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By Ellen Atlanta
This article is one in a series covering The Stack’s Spring Business Summit. Take your business to the next level with the help and advice of our business experts.
ocial media – you might be familiar with it. Billions of users across the globe pour hours into each platform across the globe; you’re probably one of them. And why wouldn’t you be?
In the 21st century, everything worth knowing happens on social media. So it’s no surprise it has become the not-so-secret weapon for many businesses. But like any other part of your marketing, it needs a proper strategy. You could wing it, but social media marketers who develop strategies are 313% more likely to report success. And 70% of social media marketers who set goals actually achieve them. So if you’re looking to use social media to your advantage, a strategy is vital.
As part of our Spring Business Summit, Ellen Atlanta, expert brand consultant and social strategist savant, gave her essential tips on how we can develop our social strategy. She’s worked with some amazing brands including Dazed Beauty, Nasty Gal and beautystack, and has an intimate knowledge of what it takes to level up a social game.
But first, before you even get to the strategy, you need to audit your accounts. The whole point of the audit is to step back and analyse what you’re doing and see if it’s working for you. Look for patterns. What links to posts are earning the most engagement? Do they ask questions or use specific images? That information will prove vital when planning your future posts.
Then you need to conduct a competitor analysis. Find five to 10 competitors and take notes on their follower counts: what content gets the best engagement, when they post, how often, and any hashtags they use. See what you can apply to your accounts. In theory, you’re targeting the same people, so what works for them should work for you too. These two pieces of research will become your foundation for your strategy.
To create one, you need to answer the five Ws – why, who, what , where, and when.
‘Social media marketers who develop strategies are 313% more likely to report success. And 70% of social media marketers who set goals achieve them’
The first is “why”. Ask yourself why you’re using each particular platform. What are you hoping to get out of it? Is it sales? Brand awareness? To drive traffic to your website? It could be anything. From there, you need to set SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. They force you to create goals that are realistic and achievable, grounded in reality. When you establish your new goals, make sure they meet each criteria.
Next is “who”. Who is your target audience? An effective way to pin this down is to create customer personas. Analyse your customer list and pick out those who shop with you the most or those who spend the most. You can also send surveys to your followers and post polls on socials. Get to know your customers inside out, where they shop, what they watch, where they spend their free time - all information is valuable.
You want to create a vision of one to five specific personas. And the more specific you are, the better. What’s their name? Where do they shop? What do they do on their way to work? Do they read the news or are they on Snapchat? It’s fine if your personas aren’t accurate at the beginning; you’ll constantly be coming back to them to improve them as you gain new information.
Now on to “where”. Using your customer personas, where does your audience spend their time? Instagram’s largest demographic is women aged 18-24, but is that where your audience is? If you’re really struggling, you can always set up accounts on the big four to get started. The big four are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. If nothing else, having these accounts will at least boost your website’s ranking on Google.
‘The best strategies are those you come back to again and again, refining over time’
Next is “what”, as in what is your content? If you’re unsure what to post and when, there are two popular mixes you can try. The first is 80/20, so 80% of your content is for entertaining, educative, or informative content, and the remaining 20% is left for promotional content. For platforms that are more geared towards engagement, i.e. Twitter, try the rule of thirds. One third for promotion, another for sharing ideas, tips, or tricks, and your remaining third for engaging your followers, replying, RTing, and humanising your business.
You can refer back to your competitor research at this point, along with the audit of your own work. You should already know what content works and can easily work those ideas into the methods above.
Finally, we have “when”. When is the best time to post? Here, consistency is key. If you’re unsure when to post, you can find multiple opinions on when’s best. Here’s a great article by Sprout Social that runs through the most popular platforms. You can also conduct your own research. Play around with posting times and see which works for you; after all, it’ll depend on who your audience is.
By answering these five Ws, you begin to create a social media strategy that works perfectly for your business. But it doesn’t end there. The best strategies are the ones you come back to again and again, refining over time. Always ask yourself if there’s anything you can tweak or if the personas are still an accurate reflection of your audience.
This article was taken from a live membership workshop. You can access the hour-long recording, and much more, on demand when you sign up to become a member.
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Too many businesses take to social media with no real plan. To get the most out of your social media efforts, it’s essential to plan your social media strategy. Only then will you achieve the results and hit your social media goals.
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