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Posting on social media feels easy. Hop on, snap some photos, share updates. Simple right?
Sure, you can wing it, but random acts of social media won’t help you cut through the noise. In fact, they’ll likely waste time and kill your ROI.
To win on social today, you need strategy. Driving real business impact requires coordinating every element – from messaging to visuals to analytics – into an effective social system.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down how to create a winning social media marketing strategy from scratch.
Whether you’re starting at ground zero or looking to level up, this master framework will ignite explosive growth in 2023. Let’s get started!
Step 1 – Set Your Goals
Like any marketing initiative, defining goals is the critical first step. Clarity of purpose drives strategic decisions.
Begin by asking:
- What business objectives can social media impact?
- How does it fit into our broader marketing strategy?
- What metrics align to success?
Common social media goals include:
- Increase brand awareness/reach
- Engage with customers
- Drive conversions/sales
- Generate leads and subscribers
- Build loyalty and advocacy
- Reduce customer support costs
With your high-level goals mapped, you can craft targeted social strategies that move the revenue needle.
Step 2 – Audit Your Brand’s Current Social Presence
Before defining a new strategy, take stock of your existing social presence.
Here’s what a social media audit includes:
- List of current branded profiles on each platform
- Benchmarking followers/engagement metrics for each account
- Analyzing performance of historical posts and tactics
- Reviewing strengths/weaknesses compared to competitors
An audit paints a clear picture of what’s working, what’s not, and opportunities to improve. It also helps assign ownership and alignment.
You can capture the findings into a shareable social media audit report — a critical reference document for strategic planning.
Step 3 – Pick Your Platforms
The social media landscape is vast, but you can’t be everywhere.
Focus your strategy on core platforms that align to your brand’s goals, audiences, and resources.
When evaluating networks, look at:
- Where your customers and target demographics are active
- Which platforms are best for reaching your goals, whether awareness, traffic or sales
- Features and ad formats that work for your business model
- Level of resource investment needed
While the big players like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter make universal sense, also consider emerging channels like TikTok or Snapchat if they fit your targets.
Less is often more — pick two to four primary platforms to focus on in your strategy.
Step 4 – Map Your Audiences and Buyer Personas
To connect on social media, you need to intimately understand your core audiences.
Develop detailed buyer personas that define:
- Demographics like location, age, gender, income
- Psychographics including values, interests, personality traits
- Behavioral patterns – how and where they engage online
- What motivates them – fears, frustrations, aspirations
- What messaging/tone resonates
Social strategy is all about tailoring content to the right personas. Do your research through surveys, analytics, and community engagement.
Step 5 – Establish Your Brand Voice
Your brand voice shapes how you connect with audiences on social media. It’s part style, part personality, part tone.
Take time to define it upfront through:
- Brand values – What qualities do you want to convey? Trust? Passion? Expertise?
- Messaging pillars – Summarize the ideas and themes you’ll consistently reinforce
- Personality traits – What’s the persona of your brand on social? Quirky? Academic? Motivational?
- Language style – Formal or conversational? Emojis and slang or proper?
- Imagery – Photos, videos, designs that align to your ideal tone
Consistency is key. Your voice should come through loud and clear no matter who’s creating or managing content.
Step 6 – Plan Your Content Mix and Distribution
Content lies at the heart of your social strategy.
To maximize results, plan for a diverse mix including:
- Educational content – how-tos, lists, tips
- Thought leadership – perspectives on industry news/trends
- Fun, inspirational quotes and ideas
- User-generated content like reviews and testimonials
- Behind-the-scenes company culture videos and photos
- Product releases and announcements
- Holiday/timely tie-in posts
Map out your tentative content calendar by month or quarter. Coordinate with other marketing initiatives and product launches.
Balance consistency with flexibility – leave room to adapt based on performance data and real-time trends.
Step 7 – Create Visual Standards
83% of online engagement comes from visual content.
That’s why establishing visual guidelines is key for social media.
Define standards for:
- Imagery – stock sites, filters, editing style, content/scene types
- Infographics – fonts, color palettes, layouts
- Video style – length, editing, music, motion graphics
- Adherence to your brand style guide
Having a library of fonts, graphics, images and video templates on-brand will accelerate execution and give your content a polished, consistent aesthetic.
Step 8 – Build Your Workflow and Processes
With so many moving parts, your social strategy needs rock-solid systems to execute efficiently.
Document your workflows for:
- Content brainstorming/planning sessions
- Content creation and multi-channel publishing
- Managing and responding to comments
- Monitoring messages and private communications
- Analyzing channel and post performance
- Reporting insights to key stakeholders
- Tools and technologies used
Clarify team roles and responsibilities. Establish cadence for strategy reviews and adaptation.
Following reliable processes is the only way to operationalize social at scale.
Step 9 – Set Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
The only way to gauge social media success is tracking key performance indicators (KPIs).
Tie metrics back to the goals defined in step one.
KPIs to consider include:
- Follower growth
- Engagement rate
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
- Lead generation
- Customer sentiment
- Sales attributed to social ads
Capture benchmark numbers during your audit to measure progress. Analyze metrics on a channel, campaign, and post basis.
With the right KPI dashboard, you’ll have visibility to optimize efforts and demonstrate ROI.
Step 10 – Build Your Launch Plan
The proof is in execution. So finish your strategy with a detailed launch plan.
- Content calendar
- Ad budget and targeting
- Creation roles and accountability
- Management cadence/processes
- Launch communications
- Training needs
Establish an iterative mindset upfront. Continuously analyze performance data and customer feedback to adapt your approach for maximum impact.
Bring Your Social Media Strategy to Life
Now that you have a comprehensive social media strategy mapped out, it’s time for the fun part – bringing it to life!
Rally your team around the plan and get ready to execute. Maintain flexibility, monitor performance, and keep optimizing as you learn.
The more you can systemize your social efforts, the more you’ll see momentum build.
Done right, an effective social strategy will fuel brand growth across multiple fronts — from awareness to leads to loyalty and beyond.
Ready to become a social media marketing machine? What goals and platforms will you focus on this year? Share your top strategic moves in the comments below!