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Social Media Crash Course: How to Build a Social Media Strategy

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Social media is the center of our world nowadays. Many of us roll out of bed and have checked our Instagram account before we have even stumbled to the kitchen to make that of-so-important cup of coffee. We keep in touch with friends, stay on top of the news, and research purchases via our social channels and these habits are hard to break. And as much as we like to tell ourselves that we “have control” over hour much time we spend on social sites, it’s too entrenched in our daily routines for us to really say that.

Social media has definitely changed our lives as consumers and it has equally changed our lives as business owners (and, pardon my geek here, but I think this is really exciting!). We all heard that traditional forms of media and marketing have lost touch with millennial consumers and that this group expects your business to have an online presence. Don’t believe me? Ask any 28 year-old if they would consider hiring someone if they couldn’t find them online. Anyways, this transition is an exciting one for business owners who are ready to play the new game…and it’s not as overwhelming as you think.

I have met lots of small business owners in the wedding industry who fully understand the value of social media and know that they should be on it, yet, they aren’t. And when I ask them why, the answer is almost always “It’s like a full time job and I just don’t have the time.” Yes, social media can be a full time job if you let it but it doesn’t have to be such a behemoth project that your never even start! So, stop comparing your Instagram and Facebook feeds to Design Sponge and get on this crazy train. Lucky for you, I’ve got your ticket right here.

Here’s what you should know when sitting down to build your social media strategy.

Know the Platforms

Step number one: unlink your accounts! Each one of the social platforms is best suited for different things so pushing your Instagram posts to your Facebook and Twitter accounts isn’t doing you any favors. You need to make sure that the content you are spending the time and effort to create is actually going to have an impact! Make sure that you are creating content that is native to the platform you are sharing it on. What do I mean? Let’s get into this:

Long Form vs. Short Form

You have 140 characters to get your point across on Twitter but you could ramble on forever on Facebook. You have 1 image to catch people’s eye on Instagram but you could share an album of 200 photos on Facebook. Do you see the pattern? Facebook is considered to be a long form social media channel while Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are very much short form.

The amount of time you have to catch your reader’s attention is the same with both forms (you literally have seconds to do so) but the tools you have available are different. So, as you sit down to share something next time, ask yourself, “Is this image powerful enough to grab people’s attention or would it tell a better story in an album?” or “Can I get my point across in just a few words or do I need to spell it out a bit more?” Which leads me to my next point.

Visual vs. Text Driven

This might be obvious but I see mistakes all the time – some social media platforms are visually driven and others by text. You’re might be thinking, “Yeah, thanks captain obvious!” but how many times do you scroll through your Instagram feed and see posts with Moby-Dick-sized captions? You know, the ones that are so long that you don’t ever read? This is the mistake that I am talking about. Don’t force text on a platform that is not meant for it and vise versa, don’t flood conversational platforms with images.

Know Your Audience

Now that I’ve got you thinking about what to share, let’s talk about whom you are sharing it with. Have you taken the time to know who your audience is? Some of the basic demographics you should know about your audience are:

  1. How old are they?
  2. What percentage are male and what percentage are female?
  3. When are they most active on social media?
  4. Where do they live?

If you don’t already know the answers to these questions (no you do not need to have them memorized) then, please take an hour out of your time to introduce yourself to the people you are building a relationship with. The first place you should start? The “Insights” tab on your Facebook page. Once you have finished this bit of research, take the time to dive deeper and get to know what their problems are or what services they need and then you can build your strategy around answering their questions before they have to ask them.

Know Your Brand

Another slightly obvious point here but you need to know exactly who you are. Your brand identity needs to be well thought out, consistently portrayed, and (most importantly) authentic. Remember those millennials who think it’s weird if you’re not online? They also don’t like being “sold to” so creating a social media personality that is authentic and human is a must.

As you build your social media strategy, be thoughtful about your profiles and the stories they are telling. Be sure to showcase your vision, your mission, and why it is you do what you do so that your audience connects with your brand. Your goal should be to clearly state what sets your brand apart while being approachable and communicating the value of your services or product.

Know Your Resources

This is where you have to ask yourself, “How much time and effort do I realistically have to spend on social media?” And be super honest because you have to build a strategy that you can actually execute. So, before you run off and start cranking things out, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much time do I have to spend on creating a calendar and content for my social media accounts?
  2. Which social media platforms are worth me spending time on? Will they put me in front of the right audience?
  3. Do I have the right tools to do create content (i.e. cameras, software, writing skills, etc.)?
  4. Do I have clear goals that I can achieve by being on social media?
  5. If I don’t have enough time to do this alone, do I have the resources to bring on someone to help?

Ready to take your social media game to the next level? We’ll be sharing more social media strategies over the coming months!

About the Author

Tayler Cusick Hollman
Tayler Cusick Hollman

Tayler is the Media & Marketing Director at Aisle Planner. She is obsessed with color and pattern, notoriously cooks everything from scratch, and can sometimes be seen cruising around on a skateboard. Follow Tayler on Instagram @taylrd_designs

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