How to Create an Effective Social Media Strategy

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Man doing a social media video

Today’s household names in DTC and ecommerce know the importance of using social media to tell their brand story and deliver compelling content online. Social networks are the best way to reach a large, targeted group of consumers, and brands cannot survive in today’s digital landscape without participating. 

Executing an effective strategy to reach these consumers used to take time and resources that only top brands could afford. But collaborating with social media influencers can cut costs and bandwidth while increasing the overall quality of social media campaigns. 

Let’s look at what an effective social media strategy using influencers might look like for your brand. 

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Why should I incorporate influencers into my social media strategy?

There was a time when consumers turned to radio and television stations for their source of product information. But in today’s creator economy, they tune into people. This evolution elevates social media creators as the new brand storytellers and allows them to set the tone for brand sentiment online. 

Millions of digital creators have built engaged online communities on their favorite social channels. Their stories about the products they love are proven to drive sales and build lasting relationships with consumers in ways that brand-controlled marketing can no longer compete with.

Today, more than 80% of consumers say they are more likely to buy products that creators promote. There is no better time than now to incorporate influencers into your brand’s social media strategy and start leveraging their engaged online communities to drive more conversions than ever before. 

What does an effective social media marketing strategy look like with creators?

Influencer-generated content (IGC)

IGC occurs any time an influencer posts about your brand online. For brands just starting out marketing on social media with influencers, the most effective and cost-efficient way to get creators to post about your brand is by sending them free products. 

Look for creators that align with your brand’s mission and values. Pick the ones you think might benefit from your product or service and be willing to pass recommendations on to their followers. 

Once you find one or more creators that have proven to help you progress toward your campaign goals, consider inviting them on for a long-term partnership. This could include additional products for posts, monetary compensation per post, or any other form of payment the two of you agree on ahead of time. 

User-generated content (UGC)

Brands with the ability to inspire audience participation can build their online presence with UGC. This approach generates eight times more engagement than traditional branded content by encouraging followers and fans to drive the online conversation about the company’s products and services.

UGC significantly increases your earned media value. More importantly, it establishes credibility with consumers. UGC is the virtual equivalent of word-of-mouth and enthusiastic customer advocacy

Pay close attention to your fans posting UGC. If their reach and content quality match your standards, consider reaching out to them to join your creator team. 

Repurposing UGC and IGC for paid and sponsored ads

Because most creators produce studio-quality content without the studio price tag, brands should try to repurpose IGC into paid or sponsored posts whenever possible. UGC from fans who aren’t necessarily involved in your social media strategy directly can often be just as valuable. In both cases, your influencers and fans provide you with honest endorsements that resonate with your target audience. 

Organic posting

An organic strategy includes any posts that the brand does not pay or sponsor to reach audiences. The key to a successful organic approach is to use creative ways to increase follower counts and nurture meaningful engagement.

The advantage of an organic strategy is that it is free, even if a post goes viral. The disadvantage of a strictly organic social media approach is that it can be challenging to grow an audience quickly. Organic social media often works well combined with influencers, user-generated content, and paid posts.

10 steps to creating a social media marketing strategy

1. Establish objectives

The first step of every social media strategy should be establishing objectives. Not only will this determine the direction of your entire campaign, but it will also help you align your campaigns to the proper social media channels and select the best influencers to represent your brand. 

Some common objectives when creating a social media strategy with influencers include:

  • Awareness: Get your brand in front of as many people as possible and inspire meaningful interactions with them. 
  • Conversions: Increasing revenue and making the sale are conversions tied to dollars. Other conversion goals could include email sign-ups, form submissions, ebook downloads, etc. 
  • Content: Original, user-generated content (UGC) helps feed your marketing and branding efforts and is a priceless asset for bootstrapped brands. 
  • Website traffic: An effective influencer partnership generates leads and drives conversions on your website. 
  • Reputation: Building a good reputation focuses on strengthening your brand’s image and building trust with customers. Always look to create positive sentiment around your brand, especially among your target demographic. 

2. Set KPIs

One of the most crucial elements of any campaign planning is setting your marketing goals and KPIs.

While your goals provide a high-level overview of what you hope your influencers will accomplish for your brand (i.e., sales, brand awareness, website traffic, increased followers, UGC, etc.), KPIs break each goal down into actionable milestones.

Be sure to assign metrics to your KPIs that follow the SMART principle for goal-setting. That means each KPI should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

3. Do competitor analysis

Running competitor analysis helps you understand your audience and what they expect. Start by identifying each of your direct competitors on social media and answer the following questions:

  • Which social channels are they using?
  • How often do they post?
  • What kinds of posts do they publish?
  • Which social media approach(es) do they prefer (organic, UGC, paid, influencer, etc.)?
  • How do audiences respond to competitor posts?
  • How many followers does each of your direct competitors have?

After answering these questions, you have a baseline set of metrics to engage your audience and set your brand apart from the competition.

4. Create buyer personas

The most crucial part of your social media strategy is knowing your audience. Developing buyer personas helps you pin down your target audience and your various audience segments.

Create a fictional person (or avatar) representative of your ideal consumer for each audience segment. After building your buyer personas, you will have a better idea about which social channels to spend the most time on. You can also make educated decisions about the kind of content your audience will respond to.

Buyer persona infographic with questions
Image via Amy Wright Content Marketing

BUYER PERSONA

Starter Questions

PERSONAL INFO:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Children
  • Marital Status
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education

PROFESSIONAL INFO:

  • Job Title / Role
  • Career Path
  • Company / Industry
  • Company Size
  • Special Skills
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What tools do they use?
  • Who is their boss?
  • Do they manage others?
  • How is their success measured?

VALUES AND FEARS:

  • What do they value in their personal or professional life?
  • What is important to them when considering a product like yours?
  • What objections might they have?
  • What drives their decision making process?

GOALS & CHALLENGES

  • What are their personal / career goals?
  • How do they prioritize those goals?
  • What challenges impact achieving these goals?
  • How could you help?
  • What questions do they ask when seeking solutions to these challenges?

WHERE ARE THEY?

  • How do they get information?
  • How do they communicate?
  • What media do they consume?
  • Do they belong to any associations?
  • What social media do they use?
  • Do they attend events or conferences?
  • Where do they spend their days?
  • Do they have relevant hobbies?

NEGATIVE INFO:

  • Are there customers you don’t want?
    • Too difficult?
    • Too expensive to support?
    • Not enough budget?
    • Wrong industry?

5. Perform a social media audit

If you already have brand accounts on social media, you should know how your current program is performing. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Where do I have accounts?
  • Are those accounts active?
  • How often am I posting on each channel?
  • What is the average engagement rate on each channel and post?

Next, match your social performance against your KPIs. The gap between your current performance and your KPIs shows how much work you need to get on the right track. With any successful social media strategy, consistency is key.

6. Choose your main social channels

Brands often assume they need to be present on every platform to have an effective social media strategy. But in reality, they only need to be where their target audience lives. 

Use your buyer personas to determine which social media channels are most relevant to your audience. Most likely, you will need to start with two or three social media platforms. After you’ve mastered those channels, you can decide whether or not you need to expand your strategy based on consumer response.

7. Build and maintain a process

Consistency is critical for a successful social media strategy. Create a schedule that outlines when to post and considers the types of content and frequency of posting that audiences are most likely to engage with. 

Remember, consistency goes beyond just making regular posts. You should also be consistent in your brand’s messaging, tone, and aesthetics across all social networks. 

8. Track progress

In the beginning, the best way to track progress is to record social media metrics, like follower counts and post engagement, manually in a spreadsheet. Most social channels give you an analytics platform that you can use to track the metrics that are most relevant to your goals and KPIs. 

You can also track link clicks by creating platform-specific landing pages or utilizing free tools within Google Tag Manager.

9. Report, pivot, and adjust your process

Even if you are not reporting to a direct supervisor, building performance reports help you stay accountable to your KPIs and objectives. With each new report, you will notice parts of your social media strategy that require changes. It’s critical to stay on top of each one to ensure your program does not get stagnant and you continue to get the highest possible ROI from your efforts. 

10. Leverage your existing influencers to try new social media platforms

Always be looking for ways to use your influencers’ content on other social media channels to get the most out of your social media budget. Remember, when repurposing content, you might have to alter dimensions and brainstorm new headlines, captions, and calls to action. When making edits, try to focus on minor adjustments, so you retain the IRL (in real life) essence of your top-performing influencer posts. 

Brands with successful social media strategies using influencers

1. MVMT Watches

MVMT Watches helped pioneer the use of influencers to build a successful social media strategy. The brand looked for talented Instagram photographers with 30K to 500K followers willing to post branded content in exchange for free products. As the posts gained attention, MVMT realized the potential of leveraging creator partnerships for quality content and a highly cost-effective way to drive sales. 

Top campaign goals achieved:

  • 1.1 million Instagram followers
  • More than 100K affiliate code conversions
  • 39K pieces of influencer content created
  • 7x creator growth

2. nutpods

Nutpods leveraged its biggest fans as brand champions for its non-dairy creamer product. The company first started recruiting influencers from the tight-knit Whole30 community. But as the love for nutpods products spread, so did the number of fans requesting to be a part of the ambassador and affiliate influencer programs. Nutpods leveraged this brand love to grow from a Kickstarter campaign to a multimillion-dollar company with products available in more than 25,000 retailers nationwide. 

Top campaign goals achieved:

  • Top creamer substitute on Amazon
  • Thousands of link and affiliate code conversions
  • 3,000+ pieces of creator content
  • 250+ active creator partners

3. Tubby Todd

As parents to a baby with eczema, Tubby Todd founders Brian and Andrea Faulkner Williams were passionate about creating soap products for babies with sensitive skin. They reached out on social media to mommy bloggers and other influencers they knew had target audiences that might benefit from the solution their product offered. They have since connected with countless parents across the country and fostered a supportive community built around their brand. 

Top campaign goals achieved:

  • 4,000+ code conversions
  • 5,000+ link conversions
  • $100K+ conversion revenue
  • More than 400 active creator partners

Conclusion 

Creating a social media strategy using influencers is one of the best ways to drive conversions and build authentic relationships with consumers. By partnering with social media creators who genuinely love your brand and are willing to give you genuine product endorsements, you gain the attention and respect of their engaged following that is eager to buy. 

But before reaching out to these creators, take the time to plan out the goals for your social media campaign and the KPIs you need to hit along the way to reach them. A clear game plan helps you identify which creators are best for your program and how their performance affects the overall vision you have for your influencer marketing campaign

Frequently Asked Questions

There are essentially six different types of social media on which to market. 

  1. Social networks: Traditional social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. 
  2. Social news: Social information websites allow users to upload informational web links to external sites (Reddit is the most popular example).
  3. Microblogging: Platforms enable people to post brief written entries that include web links to product websites or other social platforms (Twitter is the most popular microblogging system).
  4. Bookmarking sites: Pinterest is an example of a bookmarking site that allows users to save, share, and organize links from various internet sources. 
  5. Media sharing: Platforms like YouTube enable users to share various media content online.
  6. Community blogs: Tumblr is an example of a community blog developed for sharing multimedia and short-form blog writing.

The first step of every social media strategy should be establishing objectives. Not only will this determine the direction of your entire campaign, but it will also help you align your campaigns to the proper social media channels and select the best influencers to represent your brand. 

The best social media network for influencer marketing varies based on your buyer persona. Decide which channel is most relevant to your audience and begin your strategy there. Once you feel comfortable, you can decide whether or not to expand your strategy based on consumer response. 

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