December 9, 2015

As we approach the end of another year, many business owners are reflecting on the past year and analyzing their marketing efforts. You’re probably one of them. If you’re not, you should be!

And one of the things you should be looking at is your social media strategy. How well did social media perform for your business this year? Did you see the results you expected? Do you wish you had seen better results?

There is one clear cut solution to ensuring you see tangible, better results next year. And that is a good, well-organized social media strategy.

But before I get into what makes a good strategy, I want to tell you a story.

Many of my readers or people who have listened to me speak at conferences or on podcasts have likely heard some variation of this story. But I want to put it in the context of this blog post.

You see, I started this blog in January of 2013 … with NO STRATEGY! I know! Crazy, right?  But it’s true. Honestly, I was bored and wanted to do something new. So I figured I would start a blog. I literally put the whole thing together in one weekend. I launched it on the free WordPress.com website and used a free theme so I didn’t have to pay for anything. I wrote a few blog posts and launched myself into the world.

I had no expectations, no plan, no idea what was going to happen or what the future would look like.

Then, I found out about this big social media conference happening in San Diego. It was the first year of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World [affiliate link] and everyone seemed to be talking about it. But I found out about it a week before the actual conference. And it was really expensive in my mind at the time. There was no way I could attend. BUT, it was here in San Diego where I live so I crashed the party so to speak. I showed up at the hotel and hung around the lobby and restaurant, meeting with people from all over the world. It was awesome! I also got to meet the amazing Amy Porterfield who was beyond kind and motivational. She encouraged me on the path I was on and gave me new clarity.

I had my aha moment that night. Three months after launching my “hobby” of a blog, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to speak on the stage of Social Media Marketing World. And other stages. And train business owners and help them to use social media. I went home that night and said “I WILL speak on that stage. I don’t know when but it will happen.”

And then I got strategic. I created a plan with a very clear goal in mind. Everything I did was centered around achieving that goal.

You know what happened next?

I started achieving those goals! One month later, in May of 2013, I wrote my first ebook and published it. By December 2013 I started working with paying clients. One year after launching my blog, it was awarded the title of a Top 10 Social Media Blog by Social Media Examiner. And, two years after crashing the party, I was a speaker at SMMW15.

Photo credit: @emilywincel on Instagram

Every year now I sit down and update my social media strategy. I set out clear goals and the steps necessary to reach those goals. To be fair, I don’t always hit every goal and I’ve had to adjust my strategy to accommodate various circumstances (ahem… yeah, pregnancy will do that to you!). But, I have had a strategy to keep me focused and on track so that I can continue to grow my business every year.

Why am I sharing this story? I could have easily saved myself the mild carpal tunnel typing this all up  But I wanted you to see how important a social media strategy is and why I believe in this practice so strongly. And I want you to start thinking about how much a strategy could help your business this year. What do you really want to achieve this year? And how can you use social media to help you reach these goals?

If you can sit down and define your short term goals, long term goals, and how you would define “success” on social media, then you can start writing to how to do it.

Do you want X% more sales or revenue? Do you want more opt-ins to your email list? Do you want more website traffic from social media? Are you looking to increase your brand awareness? Or do you want higher paying clients this year?

Now that you know WHY you should have a clear strategy, what do you need to do to create that strategy?

Believe it or not, the reason so many people struggle with creating a good strategy is because so much actually goes into one that we often overlook a good portion of what we should be doing.

Here is what you should think about in a complete social media strategy:

  • Define your target audience
  • Determine which platforms you will use
  • Outline the types of content you will produce
  • Determine your posting schedule
  • Define your brand voice
  • Define your engagement policy
  • Outline a crisis management plan
  • Determine what will be analyzed to determine growth and success and completion of your goals
  • Define how you will analyze these things
  • List any tools you will use to support your strategy, posting, engagement, and analysis
  • Outline a time management schedule
  • Determine your budget

That’s a lot! I know!

But in reality, each of the steps listed here feed into the next one. For example, take a good amount of time to define your target audience. Who are they? When are they online? Why are they using social media? What platforms are they using? What are their spending habits? How do they interact with others?

Why is all this important?

Well, once you know who this target audience is, you can determine which social media platforms you should be using. If your audience is stay-at-home moms, you probably don’t need to make LinkedIn your primary platform of choice. Instead, you would want to focus on Pinterest and/or Facebook.

And deciding which types of content to produce (videos, photos, educational articles and blog posts, or other types of content) is determined by your key audience. If your audience is business professionals with long commutes who listen to podcasts on their commutes, videos and audio content will dominate your strategy, not memes and motivational quote images.

If you know when they’re active online, you know when you should be posting to maximize reach and engagement. Is your audience segmented to a certain geographical region or are they spread around the world? Their ideal time online might be when you’re sound asleep. So you need to be scheduling posts that target their ideal time – not yours.

If you know who they are, you know how to “talk” to them and better frame up your brand voice. Is your audience females under the age of 25 interested in fashion? You’re gonna talk to them completely differently than if your audience is middle-aged women transitioning to a second career path.

All of this is the first half of the items listed above. This is why it’s critical to know who your target audience is – they will determine how you craft your social media strategy.

The rest of the strategy will depend on you. The things you want to measure and analyze and how you’ll go about tracking this. How you define success and achievement of your goals is up to you – but it should be defined. And what tools do you like and feel comfortable with? While it’s great to try something new, in all reality, we use what we know and love and feel comfortable with. Don’t feel like you need a whole tool box of new apps or software to succeed with social media. Know what works for you and go from there.

Time management is also critical to your strategy. Be realistic – how much time can you commit each day, each week? And it’s not just posting to social media – this includes curating content, reading and finding articles to share, taking photos or videos, writing blog posts, answering messages and customer service issues, and more! You need to set aside enough time but also determine how much you can do in the time you actually have each day.

Finally, what’s your budget? Everything is money in some way. Your time, your employee’s or VA’s time – these are a cost. Creating content can be a cost (hiring a photographer or paying a graphic artist to design new graphics). If you’re running ads, these are a definite cost, and can quickly get out of hand if you’re not watching a budget.

I’ve given you a lot to think about but haven’t given you “your” answers. And that’s because your strategy will be completely unique from anyone else’s. I couldn’t possibly list all the “right answers” here for everyone.

Instead, I want you to take this information to start thinking about your social media strategy. And think about how if you craft it the right way, start creating the right content for the right people, and for the right reasons in your business, you can transform your business this year.

And, if you want real help with your own unique strategy, I would be happy to help! I offer a variety of services designed to help business owners clarify their social media strategies which you can learn more about here

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Great post, Jenn,
    My goal for 2016, is re-branding my business and these tips will help me with the social media part of it.

    Thanks for all your great content and Happy Holidays

    1. Thanks John! I’m so glad you found this helpful as you move into your rebrand in 2016.
      Make sure to include your rebranding as a part of your strategy. Let people know you’re going through this process – create graphics and post content to ensure your audience stays in the loop. You can also invite them into the process by asking for their input on new slogans, images, logos, colors, etc. Not only does this make them feel valued, but it gives you invaluable market research!

  2. Once again, love your posts Jenn…and will be sharing! Much like you, I started by business (not to mention my blog!) with little to no strategy. Luckily, once I was running the business on my own, I had discovered exactly WHAT I wanted to do and, more importantly, WHY. This gave me the focus I really needed. Keep up the good work and I really look forward to what you will be sharing in the new year!

    1. Awesome! Thanks so much Kim 🙂
      I totally never realized that you started sans strategy too! But so glad that you figured out your WHY and your what to lead you to where you are now. Wishing you an amazing 2016!

    1. Oh good! Thanks Nicole 🙂 I’m so glad this was valuable to you.
      And I hope that 2016 brings you all the rewards for the boatload of hard work you did this year!

  3. They say success doesn’t happen overtime but yes, if you do your work the right way, definitely you’ll get a good result as well in the perfect time. Just like in social media. It can help your business is so many possible ways but you have to understand how this kind of strategy works. Good thing there are post like this we can get an idea with to apply in our own respective brand.

  4. I really believe that social media is a big factor in the success of every business. But it should be done right first to be able to achieve it. Yes, there are strategies for it to be effective. And you don’t just do social media, but you really have to know how to socialize well in the most effective way possible. Thanks for sharing some tips and ideas to help us, online marketers.

    1. Thanks Joseph! I’m glad you enjoyed this post and found the tips helpful. And you’re absolutely right – it’s not about “doing” social media, but actually being social.

  5. It’s crazy to think how important the right social media presence is to the livelihood of a business. It’s crazy to see the interactions that happen on a regular basis. Thanks for sharing, so much to learn!

    1. Thanks Ali! The right strategy really is so important to a business. Glad you enjoyed this post 🙂

  6. Hi Jenn,
    What an inspiring story you have shared! Indeed, having social media strategy will go a long way to reinvigorate a business. It begins with knowing the audience and providing them with the contents that will engage them. In achieving this, there need to utilize the right tools that would help provide consistency.

    1. It really is very important to have a strategy, Sunday. And, yes, knowing your audience is key. I’m happy you enjoyed my story and this post 🙂

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