media strategies should be rooted in a firm understanding of your target audience and their motivations. Don’t just say you want to market to “Millennials” (nearly every brand now is saying this) or Women 35-55 (the rest of the brands are saying this). Broad audience profiling makes for inconsistent execution or tactics that fall flat, particularly in social media.

Early on, we were surprised when some brand managers admitted that broad demographics were all their organization had on their brand’s target audience. In this case, if your brand doesn’t have a well-defined target, take the time to envision what a person in your target demographic may look like in the social space.

Consider the type of person that is likely to engage or find your brand offering attractive or useful for their life. Use research (we like Forrester Consumer Technographics data) combined with your gut to begin rounding out a person who would want to be connected to your brand.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is their lifestyle like?
  • What do they read or watch?
  • Where do they connect with others?
  • What would this person share?
  • Why would they be likely to share with others?

This exercise may feel warm and fuzzy, but it is important because it helps keep your target at the center of your social efforts.

Brands who do this well are extremely effective at crafting social tactics that spread like wildfire, because they originate with an insight instead of a brand message.

Choose your social objectives wisely

It’s easy (and all too tempting) to feel pressure to create social objectives that pay off on every single business and marketing objective in your organization.  As marketers we must remember social is one strategy in a larger marketing mix, so expecting it to accomplish everything is just not realistic. Instead, take some time to understand what value social can have generally and then specific to your brand.

  • Evaluate the value that social has generated for you previously
  • Understand how other marketers are viewing success in social
  • Read research that shows the role social plays at different parts of the customer journey and how social is often a contributor to a sale, not always last interaction before a sale

Develop Platform Agnostic Social Strategies and KPI’s

Perhaps one of the most important and difficult decisions in a social media plan is outlining strategy pillars and the key performance indicators that define your social media success. Both are necessary evils because they need to be structured enough to provide clear direction and vision for your social media team, yet flexible enough to help your brand take advantage of new opportunities.

With constant changes happening (like Facebook reach declining), marketers should ensure their strategies and KPIs are platform agnostic. For example, if your business objective is brand awareness you will likely want to generate social impressions — but do they need to be Facebook Impressions? Or would you be happy with impressions on any social network? The latter is still specific enough to guide your strategic approach but flexible enough to account for industry changes and strategic shifts throughout the year.

Sound social strategies and KPIs shouldn’t shackle a brand to a specific platform but help it filter and form a variety of tactics to achieve its objectives.

While every business should have a social strategy unique to the business or marketing problem it is trying to solve, these tips are fundamental across every business we’ve encountered.  Spend the majority of your time nailing these portions, and the rest of your social marketing plan will fall into place.

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