two people sitting in an office

An effective social media strategy is one of the fastest ways to build the know, like and trust factor with your prospective clients and target audience. It can increase your brand awareness, generate leads, boost sales and so much more.

But where should you start? Learn how to create a social media marketing strategy so you can attract your ideal customers, connect with your community and establish your brand as a leader.

Determine your goals

Before creating any social media strategy or campaign, make sure you set clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives. 

Common KPIs include increasing website traffic, conversions, ROI, calls and subscriptions.

The SMART goals framework is a great structure to follow to ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.

Let’s say you are promoting your services as an executive assistant. Instead of setting the goal to “get more contacts on LinkedIn,” your SMART goal could be to reach out to five warm LinkedIn leads every day at 10 a.m.

Conduct a social media audit

Conducting a social media audit can give you an understanding of where you stand against the competition and provide you with information for a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. 

Start your social media audit by identifying your competitors and the criteria you’ll use to evaluate their accounts.

You could record:
  • Number of followers
  • Engagement rate (likes + comments / followers)
  • Post frequency
  • Types of posts (user-generated content, graphics, photography, videos, promotional, etc.)
  • Best-performing content
  • Growth rate over time
  • Influencer strategy, if any

This audit can help reveal your strengths and weaknesses, where your most impactful opportunities lie, and the biggest threats your competitors pose.

Set up your social media accounts

Your profile is your first impressions on social media. Think of how you want potential customers to perceive your brand. 

Forbes has shown that 78% of consumers’ purchases are impacted by companies’ social media, so having an accurate profile, engaging profile picture and complete bio on every channel you occupy is critical to building trust.

If you haven’t done so already, determine which social media profiles are most beneficial to your business and set them up, or ensure all your existing information is accurate. Most social media platforms have helpful guides to getting started, such as this one from Facebook.

Ask yourself where your customers spend the most time online. Targeting moms? Eight out of 10 Pinterest users have kids. Selling to millennials?  Seventy percent are on Instagram every day.

Don’t worry about having a presence on every platform. The point is not to spread yourself thin trying to be everywhere all at once, but rather to make sure you’re consistently and intentionally showing up where your ideal customers are.

Follow accounts you admire

Next, identify aspirational accounts that your ideal customer avatar is also following so you can not only gain inspiration for your own posts, but also listen to what your audience is saying.

These can be your direct competitors, brands within your industry, or totally outside of your industry but still within your audience’s online “home.”

For example, if you own a coffee shop, you might follow other local shops, bands your customers listen to, clothing brands your customers wear and news outlets they pay attention to. Look through their feeds to see what performs well (keep an eye out for posts that have two or three times the brand’s normal engagement) and brainstorm ways to create similar content.

Research your target audience

Remember the social aspect of social media? Your social media strategy should revolve around your ideal customer avatar and what problem you’re solving for them.

If you have even a small email list or social media following, survey them to learn more about their needs, demographics and interests so you can build your customer persona.

Consider asking:
  • What keeps them up at night? 
  • Where do they spend time online? 
  • What is their profession? 
  • What do they do for fun?
  • Where do they live?

If you don’t have first-hand access to this type of demographic and psychographic information, get a brainstorm partner and try to fill in the blanks the best you can. Visit Reddit pages, Facebook groups and other forums where your ideal audience spends time online so you can learn more about their behavior.

With all of this in mind, you can create more curated posts that will interest your customers and help improve engagement with your followers.

Create engaging organic content

Everything you post should either educate, entertain or inspire. Your organic content should focus on adding free value, such as check lists, inspiration, educational livestreams and how-to videos.

Images, videos, and posts should be high quality, relevant to your brand or industry, and invite users to engage with you. Don’t simply post promotional content; focus on creating a human connection that serves rather than sells.

With this in mind, brainstorm and create content that solves a problem for your customers, with the goal of attracting and keeping users on your page.

Plan paid social media campaigns

Ready to move from organic posts to paid social media advertising? Planning paid social media campaigns can help you reach a hyper-targeted segment of your customers.

To begin, you’ll need to determine:

Your work isn’t done once you publish your ads. Continue to measure KPIs, analyze results and test new approaches so you can boost your ROI.

Learn more about growing your small business

A strong social media marketing strategy is essential for engaging with users, driving awareness and strengthening your brand. But it’s not the only way to grow. For more business resources, visit the Nationwide Business Solutions Center.

Small Business Icon
Learn more about Nationwide business insurance Talk to a specialist