During my time consulting with marketing teams who were just breaking into the Social Media space, I heard it said that all the social platforms feel like an ocean: there are limitless possibilities, but it is also terrifying to dive in.

I can see how many would think that, which is why it is always helpful to have a guide to navigate the waters. In keeping with the analogy used in our first post of this series: if your social media goals are the final destination of where you want to end up, your social media strategy is going to be the map that takes you there. To find that treasure where X marks the spot, you're gonna need that treasure map first.

Each industry and brand will have unique nuances to how their strategies play out. So do not be fooled by those who will preach they have a “one strategy fits all” solution. You are unique, what you are trying to do is unique, and you need a unique strategy to help reach your goals.

But regardless of your unique situation, there are some proven social strategies and dynamics to creating your specific strategy that will define your success. So let's dive in with three things you need to know and study in order to begin developing a social strategy.

Know Your Target Audience

The more in-depth your understanding of who your audience is, the easier it will be to shape your strategy around those demographics.

Do you need to cater to a specific gender? Ethnicity? Age group? Income levels? Professions? International or domestic?

There are many software tools that you can utilize to discover these demographics, and connect with them on the respective networks. Certain social media platforms will be more effective when focusing on these specifics.

Here is a short list and breakdown of some tools that could benefit you in the search for your target audience. Don’t be afraid to do some further research on these and find what tool works best for you.

Account Management SproutSocial - The strongest social platform suit available. Connects to all the major social networks for management and scheduling needs. Whatever you want to do, it can do it. This software starts at $99 monthly subscription for up to 10 social profiles. Free trial available upon request.

ManageFlitter - This software is currently Twitter only with a new version called ManageSocial in the works for Instagram management as well. It will give you all the necessary needs for finding your target audience on Twitter, following and unfollowing management as well as automated post scheduling for Twitter and Facebook. Limited free version available and monthly subscription starting at $12.

Account Content Scheduling: Buffer - Mainstay as the most utilized social media content scheduling and automation platform. Works for all major platforms as well as browser extensions and iOS/Android apps available. Free plan for 3 accounts, paid subscriptions starting at $15 for 8 accounts.

SocialOomph - Includes necessary base scheduling and automation features on all major platforms. Limited free version to Twitter only, Pro subscription for $17.97 monthly for all platforms. Free 7 day trial available.

Know Your Competition

A fundamental aspect to being successful with social media is knowing your competition.It is not just a numbers game with how many followers or likes they have, it will also include knowing what are they doing. How is their strategy working? Where are they falling short? Why?

Researching is key. I know your schedule is already stretched but try to set some time aside to see what your competition is doing on their social channels. Emulate the positive aspects; learn and adapt from their social shortcomings so you can avoid it.

As Al Pacino’s character Michael Corleone says in The Godfather: Part II, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

Know Your Metrics

There are Five Fundamental Social Analytics metrics that are simple to track:

  1. Reach - how many users see your post, impressions
  2. Clicks - how many clicked the funnel link provided
  3. Engagement - comments, likes, shares, re-tweets
  4. Hashtag performance - how many people used the unique hashtag you created
  5. Organic vs Ads - how many people are seeing posts organically compared to ads

Once again, you can utilize a software tool out there that will help you collect this data from the start! There are some great softwares out there that can be found by a simple Google search. I also suggest using some sort of spreadsheet to catalog your growth as you get closer to reaching your goals.

Once you feel comfortable with these three dynamics, you can then begin to construct the strategy on which Social Media platforms to use and practical action steps you want to focus on!

We'd love to hear how developing your social strategy is going. Message in! We'd be happy to hear your feedback.