A lot of people know what social media is. In fact, as you’re reading this, you’re probably perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and more) all at the same time. Of course you are because, let’s face it, multi-tasking is in. Truth be told, though, very few people, surprisingly, actually know how to make social media work hard for a brand or a business. It’s not for a lack of wanting or even trying. Mastering the seemingly endless ins and outs of social media takes practice – and sometimes even a little bit of patience. But practice makes perfect, right?
So, whether you are a seasoned social media aficionado or finding yourself needing to dip your toes into the social media waters for the first time (because your boss just told you to “do some social media” – gasp!), this guide is for you. It’s a simple – dare we say, #basic – take on how to plan, develop, execute, and measure successful social media campaigns. It’s not brain science (nor would any of us want it to be), but it’s definitely a good way to keep yourself focused and avoid from getting overwhelmed. It’ll also makes you look like a social media superstar! 6 of 7 consumers do their research online before they set foot in-store and, as of 2021, social commerce revenues peaked at $36 billion in the U.S.
Enough of the chit chat. Let’s get down to business. Follow these quick and easy steps to get moving on social media, fast. (Seriously, what are you waiting for? The work isn’t going to get done by itself…)
- Set (Realistic) Goals
- Determine Your Target Audiences
- Organize Your Content and Promotions
- Get the Creative Juices Flowing
- Schedule Posts
- Engage and Respond
- Measure, Measure, Measure
1. Set (Realistic) Goals
Sure, we’d all like to; move a mountain when it comes to building a social media program, but that’s not likely to happen overnight. So, take a step back and think in terms of baby steps. As in, what can you feasibly accomplish in the near-term and how will that set you up for long-term success? Do you want to drive online sales? Do you want to grow your social media following? Do you want customers to participate in some sort of Instagram contest? Basically, think about the top two to three things that you’d (realistically) like to accomplish right out the gate. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. It just needs to take you one step above from where you are right now. So think about what you want to accomplish, write it down, commit it to memory, and then move onto Step 2.
2. Determine Your Target Audiences
Now you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish. Phew. The hard part’s over, right? Not quite. The only way you’re going to hit your goals is if you engage the right people in your social media efforts. But you may push back and say, “my brand is relevant to everyone, so why can’t I just reach out to…everyone?” Well, my friend, that’s just not a very effective strategy. It’s pretty hard, generally speaking, to create content and promotions that everyone will love. So, you need to think long and hard about which subset(s) of your audience you need to engage specifically – with content and communications geared to their likes, wants, needs, and/or interests – to help you make a dent in your goal.
Depending on the products or services you offer, your target audiences could vary significantly. Are you trying to get millennial men, aged 18-30 to buy your new product? Do you want suburban housewives, aged 35-45 to share your most recent post? Whatever the case may be – and whoever your target audience may be – you need to very clearly identify 1) who you’re speaking to and 2) what you’re telling them. Until you’ve got that sorted out, do not pass “go,” do not collect $200, and, for the love of everything that’s good in this world, do not move onto Step 3. (This is an important step – take it seriously!)
3. Organize Your Content and Promotions
Sorry for playing “bad cop” in Step 2, but sometimes you just have got to crack the whip. But you’ll be better off because of it in the long run. Scouts honor. Moving on. By now you should have a working list of all the various content, communications, and promotions you want to broadcast to your freshly identified target audiences. Now, it’s time to organize it all and get your ducks in a row. Doing so will help you stay sane when it comes time to actually creating all that content.
If you’re a visual learner, like many marketers, a simple calendar is the best way to organize the who, what, and when of your social media strategy. At this stage, though, don’t get into the weeds; you can always tweak later. Just lay everything out to make sure the cadence of your communications makes sense and is spread out evenly enough to make a sustained impact. And when you see all of these “puzzle pieces” organized nicely in a simple calendar, you’ll have a better grasp on how to prioritize getting all that content created. (Hint, start with the stuff that needs to go out the door first.)
Now, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and move onto Step 4. This is where the fun really begins.
4. Get the Creative Juices Flowing
Whether you’re a one-man (ahem, or one-woman) show or have a full creative team at your disposal, there’s no time to waste – you’ve got to get creative development underway. Here’s a little secret: don’t over-think it. If you were asked to develop a social media strategy and campaign yesterday, the unfortunate reality is that you are already behind the eight-ball. It’s time to get out of the “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” mindset and just get the work done. But remember this: not all social media content is created equally. Some things needs to get out of the door, fast. Other things require a lot more planning. You won’t always have the luxury of time to ponder the perfect, life-changing, never-seen-before campaign of your dreams. (It’s ok, take a moment to let that sink in.) So, work with what you’ve got, – aka, brand guidelines – brief your creative team on everything you need, and then get cracking.
Remember, if you properly followed Steps 1 through 3, most of the heavy lifting is already done. Just trust that your creative team can bring that content and promotions calendar to life. And try to restrain yourself from the annoying tendency to nitpick until you all turn blue in the face. If the creative is on-message, on-brand, and delivered to you on-time, run with it. You may have just experienced a miracle. But your job isn’t done, yet. Time for Step 5.
5. Schedule Posts
Remember that beautiful calendar you created back in Step 3? Well, it’s going to come in real handy right about now. But first, be sure to thank the creative team (you did, didn’t you?) for cranking out this work, fast, before you get all that content locked, loaded, and ready to post. If you are fortunate enough to use Viralify Social Media Management, this part can actually be a lot of fun (woohoo!). When scheduling your posts, we take care of day parts, specific audiences, and a whole slew of other features to make sure that you reach (no pun intended) the right audience with the right message at the right time (bringing back memories of Step 2, eh?). And, even better, we do it all in advance. So, why wait until the day of to post your content? Get it out of the way as soon as you possibly can so you can shift your attention towards more important things, like Step 6.
6. Engage and Respond
You really thought you were off the hook after Step 5, didn’t you? As nice as it would be to just send your content out into the social ether and go back to dreaming about sipping cocktails with cute little umbrellas in them by the beach, that’s not how this process works. The minute your content gets posted, you’ll have hundreds – maybe even thousands – of people liking, commenting, criticizing, and questioning that beautiful bit of social media joy you poured your heart and soul into. And since social media is a two-way street, if people took the time to engage with your post – even if it’s not quite the kind of engagement you hoped or expected – it’s your responsibility to keep the conversation going.
Your followers want to know that they’ve been heard. Answer questions, thank your brand advocates for their words of praise, and do whatever you can (within reason) to turn a disgruntled customer’s frown upside down. (Just don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make everyone step away from the dark side!) Being active in social media is about more than just posting content and praying that it will help you, slowly but surely, achieve your goals. You need to be engaged in your audience just as much as they are engaged in, by, and with your brand.
So, get to it – in the time that you’ve read this, about a dozen more comments have just poured in. Once you’ve got that under control, feel free to move onto Step 7.
7. Measure, Measure, Measure
The great thing about social media – and all digital media, for that matter – is the simple fact that we can know fairly quickly whether a piece of content, the latest promotion, or even the random “filler” post (don’t deny that you don’t resort to this every now and then) is working well or failing miserably. Everything can be measured in real-time. Everything can be tweaked, fine-tuned, and refined in real-time. The keyword here is: “real-time.” You’ve got the tools at your disposal (hint, hint: Viralify Social Media Management) to ensure that all the hard work you put into your social media campaigns actually pays off. There will be some successes just as there will inevitably be some massive fails, too. Just be glad that you can fail fast, and then focus your attention on the tactics that worked best.
Life is full of trial and error. Not everything, even that cute post of the dog wearing some ridiculous costume, is going to be an instant win with your audience. Keep tabs on your metrics, celebrate your wins, learn from your fails, and never lose sight of the goals you’ve set. When all is said and done, you’ve got to prove that your strategy worked. Data will soon become your best friend.
But wait, there’s more!
Just when you think you’ve crossed everything off of your to-do list, be sure to take a few minutes to review what parts of your recent social media campaigns worked well as well as what could be better in the future. Taking the time here to do a bit of a post mortem may save you hours of work (and brainpower) all year-round. After all, the goal here is to simplify. Learn from your successes as well as your mistakes – because, let’s face it, nothing in life is ever perfect 100 percent of the time. And when you take the time to learn from the past, it’ll be that much easier to surpass the goals you set for yourself over and over again.