social media, mirror, sticky notes
In today's world, social media use is a necessity when it comes to brand awareness. — PeopleImages

When social media first emerged as a business marketing platform, all that was required to stay ahead of the competition was a consistent posting schedule. Today, brands need a more targeted strategy to reach their audience.

A good social media marketing strategy is one that is well planned and consistent. Here are six steps you should take to create a strong social media marketing strategy.

1. Identify your goals.

Most businesses have a social media presence, but many haven’t defined their key goals. Setting concrete benchmarks is essential to measuring your progress.

While different businesses will have different needs, there are three common social media goals that apply to most businesses.

  • Increase brand awareness. Focus your efforts on producing meaningful content that connects with your customers emotionally.
  • Sell your services or products. Post pictures of your products and advertise sales or promotions on social media.
  • Drive traffic to your website. Give users a reason to engage with the brand and visit your shop or website. Remember to show readers what they will get out of clicking your link.

2. Choose the best platform(s) for your audience.

Many businesses treat all social media channels the same, but this isn’t the most effective approach. Rather than using every available social channel, focus on the ones that best reach your target audience.

A 2018 study conducted by Pew Research Center studied the five major social media platforms — LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat — and recorded the most popular user demographics for each platform, including gender, age group, income and education level.

Understanding your audience’s demographics and matching them up with the proper social channels is key. For example, the study found that Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are more popular among participants in their late teens and early twenties, while LinkedIn and Facebook cater more to those age 25 and up.

Understanding your audience's demographics and matching them up with the proper social channels is key.

3. Create a schedule.

Creating a social media calendar that lists the content you will publish throughout the week or month encourages consistency.

For example, you may find that video posts do well on Tuesdays, while link-sharing posts get more clicks on Saturdays. The longer you maintain a social media calendar and test new strategies, the more refined it will become and the more successful it will be.

The specific time you publish a post is of equal importance. Depending on your business or industry, posting at 5:00 a.m. on a weekday could have great success — or it might get buried under a million other posts.

4. Engage with your audience.

While social media is a great way to promote your brand and everything you have to offer, it was also designed for people to be social. Engaging with and listening to your audience is just as important as spreading your message.

Customers use social media more than any other form of communication to speak directly with a brand. If they are ignored, studies show that they are 30 percent more likely to visit a competitor.

If you use social media as a place to interact with your users, you will build genuine relationships.

5. Track the right metrics.

Once you have established your goals, platforms, schedule, and begun posting, you’ll want to keep track of your progress. This can be done through the analytics systems of social media platforms, or through Google Analytics. [Read more on how to get started with Google Analytics]

The following are the most common metrics to track:

  • Clicks. If your goal is to get visitors to your website, pay close attention to the number of clicks your posts get as well as referral traffic. This will give you a better understanding of where your target audience is active and how they move through your sales funnel.
  • Reach and impressions. Often confused with each other, impressions are the total number of times your posts have been seen. Reach is the total number of times your posts have been seen by a unique account. Measuring both will give you feedback on things like hashtag use, posting frequency, and posting times.
  • Engagement. Engagement is the number of social interactions you’ve received, divided by the number of impressions. This metric helps you determine if your social media efforts are reaching the right audience, conveying the right message or using the appropriate hashtags.
  • Number of posts. This metric is often overlooked, but it directly correlates to your overall success. For every social media channel, find the “Goldilocks” number of posts each day/week. You don’t want to schedule too many or too few posts.

6. Adapt, learn and grow.

The social media landscape is always evolving and new trends are being shaped constantly. In order to grow, your brand needs to adapt.

Tracking your metrics will help guide you on what you need to change, and testing new strategies will educate you on how to generate more clicks, reach, impressions, and engagement.

Testing new strategies, whether your metrics are on par or lacking, also improves your chances of reaching your maximum potential.

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best social media management tools, visit our friends at business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.