Reprinted by Permission by Elizabeth Harmon and the Social Media Explorer - 2018 is already rolling and if you haven’t done so already, now’s the ideal time to finally implement that social media strategy for your business. I know it can be daunting, but you really will benefit from having one in the long-term.

Of course, there will be things that crop up or change during the space of the year that will mean your strategy needs to adapt slightly. Social media itself is unlikely to remain the same for the next 12 months either. However, having a clear strategy for your social media now can really help you to know what you want to achieve moving forward and decide how you’re going to achieve it.

To help you get started with your social media strategy, here are 4 key questions people often ask, along with some answers:

1.  What Is a Social Media Strategy?

In short, a social media strategy is like a business plan, but for your social media activities. When you first get started, it’s unlikely that you will have much of a plan and you will probably just post whatever comes to your mind that day. You may schedule a few posts about your products and include a few links back to your website. You may also spend endless hours just scrolling away, giving the occasional “like” here and there.

Being active on social media is great, but we all know that social media can be a massive drain on your time. Creating a social media strategy can help, though. Instead of aimlessly posting, liking and retweeting, all your activities are planned out and drive towards achieving your main objectives.

2. How do I Write a Social Media Strategy?

A social media strategy can be as detailed or as brief as you like. However, the more time you invest in your strategy, the more you will get out of it in the long-term. There’s no right or wrong way of writing a social media strategy, so do whatever you feel is the most beneficial for you and your business. I’d personally recommend starting by writing your strategy in a simple word document, or a PowerPoint presentation if you’re planning to present it to others later. 

3. What Does a Social Media Strategy Include?

Objectives: The first thing you need to do is decide on your goals and objectives. These should usually fit with your overall marketing strategy so that your efforts on social media help to achieve your broader marketing goals.

Social media audit: Next, review your existing social media presence. Consider questions such as “How many followers do we have?”, “What content do we currently share?” and “How often do we post?”. It can also be valuable to look at three or four of your key competitors and ask yourself the same questions. This is a good way to see what your competitors are doing well at on social media (which can provide you with some inspiration) and discover areas where they are not performing as well (which can highlight possible pitfalls for you to avoid).

Social platform research: Look back at your business accounts again and think about which social media platforms you need to focus on. Before you decide, it’s important you’re clear on who your target audience is and the key demographics of various social media platforms.

You can also look back at your social media audit to see which channels your competitors are active on (and performing well on). Don’t forget that it’s important to focus on quality, not quantity. While there are so many channels to choose from, you may not be able to give all of them the attention required, so it may be better for you to prioritize a couple. That being said, you may want to set up an account on each platform, so your name is reserved if you decide to focus on that platform further down the line. By doing this now, you increase your chances of being able to secure the name you want, so your username is consistent across all your channels.

Posting details: Consider how often you will post on each platform and what that content should be. Your strategy should also include details of any hashtags you want to use, which accounts you want to align yourself with (by liking, commenting on and sharing their content) and which accounts you want to avoid aligning with (for example, those who promote a different message or don’t fit with what your brand is all about).

Evaluation: An important thing to consider is how you will measure your success. If you’re just starting out, you might want to use your Klout score to judge how your efforts are progressing. However, it’s important not to get too caught up in metrics and follower numbers. Although you do need to gain followers in order to have a voice, it’s more important that your social media efforts actually help to improve brand awareness and ultimately your sales.

4. When Should I Start Planning My Social Media Strategy?

There’s no time like the present to begin planning your social media strategy. It can be good to start the year with a fresh start and a clear plan of action. Have you been putting off creating a social media strategy for your business? It really doesn’t have to be daunting and can help you give more direction and focus towards your future social media activities.

About the Author - Elizabeth Harmon

Elizabeth Harmon is a writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She is a Social Media Consultant with a number of years’ experience in the field. She has worked with a growing list of clients around the world, helping to build successful social media strategies, create effective content and much more. You can also follow her on Twitter @Liz_Harmon. 

"This article originally appeared on Social Media Explorer. Republished with permission." - original article on SME

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