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The 10-Step Social Media Strategy For Beginners

beginner-10-step-social-media-strategy

Social media usage is on the rise. If you don’t yet have one, you need a social media strategy!

We still get a lot of calls from people who are just starting out with social. Or sometimes we hear that organic social media is hard.

We’ve got a surefire 10-step social media strategy for beginners that will help you launch your brand on social.

1) Social Media Strategy Goals

Most importantly, you must start with your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your social media presence? How are you tying your social media efforts to business outcomes?

A few common goals are

  • Brand awareness
  • Educating followers on your products/services
  • Enticing conversions with discounts or promos
  • Building a loyal & engaged community
  • Increasing sales (beware: this is really more of a paid media goal!)

Of course, you’re allowed to pick more than one goal. But then you need to figure out how to measure what you’re doing. We call these KPIs, or ‘key performance indicators.’

For instance, if your goal is brand awareness, how do you know if your social efforts are working? Well, you may see an increase in followers. Perhaps more people are using your branded hashtag. You may see that social media is sending more traffic to your website. All of these measure the success of your goal.

To start, you really must decide what you want your social media strategy to “do” for you and your brand.

2) All About Audience

The biggest key with a social media strategy for beginners is not getting ahead of yourself.

Before you proceed with creating content, you’ll want to know who you’re creating content for. You can’t start with content. And you can’t skip ahead to content because you will end up wasting time creating your best and then offering it up to people who don’t care about your brand. (But this is what a lot of people do.)

To start, you’ll want to understand which social media channels your desired audiences spend time on. Our friends at Sprout Social, for instance, continuously publish information about how the different generations use each social media platform.

Other ways to conduct audience research are to look at your …

Audience analysis is never done! However, if you start your social media strategy for beginners out with audience being one of the first on the list, you’ll have a much easier time finding success.

3) The Content Conundrum

Truthfully, many beginners start with content and not a goal. This is understandable, as social media requires a lot of quality content to gain traction.

However, the problem with many broken social media strategies is that they use social media as a broadcasting platform. And that’s not really enticing users to flock to your social channels.

The biggest question you need to answer about content is: What content is relevant to our audience?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can help with this step. Write down all of the questions that your would-be and current customers have asked you. From that, you should find a plethora of content to write about.

By offering valuable content, you should be able to keep your audience engaged.

4) A Social Media Strategy For Beginners: Content Themes

First, you’ll want to dig deeper into your content marketing strategy. Tie your content back to your social media goals and ask yourself the following key question.

How do we tie our content themes to our social media goals?”

You have your FAQ content, now think about the types of content you want to share out consistently. We often call these content themes. A few examples of content themes we use are below.

  • Service information (Social Media Management, Paid Media Management, Social-First Customer Care)
  • Behind-the-scenes content (BTS content)
  • Case studies
  • Tips and tricks

Next, you’ll want to tie your themes to your goals. So if one of our goals is to get more traffic to our website from our social media posts, we’d share blog posts with a link back to the website talking about service information.

To showcase our culture, we share BTS content of our team members and the fun things we do. Case studies, for instance, provide nurture content and encourage readers to book a free consultation.

Each piece of content has a goal. And that should be your goal!

5) Which Social Channels Should You Use?

Surprisingly, a lot of people start here with a strategy. However, we’re here to tell you that this is much farther down on the list.

Your social media strategy for beginners shouldn’t focus on the medium until you’ve sussed out goals, audience, and content. Another “no-no” is choosing to be everywhere. Not every social channel will fit your brand or messaging.

Follow the below checklist as a guideline.

  1. Look back at your audience research. Where do your customers spend their time online?
  2. Figure out which social platforms can help you achieve your social media and content goals.
  3. Which medium best fits your content themes? For example, if you’re sharing longer videos, YouTube may work best. Shorter videos may be suitable for Instagram or TikTok.
  4. Will paid media be a big part of your strategy? Look for social platforms that make it easy for advertisers, like Facebook or Twitter.

Overall, pick just a few channels to start. Even picking just one platform to focus on can be super helpful. You can always add more later. Don’t let overwhelm keep you from doing social right!

6) Personality, PLEASE!

A good social media strategy for beginners will ensure you focus on your style, too!

At B Squared Media, we like to ask for — or help our clients put together — a style guide. This is where you figure out your tone and voice on social.

Ask some of the following questions to help guide your personality

  • Do we sign off on social with names, initials, or nothing at all?
  • Are emoji part of our “language” online? What about memes and gifs?
  • Do we spell out a word like favorite or use shorthand of “fave” or fav”?
  • How many exclamation points are too many? (we use a lot!)

Finally, another fun exercise to consider is picking your “celebrity” by asking: If our brand was a popular celebrity, who would be be and why?

7) Don’t Forget To Be Social (Duh!)

Too many brands use social media as a broadcasting platform. This is not a smart social media strategy for beginners OR experts. In fact, response times are extremely important for growing, and keeping, your community of loyal fans.

You’ll find that people will communicate with you in several ways. They’ll …

  • Ask questions about your product/service
  • Complain about your products/service and even your content and marketing efforts
  • Post reviews about your product/service
  • Tag your brand in their product photos or videos
  • Ask their social media peers to give advice about your brand

Similarly, you’ll have to decide how you want to approach these conversations. Are you going to respond to every mention (hint: you probably should)? What about conversations where you’re being mentioned but you aren’t being tagged?

Responding when someone mentions your brand but doesn’t tag you specifically can be a great way to show that you’re proactive, friendly, listening, and ready to help.

EXAMPLE: If someone tags @HelloBSquared on Twitter, we will see it in our SmartInbox, pictured in Step 8 below. But say they just mention us … “Is anyone going to the Hello Conference that B Squared is hosting?” We would not see that in the SmartInbox because we aren’t tagged. However, if we were listening beyond mentions, or using social listening, we could see that and give an insight response about the types of people and companies who’ve already signed up for the event.

All in all, you need to dedicate a serious portion of your social media strategy to responding.

social-media-strategy-response-times-sprout-social-index

[Source]

As you can see in the above graphic from Sprout Social’s most recent Sprout index, consumers define “best-in-class” brands on social by their customer service or responsiveness.

8) Smart Scheduling

It’s no secret that social media marketing is extremely time consuming. By choosing tools that can help you automate certain tasks, like scheduling posts, you can save yourself heaps of time (and headaches!). We use Sprout Social, but there are many tools that can meet your personalized needs.

social-media-strategy-sprout-social-smart-inbox
The Smart Inbox with Sprout Social

A smart social media strategy for beginners will also include time to respond to any conversations happening around your brand through social media.

The biggest hurdle to overcome is to set aside time to create content, post it, and respond. And don’t forget about analyzing your efforts!

9) The *Actual* Social Media Strategy

Once you’ve gone through Steps 1-8, you pretty much have a social media strategy. Now, you just need to document that strategy as a plan!

You need to ensure your plan is actionable. You also need to ensure your plan is measurable. You’ve got your overarching goals that are tied to business outcomes. You’ve probably figured out a few of your KPIs. Now document that, along with who is responsible for what, as part of your plan.

Try a 90-day, 6-month, and 12-month goal plan.

  • In 90 days, we expect for X to happen. Example: Website traffic from social will go from 0% to 5%.
  • In six months, we expect for X to happen. Example: Our Facebook Page should grow from zero Fans to 1,000 Fans.
  • In twelve months, we expect for X to happen. Example: We will go from zero social media conversation and support, to X conversations (with support) each month.

Your goals should align with your why (Step One). Otherwise, what are you spending your time on social for?!

10) Evaluating Your Social Media Strategy For Beginners

Finally, after your 12-month plan is over, you’ll want to measure your results. Were you able to meet all of your goals? Why or why not?

Evaluate both what worked and what didn’t. And now, make another social media strategy for the next twelve months. You’re not a beginner anymore! Make your goals harder. Create additional KPIs. Think of innovative ways to use social media data to better serve your current and would-be customers.

Lastly, if you really had a hard time with your plan, don’t forget there are companies like ours who can help! If that’s more your style, feel free to book a free 30-minute consultation to see how we can help.

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
Category: Social Media Marketing, Social Strategy
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