5 steps to building an effective social media strategy

This method of building an effective social media strategy is ideal for freelancers and small business owners, whatever your business goals.

Disclaimer: This article contains no ‘get rich quick’ style tips and tricks to gain more followers, or go viral, or get more customers from your social media account. Believe it or not, social media success rarely happens overnight. However, this will help you to go from ‘No Plan’ to ‘The Content Plan That Can Help You Reach Your Business Goals'!

Step 1: Do A Business Review First

If you don’t do a full business review, how will you know what you’re good at, what worked over the last period and what needs more attention?

Tip: Make the most of your wins!

Whilst picking out your wins is great for building an SM strategy, it’s also great for your self-confidence and as a piece of content! People love to see the successes and challenges that you face – it makes you appear as the human you are.

Conducting a business review doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process; you can get a FREE downloadable Business Review Data template here! In short, here’s what you need to do;

- Refresh your mind of your 2021 goals – these might link to your finances, your website and your social media platforms

- Gather data on the metrics / data points that relate to your 2021 goals, into a spreadsheet – this might be the number of followers gained if you aimed to increase your Twitter presence, or your revenue if you aimed to make x% more money.

- Draw some conclusions from your data – this will help you understand the extent of your success, and your areas of weakness

- Bring it back to the holistic picture – what you wanted to achieve, what you prioritise, what you have the capacity to do, might have changed since the last time you made some goals.

Step 2: Social Media Audience Profiling

Now you’ve looked at yourself, look outwards at your audience and your consumers. Whilst spending time and resources on conducting thorough market research to formulate target personas would be the formal way of investigating your audience… most people (small business owners and freelancers included) just don’t have the resources!

Now, answer the 7 questions on the MindMap, by asking yourself and your data, to help get to know your ideal client better (Note: ‘client’ here refers to your content receiver – whether you’ll work with them, sell to them, or participate in something with them).

Tip: Get your sticky note pads out!

That way you can move the ‘characteristics’ (ie the answers to these questions!) about in order of priority for you!

Step 3: Formulate Your Goals

Now you know what you’ve done, and whom you want to talk to, make yourself some promises. Formulate some goals, as specific as you can make them, to remind yourself why you’re doing something, saying something or posting something.

Here are some examples of some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable (for me!), recordable and timed) goals you could use.

Grow my Instagram following by 20% in the next 3 months.

Actively participate in Twitter discussions by posting once a day, Monday to Friday, for 3 months.

Maintain a 5% engagement rate throughout 2022.

Increase my website traffic by 25% before June 2022, by posting more links to my blog posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Tip: These goals aren’t set in stone!

They’re there to help you progress check, to keep you from spending energy on something that won’t be lucrative or valuable.

Step 4: Build Your Content Pillars

This point covers the ‘what’ of your social media strategy… and yet so many people I know, don’t know about content pillars. So here’s a quick run-through!

What are content pillars?

Content pillars are three to five ‘themes’ of your content that you pick for your social media strategy to maintain. Whilst some people suggest picking out ‘topics’ eg SEO, social media marketing and freelance journalism, I would pick out three reasons for my communication eg to educate, connect, and promote. All your content will then fit into one of these three adjectives, providing yourself and your audience with clarity about who you are and what you provide.

Why are content pillars important for your social media strategy?

  1. Keeps your posting themes, topics and messages consistently on-brand; consistency can lead to a larger following, improved reputation as an expert in your area, and increased engagement with your content

  2. Helps you streamline your efforts for maximum efficiency and hopefully the best outcomes, including reaching your goals

  3. Helps you plan your long term strategy (monthly / quarterly / yearly) as well as each individual piece of content

  4. Can help you brainstorm new posting ideas

  5. Keeps your content targeted towards your audience and ideal client

How do you choose your content pillars?

Your choice of content pillars relies heavily on your ‘niche’ and what you want to provide. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, your three pillars for your Twitter strategy might be to educate, connect and promote. This means that every single piece of content you produce for your Instagram should fall into one of these categories.

Step 5: Plan, To Bulk Create Content

Once you’ve got your content pillars, create a content calendar and plan in content that covers all three of your pillars each week – whether that’s one post for each pillar per week or more. Knowing what you’re aiming to post when, will make you able to bulk create content, which (trust me!!) will save you both time and energy.

Whatever tool you’re using to plan your content, whether that be an Excel spreadsheet, or an app like Hootsuite, Buffer or Later – make sure you enter as much info as you can to give yourself a blueprint of the content. This is the schedule that works for me but find out what works for you!

If you found this useful, do follow me on Twitter and let me know if it helped, or if you do anything differently!

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