How to Create a Social Media Strategy

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You can be either a startup or an established company but social media is, for sure,  a crucial part of your marketing. I know that everyone and their mother is tired of hearing about the importance of having a direct channel with clients and its potential reach, however, this doesn’t mean that random posts with cute images are enough to generate results. Creating a strategy, knowing your audience and being consistent with posting is essential.

My work with social media always begins with a content plan, analysing the brand and the market in order to develop a strategy and putting it into action. It inspired me to write this guide, hoping this can help you creating a simple and efficient plan. And there are useful links to optimize the work in the end! Here we go:

– Goals: first things first, what are they? You want social media to drive sales? Create a community? Develop brand awareness? If you are in the fashion or beauty industries your goals are probably all the above, which is perfectly normal. Once you have listed, it’s much easier to bring them into life.

– Audience: is the key to determine in which channels you should be. So, don’t rush to Snapchat if your audience doesn’t include teenagers because they are not there (yet). Remember: the media dictate the message. It’s better to be active in fewer channels than being all over them with meaningless presence.

– Competition: it’s super relevant to analyse how they are positioning themselves and to map the best practices. Get inspiration from brands that are not necessarily in the same segment is also worth. Note: get inspiration is a completely different thing than shamelessly copy!

– Content: the main focus is to plan following the brand identity. Think about the client profile, the tone of voice and write examples to be used as models for the future posts. Themes related to the brand also need to be narrowed down to facilitate the research before the content production. Make a balance between product and lifestyle posts to have an interesting and diversified feed, especially if your product offer is limited. Put an extra effort in image quality and explore events and special dates wisely (posts celebrating every Friday or in honour of Pizza, breed X dogs, kissing or XYZ movie days can be irrelevant to the brand image and simply tiresome)

– Frequency and timing: some channels, like Twitter, allow a higher frequency of postings whilst in others the lower the better (2 per day on Instagram are usually enough and on Facebook the probability of views is tiny if they aren’t promoted). There is no rule here so use common sense and think as a consumer: no one likes to see a feed with 10 sequenced posts from the same account.

About the best times to post, search on analytic reports when your followers are most online and be aware that peak hours (early morning, lunch time and evening) are not necessarily the best for your audience. If you are starting an account, try different moments of the day for a period (in more or less one month you can have a good notion) until you find the best hours.

– Engagement: if the great advantage of social media is the possibility to have a direct conversation, go for it! Interact, reply messages and like when people mention or share your posts. This is what makes you stand out, not the number of followers. I’d rather have 200 active followers than 20.000 that barely like a picture. In that sense, apps and services that claim to increase it fast are useless. Follow who are engaged with your brand and influencers related to its lifestyle. Focus on quality over quantity.

Campaigns: before making the investment, check your goals: to drive sales, expand the brand reach or both? Carefully plan the budget and the segmentation, considering where your audience is most active. Again, stats can be really helpful. Facebook ads usually bring more people to the Page and with that, potential purchases. Pinterest is great to generate sales and Instagram has the no clickable links issue (the user need to go to your profile).

If the budget is tight, invest in a collaboration with bloggers or influencers, or invite someone for a takeover (usually on Instagram). A Tweetchat can also work as a good PR strategy (for example, the designer will talk about the new collection or answer questions about personal style). Be creative and don’t forget to employ hashtags to measure results.

– Hashtags: yes, they are a great tool to promote posts and increase their reach but let’s be reasonable. Researches have shown that on Twitter 2 are enough and on Instagram you can choose up to 30(!), but 11 is the limit if you don’t want to annoy the audience. Personally, I only use 3 or 4 whilst with clients I take around 5, always considering the relevance. Generic hashtags such as #love, #fashion and #sun are so hugely popular that you can’t get much out of them. Go for something more specific and take the suggestions that appear when you type as a guide.

And, please, let’s end this #blessed and #gratitude thing. Show yours by donating time or money to those in need, preferably without bragging on Instagram, ok?

Another point: visualize the post with all the # and be aware of visual pollution. For example, on Instagram, I like to write the caption, press return and then list all # below. On Twitter, it’s a little trickier with the 140 characters limitation, but it’s still worth focusing on a clear reading. Emojis included.

– Monitoring: after all the effort, evidently you want results! And analytics reports exist for this reason. You can understand what went right or wrong, change posting times, choose certain themes over others, measure campaign reach… Google Analytics has a dedicated section to social media and almost all of them offer reports as well. Nevertheless, be patient as the results are hardly instantaneous. Again, a good plan and posting consistency are going to make a difference on outcomes and in your brand image!

Useful links

Like to know. it: a program that sends links by email to allow customers to buy a product they liked on Instagram

Hootsuite, SproutSocial and Buffer: softwares to schedule and manage different accounts under the same roof. Sprout is a paid service whilst Buffer and Hootsuite (the one I use) offer some free options.

SproutSocial Demographics: infographics with key demographics for each social media

Iconosquare: to manage and access many Instagram metrics

Later (ex-Latergramme): app to schedule Instagram posts (you still need to open the app, copy and paste the caption but at least it sends you a reminder)

Tweeriod: provides an analysis of the best times to post according to your followers habits

TailWind: to manage and schedule pins on Pinterest (paid service)

Image: Daniela Augusto

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