As the late and great Stephen Covey said: “Begin with the end in mind”. If you only take away one thing from this blog, it’s that your social media strategy should be guided by the results that you and your client want to drive. And that’s why we included this right at the opening.
Creating and crafting a social media strategy that drives growth and success is tough. You’re a tiny fish in a huge, red ocean, and everyone is fiercely competing for market share. As of March 2017, there are 1.94billion Facebook users, and yet you might be struggling to reach just 10% of the people who like your client’s Page.
Even when you do reach more than 10% of your Page like total, you’re still struggling to drive meaningful traffic that will act once they land on your website. And that’s just Facebook, what about Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat?
We’re here to help you build a winning client social media strategy with our seven steps. In this guide, we’ll help you consider:
- Results and goal-setting: Everything starts from here
- Writing a mission statement to give your team the power to make autonomous decisions
- Who you’re targeting, where, how and why, and which social media channels are best for reaching the right people
- Posting frequency and content types
- Workflows, collaboration and sign off process
- Customer service and crisis management
- Low-hanging fruit and quick tactical wins
This blog is useful if you want to renew your social media strategy with your client, or when you’re pitching or onboarding a new client and you want to show them you’re right on top of creating a market-leading strategy.
Build a successful social media strategy in 7 steps
1. Results: Begin with the end in mind
Your social media strategy should be built around the outcomes that you and your client want to achieve. Social media pages exist for a number of reasons, including a great many personal accounts that are held by consumers.
Businesses active on social media are typically trying to achieve more sales, but they would benefit from working backwards from that point in order to help shape the strategy: what is it they can get from social media that will lead to sales further down the line?
Social media is a powerful tool to drive footfall in offline businesses, such as shops, bars and restaurants. For example, if you’re running a restaurant, being present on social media allows you to see and target users by their location and age, both of which are valuable pieces of information when tailoring your marketing.
If your client’s business is solely online, then setting goals of driving referral traffic from your social media platforms is a good way to measure success over time, provided assisted conversions do come through and can be monitored in Google Analytics.
Set SMART goals for your social media plan, and then make sure you consider these goals every day when you’re preparing new social media content.
SMART goals are:
For example, if you were creating a strategy for an online magazine that makes money primarily by showing website adverts to users, you might set a SMART goal such as:
“If we reach 4,000 Facebook Page likes by the end of Q3, we’re going out as a team to celebrate!”
There are several benefits to goal-setting in this way. One is that it helps everyone in the team know, before the start of executing a new strategy, what results they can feel great about driving and achieving.
2. Writing your social media mission statement
Write a mission statement for your client’s brand to help align your client and the whole team working on the account around a common approach. While your SMART goal setting is specific and measurable, your mission statement should be more aspirational and less quantifiable.
Don’t overcomplicate writing your mission statement, it shouldn’t be a very time-consuming activity. We’d suggest setting a meeting with your client, with a shared goal of finishing the session with a signed off mission statement, which will help buy their confidence that you’re taking a strategic approach.
Forbes.com recommends asking the four following questions to shape your mission statement, which may help guide your session:
Here are four essential questions your company’s mission statement must answer:
What do we do?
How do we do it?
Whom do we do it for?
What value are we bringing?
The idea behind the mission statement - and SMART goals - is that it helps your team and client critique the social media content they’re in the process of creating. They can quite simply ask: Does this campaign or content plan fit our mission statement? Will it drive us towards our SMART goals?
If the answer to either question is “no”, the content should be up for review. This process can be carried out by junior level staff, freeing up social media account managers to oversee multiple accounts at the same time, with confidence in the thinking behind the content their teams are creating.
An example mission statement for a chain of local coffee shops could be:
What do we do?
We provide a quiet escape for people to enjoy ethically-sourced coffee.
How do we do it?
By treating every cup like it might be the last we ever make.
Whom do we do it for?
Anyone who respects the tranquility of our cafe.
What value are we bringing?
Peace and quiet, and a place for people to unwind and de-stress.
3. Which social media channels should my client be on?
We see this asked quite a lot, and understandably so. Even for clients who work in interesting, content-rich verticals, you still have to draw the line somewhere; social media is very resource-hungry. There’s no sense in launching across several different channels if you don’t have a clear plan, or at least confidence, that you’ll have enough content to keep them prospering.
We’d recommend starting out with one to four major channels, tailored best to your client’s business and their target market, and really making a success of those. Base this on the size of your agency team, and how much retainer time the client is paying for; it makes sense to be strong on one platform, rather than thinly spread across four, for example. If you elect to choose just one, choose Facebook due to the very large market share it possesses.
If your client is a music magazine with a teenage and young audience, we’d recommend Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. If your business sells life insurance to over 50’s, we’d suggest Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube, providing you have a reasonable pipeline of video content to feed it with. Being present on Facebook is pretty much a necessity, given the big market share mentioned before.
Work closely with your client to prepare tailored content that you could put out on the channels you do select, and see how easy it feels to create new content. There’s no worse feeling than setting live three or four social media pages, then having to scrabble around for fresh content a couple of weeks after going live.
4. Posting frequency, post types
Agree on some timelines and rules for posting with your client in the room. Most clients will very much go with their gut feeling on how many posts on each channel feels appropriate, but you should seek to be led by data over time. The key metrics here are your reach and average reach per post.
For example, if you post 10 times a day on Linkedin rather than one, you’d naturally expect your reach to be higher. But, if you find posting 10 times a day means your average reach per post is far lower, you may decide you’re better served only posting once or twice a day on Linkedin, and instead having more content ready for future days.
While your agency will no doubt be able to prepare and curate lots of great content on behalf of your clients, getting their buy-in and encouraging a collaborative approach can work very well.
Ask them for help with content you simply aren’t able to create on the agency-side, such as expert Q&A sessions, live streaming videos, “day in the life” style content or photos and videos of fun and quirky things going on in your client’s offices or premises.
This is often the sort of brand-building content that proves to be so successful on social media, and while you can encourage it as an agency, you will need client buy-in and collaboration to really showcase their brand from the inside out.
Get a gauge for how much great quality content you’ll be able to provide and agree on targets such as two Facebook and Linkedin posts, 10 tweets a day, and work from there.
Make sure you’re measuring the impact of your work on social media and regularly reflecting that back to your client; they’ll want to know whether things are good, bad or indifferent, and they’ll respect your honest interpretation.
Creating a shared reporting dashboard saves you time and also allows clients to drop in and access information about performance that will help them know what’s going on.
Most agency-focused social media tools will provide you with automatic reporting, assembled in a shared dashboard, for ease of interpretation.
5. Workflows and sign off
Your new social media clients will grow to trust you more over time, but especially in the early days and weeks, having an agreed process for signing off new social media content will be an invaluable time-saver.
Enterprise-level social media software such as Sendible allows you to easily manage multiple client accounts, giving the client stakeholder the ability to see and approve the content you’re posting on their behalf.
You can also assign particular social media accounts to junior members of staff, so they aren’t cluttered with accounts they don’t work on. Furthermore, you can adjust users’ permission levels, so if you’re an account manager handling eight social media clients, you can make sure only the right people are seeing the correct accounts.
6. Customer service and crisis management
Agreeing workflows and sign off process is also a good opportunity to address the all-important issue of handling customer service queries and how to handle a social media crisis. These crises can emerge at any time, and often they’ll occur for reasons beyond your agency or client’s control, so it’s always good to have a plan for your response before you need it.
Take your client through a premortem - a run through of the best, moderate and worst case scenarios - and plan how you will respond. For example, does your client want your agency to handle the crisis yourself, or to contact them for sign off on any reply? Does the reply need to go through a legal team? Answering these questions early will enable you to reply swiftly if - and when - a crisis occurs.
Prepare for every situation. Download our guide to social media crisis management now and never get caught out again.
It’s common that the customer service queries you will receive will be recurring, and so you can agree a batch of response posts to handle the frequently asked questions you receive. If you do notice your client’s social media accounts receiving very similar or repeat feedback or questions, propose a change to their website FAQs page or help section to help provide users with answers elsewhere, which can reduce how often you have to answer queries on social.
7. Tactical wins and low-hanging fruit
Pursuing tactical wins and low-hanging fruit should be interwoven into your everyday social media strategy. Agreeing some rules with your client that you and your team can like, share, retweet (RT) and comment on other people and brands’ content will help limit the amount of time spent going back and forth getting approval. Being quick to capitalize on trending topics and offer excellent customer service to social media users can provide breakthrough successes, such as when Sainsbury’s replied to a user with a whole load of amazing fish puns.
Take care of the basics first, though. Visit your client’s social media pages as someone who doesn’t follow or like the page, or, even better, ask someone who’s never been on the pages to have a look and give you their recommendations:
- If the client has a phone number for inbound calls, is it prominent as it should be?
- Do they have an email address visible for users who want to contact them privately rather than publicly?
- Does the client’s business have opening or operating hours, and are they also clear to users?
- Are there clear links to your client’s other social media profiles and website?
- Does the page look great on mobile as well as desktop?