How to create a social media strategy
It isn’t news these days that a top-notch social media presence can lead you to greater levels of success. But you won’t make it to the top without a metaphorical ladder, which — in this case — comes in the form of a solid strategy. Jonathan Rienstra, DECODE’s Senior Social Strategist and resident subject matter expert for all things social media advertising, is sharing words of wisdom on the steps you can take to create a robust, on-brand social media presence.
Phase one: social media audit and strategy
- Audit. What is a social media audit? It starts by setting a baseline by looking at your current social media efforts and ask yourself the important questions: What are we talking about? What are our competitors doing? Do we have as many followers as we want? When it comes to audits, Jonathan tells us, “These are a great place to start because it really gives you perspective. Without looking at what you’re doing, and what your competitors are doing, you can’t create a plan that moves you forward. This is the foundation for the whole process.”
- Strategy. It’s a daunting word. But, in reality, kicking off your strategy is much more manageable than you’d think. This is the time to put all the important stuff — goals, tone, content pillars, platforms, audiences, etc. — in a document or deck that lays everything out. "It’s important to remember that your social posts aren’t islands. A strategy provides the right structure and framework for messaging, audiences, goals, and content types so you can make all the puzzle pieces fit together for a more cohesive brand on social." Don’t forget that your social media strategy should be aligned with your overall brand strategy.
- Optimize. How can you optimize your presence on social media? Taking care of the small stuff is the first step to success. For example, you should make sure all of your social platforms are up to date on information and imagery that match your current brand. “Social media isn’t just about your posts, it’s also about the pages themselves. All those things living permanently on your accounts, like profile pictures, bios, or links, need to be current and on-brand.”
Phase two: developing your social media calendar
- Plan. You don’t have to know everything all at once to plan a good social media calendar. Take it month by month, picking out topics that highlight priorities, occurrences, and other high-level talking points. As Jonathan puts it, “Your monthly planning is the application of your strategy. This is where you lay it all out in a calendar so you can clearly see if you’re developing diverse and holistic content — you don’t want three blogs in one week and then zero the rest of the month.”
- Write. “Whether you have one person or a team of writers, writing is a time-consuming process, and you want to get going well before you need to post. It’ll give you more flexibility to move things around or create timely content in-month. Your strategy and planning are your guiding lights at this point.” In other words: Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Design. Eye-catching and engaging graphics are what intertwines with your copy to really captures your audience’s attention. In Jonathan’s words, “You should know what content types you’re creating when you planned — this is when you bring it to life. There are so many options for design, including photography, animation, video, and infographics, so start with the big lifts that need more time.”
Need help getting started? Download our free content calendar template and social media infographic guide.
Phase three: social media reporting
- Review. Want a simple tip that’s always worth repeating? Review your content, then review it again. “No matter how experienced you are, you’re going to mess up. We review all of our content so we catch errors before our audiences catch them. Sloppy copy or off-brand messages will confuse your followers and weaken your brand. I always make sure a second person reviews everything before it goes out into the wild.”
- Schedule. You can check out platform analytics to find the optimal times to post. And scheduling ahead of time provides your team with the ability to work more efficiently. When we asked Jonathan what he’s learned about scheduling, he told us, “If you’re really on top of it, you could push your posts live in real-time, but that’s a hassle once you get beyond a handful each month. Each platform will tell you when your audiences are most active, and we will schedule our posts before the month or week starts to hit those times for better engagement. It’s also just less stressful not to have to remember each day.”
- Reporting. At the end of each month — or whatever your pre-determined time period is — collect all the relevant insights and data you need to learn how your social content is performing and what the future of your strategy should look like. “If you’re not reporting, you’re not growing. I love reports because they give us real-time data about what’s working and what we need to adjust. There’s usually a surprise or two in the analytics, and when you discover a new opportunity, it’s great to be able to tap into it and create content that really resonates with your audience.”
- Educate key senior leaders. Communicate with senior leadership about what is in the market and how it is performing. When they are informed and have a stake in your campaigns, they will become champions for the marketing team rather than a barrier to approvals. Their involvement can also lead to key information that may shape your campaigns and lead to overall improved brand communication and coordination.
Conclusion: When you start following these three phases consistently, it ensures that your posts work together to grow and connect with your audience in a meaningful way. At DECODE, we’re lucky to have experienced subject matter experts that lead our team in the right direction.
Ready to learn what else they have to say?