Creating your social media strategy

Gone are the days where posting to social media is an afterthought. You can no longer just take a “quick pic” on your smartphone and “chuck it up on social media” to see what happens. Given that there are 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide, 4 million of whom are here in New Zealand, it has become essential that social media is an integral part of a business’s marketing plan. Social media is different to traditional media such as print and radio, therefore it requires its own strategy and plan of attack. Creating an effective social media account requires several key components, starting with identifying your target audience.

The typical users of Instagram and Facebook vary. Instagram is generally a younger audience, 18-34 years of age, whereas Facebook tends to reach an older market. Perhaps knowing that your target audience differs between the two platforms will lead to the understanding that related but different content will better appeal to each platform audience. Once you have successfully identified who you are targeting, you need to determine your purpose.

What are you trying to achieve by being on social media? Is it to build your brand awareness or an online community? Generate sales leads? Solidify your business’s presence in your town or city? Defining why you are using social media is the best way to aid the creation of your content plan.

Having a monthly or quarterly content plan is the key to a successful social media account. Here at The Social Project, when we are creating content plans for our clients, we will mix up the month ahead with diverse posts, alternating between what we call sales, educational, inspirational and connection posts. It is important not to always be seen as selling to your audience. Your followers want to be inspired and feel that you add value to them. Typically, connection posts where your audience can get to know the people behind the brand are the most popular, followed by educational posts where people can learn something from you.

Deciding on the tone of voice for your accounts is also really important to outline in your strategy. Captions add depth to your visuals and are a powerful tool to connect with your followers, so communicating in a certain way is vital.

When considering your content plan, it’s essential to determine how you are going to execute it. Who will take your photos, schedule the posts weekly, write the captions, engage with your audience and watch what your competitors are doing? Determine whether you have someone in-house that has the time and capacity to take on these tasks. If not, consider outsourcing to an agency or a consultant.

For hospitality businesses, working with Influencers, either occasionally or regularly, should certainly be considered as part of your strategy. When done right, an Influencer’s recommendation to their followers can generate a great deal of hype around your restaurant, bar or cafe which at the end of the day, is what we all strive for.

Deciding on a budget for social media advertising should also be addressed. Facebook advertising is a really powerful tool and a good use of said budget. As opposed to “boosting” posts, get to know your way around your Business Manager. There, you can target several audiences, create several adverts at once and monitor their performance. You can also install a website pixel that is capable of re-targeting people who were recently visiting your website. What’s more is that you can set your own budget as well as change it mid way through if you don’t feel that it’s working for you. At the end of the campaign, you’ll be able to assess the tangible results.

Once your strategy is in place and its execution is underway, it’s important that you monitor the results, and constantly make changes to your approach. The social media landscape is changing on a daily basis and there are always new opportunities for your business to maximise. There is no other form of marketing where you can instantly communicate and interact with your customers, so get on board.

insightsRachel Wilson