My Brand, My Strategy

You wouldn’t set out on a road trip without a map or a GPS, right? Then you shouldn’t be haphazardly promoting your product or service by posting to social media with no sense of direction, either! It is essential for a brand to have a defined social media strategy before diving into a social media campaign.

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According to Hootsuite, one of the leading social media management platforms, a social media strategy is a summary of what you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media. Think of social media strategy as a roadmap; a clear and concise plan to follow for your social media presence that guides your actions. Social media strategy is keenly important because it is difficult to measure success and achieve results without first identifying your target audience, determining what your audience wants, and setting goals to shoot for.

The first step to creating a social media strategy is to define your business goals. Are you looking to promote brand awareness, generate sales leads, increase engagement, etc.? It is recommended that you set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) that are measurable and attainable objectives to work towards. Defining your goals will determine what metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure success. For example, to examine brand awareness, followers and shares should be tracked to show current and potential audiences. To drive sales leads, website clicks and email signups can be tracked to measure conversions. Finally, to demonstrate the effectiveness of social engagement, comments, likes, and mentions can be tracked to show audience interaction with your content.

Atherton introduces the ABC approach as “a simple and effective way to plan your social media strategy. Its three elements — audience, brand and campaigns — form the bedrock of your strategy and enable your social media to be integrated with other marketing and PR activity and focused on core business objectives” (Atherton, 2014). Defining your target audience and envisioning what they want to see on social media is key. By finding out who your followers are, what social media content they engage with, and how they interact with your brand on social media, you can create buyer personas to refine your strategy and better target your audience. These insights allow businesses to create content that their audience is drawn to, increasing likes, comments, and shares. Next, businesses should establish why their brand exists on social media and develop a social media presence for it. Establishing your brand values and building a strong brand presence ensures that your audience encounters your brand regularly on social media and generates interactions, clicks, and leads that accumulate over time. This maintains brand awareness and fulfills audiences’ needs. Finally, to deliver campaigns, companies can add social channels specific to that campaign or even start to mix paid and organic social to boost engagement. Creating a content strategy aids in running a successful campaign and tracking progress.

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After determining your target audience and what content you are going to share, companies need to decide which social media platforms they want to use. It is important to be present on the most relevant platforms for building your brand presence and delivering campaign objectives. To determine a successful posting schedule, companies should create a social media content calendar and consider when their audience is most active on social media. By posting content at an optimal time for your target audience, you ensure the highest levels of engagement and maximum impact. It is critical to re-evaluate and adjust your strategy regularly. Constantly testing new ideas allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you can refine your strategy in real time. Finally, the last step in creating a social media strategy is to check out your competitors. Conduct a competitive analysis to understand who the competition is and evaluate their successes and failures. By understanding your competitors and how they are interacting with their audiences, you will gain a better understanding of your market and can use those insights to better your social media strategy.

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Social media should be integrated into the overall marketing and business strategy to enhance customer engagement and create a unified brand image. “If brands don’t approach social as an integrated part of their marketing activity, it can lead to a disconnected experience for the consumer. Brands should always have one eye on social media and consider how their campaign may play out on social” (Atherton, 2019). Snapchat either lost track of or lacked a social media strategy when it made the incredibly tasteless post asking users whether they preferred slapping Rihanna or punching Chris Brown following a domestic violence incident about a decade ago. Its brand was damaged when Rhianna posted stories on competitor Instagram that called out Snapchat for attacking victims of domestic violence and abuse. Snapchat’s stock dropped $800 million in value due to the blunder. Its failed social media strategy in posting the offending piece significantly hurt its brand and likely cost them users in the process.

Having and constantly refining an effective social media strategy helps to create a deeper purpose, while providing necessary feedback to ensure your time and effort in a social media campaign are worth it. Like having a map or GPS on a trip to a new destination, an effective social media campaign can only be accomplished through an effective overall social media strategy. You’ll be lost without it.

References:

Atherton, J. (2019). Social media strategy: a practical guide to social media marketing and customer engagement. Kogan Page.

Social Media Graduate Student at the University of Florida