The Ultimate Social Media Marketing Strategy Guide (Free Templates Included)
Table of contents
Social media is a tough nut to crack.
But there are so many brands out there literally crushing it with their social media marketing efforts. Using these platforms to increase their awareness, generate leads, and build long-lasting relationships with their customers.
Wondering what they do differently than the rest? Or how they’ve managed to crack the code?
Humble brag: at Wordtune, we've seen impressive growth with more than 10,000 subscribers on YouTube and nearly 9,000 and 11,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook respectively.
One thing we did right before building our social media engine was figuring out answers to questions like:
- What channels does our audience make purchasing decisions on?
- What kind of content makes them tick?
- How many resources can we allocate at the moment?
Building a social media marketing strategy helped us find answers to these questions. And more.
This guide offers a step-by-step breakdown of building a results-driven and actionable social media marketing strategy for your business. In this guide, I've also provided a practical demonstration of how to implement each step by developing a social media marketing strategy for the fitness supplements brand "FitSupple."
Without further ado, let's dive in.
1. Research your target audience to identify the right channels and kind of content they consume.
To reach your target audience, you need to first understand which platforms they use for making purchasing decisions.
In this step, our goal isn’t to find out where they hang out the most. Instead, we need to understand which platforms they use for making purchasing decisions.
For instance, if your target audience is B2B professionals, even if they spend their leisure time on Instagram or Facebook, the real question stands: do they make their purchasing decisions there? Or do they use these platforms just for fun?
Instead, you might want to focus on LinkedIn, a platform where B2B professionals are more likely to engage with content that can influence their business decisions.
Researching your target audience will help you understand where they make their purchasing decisions.
It can also help you identify the kind of content they like to consume.
A structured way to research your target audience is by building customer personas.
Customer personas, also called buyer personas, refer to fictional profiles of your ideal customers based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
Here’s an example of a customer persona:
Creating customer personas can be a daunting task. To simplify the process, we highly recommend you to use our AI-powered writing assistant Wordtune.
To get started, sign up.
Click “New Document” inside Wordtune’s Editor.
Name it “Customer Personas.”
Click “Generate with AI” as depicted in the screenshot below.
Now, you can type in your prompt to generate customer personas for your business. Be very specific while writing your prompt to get what you need.
For example, if you sell fitness supplements in the USA, here’s a good prompt to generate customer personas:
You can either click the refresh icon to generate another output or “Done” to paste this output inside Wordtune’s editor.
I highly recommend you to further review these personas for accuracy inside the Wordtune Editor.
You can get an idea of what social media channels different customer personas use by adding this line to your prompt: “Also, list down the social media channels these personas use for making purchasing decisions.”
Wordtune provided us with a list of social media channels for each of these personas:
To generate customer personas for your business, you can write a prompt similar to the above example, tailoring it to your industry and product/service.
2. Research your competitors
Researching your competitors’ social media strategy can also help you understand what channels your target audience makes purchasing decisions on. By identifying which channels your competitors are the most active on.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
You can learn so much more like the kind of content they receive the most engagement on, how frequently they post, which channels they get the least engagement on (these are the channels you can avoid or deprioritize), and whether they’re collaborating with influencers or not.
Prepare a list of your top competitors with their social media handles and start evaluating the following:
- Which social media channels are they the most active on?
- Where are they getting the most engagement (likes, shares, comments, etc.)?
- What kind of content do they frequently post? (videos, blog posts, infographics, etc.)
- How often do they post on different channels?
- Read the comments. What are their followers/subscribers saying? Is there any feedback or gaps that you can fill with your own content?
- Are they collaborating with influencers or other brands? If so, on which platforms?
- What platform-specific features do they use the most - Stories, Reels (vertical videos), Polls?
- Have they built an online community for their target audience?
You can use the information gathered in this step to set your goals and further build your social media strategy.
For example, if your competitors are spending thousands of dollars on Instagram influencer marketing and are achieving really great results, you can consider running an influencer marketing campaign on Instagram.
Or if your competitors get a good amount of engagement from vertical video content, you can consider producing more vertical video content for your brand.
3. Take into account the resources at your disposal
By now, you may have a clear idea of what channels your target audience makes purchasing decisions on and the kind of content they like to consume.
You may also have a basic understanding of which social media tactics have worked well for your competitors and which ones haven’t.
But if you’re just getting started with your social media marketing efforts, it’s likely you may not have a huge budget to allocate and manpower to dedicate.
Hence, before setting your social media goals and further building your social media marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to consider the resources at your disposal.
Things to consider:
Budget: Even though many people say social media marketing is ‘free,’ it's far from the truth. You need to spend money on content production, tools, and manpower required to establish a strong social media presence. Hence, it’s important to set aside a quarterly or annual budget. Make sure you have a separate budget for running paid ads on social media.
Manpower: You also need to account for the human resources you can allocate. Initially, you’ll need a graphic designer, social media manager, and videographer (because video is all the rage today) to start building your social media marketing engine. While it's possible to manage social media with a lean team initially, as your strategies and ambitions grow, you'll require more hands on deck. For example, in the future, if you plan to run an influencer marketing campaign, you’d need to hire a dedicated team to find influencers, negotiate contracts with them, collaborate with them on projects and other activities. Ask around in the company or your marketing team if anyone would be able to dedicate time for social media. If not, you can consider hiring freelancers, contractors, or full-time (if you have the budget).
Tech stack: To make your team’s lives easier and improve the quality of content, you’d need to invest in social media tools like Buffer (for scheduling), Wordtune (for content creation), and Canva (for design); among others. These tools not only streamline your processes but also enhance the quality of your content and insights. In this step, you need to prepare a list of tools your company already has in its tech stack. If these tools aren’t enough, prepare a list of essential tools you’d need and revisit your budget to see if you can afford these tools.
Existing content library: When you first start out, you might not have enough money, manpower, or available hours to produce a large amount of new social media content. So, it’s a good idea to revisit your existing content library to identify the content pieces that can be repurposed, saving you and your team time, money, and effort. For example, you can repurpose a YouTube video into several short-form social media video posts. You can also turn them into vertical video content. Another great idea is to repurpose blog posts into LinkedIn posts.
This step may take time, but at least, it’ll give you a clear picture of how much you can afford and what resources you have at hand.
4. Set your social media goals
Once you have a clear understanding of what resources you can allocate, your budget, and information on which platforms your target audience makes purchasing decisions and what kind of content they like to consume, you can start setting your social media goals.
While doing so, ask questions like these: why do we want to establish our presence on social media? What do we aim to achieve from our social media marketing efforts? Do we just want to amplify our brand presence through social media marketing? Or do we also want to use these platforms to drive more sales?
Setting your company’s social media goals early on will give you the ‘why’ behind your social media marketing efforts. And also guide you in the right direction.
For instance, if your primary social media marketing goal is to increase brand awareness, you might want to focus on publishing educational content. On the other hand, if you’re looking to drive more sales, it’s better to create sales-driven social media content like product showcases and customer testimonials.
Setting your social media goals can also help you keep yourself and everyone on your team accountable. And make sure that everyone (including executives) is on the same page.
Be careful not to make your social media goals broad. Instead, it’s a good idea to set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Here’s an example of a SMART goal:
"Increase sales from social media channels by 1,500% in the next five years."
A broad social media goal like ‘increase sales from social media channels’ doesn’t provide a clear direction. Without specifics, it's challenging to measure success, allocate resources efficiently, or even know when you've achieved the goal.
Setting SMART social media goals will further drive your social media marketing efforts. Here’s a table representing the same:
Set both long (five or ten-year) and short-term (quarterly, half-yearly, or annual) SMART social media goals.
Your long-term goals should be more strategic, focusing on your overall brand and business objectives, while your short-term (quarterly or annual) goals should be tactical and actionable, targeting specific KPIs and immediate results.
For example, a long-term goal might be to drive 50% of our sales through social media in the next five years. Whereas a short-term goal might be to increase Instagram engagement by 10% in Q4 2023.
Also, your long-term goals should drive your short-term social media goals. For example, if your five-year goal is to achieve one million followers across all social media channels, then your most recent quarterly goals can be:
"Increase 10k followers on every social media channel we’re targeting in Q3 2023"
Upon setting your social media goals, the next step is…
5. Conduct a social media audit
The next step is to audit your company’s social media accounts.
This step will help you understand the impact of your social media efforts till now, identify what mistakes you made in the past, and evaluate what social media strategies worked for your business in the past and what didn’t.
This step also involves taking inventory of your company’s social media accounts and analyzing them to identify areas of improvement.
For instance, if you’ve published a lot of low-quality content on Instagram until now, you might want to delete or archive those posts.
Or, if your social media accounts have inconsistent branding across different platforms, it's essential to streamline them for a cohesive and recognizable brand identity.
Follow these steps to conduct a social media audit:
Inventory existing accounts: Document every social media profile, even those that are dormant. Check things like if you have access to these accounts and whether it makes sense to create a new profile or clean up an already existing one.
Evaluate engagement: Check engagement metrics like comments, shares, or other platform-specific metrics to evaluate your follower/subscriber’s engagement with your content.
Content quality analysis: Review the quality of content you’ve published till now.
Profile completeness: Check whether all the details, from bio to contact information, are filled out across platforms.
Branding consistency: Your voice, logo, visuals, and overall brand presentation should be consistent across all platforms.
Analyze past audience growth: Evaluate your past audience growth rate to better understand your traction over time. Look for patterns of spikes or drops and try to identify the reasons behind them.
While evaluating your company’s past social media efforts, create a list of action items to work on. Aim to complete as many of these action items as possible before moving to the next step.
6. Create a social media content calendar
Up to this point, you might have established your social media goals, identified the channels to target and kind of content to create, taken inventory of your existing content that you can repurpose, set up your company’s social media profiles, built your social media team.
Taking all of this information into account, the next step is to build a social media content calendar. A social media content calendar is used to plan, organize, and schedule social media posts in advance.
It's a good practice to set up your social media calendar for the next month by the 15th of the preceding month, giving you and your team enough time to hit your content production goals by the 30th of the preceding month. Also, it’s extremely important to plan your quarterly social media calendar such that it helps you achieve your quarterly social media marketing goals.
To smartly plan your social media calendar:
- Take into account your quarterly social media marketing goals.
- Assign a priority number (from 1 being the highest priority to 3 being low priority) to social media channels based on the presence of your target audience on these channels.
- Determine a reasonable publishing frequency for all platforms.
- Depending on the publishing frequency, further determine the number of specific content types you need to produce. For example, you can plan 10 reels, 15 posts, and 4 horizontal videos for Instagram - which can also be published as Instagram Stories. For YouTube, you can plan 10 high-quality videos, which you can ask your team to further repurpose as Shorts.
- Once you’ve penned down the number of specific content types to produce, you further need to plan this content.
Don’t publish just about anything. Instead, it’s a good practice to create content that your target audience finds valuable and resonates with.
How to identify such topics?
You can consider:
- Interviewing your existing customers to identify their challenges that your business can solve. Ask them what kind of content they would like to see from you.
- Use an AI-powered tool like Wordtune for inspiration.
- Analyze your competitors’ content to see what topics they’re focusing on and which of their posts have a good engagement rate.
- Research the latest trends in your industry.
- Use platforms like Answer the Public to discover what your target audience is asking about.
- Explore industry-specific forums, Reddit communities, or Quora to identify the most trending topics of discussion.
Prepare a dump document with a list of all these ideas. Review all these ideas with your team to identify which ones align best with your brand's messaging, goals, and target audience.
Based on these discussions, start populating your social media calendar.
Also, while populating your calendar, don’t forget to take your existing content library to use. You can repurpose this content to save time, money, and resources.
7. Produce and publish high-quality content
Next step - start producing social media content for the upcoming month. It’s a good practice to have all the content ready for the upcoming month by the end of the preceding month so that you can organize and schedule it for publishing.
Also, make sure you’re not producing this content just for the sake of creating it. In today’s world of information overload, it's important to produce content that stands out, is of high-quality and brings genuine value to your audience.
Here are a few tips to produce high-quality content:
Invest in storytelling: People remember stories more than plain facts or promotional messages. Stories are relatable, memorable, and shareable. You can use Wordtune to write engaging stories for your social media posts. Here’s a story-driven video script created by Wordtune:
- Use high-quality visuals: Whether it’s an Instagram story or a YouTube video, it is essential to use high-resolution and compelling visuals. Otherwise, you risk having a low engagement rate.
Write engaging captions: Accompany every post with an engaging caption. This caption should further drive your audience to take the desired action. You can use Wordtune to generate engaging captions for your social media posts:
Include relevant call-to-actions (CTAs): Whether you want your audience to subscribe to your YouTube channel or visit one of your product pages, you need to include relevant CTAs to your posts. You need to tell them what steps to take next, otherwise, they may just consume your content and move on without taking any further action.
Once you’ve produced social media content for the upcoming month, you can schedule it using a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Sprout Social.
8. Allocate time for audience engagement and other activities
To achieve success on social media, other than publishing high-quality content, you must also:
Engage with your audience: Building a loyal audience requires two-way communication. The word ‘social’ in ‘social media’ itself suggests the importance of interaction and engagement. Engaging with your followers makes them feel seen, heard, and valued. Engaging with your target audience on a personal level can help you build long-lasting relationships with your target audience.
Discover brand mentions on social media: A good social media plan also includes keeping an eye on ‘who’ is speaking ‘what’ about your brand on social media. If a customer is complaining about your brand on X, you can use a social media listening tool like Sprout Social to identify these mentions and address the concerns in real-time. Similarly, if there are positive mentions or testimonials, you can amplify them to reinforce a positive brand image.
Research and use hashtags: To amplify your reach, it’s essential to use the right hashtags. So, make it a habit to research and incorporate relevant hashtags into your posts.
Collaborate with other brands: You can collaborate with other brands in your network or engage with their posts to form strategic partnerships that can lead to mutual growth and opportunities for both brands involved. Here’s an example of a successful brand collaboration between GoPro and Red Bull:
9. Track your social media performance continuously
To determine whether your social media marketing efforts are paying off and are helping you achieve your social media and business goals, it’s important to consistently track your social media performance.
This will also help you understand what’s working for your business and what’s not. If something is not working, identify the reason(s) behind it. And if it still doesn’t work after making necessary adjustments, consider pivoting or reallocating your resources to more effective strategies.
To measure your social media performance, use the built-in analytics platform provided by each social media channel. You can also use social media analytics platforms like Sprout Social or Semrush’s Social Analytics to measure all your social media efforts under one roof.
You can only know what works for your business and what doesn’t by trying, testing, and measuring your efforts.
Make it a habit to monitor your social media performance regularly.
Also, be flexible with your social media goals and content calendar to accommodate the ever-changing dynamics of social media platforms and audience preferences.
As the saying goes, "It's not the strongest that survive, but the most adaptable."
The same holds true for your social media marketing endeavors.