The key to social media success for your small business is to have a detailed content plan that drives your marketing efforts.

This article will discuss how to create a successful seven-step social media strategy that relies on content to engage your prospects and convert them into customers.

1. Create Buyer Personas

You must first define your target audience before you can begin engaging with them. Segment your customers into individual groups called buyer personas and understand who they are, how they think and what they want from your brand. Include age, interests, gender and lifestyle, and ensure all content you create specifically caters to those groups.

2. Outline Your Goals

In one or two sentences, summarize why you are utilizing social media as a marketing tool. Be concise and clear, but stay high-level. Then outline specific goals you’d like to achieve in the first quarter.

Goal examples:

  • 1,500-page likes;
  • 3 percent engagement rate;
  • 250 website referrals;
  • 20 conversions.

Review these goals monthly and track your performance. Do not adjust the goals after they’re set. If you find you are not hitting them, understand your failings and re-evaluate the goals for the next quarter.

3. Create a Campaign Messaging Strategy

Here is where you outline the content that will be used to help achieve your goals. If one of your aims is to increase website visits, describe how you plan to direct followers there.

Messaging strategy examples:

  • Run Like ads on Facebook, to build followers;
  • Display your product line through artful photography;
  • Boost well-performing posts to drive engagement;
  • Share blogs to provide valuable information and how-to guides to consumers;
  • Run social media specials and discounts to reward your followers.

Be as precise and strategic as possible. The success of hitting your goals depends on your messaging.

4. Detail Your Messaging Guide

It is vital that your social media content reflects your brand’s unique voice and culture. Always keep this in mind when creating content. You want to differentiate yourself from other brands in your market. Figure out who you are as a business and show your audience through social media. Give your brand a personality.

Once completed, create content categories that will help display your personality to your audience. Include categories such as insights, culture, news, and events.

Try to make categories that you can use as an ongoing series. The less you have to think about what content needs to be created in a given month the better. It frees up more time for strategic thinking.

Lastly, create best practices for your graphics and tone of voice. Everything you publish should accurately reflect your brand standards. You can make certain exceptions, but the majority of your content should follow these rules.

For example, will you speak in the third or first person? Is your copy AP style or MLA? If you post a URL, will it be shortened with or kept as is? This is especially important for businesses that utilize a content team with multiple people creating posts.

5. Outline Your Content Categories

Take the categories you came up with in the previous section and detail them here. For example, if one of your categories is company culture, create a post series and include examples of what these will consist of and how they look.

Culture posts can include things like employee and customer spotlights, photos from around the office, and fund-raising events in which your company participated.

6. Engage Your Audience and Schedule Posting Frequency

If you have existing social media pages, research what groups are engaged with your brand now. If they fit your outlined demographic, then you’re already ahead. If not, list who they are and think about ways you can shift the audience. You also need to describe how often you plan on posting and when. Post consistently without overdoing it.

Lastly, detail the days of the week and times of the day you’re going to post so that you can reach your audience when they’re most active on the platform. The days of the week will vary by industry; most people will be engaged during the evening.

7. Create Your Content Calendar

The final step is to take everything in the strategy and put it to a scheduled calendar. Set it up using Excel and populate it with your post categories. The calendar will serve as an easy reference when you’re creating content each month.

Once completed, disseminate the strategy to your core team. Revisit it each quarter and revise as needed. It’s important to be nimble so you can switch gears when something isn’t working. Fine-tune small aspects of the strategy until you get it right.

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