Social Media Strategy for Creatives: 5 Key Stages
10 Dec by Wendy Elsmore
Is getting to grips with your ‘social media’ your bugbear? Does it feel like a minefield? Do you look at others busy engagement and think, how do they make being popular look so effortless?
We’re here to help you be that social media success too!
Whether you love social media or loathe it, it’s still one of the best digital channels to promote your business and that won’t change anytime soon.
More than 3 billion people regularly use social media, which means it’s THE place to be if you’re building any sort of creative brand and looking to stamp your mark on the industry.
If you’re starting or have already started a career or business in the creative field, the chances are you are already using social media at least weekly, and have been for some time.
However, there’s a big difference between creating a feed that looks great and creating an online presence that attracts people into your network, engages them with valuable content, and converts them into loyal customers.
Wondering how you stand out from the competition when there’s so much noise out there? How you can reach the levels of those at the top who just seem to have the ‘it’ factor?
Whether you want to showcase your portfolio, differentiate yourself from others in your industry, grow a business or educate an audience, we hope this article will help you achieve new heights on social media in 2022.
In this article we split creating a social media strategy for creative businesses into 5 key phases:
- Platform Selection
Without further ado, let’s dive into this together!
Or feel free to visit our social media training course: Brand your Social Media to learn how we can help fast-track you to social success!
1. The development phase
Whether you’re starting a new page for a business or you’re here to learn how to supercharge your current channels, the development phase is a chance for you to step back from content creation and think more holistically about your social media marketing strategy.
Let’s start with a quick five-minute activity! Ready?
Grab a notepad or piece of paper and a pen. Answer the following question by jotting down a list of answers (and don’t peak below – that’s cheating!):
- What do you want to achieve from social media?
Really think about it for five minutes.
Got your answers? Great!
Now, consider some of the following social media marketing goals. Did you write any of these down?
- Build brand awareness
- Become an industry trailblazer/thought-leader
- Grow a loyal and engaged following
- Monetize your platform(s)
- Generate more traffic to your website or blog
- Generate a return on investment (ROI)
- Attract commercial collaborations
- Promote your business to your target audience
- Sell products
If you missed some of these and they’re relevant to you, add them to your list, you’ll need them for the next step.
Before we move on to the final part of the activity – let’s quickly discuss what SMART goals are.
SMART goals are Specific goals that are Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
They help you; articulate and commit to your aims; it ensures your expectations are realistic and achievable; your progress can be tracked and measured, and your success can be celebrated!
So, for the final step of the development phase, go back to your list of social media marketing goals and under each one, write at least one SMART goal.
For example, if your goal is to attract commercial collaborations, your SMART goal might be to attract 4 collaborations for your business in 2022.
Your goal of attracting collabs is now specific (4), measurable (you can record how many you earn), attainable (that’s one per 3 months), relevant (in this example), and timely (in 2022).
Now you have far clearer development goals to work towards! It is a great time to do this for the new year ahead but be sure to track your progress throughout the year, usually every 3-6 months.
2. The research phase
How well do you really know your target audience? How deeply do you understand their goals and challenges?
Knowing your audience inside out is the most effective way to ensure you connect with them and build a lasting impression and brand loyalty.
In fact, knowing your audience is as important as knowing yourself – who you are and what value you offer the market.
If you’re trying to reach and connect with a broad audience with different needs, the chances are that you’ll end up not connecting with anyone, because your content won’t speak directly to individuals. The content and its message will be too broad to truly resonate with people.
For example, put yourself in the shoes of one of our wonderful Personal Stylists. It would be fair to say their target audience is women aged 25 – 65+ who want to revamp their style and revolutionise how they feel about themselves, right?
While they may cater to women aged 25 – 65+, the needs of a woman aged 30 who has recently had a baby and wants to feel HOT again will differ greatly from a woman aged 60 who wants to modernise her wardrobe and inject some youthful vibrancy into her life.
So, their differences need to be considered. These two segments of the Personal Stylist’s audience require different content. Perhaps on Tuesdays, you would post content for the yummy mummy’s and on Thursday’s you’d post for the sassy 60s.
However you choose to differentiate your social media content based on your target audience, the fact is that your creative business probably needs to appeal to multiple audiences in order to grow.
How do you achieve that?
Do not fear, buyer personas are here (and so is a FREE downloadable template so you can create your buyer personas today*).
Irrelevant posts are the second largest reason people unfollow brands on social media, so you need to make sure you really understand your target audience and brand voice to ensure you don’t lose the followers you’ve earned over time.
Definition: Buyer personas are fictional representations of the customers you are trying to attract.
Businesses of every size and kind use buyer personas in their marketing to help them connect with and market to the right people.
Buyer personas humanise your followers and potential customers by assigning them names, faces, demographics, goals, challenges and so on.
Creating buyer personas VASTLY improves your ability to deeply connect with the people you NEED to attract to your social media pages in order to grow your business or personal brand.
You don’t even need a business to benefit from creating buyer personas.
Do you currently use Instagram as a showcase for your portfolio? If so think about the PERFECT person who would land on your page and message you about some work.
Are there several people who you want to WOW with your content? Maybe one is a Marketing Manager at a major brand, one is a Business Owner, and another might be a PR Specialist who can help get you into your favourite magazine.
Buyer personas are for everyone with goals in mind when using social media.
*click “make a copy” when prompted after clicking the link.
3. The platform selection phase
A common mistake most small business owners make is spreading themselves too thinly across multiple channels without considering the potential impact of each channel.
Do you think law firms really NEED TikTok? Probably not, right?
For every business, there are specific channels that will benefit the brand more than others. For the purpose of this article, we’ll briefly discuss the platforms best suited to creatives so you can make an informed decision about which platforms will be a part of your marketing mix in 2022.
- Facebook reaches 59% of the world’s social networking population
- Facebook ads are used by 70% of marketers, and there were 10 million active advertisers on the platform in Q3 2021. (Social Media Examiner, Statista)
- Facebook usage among teens is dropping gradually. While 71% of teens claimed to use the platform in 2015, the number has now dropped to 67%. (GlobalWebIndex)
- 64% of Instagram users are under the age of 34.
- 98% of marketers say Instagram is the most influential platform for influencer marketing, which is 44% higher than Facebook. ( Sprout Social)
- 83% of people use Instagram to discover new products and services and 87% said they took specific action, like making a purchase, after seeing product information. (Facebook for Business)
- Six out of every ten Pinterest users worldwide are female (Pinterest, 2020).
- Nearly all (97 percent) queries carried out on Pinterest are unbranded (Pinterest, 2019). Such a high percentage of unbranded searches is a strong indication that Pinterest users are on the platform to seek inspiration and discover new ideas.
- The latest Pinterest statistics show that the main reason people use Pinterest is to look for home décor/design inspiration (GlobalWebIndex, 2021). This is followed by seeking ideas for style, clothing, and beauty.
- Twitter has 206 million monetisable daily active users (Twitter, 2021).
- Twitter’s worldwide age distribution is 13 to 17 years old (6.6 percent), 18 to 24 years old (17.1 percent), 25 to 34 years old (38.5 percent), 35 to 49 years old (20.7 percent), and those aged 50 and older comprise 17.1 percent (Statista, 2021).
- 79% percent of people on Twitter follow brands (Twitter, 2017).
- LinkedIn has more than 800 million active users in 200 countries and regions worldwide. (LinkedIn)
- As of Q2 2021, 60% of LinkedIn users were between 25 and 34 years old. (Statista)
- In 2020, LinkedIn was voted the most trusted network. (Business Insider)Over 46% of all social media traffic to company websites comes from LinkedIn. (LinkedIn)
4. The action phase
You’ve set your goals and you now have a deeper understanding of your target audience, so the fun can start!
The action phase is all about creating engaging and visually stimulating content to promote your business or personal brand.
To consistently produce top-tier content that makes your followers go crazy and generates new ones, you need a plan. A tight-knit, repeatable plan. You need a content calendar.
Building a content calendar.
Planning content in advance removes the horrible panic of “what do I post next?!”. Most companies will plan their social media content monthly, but others who need to be slightly more on top of the latest news will plan weekly.
For example, by the 31st of December, January’s social media content should already be planned for the entire month. This means you’re covered and can go back to enjoying posting new content when you feel inspired throughout the month, rather than panicking every time you want/need to post.
A good content calendar should take into consideration the following:
- Date and time (choose those that are favourable within your target audience)
- Post type (e.g. video, a quote, a photo, an infographic, etc)
- Format (e.g. is it a feed post, story or reel?)
- Platform (e.g. Instagram and Pinterest)
- Target buyer persona (who’s it for?)
- Content needed (this allows you to plan what content you need to create in advance)
- Goals (e.g. how many comments do you want to generate?)
Whether you post four times per month or twenty-four times, content calendars are an essential time-saver and will instantly elevate your social marketing strategy. You’ve probably heard: “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Don’t let that be you!
The top influencers and brands are ALL planning ahead as it enables them to be more creative and strategic with their content.
Plus, the algorithms on most platforms favour those who post regularly and consistently. So creating a content calendar can also indirectly boost your reach massively.
Interested in a social media training course delivered by experienced influencers? Look no further.
12 Principles for creating social media content.
Creating content for the sake of creating content can be a bad idea. Feel like you’re rushing your posts? STOP. Quality always wins over quantity when you’re building a business or personal brand.
Consider Rolex. Rolex have very specific rules when it comes to the retailers who post their watches on social media. For example, Rolex watches should not appear alongside any other brand in images or videos. Even if the other brand is just as prestigious, like Patek Philippe, Rolex will ask the retailer to remove the post if they see it. If Rolex were more relaxed with their rules on social media content, they’d generate far greater reach, but their brand would not be so well protected, and branding is KING in today’s world.
The following 12 principles can be used when creating engaging social media content:
- Analyse engagement
- Understand the audience
- Select the strategy
- Create and share valuable content
- Stay topical
- Keep the conversation flowing
- Show your human side
- Keep response times speedy
- Schedule smartly
- Build beyond the feed (private messages)
Engage intimately and quickly.
People use social media as an instant line to their most beloved brands – as well as the brands they feel have wronged them.
Research conducted by Social Media Today found that a whopping 72% of audiences expect brands to reply within one hour.
This may not be possible if you’re busy on a shoot or you are with a client, but if you can respond instantly, do it! People love to feel listened to. Responding to even the simplest of comments can make that person feel special and you can be sure that they’ll feel even more connected to your brand if you reply promptly.
Go a step further than liking a comment and drop a short and sweet reply to make your followers blush!
Real-time marketing refers to the process of responding to topical or newsworthy stories quickly and cleverly to place your brand right in the middle of a trending conversation.
Over the years we’ve seen real-time marketing done exceptionally well and also examples where it’s been pretty damn awful.
Here are some of our favourite examples of real-time marketing, good and bad:
So as you flick through the news during your morning cappuccino, consider how you can position your brand at the forefront of a trending conversation to boost your brand exposure significantly.
5. The tracking phase.
So you finally have a well-groomed social media strategy up and running. Remember the goals you set right at the beginning? You’ll need to know how to measure your progress over time in order to work out what’s working best and so you can do more of that.
Perhaps some of your goals are hard to measure without the use of an analytical tool.
If you were proactive enough to sign up to one of the social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Loomly, you’ll notice they have some really handy features that help you report on the success of your social media marketing activity.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram already provide incredibly detailed analytics, but you may want to centralise all of your platforms into one tool to see which posts perform best on each platform, which day of the week gets you the most engagement and so on.
- Engagement rate (total interactions divided by impressions)
- Clicks (number of clicks from your post to the link destination e.g. your website)
- Reach (how many people actually saw your post)
- Hashtag performance (which hashtags generate the best engagement)
Whatever your goals are, you need to ensure you have a process in place for tracking your success as you go, otherwise, you’ll never know how you’re actually performing against your targets.
Larger businesses may report on a weekly basis while most companies report on a monthly basis. However you may find – given time restraints – it’s best for you to analyse performance on a quarterly basis. Whatever the case, make sure you do it!
Creating a social media strategy in a document or slide deck can have a huge impact on your overall performance throughout the year.
Every business that has a successful digital presence will have a detailed social media strategy including buyer personas, a content calendar, SMART goals, an overview of how they will use the selected platforms, and a list of relevant content types to help with planning.
Want to learn more about how to brand and grow your social media channels? Take our certified, globally accredited social media course: Brand your Social Media and elevate your social presence to dazzling new heights in 2022!
Brand your Social Media training course making online success as easy as 1, 2, 3!