A Comprehensive Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy in 2018

Social media strategy refers to the fundamental idea of taking every step on social media that contributes to the cause of starting communication, building relations, and spreading awareness to the audience from a brand or individual’s standpoint. If you’re wondering about the social media strategy in 2018, then you’re safe hands. Grab a cup of coffee, folks. It’s going to be a very long, cheesy piece of content.

I’ll surely dig deeper into building the social media strategy the right way – but let me take this opportunity to clarify some context of social media and technology. The reason is that social media and technology are going hand in hand.

In case, you want to know why it is important in today’s digital age of technology and the internet to build a social media strategy, then I’d respond that we’re going through a fascinating time when we’re bombarded by enormous information, fast communication, social media connectivity, and attention-grabbing content — as this article explains Twitter as the “endless streams of content.”

if you’re thinking what I am talking about then grab your smartphone right now and look at the every mobile app icons – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Netflix, or any other.

The fact is that if we tap on a video on Facebook and start to watch, there is an endless loop of videos down there ready to be clicked. If we install WhatsApp, our friends who use WhatsApp show up right in there. If we follow a celeb a Twitter, it recommends you more to follow. This article also hints that there is a lot of content being pushed out there, which shows the enormity of the challenge to get it done right.

What do you think is happening at the moment? The advancement of technology and its impact on the social media is a reality. I will not be surprised if someone tells me that there will be entirely new social networks based on virtual reality and augmented reality twenty years from now.

Listen up, you need to build a social media strategy of the time – if you’re in 2018, and you’re not looking at the YouTube videos, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, then you’re missing out a huge opportunity of grabbing attention. The purpose of this article is to ensure that if you’re stepping into the social media world whether as a personal brand or a company, you must know:

  • Where to start from
  • What to do to dominate
  • How to win attention
  • How to create content
  • How to share information
  • Where to put out content
  • How to build relations
  • What platform to focus on more
  • How to convert fans into customers

So this comprehensive guide will answer lots of your queries on social media marketing and help you build a solid social media strategy.

To give you a clear perspective, let’s head over to some steps that will lay the foundation for a successful social media marketing strategy in 2018:

1. Building a Marketing Persona

Suppose you’re a clothing brand named LA LUSH that designs female wedding dresses in Los Angeles. So you’ll cut through the male population all together while reaching out the audience – in fact, you’ll eye unmarried females aging 20 to 40 that might be getting married sooner or later. It’s your marketing persona.

However, it doesn’t happen on a whim. Brands study before deciding that who they want to reach out, where they exist, and what they want. It does require a maneuver before jumping to the conclusion about marketing persona.

To build the marketing persona for your brand, you have to work on the following things:

Identification of Target Audience

Without being crystal clear about the target audience of your brand, you can’t move forward to designing the further strategies. As you have seen the example of our imaginary brand LA LUSH – the brand has the clarity about who to target and reach out.

Similarly, if you aren’t sure who you should be reaching out to build a relationship on social media, you’d start off on the wrong foot.

When it comes to the identification of target audience, the following demographics play a huge role:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income
  • Location

For example, if you look at the SEMrush website, their homepage tells you that who they want to come over and try their software:

So they target digital marketing professionals – whether they’re doing digital marketing as freelancers or as full-time employees.

Another example is Socialbakers – they also have laid down all the details on their sales page very precisely:

When brands have clarity in their target audience identification, they run smooth social media marketing campaigns – from creating content to running online ads, the clarity infuses into everything a brand does to build relations and market the product on social media.

Brand Awareness

A marketing persona is incomplete without establishing the brand awareness. The brand awareness is a concept of understanding the brand’s culture, vision, and products to be able to transform the information in the righteous way possible. In other words, it means covering up the ground on everything the brand does or could do for the audience.

I’m fascinated by the Ahrefs website’s homepage – they have done what exactly I’m talking about. Not only did they share the value proposition upfront, but they also chose to use simple language to convey the message:

Honing the Narrative

To crush the social media game, you must know that it’s necessary to build and follow the narrative of the brand. It’s impossible to get the desired results from social media if a clear narrative of the brand isn’t in place. It’s highly unlikely that a brand could build the marketing persona without clarifying the narrative.

  •  A brand’s narrative may involve:
  • The “Why” of the brand
  • The value proposition of the products
  • Unique selling point (USP)
  • Clarity of the whole process
  • Organizational work ethics
  • Company culture

Honing the narrative explains that everything the brand does or believes in must be clear to everyone on the team – the coherence among the team members helps strengthen the process of building a marketing persona.

The whole point of discussing the marketing persona is that if a brand starts social media marketing right off the bat without paying close attention to the key ingredients of social media strategy, then the results won’t be prosperous.

Marketing personas are fictional ideal customers that help simplify the social media strategy when brands know who they should be targeting and why.

2. Engaging the Audience

At step two, we’ll go one step further into developing our social media strategy. At this point, you’ll have a clear idea about your target audience to reach out. Now, the question is where to reach out and how to do it exactly.

It’s so easy to start a Facebook page for your company especially when you have no idea what your social media strategy is. Building a social media strategy doesn’t mean a Facebook page or Twitter account or running a Facebook ad campaign. In fact, it’s a well-crafted, long-term relationship building campaign on a select number of social platforms to take the public relations to another level.

Here are three elements of the audience engagement:

1) – Choosing the Social Platforms

Nothing is even remotely close to the importance of choosing the social media platforms – if you think that you should be on every social platform that exists, then it will be the beginning of the end of your social media game.

You won’t find any social media expert who has the authority and big following on every social media platform.

Scott Levy, a best-selling author, CEO, and Founder of Fuel Online, rightly said, “When it comes to choosing which social media platforms you’ll utilize, select those that offer the best potential for reaching your ideal audience and broadcast the type of media you’ve decided is best suited for your company.”

So if you’re hitting your head through a wall and unable to decide which social media platform to choose, then you better start understanding and trying different social media platforms to figure out what social media platform you should stick to for a long-haul.

Anthony Murphy, CEO of AttentionMedia said, “There is not always one ‘perfect’ social media platform for your business. Like many things, it is about testing, measuring and repeating.”

But I could say based on my personal experience that you don’t have to start off on eight social media platforms at once. However, many experts advise using two or three social media platforms. A little hack in choosing the “social media platforms” is to make sure that you’re looking at different media content simultaneously. For example, if you’ve chosen Instagram, you’ll be better off if you won’t choose Pinterest because both are image-sharing platforms, but of course, there are many differences in some ways. I’d rather choose YouTube than Pinterest because it will give me the room for using the video medium for marketing and social media engagement.

2) – Creating Content

Content creation is one of the essentials of building a social media strategy. If you aren’t creating content on social media, there is no point of using the social platforms. We’ll dig deeper into content creation and try to comprehend that why creating content is important for our social media.

Following are the reasons for creating content on social media:

I. It gives us the leverage: One of the benefits of creating content on social media is that it gives a chance to help out others through our ideas, suggestions, and knowledge. It gives us the leverage, and thus the engagement begins between the brand and the audience.

II. A conversation begins: There is no doubt that creating content helps us communicate with the audience. Imagine that you write a long, in-depth Facebook status that answers a hot question of your industry, and people start reacting to it – maybe a few won’t agree or have a different opinion, but the conversation would begin.

III. It builds the network: When new people stumble upon your social media content whether it’s a YouTube video, Instagram post, Facebook status, or Pinterest infographic, they like or share, which results in more eyeballs. It begins the process of gathering the like-minded people under the same umbrella. Tim Sanders rightly said, “Your network is your net worth.”

IV. It drives the branding strategy: Creating content on social media helps a brand build connections with the audience, especially when the content solves a problem. Branding isn’t just about putting dollars into developing a great logo, colorful website, or a Facebook ad, but instead, it’s about developing a brand’s position in the audience’s mind.

I can’t imagine building a social media strategy in 2018 without creating helpful and useful content for the audience.

3) – Digital Marketing

A social media strategy would be incomplete without contemplating the digital marketing side. Digital marketing is a way of engaging the audience through various online platforms and reaching out to the masses through different formats of content. However, digital marketing is often considered as online advertising. In fact, online advertising is just a segment of the whole picture of digital marketing.

In the perspective of social media strategy, we have to look at the possibility that how we can empower our social media strategy through digital marketing traits. Meaning, to stand out from the crowd, we could potentially use digital marketing tactics to strengthen our social media channels.

So please look at the options that we’ve gotten:

Publish written content: I don’t underestimate the power of written words. I know how podcasting or video is going crazy these days, but I’m not someone who is completely righting off the text content. So I would say: either make an official blog or go to Medium.com.

For example, ContentStudio has its official blog on a subdomain. Take a look at the blog:

 

Gary Vaynerchuk has done it on the Medium. However, he also has a blog on his domain, but he recently started getting serious on Medium, which proves my point.

Take a look at the screenshot below:

So if you’re okay with writing content, please pay attention to this. The upside of writing content is that not only can you share on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others, but you can also advertise your articles through social media.

Run a Facebook ad: Running a Facebook ad, however, provides digital marketing a big edge. The best part of Facebook advertising is that you can do this in various forms. For example, if you’re big on video, you can create a short video and promote it through Facebook ads.

In case, you’re good with photography or written content; it still works for you. The point is that make sure Facebook ads is somehow becoming a part of your social media strategy.

Utilize the Video: Similarly, the video has been getting huge attention since 2016 – brands are paying a lot of attention to the video. Not only the brands, but social media giants are also fighting to win the online video war. Facebook is rapidly becoming one of the major social platforms to run videos. Facebook Watch is the prime example. Facebook recently launched its video platform to provide episodic video content to the audience. It’s attracting a lot of video creators. However, at this point, it’s limited to the U.S. Facebook users, but hopefully, it goes to the other countries soon.

It doesn’t matter where you begin from in video content – start from the 1-minute Instagram video, make long-form YouTube videos, or simply upload videos on the Facebook page. Just make sure that you add video to your social media mix.

Social Media Examiner took a step a few months back – they launched their episodic YouTube show called The Journey.

Experiment with Live Stream: Live streaming has been growing since 2016, and social media platforms are trying to win in this niche as well. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all these platforms have the live stream feature now. Try to inject the live streaming in your digital marketing campaign.

So digital marketing could become a vital channel for engaging the audience and building a tribe that cares about whatever you say.

3. Attention Arbitrage

So far we’ve discussed the audience identification and ways of engagement. Now I want to shed some light on another important aspect of building a powerful social media strategy: it’s the attention arbitrage. It refers to day-trading value and information and winning attention as a result. Attention is one of the essential ingredients of social media success.

Whenever you open your Facebook and start scrolling through, you’ll stumble upon a video or article that people have liked or commented on – you get to see that video or article because people you’re friends with are engaging on a piece of content. It’s a very common thing on Facebook. We often jump on the bandwagon of comments and likes when this happens.

So in the grand scheme of things, there are many factors behind this Facebook engagement, though. The more you get into it, the better you understand the algorithm of the platform.

The question here is that how you can win this attention arbitrage thing?

To answer that, I’ll give you four strategies to start applying right away if you want to dominate on social media in 2018:

1) – Deliver the value

There is no alternative to delivering value in the first place. You can’t beat someone who is willing you provide value to the audience. If it does help the audience, it will be mind-boggling to the audience – because people expect to pay money to get valuable stuff.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Instagram post says it all:

The equation is very simple: start delivering value on social media. It doesn’t matter you’re active on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. When you’ll start delivering value to the people around you, they’ll react to it positively, and therefore, you’ll start to attract more people who are friends with your friends.

2) – Build a loyal fan base

There is no point of attention arbitrage if no one is listening to you, which is why delivering the value comes first in the process. I couldn’t stress enough on “delivering the value” part.

Once you genuinely start helping people and solving their real-life business, professional, or personal problems, they’d automatically get attracted to you – because you have the cure for their issues, and the best part is that it’s free for everyone. A lot of people get confused about building a loyal fan base and giving away so much of value free of cost – isn’t it?

If you look at the successful people and the status they’re at or were, they did a tremendous amount of effort that helped themselves as well as hundreds of thousands of more people.

Tim Ferriss is the best-selling author of five books. His idea of loyal fans is quite interesting. He believes that you need 1000 loyal fans that pay close attention to what you say, do, ask, and sell.

3) – Network with like-minded people

The biggest mistake you could ever do in building a social media strategy is networking with irrelevant people. In fact, it does apply to the outside world of social media – have you noticed you meet a person on a bus who belongs to your industry and you both get connected on Facebook during the journey? We all know that seminars, conferences, book launches, and meetups are great ways to network with like-minded people.

It’ll be surprised to know that two or three of you might not be able to connect the dots between the social media success and networking with like-minded people yet. So I want to help you out before you start off on the wrong foot.

Social media strategy is a way of connecting with people on the platforms, engaging with the right ones, building relations with them, delivering value to them, and winning their attention. So whether you meet someone at a coffee table of the tech conference or a friend’s party, make sure to politely introduce yourself and ask them what they do for a living. You’ll be fascinated by the results.

4) – Understand Customer Acquisition

One of the perks of attention arbitrage is the customer acquisition. It means that when you have the attention and eyeballs of the audience, it becomes easier to attain customers. Now, social media has become a major source of prospects engagement and customer acquisition. So it’s necessary to build a social media strategy that plays a role in driving new customers into the business cycle.

Don’t get confused about acquiring new customers through social media – it doesn’t have to be this way. If you look at the best companies and entrepreneurs, they use social media to provide value in the first place, and when they win the attention of the audience, it becomes easier for them to sell anything they want.

It’s so important to find that balance between delivering value to the audience and putting out a product to sell – if you barely look at the selling-part, you might end up burned out.

Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook is one of the Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, and he often describes it as give, give, give, ask!

In fact, he wrote a blog post explaining what this book was exactly and what it meant.

Here is the snippet from that blog post:

If you read the book Give and Take from Adam Grant, you’ll understand that why most of the givers win because of giving – more importantly, the book also shares the perspective of why some givers don’t win.

The point is that if people aren’t paying attention to your social media content, then there is something wrong with it: either you’re reaching out to the wrong audience, or your message isn’t powerful enough. So pay close attention to designing your social media strategy in a way that it continuously provides value with conviction, and at the same time, it also benefits the economic side of the brand.

4. Analyzing the Performance

Being aware of the nuances of your social media metrics is a great plus. It doesn’t mean that I’m encouraging you to ponder on the number of your likes, shares, and followers – on the contrary, you should focus on understanding your brand’s strength and the target audience’s needs. It may require a subtle mindset to get along because you might want to build your fan base from scratch and would have to go all the way up by taking one step at a time.

There will be certain things that will help you analyze the performance of your social media strategy. Here are some of the key performance indicators:

Social Media Insights

You don’t need to do something fancy to get social media insights. Just start looking at the statistics and insights of your social media channels. Facebook page has a tab dedicated to the insights. Go to that option and see what’s happening on your Facebook page.

Similarly, if you go to your Twitter profile, you could see a small tab of impressions on the right side of the page, which tells you how many impressions your tweets have gotten over the specific period.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the process of getting insights of your social media. You would not have to just look at your social media insights to get the whole picture. If you aren’t looking at what others are doing and what’s working for successful brands and social media influencers, you might be missing out a lot of opportunities.

So don’t ignore the following tools, anyway:

Followerwonk is a fantastic tool to try out for keeping track of Twitter activities and performance.

Quintly will provide you insights and analysis on various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Keyhole is a great tool for Twitter and Instagram insights. It looks out for hashtags, mentions, keywords, and URLs on both these platforms.

ContentStudio Insights: It’s a beta tool offered by ContentStudio. It shows the performance of your content regarding page views, unique visitors, bounce rate, and other page trackings. The interesting part is that it supports websites and Facebook pages.

Content Popularity

Social media and content go hand in hand. I’m a big fan of creating native content whether it’s a long-form video for Facebook and LinkedIn or a short-form video for Instagram and Twitter. Similarly, I have done with quote and pictures on Instagram and Facebook, which work quite well.

The idea is to leverage the good quality content to dominate on social media by providing extensive value without asking much. To figure out what type of content is working, you need to keep an eye on the following tools:

Buzzsumo: Buzzsumo is one of the most popular tools to get social media insights and find out what social media content is doing well on the specific platform. It’s one of the best tools to find out the content’s popularity.

ContentStudio Discovery: Discovery is a search tool from ContentStudio. It helps you search the relevant articles, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, Tweets, imgur images, Pixabay photos, etc.

Website Tracking

Website tracking could be a vital signal to understand your content’s popularity on social media, especially if you look at the content which is driving traffic from social media to your website or blog. I’d highly recommend keeping an eye on the following website statistics tools:

Google Analytics: It’s the most popular website tracking and analytics tool from Google. You could dig deeper into the details and find out which pages or posts of your website are doing well and what content people are consuming more.

Search Console: Search Console is a sister-concern tool for Google Analytics. It also provides you insights on keywords, popular pages, and traffic statistics.

Heatmap: Heatmap is a user-activity tracking tool for websites and blogs. It helps website owners understand the content consumption and clickability patterns of the website visitors.

Extreme Tracking: It’s another website data and visitors tracking tool. It reports the website statistics such as page views, number of visitors, visitors’ IP addresses and countries, ISP, and other details.

Facebook Pixel: Let’s not forget that the whole point of tracking users’ activities and performance is for understanding their needs and developing a better content and social media plan for the future. Facebook Pixel is a small code that you need to put into your website code, and it helps you reach out those website visitors through Facebook advertising. It’s a tool for remarketing that does play a role in building a social media strategy.

So it’s important to reflect on the insights and statistics before concreting your social media strategy. What it does is that it gives you a perspective to steer the strategy in the right direction.

My Conclusion

One of the important reasons for writing this blog post is to ensure that you don’t put your time, energy, and money into social media campaigns without understanding the game.

Many of the brands out there are going to hire a whole social media staff—which is fine—unless you don’t have a clear picture of what you want with your social media.

My whole thesis of building a social media strategy in 2018 says that the awareness of your brand’s values, product’s strength, and the needs of the specific population segment would help you get through the process.

I’ve learned in the past seven years that building relationship, providing value, creating helpful content, and being consistent are the keys to winning on social media – and I tried to translate all those lessons and experiences into this blog post.

So if you’re planning on dwelling on your numbers because you have only 143 followers on Twitter and 200 Facebook likes, then don’t bother – because numbers don’t matter, people do.

If you put your money on providing value to people that want to know something that you know about, then it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps it’s time to reverse engineer the whole though-process of social media marketing.

If you start following the steps that I shared, not only will you figure out who you should reach out, but you will also learn how to engage them, and turn a bunch of information seekers into your loyal audience members.

It’s not a quick-buck scheme – social media growth takes time.

So you need to start building a social media strategy that puts you on the pedestal of social media growth, and I believe I’ve shown you how to make it happen.

What else would you add to this guide to help someone in building a social media strategy?

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