Rylie Daisha Mayfield is a young, talented marketing and nonprofit professional.  A graduate of Indiana State University, Rylie studied business marketing, marketing management, and nonprofit leadership, obtaining her Bachelor of Science in May of 2020. By passion and trade, Rylie is a creative mind and storyteller. With experience in content creation, photography, art, and design, Rylie strives to help educate others on marketing to propel their brand shine.
Five Steps for Successful Social Media Strategy
February 13, 2022
Blog Overview
Great social media content is at your fingertips! This blog covers the following five steps for implementing a successful social strategy for your brand*:
Step 1: Understand your target audience.
Step 2: Set social goals and choose key performance indicators to measure them.
Step 3. Create authentic social content.
Step 4. Display your data and evaluate your results.
Step 5. Revisit your target audiences, reevaluate your goals, and begin the process again.
Additionally, this blog outlines some great social tools to consider in your social strategy. These recommendations are based on my personal experience and opinion.
My Favorite Social Tools
Sprout Social: my favorite Social Media Management platform overall.
Later: as an affordable Social Media Management platform.
Google Analytics: as a resource for measuring social conversions on your website.
Canva: for creating beautiful social assets. 
Adobe Lightroomfor photo editing and image management. 
*Brand - For this blog, the term “brand” can be interpreted as the person, organization, service, or product for which you wish to create and nurture a social media presence.
Sometimes, it is hard to know where to begin with social strategy. The short answer, of course, is it should align with your marketing strategy and business goals. However, the traditional approach of business planning does not always translate well to social media marketing. 
Why? Digital marketing channels, like social media, are controlled by the user. Unlike traditional marketing methods that involve little to no engagement from your audience, social media provides a platform for authentic communication with users across the globe. 
From comments on a Facebook post to reviews on Google, users have the power to interact with our brands. With more tangible, and trackable interactions, social media is a treasure trove of data and touchpoints for our audiences. 
That is if your brand is nurturing your social channels. Simply having a social channel does not mean your brand has a social strategy. Users want a reason to engage with your brand, and just “making a post” is not good enough. 
Look at your social strategy as an extension of your content and relationship marketing. Sharing relevant content for your target audience creates a foundation for engagement and relationships. When your audience has an interest in interacting with your content, you are left with tangible insights to measure your brand’s social goals.
Outlined in this blog are five steps for creating a successful social strategy with your brand’s content and relationship marketing in mind.
Step 1: Understand your target audience.
First and foremost, you must understand your target market, and be able to group your target marketing into segments, or target audiences. A target audience is a more specific segment within your target market.  
To effectively execute a social strategy, you must understand who you are targeting, and where this audience resides. This will help you create the right messaging on the right channels. 
Thankfully, there are many ways to drill down your brand’s target audience.
A healthy mixture of existing audiences on your brand’s current social media, organizational data about your consumers, and trends in your industry provide a great way to break out your target market into more specific audiences. 
Note: If you do not have existing social channels and are starting your channels from scratch, using internal organizational data or industry trends will still give you a valuable foundation to build on. 
By looking at the market your brand currently serves, you can see if your current social audiences match up. Additionally, by looking at industry trends, you can determine if other market opportunities can be nurtured by your brand. 
Once you compile your data, drill down the traits of your current target audience and desired target audience. Consider these traits when creating target audience profiles:

A target audience is a more specific segment of a brand's target market. A brand can have multiple target audiences within its target market. In terms of social strategy, a brand strives to reach specific audiences in their target market through social channels. 

Segmenting Target Audiences
Demographic Traits 
 Includes age, gender, or income. 
Geographic Factors 
• Physical location or time zone.
Psychographic Traits
• Includes personalities, interests, or life goals.
Behavioral Traits
 Include spending habits, brand engagement, or past interactions.
With a combination of demographics and geographics, you can dive deeper into psychographics and behavioral traits. For example, what are common traits of a midwestern woman in Generation X? What are her interests, and how and where does she engage with brands on social media? 
With information like this on your desired target audience, you can participate in social channels that meet their interests. By better understanding your current audience, you can determine what audience to create more engaging content for on your current channels.
Step 2: Set social goals and choose key performance indicators to measure them.
Now that you have defined your target audiences, it is time to set social goals and key performance indicators. 
Your goals should be realistic, measurable, and attainable. To set your goals, it is important to know what desired outcomes are most important to your brand. Then, you want to know what insights, or key performance indicators, you will use to measure these desired outcomes.
The following are common social goals and potential key performance indicators you can use to measure them. Keep in mind, some of these key performance indicators can be used to measure multiple social goals.
Increase brand awareness.
Increasing brand awareness is often a desired outcome of social strategy. Since brand awareness has been a more qualitative measure in the past, social media gives a new way to more accurately measure a sample of brand awareness among your audience.
Followers, or fans, are users that have already committed interest in your brand. This group of users is far more likely to be reached by your content, as they have already chosen to follow your social channel. Follower or fan counts are a great way to gauge your brand’s potential reach and get a sample of your commonly reached audience.
Organic Reach 
Organic reach is the unique number of users that see your social content. Your total brand reach increases with more tagging and mentions of your brand across social platforms. Post reach increases with more engagement, such as shares, and strategies such as hashtag use. You can track trends in organic reach to identify what content is reaching more users naturally, and more importantly, the content that best reaches your target audience.
Paid Reach 
Paid reach differs from organic reach because it is achieved through paid social advertising. It is still the unique number of users that see your social content, however, paid reach includes more specific targeting. Paid reach can evaluate how many users your ads are reaching and if you are reaching the right audience with your ad strategy.
Drive traffic to your website or create conversions.
Likely, a goal of your social strategy is to use social media as a part of your conversion funnel. Effective social content can help drive a desired call to action or conversion. Whether it be website visits, video plays, or even sales, your social strategy can serve as an important touchpoint in the process. 
Link Clicks 
This measure includes how many users are clicking on links within your social posts or channels. Using unique links and landing pages, and tracking link clicks can tell us many things about both organic posts or social ad performance in terms of conversion. Examples of this are:
• Determine how effective our messaging was for the desired call to action. 
• Perform a and b testing between social content and determine which post had the best for the call to action.
• Determine how many users are retained into the next step in the conversion funnel, such as users that visited the site and browsed your brand’s products or filled out a form.
Social Traffic 
Social traffic is related to link clicks, as social traffic on your website consists of any user that was referred to your website via a link on a social post, social ad, or the website listed on your social channel. By using website analytics, you can measure how much of our brand’s total referral traffic comes from social media. To dive even further into this, we can determine the quality of this traffic, and evaluate the effectiveness of our content. Some things to look out for:
• A high bounce rate. A high bounce rate may indicate that your site has long load times, your message is misleading to the user, or even your desired action is too complicated.
• What pages are visited the most? Determine which referral links are generating the most engaged traffic from your social media. 
• Sessions and engagement on your website. Look at how many sessions come from your social media. Are these users staying and browsing your site? How many pages are they viewing and for how long? Compare this to your overall website traffic.
Lead Capture
Some social ads have the potential to add conversion forms where users can enter contact information. Your brand also may have dedicated landing pages for lead capture linked to your social posts. Here are some insights to look out for when evaluating your lead capture effectiveness:
• Where in the consumer journey are these users? Are they ready for purchase, or are they still learning about your brand? Keep this in mind when creating lead capture opportunities.
• Is the lead information good? If your brand receives spam or completely unrelated form submissions, you may be reaching the wrong audience. 
Social Revenue and Sales
A big key performance indicator for social strategy is how much revenue your social channels bring in for your brand. Ensuring your social messaging has dedicated tracking links or landing pages can help you better understand what revenue comes explicitly from social channels. Here are some key measures to look at:
• Look at monetary conversions for social referrals. How much of your total revenue comes from social channels as a whole? 
• Look at your cost per conversion for paid social ads. For conversion-specific ads, how much are you paying for a desired action? Measure how this impacts your social budget. 
• Are users abandoning their cart and not completing a transaction? Evaluate ways to close the conversion gap, like sending an automated email reminder to these users encouraging them to finish a transaction.
Build relationships, community, and foster engagement with your brand. 
One of the beautiful things about social media is that it is a two-sided conversation between user and brand. Great social media content is engaging and creates relationships and community. Be mindful of how users are communicating with your brand, and how you are continuing the conversation.
User Engagements 
Users can engage with your social content in many ways, including liking, reacting, commenting, and sharing your brand’s content. When users engage with your content, pay attention to what they say how they react. This gives insight into how effective our content is in terms of evoking emotion and interest in an audience. 
Brand Engagements
On the flip side of user engagements, how often is your brand engaging with users on your social channels? Making authentic connections with users who engage with your content creates a sense of community and connection. Make a conscious effort for your brand to engage with user comments, shares, and tags. 
Tags and Mentions 
Are users tagging your brand in posts? If they are, what are they saying about your brand? Is it positive or negative? Tracking user-generated content that mentions your brand is a great way to jump into the conversation and own the narrative. Find ways to solicit user-generated content from users who celebrate your brand, and find opportunities to remediate common pain points for your target audience. 
Reviews and Feedback 
Social channels such as Facebook and Google My Business have the capability for users to leave reviews, and all social channels have the potential for users to reach out with their experiences. Positive and negative, brands have the opportunity to celebrate and potentially remediate experiences. Create a standard process for celebrating positive experiences, and steps to remediate negative ones that can be tracked. 
Facebook Groups 
If applicable, try creating a community through a Facebook Group. Facebook Groups can be created by your Business Page to create an open forum for users to share feedback about your brand. Not only can you track reach, engagement, and activity within this group, but you can also use it as a way to provide exclusive offerings further relationships with users on a more personal level. 
Measure content effectiveness. 
It is important to note that social media strategy is an extension of content marketing. To reach target audiences, brands must create content that is relevant and engaging. Social media is a channel to reach these target audiences through segmented content.
Campaign Tagging 
Measure your content strategy through social media with campaign tagging. Group primary business goals and offerings into campaigns, or themes. Once you do this, explore how your themes perform against each other.

Social goals can be measured by multiple key performance indicators, or KPIs. Common social goals including awareness, conversions, and engagement can all be measured by measurable social insights. Setting clear social goals and knowing what key performance indicators you will use to measure them is crucial. 

Step 3. Create authentic social content.
Your audience is identified, and your goals are set, now it is time to start curating your social content. As mentioned prior, social media strategy is an extension of content marketing. Social media serves as a bridge between content marketing and relationship marketing. While a brand must create engaging and relevant content, the brand is also expected to create relationships with its social communities. 
Focus on intentional content for each platform.
When developing social content, it is important to create your messages with intention. To create content that resonates with your target audience, focus on topics in your brand offering that are relevant to these groups on the right social channel. Chances are, your target audience frequents certain social channels more than others. You should have identified these channels when identifying your target audience in step one.
Different content excels on each channel. Remember that even if similar target audiences frequent different social channels, that does not mean your social content should be the same on those channels. Tailor your content based on channel best practices and your target audience’s interests. Sometimes, simply reformatting your content is enough. Other times, your brand will need to completely rethink its content delivery for a social channel. 
It is okay to recognize that some social channels are not the right focus for your brand in your current social strategy. Consider where your target audience resides, and your brand’s resources. Just because it is not the right time to enter a social channel, does not mean your social strategy will not move into this channel based on the needs of your audience in the future. 
It is also not best practice to exhaust your brand’s bandwidth by chasing trends on every social channel. Capitalizing on social trends is a great way to engage with your audience if the trends are relevant. Remember to ask yourself before participating in a social trend
• Is this relevant to my target audience? 
• Will my target audience understand this trend?
• Is it appropriate for my brand to participate in this trend?
Set the tone.
Social media is less formal than traditional marketing channels. It can be difficult for brands to get the message “right” on social media. While most brands do not want to give off an overly technical, and unapproachable tone, they also do not want to dip into majorly unprofessional messaging. 
The secret to finding the “right” tone comes from understanding your target audience, and curating messaging that aligns with their communication style, fits the social channel purpose, and aligns with your brand standards. When setting a tone on your brand’s social channels, ask yourself:
•  Will this message be clear to my audience? 
• Does this messaging make sense for this social channel?
• Is this messaging appropriate for our brand positioning?
It is not uncommon for brands to have slightly different tones on different social media channels. Think about your audience and their needs, and the social channel you are utilizing. Your overall brand positing and your social tone will come to light using these practices.
Execute your story.
On social media, It is not good enough to just tell a story, you need to live it. User’s on social media value authentic, and relevant social content. Your social channels are an opportunity to demonstrate real-life examples of your brand “doing what you say you will do”. 
When creating content, value quality over quantity. High-quality, relevant content is much better than filling your social media channel with a post every day just to fill the gaps. While being consistent with your content is important, find a middle ground that does not exceed your brand’s bandwidth. If there is nothing to post, do not grasp for straws and veer off your strategy. 
Remember that social media is authentic. Perfection is not always what will perform the best on social, as users on social like to see quality content that is also realistic. Remember to keep your photography more natural, as not to create false expectations. Additionally, find ways to implement user-generated content like photos and testimonials in your strategy to build trust, as users often trust another person’s experience over a brand’s messaging.
Navigate user engagement.
When your brand creates great content tailored to its target audience, engagement will come. Depending on your brand, your engagements may consist of a few comments and shares on each post or even thousands of comments and mentions of your brand. Regardless of the number of engagements, the following practices will still strengthen your relationship with users:
Create conversations and relationships. 
Chances are if a user is commenting on your content, they are open to engaging with the brand. Interacting appropriately based on their comment is a great way to create a relationship. Comment on positive user-tagged posts, interact with user comments, and thank and appreciate users that provide feedback on your brand.
See negative feedback as an opportunity.
Negative feedback is not always a bad thing. Negative reviews, comments, and messages can be a service remediation opportunity since social media allows for two-way communication. Acknowledge, evaluate, and remediate negative experiences where possible.
Know when to take a conversation offline or cease engagement. 
While most negative feedback can be an opportunity, it is important to understand when to take conversations offline or to the inbox rather than in your comment section. Typically, a good rule to follow is to reach out to negative engagements that can be remediated via inbox and to potentially hide overly negative engagements that may result in more issues. It is good to have social community guidelines in place for habitual negative interactions or accusations as well.
Step 4.  Display your data and evaluate your results.
You have researched your audience, created goals, and executed your content. Now it is time to measure your results. Using the key performance indicators you set for your brand when goal setting, you can measure how your social strategy has performed. You can gauge areas of growth, and areas of success in your strategy. Next, ask yourself:
•  Why did this content perform well? Take time to dive into content that performed well, narrow down if there are any trends that you can stem new content from. 
•  What content performed poorly? Are there any specific issues that stand out with the content? Potentially, the messaging on the content was off. Maybe the image did not resonate with the audience, or the link had a slow load time that caused a high bounce rate.
Find a way to present your data and results that is relevant to your brand’s goals. Remember, your data is only as good as your delivery. 
Step 5. Revisit your target audiences, reevaluate your goals, and begin the process again.
It is important to recognize that social media is ever-evolving, and your social strategy should be too. After compiling your social media data, and translating it to your social strategy, reevaluate your goals. 
Evaluate what goals you are fulfilling in your social strategy, and how. Determine where your social strategy is falling short, and discover why. Great social strategy takes what your brand did well, and uses it to test new strategies. Ask the following questions about your brand:
Are you reaching the desired target audience with your social content? If not, what content is reaching them, and how can you implement more relevant content into your strategy?
•  Do you notice certain target audiences moving to new channels? Is this channel already in your brand’s social strategy, or is it an area of discovery? 
•  Are there opportunities to implement successful aspects of well-performing content in new ways to increase the performance of another goal? 
•  Is there an opportunity for experimenting through a and b testing with your messaging or imaging, or even implementing new content subtopics?
Asking intentional questions about your brand’s performance helps determine trends within your audience. Although a piece of content may perform well, the campaign as a whole may not have performed well with your target audience, and vice versa. Use what you learn by evaluating your content performance, and implementing new strategies that align with your set social goals.
My favorite social tools.​​​​​​​
New social channels, target audiences, and business objectives are sure to arise for your brand over time. Creating a sound social strategy that focuses on your target audience makes reevaluating and evolving your content seamless.  
Granted, this is a foundation for your brand’s social strategy. Successful social strategy that is intentional to your target audience and adapts over time is easier said than done. Between creating tailored content for each social channel, engaging in relationship building, and continuous evaluation of social performance, social media management takes a significant amount of time and resources for a brand. 
Thankfully, there are resources available that can help your brand with social media management. Here are some of my recommendations for social tools that can help you implement your social strategy. These recommendations are based on my personal experience with each tool.
Social Media Management Overall: Sprout Social
Overall, Sprout Social is my favorite social media management platform. I have used Sprout Social in a variety of roles since 2019. I have seen major changes and growth within this platform in just that short amount of time. 
In terms of content scheduling, engagement management, customer relationship integration, social listening, and social reporting, Sprout Social’s robust and easy-to-learn platform is by far a great choice for both small and large social teams.
Here are my current favorite features of Sprout Social:​​​​​​​
Smart Inbox - The smart inbox incorporates all your engagements for a designated social set in one place. There are also filtering options to sort your engagements for organized management. The smart inbox also integrates reviews across sites like Google My Business and TripAdvisor for reputation management made simple.
Message Tagging - You can tag user messages and engagements with existing campaigns for your content strategy. This provides more insightful breakdowns of how specific content themes perform in terms of engagement performance. 
Optimal Send Times - This is by far the most accurate optimal time scheduling integration I have used on any social media management platform. When using Sprout Social, I noticed a significant difference in overall post-performance by using this tool. 
Link In Bio - The Link In Bio integration within Sprout Social is a great example of the platform’s constant adaptation. This tool was a major time saver and eliminated the need for another external tool. 
Social Reports - As a whole, Sprout Social’s reports are the most intuitive and easy-to-understand social reports I have come across. Not to mention, they are a huge time saver for communicating results with brand leadership.
Competitor Reports - This is especially useful when it comes to performing competitor research, and identifying industry trends. This report saves you the hassle of visiting every competitor’s social channel, and spending hours sorting through their content. After adding your competitors into this report, you can focus on what trends and competitor content that is most relevant to your brand in one place.
Social Media Management Affordability: Later
A close second to Sprout Social, and a more affordable option, is Later. I started using Later in 2019, the same year I began using Sprout Social. Similar to Sprout Social, I have also seen this platform flourish and grow. 
I would highly recommend Later’s social media management platform to small businesses or small to medium social teams. 
Here are my current favorite features of Later:
Calendar and Media Library - Overall, Later’s media library and scheduling is the most user-friendly and intuitive of any social platform I have used. Some stand-out features include the ability to save captions and the capability to perform hashtag research and find user-generated content on the platform. 
Link in Bio - Later’s Link In Bio is the nicest integrated Link In Bio I have used. I love how customizable this feature is, and have found success using it in the past for Instagram. You can use a combination of buttons, featured media, and linked posts which I find to be a great way to appeal to more users visiting your link.
TikTok Scheduling - Later is above the curve on this capability. You can seamlessly integrate your TikTok content into your social schedule with Later. In function, the scheduling of TikTok content operates in the same way as scheduling an Instagram story or a carousel. To publish, a push notification is sent to your app when it is time to post your TikTok. 
Later App
Best Scheduling App - Later’s scheduling app is the best app connected to a social scheduling platform I have used. It is very organized, and rarely has technical issues like many of the other apps of this type I have used. 
Website Insights: Google Analytics
While Google Analytics focuses more on the web side of things, this platform provides great insights for referral traffic and conversions from social media to help evaluate social goals. Setting up Google Analytics for your website is easy, and free! 
Additionally, Google provides free learning resources so you can further learn about their products. Visit https://skillshop.withgoogle.com/ to learn more.
Content Creation: Canva
Canva is a fantastic tool for social media managers and content creators to create simple and beautiful assets. There is both a free and a paid version of Canva, which both add great resources to your content creation toolset. 
You can use Canva to create consistent social templates and collaborate with your team in real-time design. You can even go a step further in Canva Pro by adding brand kits that include brand colors, fonts, and logos for quick access across your team. 
Additionally, depending on your account type, you will have access to stock images and assets. This can include photos, videos, music, and much more. This makes for quick, compliant content creation. Canva’s learning library is also very handy. You can learn how to use the platform, or learn more about great design in general.
Content Creation: Adobe Lightroom 
Adobe Lightroom is my favorite tool for photography. This editing platform is great for more natural, authentic photography edits, making it a great tool for social content creation. You can use Lightroom for both DSLR raw photo editing or editing photos that were snapped quickly on your phone. 
Perhaps the best part about Lightroom in terms of content creation is that your images in Lightroom are synced to all devices where you are logged in to Adobe Creative Cloud. Thus, you can edit an image on your desktop, you can then quickly download a high-quality image on your phone from the Lightroom app. 

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