The perfect social media mix tells the right story to the right audience at the right time.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram Stories—wait, Facebook has Stories now, too? And what are Twitter Moments? Throw in a LinkedIn and Glassdoor strategy, Yelp monitoring and a pineapple and cherry on top, and you have the opposite of a cocktail meant to help you let go of a week’s worth of stress.
Creating the perfect social media mix — not to mention crafting the content to go to each channel — is overwhelming for the best of digital marketers. Working with dozens of brands of varying size, scope and type, we preach sustainability and consistency, but when establishing a brand, it’s also important to have multiple touch points to engage your audience. Many entrepreneurs think the easiest solution is to prioritize one social network where they know their audience is (can I hear an amen from our Instagram-only friends?). This approach can not only miss potential audiences but it can keep you from sharing your whole story and engaging with your audience in ways that best achieve your goals with little additional effort.
The perfect social media mix tells the right story to the right audience at the right time. Think of it like having that beer at the baseball game or the bottle of champagne on your anniversary! Timing and environment are everything.
Here’s how to create a holistic social media strategy in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Define Your Why: Your Goals
What value do you add to people? Why do you exist? What do you want people to do? Often we think that engagement and awareness are all these bad boys of social media can do, but it is possible to use them to increase the number of products you sell by 50 percent, get 5,000 people to subscribe to your newsletter or have 500 people register for your workshop.
Develop Your How: Your Strategy
A social media strategy encompasses the channels you’re going to leverage your story through, how often and in what way. You can determine the best channels to use by discovering where your audience engages (not just has accounts), which channel’s format helps you achieve your goals, and where your content works best. The cadence question is best answered by testing, evaluating, and optimizing. We love tag reports in Sprout Social that allow you to compare and contrast posts by theme or timing. Other reports allow us to compare engagement per day to how many posts were sent. For both, it’s essential to be intentional with A/B testing that compares multiple weeks and not just a day here and there.
Develop Your What: Your Content
Once you determine where you’re going to post and how often, the secret sauce is what you post. We love the 80/20 rule (80 percent of engagement will come from 20 percent of your effort). In other words, do more with less. Creating a communications calendar will help you leverage that 20 percent of effort (quality content!) as far as it can go.
1. Identify your themes. Pick the TOP 3 core messages or big ideas and TOP 3 calls to action to expound on throughout the year. Align them across the year at the top of a spreadsheet.
2. Develop a content pyramid. Put all of your communication channels down the side, starting with foundational content pieces (i.e., blogs) down to the channel with the shortest content (i.e., social media).
3. Leverage foundational content. Themes help you plan blogs, which you can then trickle down to a blurb in an email, make the headline a tweet, an image with a caption on Instagram, and a quote and link on Facebook to drive people back to the full post.
4. Drill down deeper. A social media calendar will expand your row for social into a full, day-by-day content calendar. In the same way, one content piece can be leveraged across different channels, but more posts per day or week means more categories. Here’s an example of categories that create a balance of content across your channel:
- Spotlight people inside, around, and affected by your organization
- Inform or educate about your industry, pain points, etc., to connect to why you or your product exists
- Entertain your audience with inspirational, funny, or engaging tidbits
- Curate content by thought leaders that aligns with your mission or vision
- Promote your initiatives with clear calls to action
Once you’ve defined your why, how, and what, you will be able to fill in the blanks with the right content to reach the right audience at the right time. Before you know it, that stressful social media cocktail will drive the results you need to be sipping a more delightful Mai Tai on Friday night.