The social media landscape has changed dramatically since 2020 began. If you aren’t working from a current strategy, you have no strategy at all. That’s why we recommend auditing your social media programs annually.
If you’re just getting started with a social media review, here’s my (free) course on completing competitive audit and a C&C primer on the best tools to use to conduct an audit.
A key part of rethinking a social media strategy is to evaluate which social media channels are the best fit for your business with their different strengths and weaknesses. It is important that you understand how each channel can be used as an effective tool for marketing, customer service, and communication. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before you can decide which channel will work best for your company.
There are three things that you should know before you create a channel-driven social playbook: your audience, the best way to engage them, and the purpose of each social channel. Articulating these will help to work out how to support a social strategy by detailing what type of posts to publish, how often you need to post, and what metrics will show your progress.
Is Your Audience Also Your Followers?
The first step in this process is being clear on the audiences targeted by using social media.
Creating a relationship between brand and follower requires significant effort from both sides. A follower must opt-in to “Follow” and then seek out or actively engage on a brand’s content in their feed. The brand must ensure content is relevant to the follower and provides enough value to help them move forward in a relationship.
When we conduct social media audits for clients, there is always an “a-ha” or discrepancy between who the brand thinks is following them on social media, and what the audience demographics and psychographics tell us about who is truly among the followers. If you haven’t looked closely at follower insights by channel, be sure that is part of your next review.
Think you know your followers? Then you should be able to answer these five questions about the key target audiences you are trying to reach on social media.
- WHAT kind of content do they expect?
- WHERE are they participating most often?
- WHEN are they most active?
- WHY are they motivated to follow and engage with your business?
After considering these questions, you’ll be better equipped to build out the tactical steps to reach these audiences and see positive results on each channel.
Action step: Create a matrix that lists your priority audiences down the side and the social channels in your mix along the top. For each audience, identify which channels they’re most likely to be active and engaged with brands on. Review the matrix to determine what the correlation is between where your audience is online and the channels that are most important to you.
Consider Your Social Channel Selection
Social media channels are as diverse as global cities and cultures – none are exactly alike. Spend time in each channel and take in the culture of the channels before (re)creating your strategy. This includes understanding the audience’s intent and expectations. What type of content will resonate with what they are looking for – and drive engagement that matches your business goals?
It’s fine to be on every social media channel. It’s also fine to be more selective, and only activate where you and your audience are consistently present.
Ask these questions of each social media channel during your social media review to determine if it belongs in your strategy going forward:
- Is your target audience here?
- Does the content you are creating match with the channel’s preferred format(s)?
- How much time per day can your team participate beyond posting to engage with audience replies and the accounts you follow?
- Is there a budget and resources for paid amplification to support this channel?
- What results are most valuable to achieve from this audience?
Action Step: Prioritize social media channels for your brand in a HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW effort. Then, identify any emerging channels to begin experimenting with, and those that can be decommissioned to free up resources.
Writing Your Social Media Playbook
The social media playbook is the guide on how to use social media channels to reach business goals and engagement targets. The playbook should be rewritten periodically in order to align with changes to marketing campaigns, target audiences, internal resources, and outcomes.
What goes into the Playbook? A good playbook is derived from, but doesn’t replace, your strategic approach to using social media in support of marketing and communications activities. A playbook explains the tactical support for your social media strategy. It should have specific direction on the channel mix and how each channel individually supports business goals with a specific KPI. The playbook should be concise, easy to understand, and flexible enough to be updated throughout the year.
- Write (or rewrite) your playbook to align with the audience targeting and channel considerations done in the aforementioned steps. When making a big departure from what historically has been done on social, by potentially deprioritizing a channel or focusing efforts on an emerging channel, it’s important to “show the work” for how this reprioritization will look going forward.
- Detail a game plan for each channel starting with the core content that anchors the brand’s presence. Core content aligns with the editorial or content marketing plan, and should address multiple personas or journey stages. It is important to define specifically what content supports each channel. Identify what content pillars are prioritized, what content types will be used, and how to support the ideal frequency by curating and sharing user-generated content.
- Give direction on the amount of time spent for engagement by the brand on each channel, and best times of day to be active (based on the time zone of your audience). It’s important to remember that social media isn’t just another online platform for publishing content. It’s more of a conversation between you and your followers. This means that you should be actively engaging in conversations on social media as much as possible, even if there isn’t new content to publish every day.
- Select specific KPIs that will identify the health of each social channel and how it contributes to overall business goals. If experimenting with TikTok is done to build awareness with a different audience, the KPIs must reflect that it’s a top-of-the-funnel activity. Compare that to Pinterest, which has a more direct aim to bring users back to a website–so measuring referral traffic is a better KPI than pin impressions. Include data from your social media audit to benchmark current results and set goals for increases in your KPIs.
Action Step: Write a channel game plan in the Playbook for each social channel prioritized in your mix. Be sure to include the target audience(s), content frequency and types, hashtags and emoji to use in posts, and how to measure outcomes.
Final Thoughts For Your Social Media Review
Conducting a social media audit is a smart initial step to understanding the strengths, weaknesses and overall health of a social media program. Use your social media review to identify what is working, what needs to change and where fine tuning must occur. How the data and insights are used to rewrite a strategy and playbook is what sets apart the best social media teams.
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