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The idea of building a social media strategy can sound really daunting. We know there's likely to be a lot of work involved and sometimes it's hard to see how going through the process will actually have an impact on our social media performance. 

It's easy to see why when lots of social media strategies tend to be more heavily focused on intuition over data. Without dedicating time to analysing and evaluating factors like previous performance, your environment, and your audience, your plan will be no different to last year's. 👎

It's difficult to evolve to achieve our objectives without knowing why certain things have taken place. So to help us fill in the dots of the 'why', we invited Harry Gardiner from the PRCA to join us on this week's webinar to share his data driven approach to devising the ultimate social media strategy in 6 easy steps! 

Thank you again to Harry for presenting his tips and tricks and thank you to those of you who joined us live - we hoped you enjoyed the session as much as we did! 👏

If you missed out on the live session but want to catch up on all the juicy learning points then you're in the right place! Read on to discovers Harry's six steps to strategy success and our key take aways. 👇 

1. Review your Reports

The first step is to analyse how your social media activity performed over the past year to discover areas in which you can secure some quick wins! 🙌

For instance if you find that your top 10 performing Facebook posts from the year all included video then you know that focusing effort on creating more of this style of content is likely to improve your results again. Similarly, the content that got the least engagement helps you to identify things to avoid. That could be certain themes or styles of content. 

As Harry said, testing different ideas for social media and then learning from the results is such an important process to adopt. There's more data than ever available on social media content, audiences, and preferences so be bold and try new things in the knowledge that if it doesn't work out how you expected, you've learnt from it and can use data to explain why. 📉

But remember your focus should still be quality over quantity. Only hone in on the metrics that actually mean something to you and that help you to measure success against your social media and business objectives. You might find that you have millions of impressions, but if your goal is to increase positive engagement or drive click throughs then this information is meaningless! Always set your objectives before you look at measurements and not the other way around! 💪

To help you collect the right information on your social media activity and content social media management tools like CrowdControlHQ can help you to see the information that matters faster. Alternatively, head to the the insights sections of the social networks themselves to see all of the available data. 👀

2. Audit your Assets

Step two is to look at the tools and assets you have at your disposal to work with. It's easy to build up a wealth of content and collateral over the year that you might not have fully utilised. Performing an audit is a great way to review your content including videos, long-form content, photos, and graphics and pick out pieces that you can refresh and re-use! 📁

There's often projects we work on and then don't promote as much as we should at the time, so make those pieces a priority to capitalise on first - you don't always need to reinvent the wheel! 🏆

While you're looking through this content and auditing your social media accounts, use this opportunity to check the consistency of your branding. We all know that with new projects and formats of content, branding can change, from the colours we use to the fonts, logos., and even our tone of voice! But inconsistencies in how your social media channels appear can confuse your audience and cause your accounts to look unprofessional. Reflect on what has changed and update any bits that you need to in order to bring it back in line with how you want to present your brand! 

3. Analyse your Audience

Have you heard the phrase "know your audience"? Chances are you're nodding right now. 

As Harry pointed out, although this is a widely used phrase that most people are familiar with, few social media teams are acting on it. 

To really understand who your current audience are and whether they're actually your target audience/buyer or not involves robust social media tracking making the most of readily available tools including the following:

1. Social media pixels

A Facebook pixel is an analytics tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising by understanding the actions people take on your website. You can use pixel data to:

  • Make sure that your ads are being shown to the right people
  • Build advertising audiences
  • Unlock additional Facebook advertising tools

You can set up a pixel by placing pixel code on the header of your website. When someone visits your website and takes an action (e.g. completing a purchase), the Facebook pixel is triggered and reports this action. This way, you'll know when a customer takes an action, and will be able to reach that customer again through future Facebook ads.

2. Google tracked links

Tracked links are a feature of Google analytics that allow you to put a piece of code on the end of your campaign links to track exactly where that click has come from. The Google url builder will do all the work for you, you just have to enter the original link to start tracking. 

This is an amazing for bigger campaigns where you've invested time and potentially money as well so you need to be able to see whether the content is driving people to take your desired action! 

3. Targeting with paid social advertising

More accurately targeting audiences on your social media channels with paid advertising is an amazing opportunity to learn. Harry recommends using custom lookalike audiences on Facebook for maximum success on the channel.

Lookalike audiences are great for finding potential new audiences by helping you to target your Facebook content to people who are similar to your current audience and like the same things as them. This can really help to expand your audience pool but the challenge is that you might not have the right audience at the moment.

With that in mind, the best option is to create a custom audience with information you already have on your target audience such as emails or contact details. You can enter this data into Facebook and then build lookalike ads to target even more people who are similar to your target profile. This continues to expand your potential audience full of people who actually buy similar products/services to yours or have similar interests. 

4. Embrace your Environment

Now you know who the people you want to target are, you need to understand the what's going on in the world around you and them. The best place to start this exercise is with your competitors. Look at what they're doing on social media and what is being well received by their audiences and what isn't going down so well. As you're targeting similar buyers this is a great opportunity to spot ideas that you can build on and content to avoid if it's not working. 🕵️‍♀️

After competitors, look to other organisations on social media that you admire. They don't have to be in your sector or even a remotely similar organisation, but getting ideas from others that you consider to be innovators on social media is an awesome way to start thinking differently and generating new ideas. 🤔

To save content and ideas that you like more easily, consider using a social listening tool. CrowdControlHQ's Buzz Monitor will do all the hard work searching for social media content related to topics you're interested in. You can then archive content you like to share with your team later. Both Facebook and Instagram also provide users with the option of saving posts into collections so if you've seen something you like, add it to a collection for later. 

It's also key to look beyond social media, 2018 has been an unpredictable year in politics, society, and technology so look at trends and keep on top of current affairs to make sure that you're proactive and not reactive.

Just thinking ahead to 2019, there's already events like the Rugby World Cup, Eurovision, and Brexit to consider which will all affect how and when you create content for social media. To give you a helping hand in identifying these key dates, we publish a monthly social media calendar of the hashtags, events, and awareness days you need to know about. 

You can find all of our monthly calendars here. 📆

January 2019 social media calendar image

5. Plan your Output

Now you know who your audience are and the factors that are influencing them, it's time to consider what you're actually going to create to have the biggest impact. 

Think about what networks you're going to be using and what channels you have on those networks. Just because there are lots of different platforms available doesn't mean you should be on them. There's no value wasting money on being on platforms that offer no benefit to you and in analysing your audience you should already know what platforms your target audiences use. 

But if you find your audience are gravitating towards a new or emerging platform then don't be afraid to give it a go. Harry referenced podcasting which has seen massive growth in popularity over the last couple of years and so if you have the budget, time, and resources to create value for your audiences with a podcast show then it's never too late to get involved! 💥

Similarly Harry presented an eye-opening statistic that showed time spent watching Instagram videos is up 80% compared to last year. If you're interested in creating more video content, don't worry that you don't have a professional filming set up. In lots of cases it's actually the more amateur videos shot on mobile phones that get more engagement because consumers don't always want to look at polished ads. A more home-made style of video can be more attention grabbing! 📹  

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 09.50.35

Have you considered how you could create more quick videos such as interviews with colleagues/customers, or footage from live events, or even behind the scenes clips of your office/product/service?

If video isn't your thing then consider what other options you have. Long-form content like articles, blogs, industry reporting and insights can be fantastic resources to share on different channels, so long as it's right for your audience! 📝

6. Create your Calendar

The last step in developing your fool proof social media strategy is to create your calendar. This can be a daunting step but putting the time in to properly prepare for the coming year will pay dividends later. It helps you focus more on the activity that you know will help you move closer to your social media objectives, while ensuring you work more efficiently. 

You can start building out your content plan using a tool like CrowdControlHQ to help or even just in an excel. What matters is that you've got a calendar to work to that will guide you throughout the year and help inform your decisions. 📆

Once you've started fleshing your calendar out, make sure that the rest of your team or colleagues involved in social media are involved and can collaborate on ideas and planning. Social media doesn't operate in a silo and so make sure you've communicated your plan to all appropriate colleagues. 📣

While you might think that now you have this plan you must live and die by it. But that's just not realistic, if analysing your environment has proved anything, it's likely that things can change very quickly. Be prepared to be flexible and reactive to ensure you don't exacerbate an already escalating situation on social media with fun content that could tarnish your organisation's reputation.

The final words of wisdom from Harry that we thought were perfect to end on are: check your plan each day and make any changes you need to as you go through the year but don't let your previously scheduled content cause a brand crisis! 🙅‍♀️

There were a lot of great tips and tricks shared in this webinar and we hope that if you joined us live you found it valuable. For those wanting to catch up on the session, click the link below to see the recording! Finally, we love hearing your thoughts and feedback so please do get in touch to let us know whether you've tried these six steps and how you got on @CrowdControlHQ! 😊

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Watch now - Six steps to building a fool proof social media strategy

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