Since its inception in the early 2000s, social media has evolved to become an increasingly vital part of the digital marketing landscape. Between 2016 to 2020, companies spent $15.6 billion on social advertising—and experts expect that number to nearly quadruple to $56 billion by 2022.
From a B2C standpoint, the importance of social media is easy to see. Consumers use social media platforms to communicate with peers on a regular basis. By using social media as a means of engaging with existing and potential consumers, companies can build a stronger brand. For example, Pizza Hut humanizes its brand by utilizing its Twitter account to retweet users and post memes to keep its audience engaged and hungry.
With B2B companies, social media can serve as a way to share valuable content and increase website traffic. For example, SAP, a computer software business, leverages LinkedIn to share relevant messaging, create positive brand associations and build its business connections.
When it comes to social media, having a strategic plan in place is a must to be effective—whether you’re looking to build greater brand awareness, position your business as a thought leader or drive more traffic to your website.
We’ve broken down five key tips any brand can follow to optimize its social media strategy:
1. Set Clear, Measurable Objectives
Every social media strategy needs an established set of clear, measurable objectives. Without them, there is no way to define your goals or to measure your success. Consider what it is that you are trying to accomplish with social media.
Brands should set specific goals that are measurable, achievable, relevant and timely—also known as SMART goals. Start out by identifying your broad business objectives. Then, you can identify more specific goals that will serve as the foundation for your social media strategy.
Setting specific goals that align with your overall marketing strategy not only holds you accountable, but also guides your marketing budget and ensures all social media efforts work toward the bigger picture.
2. Choose Appropriate Social Media Channels
Now that you’ve decided to invest in social media marketing, the next challenge is to select which platforms your business should leverage. Conduct research on the different types of social networks to help you make an educated decision on which best align with your target audience and marketing strategy. B2B companies, for instance, typically see greater results with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Ask yourself who it is that you’re trying to reach. Who are your competitors? What are your goals?
Regardless of the channels you choose, it’s important to still monitor all platforms. This enables you to see what customers and competitors are saying about your brand. A few of the aggregating tools that can help with this include HootSuite or TweetDeck. Weigh the pros and cons for each social platform and take into consideration which are being used by your target audience.
3. Develop a Distinct Brand Voice & Tone
Finding a distinct brand voice and tone for your social media channels can be difficult. These elements are not quantifiable or tangible. However, they are important to incorporate when developing your social media strategy.
Voice is your company’s brand identity and personality, while tone adds character to your voice based on your target audience and the specific social media channel you’re using. For example, local Bavarian brewery and restaurant Hofbrauhaus Cleveland uses playful, tongue-in-cheek messaging on Instagram that brings its brand to life in a fun way.
When filling out your profiles for social media, be sure to tie in your brand’s voice and tone. People tend to do business with others they feel comfortable with, so it’s important to show off your company’s personality. Consider this food for thought—how do you want your existing and prospective customers to perceive your company?
4. Engage With Your Target Audience
Social media is an effective medium largely because there are so many people who use it every day. It’s important to drive engagement by sharing unique, useful or interesting content that resonates with your target audience and then encouraging them to share it with their followers.
Plus, the more people who engage with your content, the more likely social media algorithms are to recommend your account. Be sure to pay attention to any time that your brand is tagged or mentioned in a post. If it’s relevant and appropriate, it’s a good idea to reshare the post to your page. Incorporating user-generated content will help to further build your brand awareness and drive greater engagement.
5. Gauge Your Results
Last, but certainly not least, measuring the success of your social media efforts is an essential step of an effective social media strategy. Gauging your results will enable you to see what’s working and what is not.
Much can be learned from quantitative metrics, such as how many shares, comments or likes your posts receive, or the number of followers gained each week. However, qualitative metrics are equally important. For example, monitoring customer feedback, whether positive or negative, will help provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your business strategy. These results can also be used to compare your company’s performance against that of its competitors.
Carefully review your results and consider how your marketing metrics are performing. Are you missing anything? Was anything superfluous or unnecessary? Then, you can determine what needs improvement, make changes and then measure your continued progress. Check back in with the goals you set initially and make sure your new metrics actually help you address those goals. Keep in mind that there’s no magic formula—it’ll take some time to experiment, learn and implement new ways to achieve your goals.