A step-by-step guide to creating a social media strategy for any business
This episode covers the elements you should consider in the strategy stage, before creating a social media account for your brand or business, as well as how to get that account up and active.
Join Naomi Ross from Sydney Design Social and I as we talk social media strategy, hashtags, creating content and her number one tip for creating engaging accounts.
NOT SURE WHETHER YOUR BUSINESS SHOULD HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS?
Think about your target audience. Does that demographic actively engage with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook? If the answer is yes, then social media accounts are a great way of reaching and engaging with them. If you want a little more detail, check out this previous episode on The PR Pod.
“Do not create a social media account for your business without creating a strategy first. You need to understand what you're trying to achieve and how you're going to do that”
WHAT SHOULD A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY INCLUDE?
Goals. Forget about social media for a second, what are the broader business goals? When you understand those, you can then determine how the social media channels can assist in achieving those goals. E.g, you might think the most important thing is to reach a particular number of followers within three months. However, your business goal may be to sell out a new season fashion collection. Or increase trade in a bar on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. It doesn't mean you can't also have a goal of growing followers quickly but that shouldn't be the primary goal if it doesn't match the business focus
Target Audience. Identify exactly who your audience is, the split between male/female, the age bracket/s etc
Platform Analysis. Based on your target audience, which social media platforms are relevant to have? Instagram only? Instagram and Facebook? Twitter?
Tone of voice. Keep in mind this should be reflective of your brand and not you, personally. What language will be used/not used? Are you cheeky and fun or more informative?
Content Pillars. These are the 4-5 main things you want your business to be known for. If it's a pub, you might want to be known for your food, drinks, weekly events, functions plus the fact you're a dog-friendly pub. There's your five pillars. Every piece of content you post has to fit into one of these pillars. And these content pillars should match the key messages you've created for the PR component of the campaign
Hashtags. What are the most relevant hashtags for your brand? (more on that below)
Paid strategy. Considering the visibility of business posts is very small compared to the posts of friends and family, you'll need to be boosting posts to ensure they're seen. Determine a budget and how that will be split. E.g. if a goal is to grow the number of followers, then you'll need to be boosting a generic post that introduces your brand to the right audience. In addition, another goal may be to encourage people into a bar on a Tuesday night for $1 chicken wings, so budget will need to be allocated to posts that have that messaging
Overview of content strategy.
Pre-launch: Will you be posting pre-launch and if so, for what time frame? If you do this, make sure you're releasing content in line with the PR timings and not before. How much content do you have to share and how often will you post? Is it better to share on stories, which are more informal, or the feed? Use this time to encourage newsletter sign-ups to build your database. Don't bore your followers. If you don't have engaging, interesting content to post pre-launch, don't bother
Launch onwards: will you post once a day, three times a week etc. And what time of day is best for your target audience engagement? Are there key campaign/business timings you need to factor into your content calendar?
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more tips and insight on creating a social media strategy You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".
IS IT EASY TO ACTUALLY CREATE FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS?
Absolutely. Head to Facebook or Instagram and they'll guide you through. Select business and not personal accounts, as business gives you more access to analytics and insight
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME HANDLES FOR FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM?
Ideally, it is better to have the same name (AKA handle) for both. It makes it more uniform plus easier to identify/find. But, with gazillions of accounts all over the world, it may be unlikely to achieve. So, if your business name is already taken, look at just adding the city/country to the end of it. If you can get your exact business name on one platform but not another, think about which platform is likely to have the most engagement and try and ensure that is as close to perfect as possible.
CREATING CONTENT FROM SCRATCH
You already know your content pillars and any major campaign components so now you need to start building your content, post-by-post.
Review the next 6 - 12 months and plot in any holidays or dates which may be important to reference or keep in mind. E.g, if you run a business that offers fun holiday activities for kids, then you'll need to ensure you're focusing on your offering weeks in advance of school holidays to get bookings in. Alternatively, if you have a restaurant business, then days like Mother's Day, Father's Day and Valentine's Day are great ones to take advantage of to get diners in
Do a brain-dump on some of the more generic messages you need to communicate. E.g, if one of the content pillars is the functions capability of a bar, think of 15 - 20 different ways to write an engaging post about what the bar can offer for your next event. That way when it comes to scheduling content, you can pluck from that list
Look at the next month or two and plan out the exact focuses for each post (no need to write the copy out word-for-word just yet). E.g. if a content pillar is the cocktail offering, which cocktail will you post about each week?
Assess your image gallery. Do you have an image of each of those cocktails? No? Then you need to arrange to get those cocktails photographed now, so you have that imagery asset ready for when you do the fortnightly content calendar. Remember, every post needs a unique image. There's nothing worse then trying to organise a shoot at the last minute when everyone is busy so plan ahead
Work at least a fortnight in advance when you are creating the content calendar. You'll need to get the exact post approved by your manager/client/business so you need to provide the photo, copy and hashtags for them to review. You can create this in a simple Word or Excel document to start with, and then copy the information over to the platform you'll be using to post from. You can then screen shot what the posts for the next fortnight will look like and provide that for approval. That way, they can see exactly how it will look. There are platforms like Agora Pulse and HootSuite that you can plan in, but Facebook Creator is also easy to use and it's free
Once you start posting content, review it daily. Aside from community management, you need to be taking note of which posts get the most likes and engagement so you can understand trends and what content people like the most. At the end of the day, you want to be posting content that gets engagement and communicates your key messages. Keep in mind, if you're not boosting posts, not many people will be seeing them
HASHTAGS.... WHAT ARE THEY AND HOW SHOULD THEY BE USED?
Hashtags are primarily a search tool and allow you to see content/accounts that use that hashtag. E.g, if you're visiting Sydney, Australia, you might search #sydney to get some inspiration of things to do or places to visit
Hashtags range from generic, like #pub, to specific, which could be the name of the pub. You want to have a mix of both in your posts. Just keep in mind that if you use hashtags that are too broad, you're unlikely to be relevant to the average person searching that hashtag. E.g, if you have a pub in Sydney and you use #pub, the likelihood of someone searching that hashtag to find a pub in Sydney is extremely slim. However, #sydneypub is far more relevant. On the flipside, the very specific hashtag that is relevant to your business (eg #theprpod) is unlikely to be something that people search. So you wouldn't use that to grow your business followers, but to track engagement with your brand among existing followers, or to track a particular campaign you might be running
Facebook & Instagram read hashtags and will filter content your way that also feature the same hashtags
You can do an internet search to find trending hashtags and look at including those, if relevant for your business
In terms of how many hashtags you should use, there's a few different schools of thought and this is one of them. For Instagram you can use up to 30 but around 10 is ideal. For Facebook, less is more so aim for 1 - 2 and no more than 10. Make sure the hashtags for Facebook are relevant for Facebook and ditto for Instagram. Don't just copy and paste without checking first
Don't just copy and paste the same 10 or so hashtags for each Instagram post. You don't want a post about food and have a #cocktail hashtag. Sure, some hashtags will stay the same but make sure you adapt to the content of each post
Don't start posting until you have put a strategy together that helps reach the brand's goals
Look ahead to ensure you have the imagery you need to accompany the next month's posts and organise a shoot, if not
Make sure the tone of voice in the posts is relevant to your target audience
Don't post things that interest you personally. Keep the strategy in mind at all times
Know your audience. Understand what they engage with, what they want to see and create content that achieves that
Ask questions. Find out what your followers like and dislike, it's a great way of keeping your brand/business in check
If you missed the episode on understanding the differences between Instagram and Facebook as a social media platform, you can find it here.