2018 was a whirlwind of a year, to say the least. At least as it pertained to social marketing.

keyboard of social media widget logos labeled on keys

Facebook found itself rife with controversy as a result of its algorithm changes and growing privacy concerns. Instagram rolled out a bevy of new business features and surpassed the one-billion user milestone. Brands grew bolder in an ever-changing economy, launching a stream of seemingly controversial campaigns as a result of their customer’s growing interest in real, transparent messaging. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The landmark events of last year combined with this year’s growing number of emerging trends have induced a sense of analysis paralysis for brands and marketers alike. Many are left asking themselves, “Where do I go from here?”

At the end of the day, what still matters most is the strategy you implement behind your social media efforts. We’ve broken down some powerful, fundamental steps behind developing a social media marketing plan that will not only assist you in building your brand; it will also help boost your business.

1. Create High-Quality Posts Every Day

Simply put, creating high-quality posts will build your followers. Your posts should be interesting and valuable to your customers, and you should have something to publish every day in order to keep your customers engaged on your social channels.

2. Make Your Content Shareable

Content is king. If your goal is to build a strong brand reputation, you should focus your efforts on your content. Remember the accompanying standards as you produce content for social media platforms. Whether it be from case studies or A/B testing, figure out which content is likely to achieve the most visibility. It’s imperative that your content strongly supports your brand. Though sometimes, it can be hard for certain brands to pull off an approach built around entertainment. However, if you have a strong creative team and finger on the pulse of trends in social, assets like memes can be highly effective brand-building content.

3. Use Different Forms of Content to Promote A Singular Message

You want to deliver a singular message or brand voice with your content. But you can utilize different formats to deliver that core message, such as videos, infographics, blog posts, etc., to see what works and what doesn’t.

graphic of different types of content

For example, promote one product with each of these different media types. See what your audience responds to, and keep using diverse formats while you are finding those that work best. Doing so will keep your channels interesting and your users engaged.

4. Be visual

Users engage with social media posts that include images and videos at a much higher clip than with posts that don’t. Add infographics, photos, and other visual images and videos to your social content to boost engagement and interest.

5. Analyze your competitors

Prior to creating your content and branding strategy, you should have a good understanding of what your competitors are doing in your vertical. Doing so may only require a bit of surface-level analysis. There are also third-party competitor analysis tools brands can utilize to dig deeper into their competitors’ data.

Analyzing your competitor’s online presence directly informs your own brand’s social strategy. Not to say you want to copy what your competitors are doing. Rather, use this practice to determine what is or isn’t working for them and how you can adapt your own strategies accordingly.

6. Find A Content Cadence

There isn’t a proven ‘magic formula’ when it comes to posting frequency for brands. There are a number of factors that have a direct effect on determining your ideal posting frequency, so you should test and reference your business’ goals. Decide how much time you want to dedicate to your social media marketing efforts, and find your ideal post frequency. A cadence that keeps you consistent with providing value to your audience, but not so much it overwhelms them with too much information.
man drinking coffee and filling out calendar on his computer at his desk

7. Focus On Being A Customer-Service Leader

As the owner, principal or executive at your company, the best use of your time and position is to interact with customers directly on social media. Respond to customers quickly. It can turn an unhappy customer into an advocate for your company. Customers who feel like their issues are being addressed with care and in a timely fashion, quickly build trust in your brand and can even become loyal enthusiasts.

8. Influence Your Audience

If your brand is just starting out or is relatively unknown in your industry, it’s easy for your voice to get lost in the crowd on social. While it’s possible to build your audience by creating amazing social content, this approach takes lots of time and energy. An approach that can accelerate that process is to influence the audience in your industry. There are many ways to do this, from becoming an authority in your industry to highly-targeted influencer marketing campaigns.

9. Focus on telling a compelling story

picture of woman holding up banner that reads 'tell your story'

Storytelling is a central element of communication between humans. When you tell someone a story it can have the powerful effect of convincing them or getting them on board with an idea. A great story causes the listener to internalize the story, and personify it into their own idea and experience. When you can tell a compelling story and involve customers in that brand story, you incentivize your customers to engage with it.

10. Minimize the Time You Spend Promoting

Of course, social selling has become increasingly popular among salespeople and marketers over the past few years. However, the actual process of utilizing social networks to drive growth for a brand is often much different than what most people are accustomed to. Ideal social selling is less about using social media as an active promotional platform, and more about using it as a tool for communication and engagement.

11. Develop a Consistent Brand Voice

Social media is ideal for brand building and recognition, so it’s crucial that every post you make is in line with your brand and image. This can become difficult at times, especially if you have multiple people assigned to the task of managing your brand’s social. Everybody tends to bring their own personality to their individual posts.

For this reason, it’s best practice to limit the number of people who post for your brand on social, and ensure everybody is on the same page as it pertains to both the voice and image your brand wants to present online.

12. Take advantage of Instagram Stories

Users are increasingly watching Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories offer a wide range of great features like polls, interactive live broadcasts, etc. You can run ad campaigns, teach how to use your product, give discounts and special offers, create contests and giveaways, highlight new and featured products. That doesn’t take much time and preparation to record your story. You can use a mixture of photos and videos, give a link to certain blog posts, websites or profiles.

image of instagram stories displayed on green backdrop

Instagram Stories are a great tool to tell your story and spark interest in your brand. The advantage is to tell more than you can do through written posts. It looks like a first-class ticket that sits at the top of the feed, so followers can easily notice them. Update your stories once per day if you want to keep your followers engaged with your brand.

13. Utilize Social Listening Tools and Engage With Your Audience

Social listening tools are exceptionally powerful. They allow you to see what people are saying about your brand, which may be very different from what they’re saying to your brand.

Use social listening tools to monitor the impact of your campaigns and see what people are talking about. Tools like Talkwalker can help you find out what conversations are occurring around your brand, how positive or negative the sentiment is, brand mentions, and a number of other critical data points.

Additionally, discover what questions consumers have about your brand, product, and industry. These questions can offer valuable ideas for content and insight into creating your social strategy.

14. Occasionally Post user-generated content

A great way to build both your brand and your social presence is by periodically reposting user-generated content. Doing so both rewards and recognizes your fans, and you may see a pronounced uptick in follower growth and engagement. It also makes your brand come across genuine and relatable to your followers.

15. Collaborate with influencers!

When you get down to brass tacks, Influencer marketing is the strategy that tends to earn the most engagement for businesses on social media. Decide how you want to expose your brand – be it a product review, a giveaway, or even a special event – to reach new followers. From there, you can select influencers whose values align with those of your brand, and those who have a strong engagement rate with their followers. Deploying a well thought out influencer marketing campaign can absolutely skyrocket your brand awareness, and produce astounding numbers of conversions. So what are you waiting for?

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