For experienced marketers, social media strategy often feels like a grapefruit spoon. At first glance, it seems superfluous. You already have plenty of ordinary spoons, forks, and knives — between these standard utensils, you’re pretty sure you can figure out a way to subdue half a grapefruit. The moment you pick up a grapefruit spoon, however, and slice it through without spraying acidic juice everywhere, you understand its value. Similarly, using a strategy or campaign designed specifically for social rather than repurposing what you’re doing on TV, print, or even digital, makes the difference between success and mediocre results.
So how do you do it? Start by avoiding these five mistakes:
- Don’t approach social as a platform just to generate engagement. Start with your business objectives and determine what you think social can do differently or better than all the other media you’re investing in. Sometimes that means engaging with customers, oftentimes it’s not. In the past several years, one of the key evolutions of social platforms is to align more closely with traditional marketing tactics and metrics. That means driving awareness, running DR campaigns, tracking ROI, etc.
- Don’t write off Facebook because it isn’t cool anymore. Not only does Facebook still have the most reach among all age groups, but Facebook almost always delivers the most efficient media results as well. There are exceptions, of course, but defaulting to Facebook is often the safest starting place.
- Don’t bank on earned media or going viral. Unless you have a fan base that’s millions strong, organic reach is going to be negligible on social. Even if you are one of the lucky few brands that can still rack up numbers without paying for it, organic reach is still limiting your brand to previous or current customers. You aren’t finding or converting new customers or households at scale, and you aren’t able to measure or quantify the value of the people that you do reach via unpaid means. In sum, if you’re going to invest time and money in creating social content, you need to set aside some dollars for paid distribution too.
- Don’t limit your target to fans and followers. Targeting on social media can be extremely granular — boomers who shop at luxury department stores in Lewis Center, Ohio; men who graduated college in 2012 with an interest in skiing. Furthermore, social has evolved so much in retargeting, remarketing, and audience building that it is on par with the most sophisticated digital tactics. That includes building audiences from CRM lists (top customers, lapsed users, etc.), creating lookalikes of audiences, using pixels to assemble audiences based on site traffic and activity, and even using in-network activity to establish audiences off of things like video views, engagement, and even just attention. Before you set your strategy, think broadly about the types of people you want to convert, and all the various tools you have to build targetable audiences.
- Don’t plan to create a few posts to last the entire year, but don’t plan to have a post every day either. Instead, come up with a thoughtful campaign that delivers enough content to feel fresh to your customer depending at the reach and frequency you’ll achieve with your paid budget, no more, no less. Quality content, which is not necessarily expensively produced content, is a crucial factor in ad performance. Social platforms penalize bad content with expensive cost pers and sometimes refuse to serve the ads at all. They reward good content, however, with highly efficient results, a longer shelf life, and earned media. At the very least, that means visuals that command attention, copy that clearly outlines the action you expect, and a sensibility that feels native to the platform.
By integrating this thinking into your social strategy, you will be able to take better advantage of all the social networks currently have to offer, and make your social efforts more impactful too.