A full social strategy in 4 easy steps

Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick.
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· 5 min read

I was so tired of building long-winded decks. Every time our agency brought in a new client, we’d construct these laughably verbose social strategy presentations, easily eclipsing 50 slides on the short end. We’d force every minuscule detail into PowerPoints that’d creak from the final file size. Worse, I knew the clients never read them—execs run right past strategy and just wanna see pretty content. That’s why I started sending the decks via trackable bitly links. Shout out to that client that didn’t even open the $30,000 strategy deck I’d spent probably 80 hours building.

Social strategy should be simple. How we communicate social strategy should be simple.

You really just need to answer four questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What resources do you have?
  • How will you measure success?

Let’s break ’em down one by one.

What are you trying to accomplish?

We often think goals are obvious, then slip right past them because we just know how to social media. That’s a mistake. You gotta get real goals down, both for your brand’s sake and your own—you’ll wanna show you had goals and met them come review season.

The “SMART” acronym is a great, simple starting place for goals.

  • Specific: Are you targeting brand awareness? Conversions? Followers?
  • Measurable: If you can’t measure it, it’s not specific enough.
  • Achievable: You’re not getting to a million followers overnight. Be realistic.
  • Relevant: Your social goals should tie into to your business goals. Otherwise what’s the point?
  • Time-bound: Know when you’re checking in on your goals. Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?

Yeah, I know, frameworks can seem lame sometimes, but working with a fundamental approach builds a foundation for your social strategy thinking—it’s like memorizing your multiplication tables. This’ll save you from excitedly shouting, “ENGAGEMENT!!!” when your boss asks what you’re trying to accomplish.

Who are you trying to reach?

Knowing your target audience and stating it clearly matters. It’s easy to drift to viral dreams, hoping for mass appeal when what’s best for your brand is staying niche.

When I worked on organic social strategy at Ayzenberg Group for Microsoft Surface, we focused our content toward current Surface Owners. Think about it—the people who follow a tablet’s social media account aren’t tablet curious—they’re existing owners. When back-to-school season came and Microsoft wanted us pushing units to students, we didn’t suddenly make content to attract students—we made content to convince current owners that Surface was the best computing device to buy for their kids. That slight twist matters.

What resources do you have?

If you’re a social team of one, you may wanna start building your strategy here.

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What skills do you have: Are you mostly a writer? More a graphic designer? Comfortable being on camera for the company’s TikTok? Maybe more importantly, with your full set of responsibilities as a social media manager, how much time do you have to dedicate to content creation?

Many types of creative content can succeed on social media—be selfish and build strategies that are best for your brand based around what you bring to the table.

That’s just as true if you’re working on a larger team. When I built social strategies for brands, I’d vary my creative approach based on what my creative teams were best at. When I led social for the game Dying Light, I had an incredible game capture artist, so nearly all my creative assets were in-game videos and screenshots. I had a different team at the same agency when working on Rock Band, so I leaned into my creative director’s Adobe After Effects expertise for a heavier cinemagraph approach. Both worked great, both based on what’s in the cupboard.

How will you measure success?

There’s a seemingly endless pile of social media metrics to choose from—the trick is identifying which ones matter to what your company’s hoping to accomplish.

Those SMART goals should get ya halfway here. If you’re focused on top of funnel, you might measure based on reach, views, or shares. Fostering a community until the next product drop? You’ll probably be more engagement-based. Goals built around conversions are gonna focus on, you guessed it, how much you sold.

You’re gonna want to identify a primary metric. Yes, you should still measure everything, but every social account should have a focus. Great example: the Washington Post Instagram.

Travis Lyles, the deputy director for social and off-platform curation at the Post, told Adweek: “rather than fixate on likes, comments, or other indicators of engagement, the Post treats shares as its north star metric. When an Instagram users shares a piece of content, that suggests they found it useful—a powerful signal and one that the Post attempts to evoke throughout its reporting.”

If you want an exhaustive list of measurement options, Sprout Social’s got a great list of metrics to choose from.

Rinse and repeat

Your answers to each of these questions won’t immediately gel. Maybe your resources don’t make the A in SMART as attainable as you thought. Drilling down on proper success metrics might’ve meant the target audience isn’t quite right. That’s okay! Get pen to paper, then begin massaging each section until the dots cleanly connect. How you get to that final strategy isn’t as important—getting there is.

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.