Social media marketing — build a strategy for 2022 and beyond

A professional building a social media marketing strategy

Social media marketing (SMM) is a critical component of every company’s marketing strategy, but the ever-changing nature of social media is challenging. Strategies that worked a year ago are not performing as well today, and channels that used to suit your audience may be falling out of style. If your SMM strategy is outdated and underperforming, it’s time for a refresh.

We’ve put together a simple, step-by-step guide to help you update your SMM strategy for 2022 and beyond.

1. Set strategic goals and establish metrics

To get started building your social media marketing strategy, start at the end. Beginning with the end in mind is a great way to make sure your social media plan will drive measurable value for the marketing team and the company.

Here are a few common social media goals as well as metrics used to track them.

2. Identify and research your target audience

Now that you have some strategic goals in mind, it’s time to define and refine your personas. The magic ingredient for getting this step right is real customer data. If this information isn’t accessible, take a step back and prioritize finding a robust, real-time customer data platform (CDP). Unified customer data will help you develop accurate personas that reflect real users.

User persona example for social media marketing

Your marketing team likely has buyer personas, but these need to be refined for social media. People expect to make personal connections on social platforms, so interactions with your audience need to be targeted and personalized. Demographics, including age, interests, and location, can help you zero in on who your target users are.

The more detail you include when creating personas, the better.

  1. Getting age groups correct is important since different generations tend to favor different platforms.
  2. Job titles are useful too. An executive might be open to professional connections on LinkedIn but annoyed by it on channels like Instagram and Facebook.
  3. Psychographics combine demographics and psychological characteristics to really bring personas to life.

Persona templates can help drive inspiration as you’re getting started.

3. Choose the right social media channels

Social channels are not one-size-fits-all. Different platforms tend to attract different audiences. A young tech startup founder, for example, may wind down at night by watching TikTok videos or checking Instagram stories while an experienced B2B executive might look at Facebook over his morning coffee. A recent college grad, on the other hand, may prefer to watch YouTube makeup tutorials at the end of the day.

Part of a strategic social media plan is knowing which channels fit your target audience best.

That illustrates why you might not reach your younger male audience even though you’re posting on Instagram three times per day. SMM strategy has a lot to do with demographics.

Start small by focusing on just one or two channels that best fit your audience. This step is all about quality over quantity. Once you’ve established the brand on a couple of channels, you can start to test others.

4. Create content that is targeted, compelling, and engaging

Now it’s time to start creating content. A good SMM strategy focuses on creating content that is targeted, compelling, and engaging. But to create strong content, you first need to understand the different types of content each platform hosts.

Instagram’s recent pivot to video is a prime example of how social media changes and why marketers need to keep up. Instagram focused on images for years, but the shift to video means a big change to SMM strategies.

People will see the content that’s favored by each platform. Posting images on Instagram often won’t get past the new algorithm. It’s your job to make sure you are posting the right type of content on the right channels.

As you start planning and creating content for your social media channels, there are a few big-picture considerations to keep in mind.

Balance images vs. video

Images are often easier to create than video, but static images may make it harder to get your message across. Videos can require more time and resources to make, but they can also be full of information to convert users.

Facebook content, for example, should be about 60% to 70% images and 15% to 20% video. The remainder might be live videos, stories, text, and links.

A Xerox social media marketing Facebook post

Be human

When someone is scrolling social media, they are often unwinding from their day and looking for lighthearted, easy-to-consume content. A human, friendly tone resonates well with users, regardless of goals and industry.

A Wendy's social media marketing Twitter post

Your brand might not want to go as far as Wendy’s does with their sarcastic, sassy use of Twitter, but there’s no denying the brand made waves when its Twitter account started roasting fans and creating memes.

Define and stick to a design trend or aesthetic

Think of your social media marketing strategy like designing a home. Your business may portray a breezy, coastal vibe or a moody, mid-century look. Different color schemes make people feel different things, so be thoughtful about the aesthetic you choose. Using the same colors and aesthetic on your social channels will also help build brand awareness and make your pages look professional.

Define a content mix

The 80/20 rule (80% informative content, 20% promotional content) is a helpful framework, but use whatever ratio works well for your target audience. The point is that no one wants to follow a page that is all about selling their product or service. If a page offers helpful how-tos and information related to its followers’ interests, promotional posts will be more welcome and more successful.

5. Set up a social media calendar

Next, it’s time to set up a social media calendar. Determine how often you want to post to each channel based on your team’s availability and best practices. Best practices vary by channel, but in general, you should be posting content several times a week or even daily if your team has the bandwidth.

An example of a social media marketing calendar

Time of day and day of the week are also important factors that vary based on the channel. For example:

Once you’ve determined when to post, you can reverse-engineer due dates and deadlines for content creation based on your team’s capabilities. Automating your posts is essential for sending content within the windows of time when they will be the most successful on each channel.

6. Don’t forget to check on your competitors

It’s valuable to look into how your competitors are using social media — and how well it’s working. Maybe they’ve discovered an untapped area of interest for your user base.

Channels

For example, your company may be focusing on Facebook to reach your demographic of 30- to 40-year-olds, but you might notice your competitors are spending a lot of resources on Twitter. It’s possible that they’ve discovered a growing male interest in your industry and are finding better engagement on Twitter. Channels that your competitors are doing well on will likely be good channels for your company too.

On the other hand, if you find yourself stuck on the obvious social platforms and unable to get ahead of the competition, you might discover untapped value on channels that your competitors are missing. Take a fresh look at that network’s user demographics and look for a niche overlap with your target personas. Being first on the platform will give you a big advantage.

Content

Studying your competitors’ SMM content is another good strategy to see what is working well. For example, if they are getting a lot of engagement from influencer marketing, you probably will too.

A social media marketing influencer post

Consider the tone of the content as well. If your content is serious and professional, for example, but your competitors are driving a lot of engagement with funny memes, you might want to adjust your strategy. Don’t break the overall brand guidelines, of course, but try to speak the language of the platform.

Reviews

Most marketers know the importance of listening to your customers, but listening to what your competitors’ customers have to say can be valuable for your company too. Search for their brand names on popular platforms and learn from what users are saying.

Maybe they’re commenting on Facebook posts about a product issue, or perhaps they’re suggesting an update to a current online tool that will help solve a problem they’re having. These insights will help your business see gaps in the industry and turn them into opportunities.

Industry leaders

Finally, don’t overlook the industry leaders that may be much bigger than your company. Those huge brands that are in your space but are too big to really consider close competitors (for now) can be good indicators of where new trends are headed. After all, they have the resources to predict coming trends and get a head start.

7. Audit your social media strategy

Social media marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Social is always on, and trends are always changing, so your SMM strategy will always be an ongoing project as well.

Refer to the goals and metrics you created in step one to frequently audit your strategy. Just because something worked six months ago does not mean it will work today. Analytics are important when performing these audits. You should measure the success of your current strategy against those early goals to figure out what worked and what didn’t. From there, you can adjust the next campaign based on fresh insights.

Frequently asked SMM questions

SMM changes quickly, so you may have questions about what’s involved. Check out these frequently asked social media marketing questions and answers below.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing (SMM) is a marketing discipline that uses social media platforms to reach and connect with potential customers. SMM can help heighten brand awareness, create a community around a brand, generate new customers, improve current customer engagement, increase website traffic, and more.

What is a social media marketing strategy?

A social media marketing strategy is a company’s plan for social media campaigns and posts over a specified time period. It’s created with the individual company’s end goals in mind and requires frequent updating as both goals and social media best practices continue to change.

What's in a social media marketing strategy?

A good social media strategy for 2022 into 2023 should include:

A social media strategy for 2022 and beyond

A modern social media strategy can help engage both current and new customers, build brand awareness, elicit actionable feedback from real customers, increase website traffic and sales, and more.

Start by gathering stakeholders and establishing which goals are most important to your company at this time. Starting with those end goals, you can move forward with building a robust SMM strategy.

Adobe Marketo Engage, part of Adobe Experience Cloud, is a complete solution for lead management that helps orchestrate personalized experiences, optimize content, and measure business impact across every channel.

When you’re ready to coordinate posts across multiple social media platforms, automate engagement, and view analytics all in one place, take the Adobe Marketo Engage product tour to see how.