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What is a social media strategy and how can you create one?

A social media strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and aim to achieve on social media over a period of time
© University of Leeds

A strategy is knowing what you’re doing before you start something, rather than making decisions during the process or journey. Knowing where you want to go means you can avoid ending up somewhere unexpected or unpleasant.

Setting objectives and metrics

Just like a car journey without a route or destination, a social media campaign without an objective can be aimless and hard to execute. Most companies have an idea of what they’d like to improve, increase or change. These are the objectives. They may also know how they’d be able to measure or notice the difference. These are metrics. Both are crucially important elements to a social media campaign.

As well as thinking about your destination or goal, you also need to think and plan how you’re going to get there. On any journey, your route and mode of transport, as well as what you take with you, need to be appropriate to help you reach the destination.

Social media strategy

Strategies have been used by businesses, individuals and even armies for hundreds of years, though they might not have always been called that. Strategies are simply plans that work towards achieving a particular goal.

Online, a social media strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and aim to achieve on social media over a period of time, usually a year or more.

Having a clear and well-understood social media strategy means that:

  • Everyone involved understands the goals and activities
  • Every activity, such as a tweet or link, helps to get closer to the desired goal
  • Plans can be adapted according to the resources available.

Creating a strategy

How you create a social media strategy depends on whether there’s already an overall marketing strategy in place. If there is, then the social media strategy should be able to adapt elements from that to ensure they are aligned.

A social media strategy should include:

  • Audience insight – understanding who you are targeting and what their needs are
  • SMART social media goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based goals which are aligned to the overall business goals
  • The platforms that meet a range of audience needs
  • Analysis of the current situation, competitors, opportunities, etc
  • Clear guidance on the content strategy, including what to post and where.

Fulfilling a strategy

To achieve the goals of your social media strategy, the work implemented or activity is called a social media campaign. It might also be focused on a particular product, interim goal or event, such as a launch.

© University of Leeds
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