Prepare Your Social Media Strategy for 2017

social-media-strategy-2017

Is your social media set to go off with a bang in the New year?

As the end of 2016 comes into sight, attentions turn toward the new year and what awaits us in the world of digital marketing. So, what should your social media strategy look like in 2017?

Having a firm strategy on which to manage and grow your social media is vital, and as important is making sure that the correct staff are briefed and in place ready to deliver. In full then, here are the things you should be considering as you look to revamp your social media strategy for 2017.

Review your current social media channels

The first step to building a killer social media strategy is to review your current social media channels and their effectiveness.  How much engagement are your social channels getting, how many visitors are they referring into your website, or your sales funnel, and how many sales leads is it creating?

social-media-2017Unless you have a large team, the key with any social media strategy is to pick your networks wisely.  You do not want to be trying to produce content for lots of platforms and as a result performing poorly across them all.  The best course of action is to pick the one or two channels that are most appropriate for your target market (i.e. demographic) and work at those, producing frequently published, high-quality content and engaging with your followers daily.

Review the last year. Which channels have been the most successful for your business?  What style of post or content has generated the most engagement or sales? Pulling together all of this information ahead of writing your social media strategy for 2017 is vital. It allows you to have a clear idea of what you need to do more of, which type of content – or which channels – you shouldn’t waste any more time on.

Focus, team planning, aligning with marketing strategy

Social is often one part of a business which is greatly under-estimated and under-resourced by companies.  It’s bizarre, given that the most successful companies in the world all take social media marketing incredibly seriously.

The first rule here is to have a focus on social across your marketing team.  Your social strategy must not only align closely with your wider marketing strategy, it should seamlessly integrate into it directly. Any new product, programme or service that you introduce should be marketed across all forms of media equally, and in a way that is joined up.  It’s no longer acceptable for social media to be treated as an aside, it is absolutely key in almost every business.

This point leads us on to something else; staffing. Despite the undeniable importance of social media, it’s still commonplace for businesses to hand the social media management over to an inexperienced apprentice, or a new member of staff who is still cutting their teeth in marketing.

It’s not fair to expect an apprentice to deliver a plan, gain coverage and hit the agreed conversion goals, in fact, this makes no sense.  Just because someone knows their hashtag from their hash doesn’t mean they won’t require support and guidance to fulfill the goals of a social strategy within a business environment.

Social channels are the here and the now and there’s no time to waste. If ever the first message that you put out must be specific, targeted and effective, it’s now.

When you’re putting together your social media strategy for 2017, plan your team accordingly. Consider sharing responsibilities for each social channel across several staff members, have them share out types of content and engagement, and also make sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to communication on social. Tone of voice is vital, it must not be corporate, matter of fact or have a business-like arrogance to it.  It needs to be human and real.  This should be something your whole team is aware of and trained upon.

Create a social media tool kit

For years, marketers and communicators have had style guides, branding guidelines and marketing/brand tool kits to ensure a consistent message and brand across marketing activity. It’s time to consider extending this across social media and including a social media tool kit for 2017.

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Aside from consistency, a social media toolkit can also help with time management and recruiting new team members. So, what are the types of things you can be looking to create in a social media tool kit?

The Social Media Kit may include:

  • Social posts: Draft social posts for each social media platform which you operate on, allowing staff to choose from a selection of ‘approved’ templates when they post on social. These templates will help save them time constructing the post, but also ensure that each and every message posted will tie in with brand and marketing guidelines.
  • Assets: Assets for marketing specific products, services or the company as a whole could also be included. These could be tweaked in advance for each social platform, but again saves time and ensures a joined-up approach to marketing across all forms.
  • Automation apps: Automation is a must-have in social media marketing, and so consider including relevant automation apps such as Hootsuite, Social Sprout and other tools in your social media toolkit.

Tips for making campaigns a success

As you compile your social media strategy for 2017, focus on the key points below which can help make social media campaigns a success:

  • Align your social media channels and campaigns with your brand, people, culture and perhaps above all else, the marketing and business goals.  For instance now who your audience is on Instagram and how they differ from those on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Personalisation of social content is an increasingly large part of the social media marketing spectrum. If you’re on social media with your business, use that platform as a way of communicating with your customers on a personal level. It’s not customer service, and certainly not personal, if complaints and queries are met with “contact our support desk”. Instead, be comfortable with holding two-way conversations with your customers.Focus always must be on your customers and engaging with them as part of a campaign, not on yourselves.  Sure, push your new products out on social and promote your sales, but social media is a very personal form of marketing. Customers want to be engaged with and communicated with, not have sales messages pushed down their throat.
  • Choose your social networks carefully and set your goals for these networks. Do not spread yourself thinly trying to cover too many networks, instead focus on your core strengths.
  • Set measurable goals for your campaign, ones which you can report on at key milestones throughout the campaign to gauge success.
  • Clarify the attribution of sales from social media and be able to report back on the effectiveness of it. What constitutes success on social? If your company is spending time, money and resource as part of its marketing strategy on social media, then you need to know how to attribute a return on this investment.
    Use tools for social metrics and integrate with Google Analytics for conversion reviews.
  • Review success as a team when it comes to your social campaigns. Regular meetings to review the progress of each campaign against the specified goals is crucial. You should treat social media marketing campaigns as you would any marketing campaigns in terms of demonstrating ROI.

Social media trends to watch out for in 2017

social-media-trends-2017As with all things digital, the social media landscape moves at a frenetic pace. As we build our social media strategies for 2017, we should pay particular attention to the following areas:

  • Live video streaming: Video is at the forefront of digital marketing right now, and with the emergence of Facebook Live and YouTube’s live streaming service, advertisers are starting to see a real market for pushing live stream content out. In fact, online video content is rivaling traditional, linear, television stations. It’s an area not to be ignored.
  • Expiring content: It’s one of the old-fashioned marketing and sales tricks that has become popular on social media, and that is of introducing urgency to the market. Or in this case, to the content.  As the likes of Snapchat has shown, having content available for a set period, often incredibly brief, can peak interest with users as well as giving a very clear indication of when your content will be viewed, and how.
  • Embrace the influencers: If there is one area of digital marketing that has taken off in the last 18 months, it’s the power of the influencers. Bloggers are a great area to target, but tying in with the boom in video, also consider reaching out to influential vloggers who can have mind-boggling enormous daily viewing figures. Research recently published showed that the opinion of such influencers is now rivaling that of friends when it comes to building trust with a product.
  • Paid social traffic hits organic results hard
    It used to be far easier to get social shares and likes across Facebook, Instagram and other social networks until the big bucks came into the equation.
    We are already seeing chronological timeline updates being removed and more ads sneaking their way into our feeds.  There are clever algorithms at play here to decide what users should see and when.
    With organic traffic harder to come by, social marketing will need to be far more integrated with other marketing channels like email and not used as a stand-alone solution.

2017 will be a big year for digital marketing and social media. Make sure you and the team are clear, prepared and ready to go or you may find yourself dragging your heels and drip feeding money and resource into projects that never stand a chance of meeting their goals. Good luck!

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Zak Jacobs

About Zak Jacobs

Zak Jacobs is the Director of UK search engine optimisation Agency Red Alien. An experienced digital marketing professional, passionate about online integrity, user experiences and optimisation strategies. Connect with Zak on Google+ here or Twitter here