Social media marketing — build a strategy for 2022 and beyond
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 If your SMM strategy is outdated and underperforming, it’s time for a refresh.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.
- Set strategic goals and establish metrics
- Identify and research your target audience
- Choose the right social media channels
- Create content that is targeted, compelling, and engaging
- Set up a social media calendar
- Don’t forget to check on your competitors
- Audit your social media strategy
- Frequently asked SMM questions
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.
- Heighten brand awareness. “Brand awareness” is a term used to describe how recognizable a company’s branding is. For example, if you see a logo without any other information, and you immediately associate it with a brand name, that indicates strong brand awareness. Branded search volume is a useful metric to measure brand awareness. Many SEO tools will allow you to check how often people are searching for a brand name on Google. If SMM is improving brand awareness, the branded search volume will begin to climb.
- Increase website traffic. Website traffic can show you how many people are moving from specific social media campaigns to your website. The best way to measure this is to create unique landing pages for an SMM campaign or use an Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameter to keep an eye on traffic.
- Improve customer engagement. SMM is one of the best ways to improve customer engagement because social media is where your target audience goes to participate in conversations. Not only does better engagement create buzz around your brand, but it also allows people to feel involved in your brand. When a person feels involved or connected, they purchase more. Check out engagement rates on every social media channel you use to get a good idea of how customer engagement is growing or changing. You can also measure engagement by looking at click rates, retweets, or shares (depending on the channel).
- Generate new customers. SMM is not only about gaining new followers. It can drive conversions and create new customers as well. This goal can be difficult to measure since SMM is often just one touchpoint in the buyer journey. A good multitouch attribution software is your best bet for tracking new customers generated by an SMM strategy.
Clear goals help to build the foundation of your marketing strategy. If one of your main goals is to improve customer engagement, you’ll want to look at current customer engagement data to see what is working and what needs to be adjusted. Keep in mind that the strategy you use to improve customer engagement will be different from the one you would use to generate new customers or increase website traffic. Determining exactly which goals will be the most impactful to your business in the coming months will help you figure out exactly where to start.
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.
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.
- Getting age groups correct is important since different generations tend to favor different platforms.
- 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.
- 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.
- Instagram is ideal for target audiences who are under 40 years old and female. Ecommerce and lifestyle brands tend to find the greatest success with this platform.
- Facebook is a good channel for companies with a target audience above 40. Research shows that the 30-plus crowd uses Facebook and that users over 40 tend to be the most active on the platform, increasing even more with age.
- Twitter users are ⅔ male, and 63% are between the ages of 35 and 65.
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.
- Twitter is all about short snippets of text and sharing links. Threads are a more recent trend used to share longer thoughts broken up into short pieces.
- Instagram, while previously image-focused, is now moving toward video.
- Facebook is hugely media-based as well and primarily uses images and some videos to engage users.
- Pinterest is all about the images and some short-form videos.
- YouTube is all about longer video content.
- TikTok focuses on short-form videos.
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.
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.
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.
Time of day and day of the week are also important factors that vary based on the channel. For example:
- Facebook users are most active on weekdays between 9am and 11am.
- Pinterest users are most active on weekend evenings.
- TikTok users tend to be the most active on weekday evenings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Setting strategic goals and establishing metrics
- Identifying and researching your target audience
- Choosing the right social media channels
- Creating content that is targeted, compelling, and engaging
- Setting up a social media calendar
- Checking on your competitors
- Auditing your social media strategy
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.
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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 tourto see how.