How to develop an effective social media strategy

By Georgia Wilson
Business Chief takes a look at how organisations can develop an effective social media strategy, and the benefits of having one...

 According to Deloitte, every minute over 4mn people in the world ‘like’ a post on Facebook, more than 1.5mn on Instagram and 350,000 on Twitter. Combine these figures with the continuously advancing capabilities of smart technology and connectivity, along with the development of 5G, and social media channels are increasingly becoming a point of contact for customers and brands. “To meet these expectations, companies must adapt to the requirements of clients and adjust their social communication to current trends. If they fail to do so, consumers will simply enter into a dialogue with another brand,” says Deloitte.

Why develop a social media strategy?

There are many reasons why organisations should develop a social media strategy. The channels are not just for posting; they are also a useful platform to drive advertising, marketing, communication and sales.

In its report, Deloitte details that a dedicated social strategy will allow organisations to:

  • Plan content
  • Develop and maintain a brand identity, as well as distinguish that identity from potential competitors
  • React to potential crises 
  • Increase competitor visibility 
  • Build customer loyalty

How to build a social media strategy

Deloitte and Hootsuite highlight a few key elements for building a social media strategy.

Aligning the strategy with the overall business goal

Whether an organisation's goal is to improve customer support or drive sales via marketing, Hootsuite explains that “the first step to creating a winning strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI).” 

The best way to achieve this is by establishing S.M.A.R.T goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time sensitive.

Understanding the audience and the competition

When implementing a social media strategy it is important to use the data available, as “knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social media is key,” notes Hootsuite. While many would believe Facebook is ideal for reaching Baby Boomers, Hootsuite reports that there are more millennials than Baby Boomers on the platform. Therefore, understanding who is using what platform and what they want to see is vital for an effective strategy.

While each platform has its own rules, Deloitte highlights that it is also important to have coherence on every platform, avoiding discrepancies. “Regardless of whether the client is calling the hotline, contacting via the form on the website, writing a letter or making a phone call to Messenger, the message must be coherent.”

Part of developing a social media strategy should also involve competitor analysis. Hootsuite explains that this is an easy way to identify what works and what doesn’t on social media for a given sector. 

Maintaining regular communication for each platform

Having a social media presence brings a certain level of responsibility as an organisation. In Deloitte’s report, the company stresses the importance of not neglecting an account. “Lack of regularity will give the impression of a lack of professionalism and can be taken as a disregard for its own clients.” Both Deloitte and Hootsuite explain that a content calendar can help maintain regular publishing. 

Evaluating and adjusting the strategy

Once a strategy is developed and implementation begins, it is vital that organisations track and analyse the results of the strategy. Hootsuite highlights that “you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.” As a result it is important to analyse, re-evaluate, test and refine the strategy based on the outcome.

The top benefits of developing an effective social media strategy

Brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand authority

Blue Fountain Media, a digital marketing agency in New York, explains that social media is one of the most cost-efficient digital marketing methods to increase a brand’s visibility. “Implementing a social media strategy will greatly increase your brand recognition since you will be engaging with a broad audience of consumers.” 

The agency reports that by investing only a few hours per week, 91% of marketers said that their social marketing efforts significantly increased their exposure.

Brand loyalty, brand authority and customer satisfaction are typically intertwined. As such, the importance of regular engagement with customers and developing a bond is crucial. “Social media is not just limited to introducing your brand's products and promotional campaigns. Customers see these platforms as a service channel where they can communicate directly with the business”, says Blue Fountain Media. It also adds that “regularly interacting with customers demonstrates that your business cares about customer satisfaction, and is available to answer any questions that they might have. Satisfied customers are eager to spread the word about a great product or service and they usually turn to social media to express their opinion.”

Increased traffic and improved SEO ranking

By harnessing social media platforms, organisations can expand their reach, instead of limiting their inbound traffic to direct or search engine traffic. “Without utilising social media as part of your marketing strategy, you'll have much more difficulty reaching anyone outside of your loyal customer circle. Every social media profile you add to your marketing mix is a gateway to your website, and every piece of content you post is another opportunity to acquire a new customer,” says Blue Fountain Media.

While social media doesn’t directly improve SEO ranking, Social Media Examiner reports that more than 58% of marketers using social media for one or more years see improved search engine rankings. “Being able to rank in the top positions for your keywords will revolutionise your traffic and continue to generate positive results for your business,” adds Blue Fountain Media.

Higher conversion rates and better customer satisfaction

With the increased visibility gained from creating a social media presence, every blog post, image, video, or comment could lead to a view on an organization's website and increase the traffic. “Over 51% of marketers claimed that taking the time to develop relationships with consumers showed positive results in sales. The better impression you make on a visitor, the more likely they are to think of your business when the need for your product or services arises. Studies have also shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing,” notes Blue Fountain Media.

Finally, establishing a social media presence creates a voice for organisations and humanises the brand. “Customers appreciate knowing that when they post comments on your pages, they will receive a personalised response rather than an automated message. Being able to acknowledge each comment shows that you are attentive of your visitors' needs and aim to provide the best experience.”

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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