Social Media Strategy: Six Steps to Success

Social media – it’s all-seeing and all-powerful but can be an almighty waste of time and money if you dive in without a plan.

To reap the rewards of social media you need to build a clear strategy outlining goals, audience, competition and content.

We’ve put together an easy six-step social media strategy to get you on your way:

1. Goals

Make SMART goals.

Like any business plan the first step to creating a social media strategy is to establish goals, giving you the ability to measure your success and return on investment.

Pro Tip: Align your social media goals with your overall business and marketing strategy to show some more ‘old school’ execs the true value of social media.

Each of your goals should be:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-bound

Example:

Broad business goal: to grow my business.

Social media SMART goal: I will acquire 300 new followers on Instagram within two months by engaging with followers, running a paid Instagram advertising campaign and networking with local businesses. This will enable me to grow my business and increase my revenue.

For your social media strategy start by assessing your business goals and writing a social media SMART goal to align with each one.

2. Who is your audience?

It may seem simple, but do you really know who your audience is and where they’re active online? Is your Facebook audience different to your Instagram audience?

Knowing what your audience wants to see on social media is key to a successful social media strategy. You need to craft content that appeals to your specific audience, so they’ll like, comment on and share your posts.

Most social media platforms offer great (and free – YAY!) analytic tools that show detailed insights about your audience. Familiarise yourself with their age, location and when they’re most active online to create ‘personas’. These personas will help you visualise your audience as real people (rather than numbers) and help you cater to their actual interests, passions and needs.

3. Metrics

It’s time to start gathering data.

Competition

You probably already know who your key competitors are so take the time to assess/stalk (it’s not creepy when it’s for work) their social media channels. Some things to note:

  • What platforms are they using?
  • How often do they post?
  • How are they engaging with their followers?
  • How many followers do they have and how quickly are they growing?
  • What time do they post?

Choose three key competitors and complete a SWOT analysis to help you understand your competitive advantage and how you can ‘outplay’ your competitors online.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

Pro Tip: use competitors as your inspiration, but don’t copy. Chances are they have you listed as a competitor too, so remember you still need to be unique and authentic with your posts!

Conduct a brief social media audit

Perform a social media audit to review what’s working and what needs improvement on your social media channels.

There’s lots of paid social media tools out there to make auditing a breeze, but here’s the basics that everyone can do (set up a spreadsheet to keep all your data in one place):

  • Note your overall statistics including followers, likes, shares, comments, clicks, video views, reach and mentions
  • Look at your top/bottom posts, how do they compare to each other and why do certain posts get more engagement? Compare timing, hashtags, content, platform etc
  • Input audience metrics including gender, age, location and time they’re active
  • Check for consistency, do all your channels have the same consistent tone and content?
  • Compare to industry best standards or key competitors
  • Re-assess your SMART goals and adjust accordingly (if required)

Social listening

If you’re serious about your social media strategy, investing in social listening software can save you time and money. Platforms such as HootSuite, Sprout Social, Zoho Social, Mention, Meltwater etc make social listening a breeze and can help you track trends, monitor competitors and compile data among many other handy tools. Each platform has pros and cons, so do your research before committing to buy.

4. Mission Statement

Build a mission statement for each of your social media platforms. This enables you to take the data collected above and create a short statement that outlines exactly who we are and what we do.

Follow this format:

[Business name’s] [social media platform] is where [audience] finds [content] to [benefit].

Pro Tip: this should be brief, where we went into detail above about audience and content, here we need to rein it in.

Example:

Building company: Bob Builder’s Facebook page is where local Queenstown homeowners find inspiring images and video content to help plan for their new home.

Cafe: Corner Café’s Instagram is where young New Zealand-based foodies and coffee lovers find fun, creative and colourful images that inspire them to visit and encourage ‘regramming’.

Mum blogger: Diana’s Diary Facebook page is where young mums across the world find helpful tips and funny anecdotes to encourage conversation and engagement with each other.

Bank: Frank’s Financial LinkedIn profile is where entrepreneurs and business owners find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.

5. Content

It’s time to start building your content calendar.

Creating great content is essential but it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when you’ll share content to get the maximum impact. Make a calendar that details:

  • Dates
  • Time you will post
  • Social media channel
  • Content (image, link, video etc)

Make sure your content and calendar reflect the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile so that everything you post is working to support your business goals.

Keep your content aligned with your audience, always ask yourself who the content is for, and how they should interact with it.

Pro Tip: As a rule, 80% of your content should be fun, informative or entertaining and only 20% should directly promote your brand.

6. Engage, measure and compare

Hurrah! You have a stellar social media calendar, followers have quadrupled, videos have gone viral and your boss gives you a high five every morning!

This hasn’t happened for you yet? Don’t worry, you probably won’t get your social media strategy 100% right on the first try (this happens with all business plans), simply monitor what works and adjust your strategy accordingly. Continue with your social media auditing, schedule in weekly, monthly or quarterly as desired and re-evaluate your SMART goals.

Sounds like a lot of work? The truth is, building a successful social strategy isn’t a five-minute job, and in today’s online world it’s one of the most effective marketing tools around. Need a hand? Get in touch to find out how we can help create a tailored social media strategy for your business!

 

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How to make Instagram Stories work for your business

Let’s talk Instagram Stories. Most of us watch them, but do you use them for your business?

With over one billion monthly active users*, Instagram’s popularity and growth continues to skyrocket. As savvy business owners, we need to stay ahead of trends and learn to communicate with our audience on their level.

One of Instagram’s most popular tools, their ‘Stories’ feature has over 300 million active users and is basically a free marketing tool. When used correctly, Instagram Stories can be more advantageous than traditional advertising, so here’s how to make them ‘work’ for you.

Instagram Stories vs Instagram Feed

It’s important to acknowledge that your audience wants to see two very different things from your Instagram. Firstly, they want to see an ‘on-brand’, gorgeous, well-thought-out feed.

Secondly, they want to see an ‘insider’s perspective’, something the average person won’t see. Because Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours, businesses can present an unembellished, real-life look at what goes on behind the scenes.

Instagram’s algorithm

Since Instagram updated their algorithm in late 2017, it’s much harder for your brand to be found if you only post to your feed. Stories on the other hand always appear at the top of a follower’s feed and helps your brand remain visible. Popular Stories also appear at the top of the Explore page, and if you’ve tagged a location it appears in location-based Stories automatically compiled by Instagram, helping your profile gain an even wider reach.

What should I put in my Stories?

They’re called Instagram Stories for a reason. If you’re boring, people won’t come back to your feed for more.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Behind the scenes – Show your business has real people with personalities. Give your audience an insider view into your brand, who are you and what you represent.

Use stories to get real-time feedback – Question your followers about a new product or idea using Instagram’s poll feature. This provides you with live feedback and makes your audience feel valued.

Collaborate with other brands – Find likeminded brands and work together on a project, event or giveaway.

Create live tutorials – Use your Stories to give advice, make ‘how-to’ slideshows or answer FAQ’s.

Try an Instagram takeover – Hand over your Instagram account to someone else for a day or two. This could be your CEO or a special guest (think influencers, local photographers etc). This gives a different voice to your account and shows a new and exciting perspective.

Take your e-commerce to the next level – Bring your ‘shop-able’ looks to life using your Stories. With Instagram’s rollout of new Shopping Tags, which enable businesses to link to their website using price and description tags, you should be looking at how to best optimise your e-commerce capabilities.

Story Highlights

Back in December 2017, Instagram released a new ‘Highlights’ feature that has changed the way people interact with the platform. It enables you to select a series of Stories and feature them below the bio section of your profile.

NOTE: THIS IS SIGNIFICANT FOR BUSINESSES!

Instagram Stories Highlights gives you the ability to have unlimited links for an unlimited time in your bio (a clear departure from the 24-hour Stories format we have previously seen). This means you can now direct your followers to any number of external pages like your website, an event, other channels etc, through a simple tap.

The placement of Story Highlights allows you to go beyond the 150 of character limit of your bio to show people what your account is all about and why it’s worth a ‘follow’.

Here’s some ideas on how to use Highlights:

  • Colour coordinate or create branded Highlight cover images – enabling you to stylize your page even further
  • Announce new products or services and keep followers updated with ‘what’s new’
  • Highlight your ‘best of…’ moments
  • Complement your other channels by linking your Highlights to external blogs, website etc
  • Showcase giveaways and collaborations rather than flooding your feed with promotional posts
  • Display recent events, meetings or special occasions
  • Promote user-generated content and encourage your audience to tag and hashtag your brand to be featured
Brands leading the way:

Airbnb’s Interactive Quizzes

Airbnb’s Travel Tuesday series showcases user-generated content from Instagram to provide its followers with inspirational travel ideas. Rather than just posting the pictures, Airbnb transforms each photograph into an interactive quiz. By incorporating user-generated images and polls into their stories, Airbnb increases engagement and creates ways to measure their followers’ interests at the same time.

instagram-stories-airbnb

E! News’ Snappy Stories

E! News keep their followers updated on the latest celebrity drama by sharing news stories directly on Instagram Stories. These ‘short but sweet’ news blasts meet the needs of their target audience, who may not want to read a full article, but always want to be on top of the latest celebrity news.

instagram-stories-enews

NASA’s Behind the Scenes Pass

NASA uses their Instagram Stories to share ‘behind the scenes’ news and information. They provide background stories, additional information, research and visuals that complement their regular Instagram posts, giving their followers a ‘backstage pass’ to the inner workings of NASA.

instagram-stories-nasa

Instagram is constantly evolving and keeping your pulse on new trends and tools is vital to creating a successful social media strategy.

Understand the importance but don’t know where to start? We’ve added an Instagram Stories Workshop to our portfolio, so if you think your business would benefit upskilling in Stories then get in touch today.

 

*Statistic from Social Media Today

 

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Fiona’s top tips: brand storytelling

So you’ve developed a successful business and got yourself a brand.

But as that business has evolved and grown, whether you’ve been going for two years or twenty, are you effectively communicating your brand story to your audience?

You might be thinking “why do I need to do that?”.

Because brand storytelling is pretty much the most important tool in your toolbox when it comes to telling the full story about your business – who you are, what you do and why people should care.

If you’re a start-up it can help shape your culture, and if you’ve been in business a while, your marketing team should use it to help attract long-term consumer engagement and drive buying behaviour.

3 brand storytelling top tips:
1. Know who you are

For starters you need to understand some branding basics, like the difference between a logo, a brand identity and a brand — all very different things, but equally important when maintaining a successful business.

Think about it in terms of YOU.

Your logo is your name, or nickname.

Your clothes, how you walk and talk – that’s your identity.

Your personality (how people talk about you) is your brand.

Once you’re sure you have your ‘brand-self’ down pat, think about how you’re going to convey your personality in such a way that your target market (your customers) buy into you and your brand.

 

2. Find your stories

If you want to share your brand story on the local, national or world stage, you need to:

  • Be unique
  • Be authentic
  • Know and represent your values consistently
  • Drive demand (in a subtle way)

Ask yourself what’s special and unique about your business. How do you craft your story and tailor it to different customers and target markets? Think about ways to tell a story around how your customers will benefit by using your product or having your experience.

That’s why Coke makes ads about family bonding and happiness rather than the taste of their drinks because they’re emotionally engaging their viewers.

Find your own ‘clean air’, a niche topic or line of conversation or advice no-one else owns, or a new angle on something no-one else has said.

In a nutshell, be more interesting. And more appealing.

 

3. Have a strategy

It’s all very well to have a business strategy that’s all about the dollars and cents, but what does your ‘creative’ plan look like?

When planning your strategy ask yourself what makes you authentic, unique and in demand?

Start by defining your story, core values and point of difference and use them as a foundation to build your strategy and key messages from the ground up.

Think about creating or finding your brand ambassadors — it may take time, but reaps huge rewards, simply because it’s someone else telling your story and advocating for your business rather than you giving your audience the hard sell.

Your creative strategy should work in tandem with any marketing or business development plans in terms of language, tone and timing.

 

Case Study: The Southern PR re-brand

Last year we ‘took stock’ of our own company and decided we needed a brand re-fresh that came with an injection of colour and creativity.

We’re a well-established, 24-year-old brand known throughout New Zealand, so we weren’t about to throw the baby out with the bath water.

After starting out with a brand that was strongly connected to the first two directors, a few years ago we stepped away from the ‘names on the door’ approach and re-branded as Southern PR.

Southern PR’s brand proudly reflects our place in the South Island, and in the Southern Hemisphere.

In 2017 we decided our brand needed a younger, fresher approach to talk to our target audience. We asked ourselves a range of questions to determine what we wanted, our target market, the purpose of our website, our social channels and our priorities and how our storytelling was going to change accordingly.

We love our new brand and so do our clients. We like nothing better than to ‘tell the stories’ of our people, our clients and our business success through a wider range of channels.

We do that in a much more visual way – through Instagram Stories, Pinterest, videos and the like, because that’s how people absorb content these days.

So if you’d like a download on how brand storytelling might help your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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5 social media trends for 2018

With over 250 billion social media users, 2018 is already another busy year for online trends and updates. We’ve summarised five social media trends that your business MUST be paying attention to in 2018.

Think experiential, think bots, think interaction…

Instagram Stories

With over 250 million monthly users, Instagram Stories were the fastest-growing social platform of 2017 and they’re our number one social media trend to implement in your strategy for 2018.

According to KPCB’s 2018 Internet Trends Report the average daily time spent on Instagram is 28 minutes, compared to 15 minutes in the pre-stories era.

KPCB also found that one in five stories from a brand will result in a direct message.

With these statistics it’s easy to see why Instagram Stories should be at the top of your priority list.

 

User-Generated Content

Thanks to social media’s (particularly Facebook’s) constantly changing algorithms, organic reach from branded material is consistently decreasing across all platforms.

Brands such as BMW, Starbucks and Adobe are using user-generated content to combat this decline. These posts not only increase reach but also drive higher engagement rate between brands and their customers.

The KPCB report said user-generated content re-posted by brands created seven times higher engagement rates than branded content.

The study also showed that social media users are seven times more likely to trust user-generated content, and 56% of them are more likely to buy a product after seeing that content.

So, if you’re not currently using user-generated content in your 2018 social media plan, it’s time to re-think your strategy.

 

Social Media is Mobile

We all know how reliant we are on our smartphones. For many of us, especially in the communications industry, it’s glued to our hands 24/7.

Interestingly, Facebook recently conducted a study that showed 94% of participants had their smart phone in their hand when watching TV. The results also showed that viewers focused on the TV screen just 53% of the time, and one of the top reasons they looked away was to use their phones.

With 94% of Facebook users and 82% of Twitter users primarily using the mobile app, it’s clear that ‘we’re mobile’ and that’s only the beginning!

As such, in 2018 it’s important to ensure our content, websites and links are as mobile friendly as possible.

 

Social messaging has overtaken social media

According to a recent study by Business Insider, more people are now using the top four social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber – than the top four social media apps of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The popularity of ‘dark social’ has been on a steady rise over the past three years and shows no sign of slowing down.

If social media has been a great opportunity for businesses, then social messaging cannot be ignored, especially when our last social media trend of 2018 is chat bots!

 

Chat Bots Are Here to Stay!

With the increase of social messaging, social bots are also on the rise. A study by Business Insider showed a major increase in chat bots, from 33,000 to 100,000 on Facebook’s Messenger alone.

The same study also showed that 80% of marketing managers are already using or plan to use chat bots by 2020, and with chat bots increasing workplace productivity by up to three times, it’s easy to see why bots are becoming the communicator of choice for businesses.

With voice and bots here to stay, define what ‘experience’ you should be creating for your audience.

Don’t have time to keep up with all the latest online trends? Well, its’s our job to identify social media trends and keep our clients at the top of their social media game. Get in touch.

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