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10 simple steps to build an effective social media marketing strategy

Social media success is well within the reach of SMEs in every sector. Here are 10 simple steps to help you succeed in the social sphere.

Entering the wide world of social media for the first time can be intimidating for small and medium businesses with little experience in the area.


However, building an effective social media marketing plan will simplify the process, keep your posts on track and ensure the time you invest online shows a strong return.


Here are 10 small business tips to help build an effective social media strategy.


1. Define your target audience


Before you start randomly posting on social media, you need to understand who you’re targeting. Your audience will differ dramatically if you’re trying to raise brand awareness, compared to increasing sales, for example. Understand which social channels your chosen audience engage with and target them appropriately.


2. Create customer personas


Once you’ve defined your audience for social media, create customer personas to help deliver relevant and engaging content to the right people. Each persona should identify the needs, wants and pain points of your target audience, whether that’s a new client or existing customer.


3. Set measurable objectives


To effectively track your performance later, you need to set measurable objectives now. For example, if your objective is to drive more traffic to your website, you’ll need to measure the number of unique visitors to your site from the outset of your social campaign.


4. Choose your platforms


You don’t necessarily need to use every social media platform available to create an impact. LinkedIn, for example, is a good tool for selling professional services to other businesses, while Instagram may be a better fit for glossy consumer product-driven posts.


5. Make your blog mobile-friendly


Keep in mind that many of your customers access social media on their mobile phones and tablets. That means any company-hosted blog articles you link to on social media will need to be optimised for viewing on mobile devices.


6. Create shareable content


Don’t write random posts off the top of your head. Rather, put together a content plan that draws blog posts, infographics, photo and video content together to express your brand values and hit your customers’ pre-defined pain points.


7. Engage with your followers


Social media isn’t only about driving traffic to your website. Don’t just post content – engage in social media conversations, ask questions and answer follower enquiries in real-time to build customer relationships before they even visit your website.


8. Understand how to use hashtags


Make hashtags part of your social media strategy. They make it easy to track a post’s performance across platforms, and will help you become part of trending social media conversations that are relevant to your customers.


9. Monitor your competition


Your competitors are likely targeting the same customers as you, so monitor their content to gain insights into the type of content that’s working for them and how you can differentiate your offering.


10. Evaluate results – and evolve


Your social media strategy shouldn’t be carved in stone. To evolve your content, regularly evaluate the results against the objectives you set in step three, and identify which posts are hitting your targets and which aren't.


Invest some time in planning a strong social media strategy and you’ll give your campaigns the best possible chance of success.