Be honest; how sick are you of the sentence “everything starts with your social media strategy”?
Despite everyone’s insistence that nailing a strategy is a basic need for successful social media marketing, there seems to be no single explanation as to what a strategy should look like, what it should include, how long it should be, whether it should be top line or super specific… you know the endless questions, I’m sure.
In my old day job I remember the excitement of planning a new digital campaign – the stuff that really made me thrive – being overcome with dread because someone would always ask me to “come up with a quick strategy and ping it over on email”.
I was always scared because I never knew what they were actually expecting to see. For all my questioning, I received fluffy answers. For all my comparisons, I couldn’t see how a PR/marketing/business strategy could be used as a template for a social media strategy. For all my research, I couldn’t make out whether what I had in mind was short of or way over the mark for what everyone was expecting this magical document to look like.
Over the years, I came to realise that the concept of a strategy differs completely from person to place to sector. The issue wasn’t that I didn’t know enough, or that my colleagues were lacking knowledge because they couldn’t give me the guidance I felt I needed (if anything, they probably didn’t want to sound like they were being patronising!). It was simply that we hadn’t taken in hand what our version of a strategy should look like. And when there’s no definitive answer to something like this, the key is to get what you need out of it and own the format.
I’ve been doing that ever since I went into business for myself. For every client I take on, I create a strategy for them using a consistent template with a completely personalised spin on each section for them. It’s never failed me yet, and today I’m going to share that template with you.
Take it. Make it your own. Use it to its full potential and never feel the fear of being asked to throw a social media strategy together again. And if you don’t feel like it’s the kind of strategy you want to follow, that’s totally ok. Find a template that suits you – there’s no one way to do this.
Is my social media strategy right for you?
You’ll like this if:
- You want to create an all-in-one strategy, how-to and style guide
- You want your strategy to bring your brand to life on paper
- You want to outline your mission, vision and personality professionally but with minimal stuffiness.
Download your social media strategy template
I’ve prepared a Google doc especially for you. Just click here, then press file > make a copy and you have a template you can work from straight away.
Write your strategy
This is the one big dream – the key impact you want your business to have on others. Narrow it down to one single thing – trust me, it’ll make your life much easier in the long run if you can single this out now.
As an example, mine is:
“To help every digital marketer in the UK – whether self-employed, traditionally employed or promoting a passion project – nail their social media marketing, implement more efficient processes and enjoy their work instead of feeling constantly overwhelmed by it.”
Whether your aim is to sell something (“That every parent in London has a copy of my cookbook in their home”) or create an educational shift (“That every 18-25 year old knows turns out to vote in the next election”), don’t limit how big this one single dream is. If you fall short of the moon, you’ll aim for the stars and all that.
Your mission section essentially highlights the reasons your social media accounts (and therefore business) exists in the first place. Break down how to achieve your vision into between five and nine bullet points. Make each of these a mini-strategy that highlights an area of conversation you need to tackle through social to achieve your big picture.
Much of the time, my client’s missions contain a mix of the following:
- Smash a myth
- Sell XYZ
- Use digital platforms to educate people on XYZ
- Prove you’re good at what you do
- Deliver certain types of content appealing to a specific audience
- Portray your brand in a certain way
- Build a loyal customer base
- Find a specific amount of new customers.
- Use Lea’s social media channels to educate people on the importance of sustainable social media marketing, the developments taking place and the importance of careful content planning.
- Smash the myth that being a digital marketer is an easy job that anyone can do – focusing on why spending time and money on this is important for business.
- Sell 300 UK Ultimate Content Planners between September 2017 – January 2018.
- Emphasise the importance of wellbeing for digital marketers through nurturing content, encouraging balance and prioritising mental health to ensure best performance in their job.
- Ensure Lea’s brand embodies her – an intelligent businesswoman with lots of digital marketing experience who prioritises openness, humanity and the greater good. A best friend to digital marketers everywhere.
Your values will now break down your mission into the how. Now is the time to get granular, highlighting who and what you want to connect with, the kind of conversations you want to have, the behaviours you’ll embody online and the content you want to share and endorse. If there are any important factors you know you know you need to weave into your strategy – such as if you’re utilising an affiliate link as part of your income, or have a quota you need to fill for mentioning business partners online – now is the time to make sure you’ve got this in there.
To guide you, I’ll share mine (gosh, this is getting personal!):
- Connect with and endorse fellow digital marketers, freelancers, bloggers and coaches whom I love and trust frequently, using affiliate links wherever possible/appropriate.
- Be clear and concise, using inspirational and sincere rather than fluffy language in all communications. Break things down and go into the kind of detail that legitimately helps people get something done, don’t just spout hot air. Make everything mentioned on Lea’s social media actionable.
- Open debates, discussions and ask for feedback on common social media issues, such as those around budgets, how to use new features, highlighting new platforms and features, as well as content planning advice. Encourage engagement and peer-to-peer support on these posts – a daily debate based on a news story or advice piece.
- Promote the UK Content Planners as a whole product, highlighting special features, how they change the life of a digital marketer, best practices for use and how they impact other areas of the business, in particular the opportunities for better integrated marketing and PR.
- Share live updates from events, round-ups and business wins as inspirational and aspirational content across Lea’s platforms with a particular emphasis on how she felt there, who she was with and what she learned.
- Share achievements and highlights from existing clients and also brands Lea wants to work with.
- Share and discuss things that Lea finds important to keeping mind, body and soul in prime condition to do her job well, and frequently refer back to the “hardships” digital marketers tend to face – like others thinking that their job is easy or low value. This includes topics that may not be directly linked to marketing but do contribute to a person’s wellbeing, highlighting how this relates back to digital marketing jobs, such as: nutrition, exercise, meditation, mental health, creativity, work scheduling, workspace, relationships, workplace bullying, career aspirations and self-development.
- Frequently advise and guide others on content planning processes and how to overcome work overwhelm to make this job easier.
- Reference Lea’s followers as her “tribe”, and forge a genuine connection comprising of love, trust and support.
Your values all come down to your positioning of what you’re tackling in your mission. It will probably also sound SUPER over-the-top and self-indulgent – if that’s the case, you’re probably on the right track. Remember, this document is meant to be super focused on every tiny bit of what your brand stands for; it’s not meant to sit in context with the priorities of the rest of the world. Just that of your business.
Helpful hint: You’ll likely have a patch of confusion over what should sit in mission and what should sit in values. Remember: Mission is issues you want to tackle to achieve your vision. Values are how you will achieve each mission.
Phew! Not easy this strategy lark is it?
Join me next time when we’ll finish your strategy, including promise, personality, brand definitions and customer profiling.