Do you have your social media marketing strategy squared away for 2019?
If not, we don’t blame you.
Because 2018 was a whirlwind year for social marketing to say the least.
Facebook was shrouded in controversy due to its algorithm changes and privacy concerns. Instagram finally came into its own by rolling out a whole slew of business features while also passing the one-billion user mark.
All the while brands got bolder, launching conscious and seemingly controversial campaigns as customers want to see brands get real.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Last years happenings combined with this year’s emerging trends have left marketers with a sense of analysis paralysis. Where do you go from here?
Perhaps what matters most is that you have a strategy at all. To keep your brand from sitting on the sidelines, we’ve broken down the steps to developing a social media marketing plan to carry you through 2019 with a sense of purpose.
First things first: you need to figure out what you want out of social media at large.
Maybe it’s more social-savvy customers. Perhaps it’s a larger share of voice in your industry.
Either way, remember that social media planning is a marathon, not a sprint.
Brands should strive to set goals that are actually attainable. For example, shooting for a million new Instagram followers in 2019 isn’t going to happen. By tackling smaller, realistic goals, you can scale your social efforts in a way that’s both reasonable and affordable.
And on a related note, your goals will influence everything from your budget to which social networks you’ll tackle.
Below are some actionable goals that brands of all shapes and sizes can divide and conquer.
Increase brand awareness. To create authentic and lasting brand awareness, avoid solely publishing promotional messages. Instead, focus on content emphasizes your personality and puts your followers ahead of the hard sell.
Achieve a higher quality of sales. Digging through your social channels is nearly impossible without monitoring or listening to specific keywords, phrases or hashtags. Through more efficient social media targeting, you reach your core audience much faster.
Drive in-person sales. Many brick-and-mortar businesses are on the hunt for a social media marketing strategy that drives in-store sales. Is your brand promoting enough on social to entice folks to come see you? Are you about alerting customers to what’s going on in your stores, including promotions and action shots of your store?
Improve ROI. Positive social media ROI doesn’t happen by accident. Taking the time to audit your social channels can help keep the cost of labor, ads and creatives down. The end-result is squeezing way more out of your social spending.
Create a loyal fanbase. Does your brand promote user-generated content? Do your followers react positively without any sort of initiation? Your customers can be your best cheerleaders and sources of fresh content, but only if you’re encouraging them to post on your behalf.
Better pulse on the industry. What are your competitors doing that seems to be working? What strategies are they using to drive engagement or sales? Such analysis can help you better understand how to position your own brand both on social media and off.
Any combination of these explicit goals is fair game and can help you better understand which networks to tackle, too. When in doubt, keep your social media marketing strategy simple rather than muddling it with too many objectives that’ll ultimately distract you.
Making assumptions is a dangerous game for marketers.
And thanks to the sheer wealth of demographic data and social media analytics tools out there, you really don’t have to anymore.
So much of what you need to know about your audience to influence your social media marketing strategy is already out in the open.
Take today’s social media demographics for example. Here’s a quick snapshot of data points from 2018 that are worth noting for today’s social networks:
This demographic data isn’t fluff, either. These numbers speak directly to which networks your brand should approach and what types of content to publish. Here are some takeaways:
See how that works?
And although the demographics data above gives you insight into each channel, what about your own customers? Further analysis needs to be done before you can truly know your customer demographics on social media.
That’s why many brands use a social media dashboard which can provide an overview of who’s following you and how they interact with you on each channel. Most brands today are using at least some sort of dashboard.
However, does your dashboard tie in your specific goals? Brands should be where their target audience is hanging out: that’s a no-brainer. A robust dashboard like the one Sprout offers can help you double-check that you’re spending time targeting the proper channels.
Whether you’re an agency providing insights for your clients or an enterprise company discovering your own demographics, an all-in-one dashboard solution is critical.
No matter what you’re selling, your social media marketing strategy should be data-driven.
That means focusing on the social media metrics that matter.
Because while “likes” and shares are nice to have, they amount to little more than vanity metrics if they aren’t resulting in meaningful engagement or sales. What good are your millions of followers if you can’t do anything with ’em?
Engagement metrics are essential to building meaningful, lasting relationships with your followers. Large audiences and likable content is great, but here are some additional metrics to keep an eye on in 2019:
An effective social media marketing strategy is rooted in numbers. That said, those numbers need to be put into a context that circles back around to your original goals.
Before you start creating content, you should have a good idea of what your competitors are up to.
Doing so involves might just require some surface-level analysis. Some brands might also look into third-party competitor analysis tools to dig deeper into their competitors’ numbers.
Looking at your competition’s presence will directly inform your own social media marketing strategy. The goal here isn’t to copycat or steal your competitors’ ideas. Instead, it’s to determine what’s working for them and how you can adapt your own campaigns accordingly.
For example, let’s take a glance at how two brands in the same space can take two totally different approaches to their social media marketing strategy.
In this case, we’ll dip in the world of ice cream.
Halo Top Cream prioritizes their own eye-popping visuals and clever captions to show off their treats. Their posts score tons of engagement on a consistent basis.
On the flip side, Ben & Jerry’s takes a totally different approach to social.
In addition to their own in-house promotional photos, the brand pushes a lot of user-generated content. Perhaps most notable is the fact that Ben & Jerry’s does not shy away from activism and politically-charged posts. Some might argue that politics and ice cream don’t mix, but the brand has generated plenty of buzz by putting their values front-and-center.
The takeaway here is that brands have so much room to set themselves apart from their competitors in terms of content and voice.
Of course, you need to know who your competitors are before you start stressing over content creation.
The simplest way to find competitors is through a simple Google search. Look up your most valuable keywords, phrases and industry terms to see who shows up.
For example, if you sold various soaps, “handmade natural soaps” would be a great keyword to investigate. Excluding major retailers like Amazon and Bath & Body Works, take a look at who’s popping up in your space both organically and via ads.
Then, you’ll want to take a look at who’s active on social media. In this particular case, Wild Soap is a smaller operation with an active, thriving social presence. This means they’re a great candidate to track.
After gathering a handful of industry competitors, it’s smart to use a social media competitive analysis tool like Sprout Social to track Facebook and Instagram content. This can clue you in on what tags they’re using and likewise what content they’re posting. Once you analyze an array of competitors, you’ll have a better idea of what your own audience wants.
Your social media marketing strategy is obviously centered around content.
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what to publish based on your goal and brand identity. Similarly, you probably feel confident in which networks to cover.
Still overwhelmed by the specifics of what you should be posting?
Hey, we get it.
From picking the right creatives and captions to finding the balance between promotion and personality, there’s a lot to mull over. The pressure is certainly on brands in an era where 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand that’s overly promotional. Additionally, 41% of users say they’d unfollow a brand that shared too much irrelevant content.
To help narrow down the specifics of what you should be publishing, let’s start with 2019’s social trends and best practices. Consider any combination of the following as you put together the content piece of your social media marketing plan.
The need for brands to produce video is greater than ever.
Across all networks, social video content is among the most viewed and shared hands-down. Facebook and Instagram, in particular, are pushing video hard right now which is notable given how their respective algorithms will continue to evolve in 2019.
Live? Long-form? Short looping video? There’s no shortage of options for brands to play the role of producer these days regardless of your budget.
Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of curating user-generated content from branded hashtags. Customers today absolutely love authentic content that doesn’t always have that sort of professional, polished touch. If nothing else, curating UGC means less work on your plate and less pressure to constantly be thinking of new ideas.
One of the toughest challenges to visual content is creating it on a day-to-day basis. A Venngage infographic showed 36.7% of marketers said their top struggle with creating visual content was doing so consistently.
This shows how important highly-visual content is to marketers and the people they want to reach. That’s why building content themes is a great approach to sectioning out your content. Instagram is one your premier channels to work off visual themes.
For example, Anthropologie does an amazing job at keeping their Instagram feed consistent, colorful and eye-popping.
This content was originally published here.