Social Media Strategy in the Modern Era

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By Natalie Colby

Social media is here to stay – and if you think it’s just about posting tweets and liking photos, then you haven’t yet realized the opportunity this powerful tool holds. It provides valuable possibilities for any business, big or small, to reach its audience and effectively market products or services by telling its unique story. Every age group, every education level and every income group uses social media, logging in every single day. With such a massive available audience, we’ve seen clients more than double their most valuable engagement metrics in under a year, without a large investment in new content or employee time, but by a clever realignment of strategy and tactics.

Yet, just showing up isn’t enough anymore. The days of simply setting up social profiles and publishing unsystematic content while expecting to get returns are gone. If you truly want to shape your brand, develop long-lasting relationships, and increase advocacy, then you need a sound strategy that successfully aligns your social media content and core company values.

The statistics speak for themselves. Hootsuite states that 3.48 billion people now regularly use social media, while as many as 90% of companies use social media to increase brand awareness. According to Small Biz Trends, 77.6 percent of small businesses report using social media to promote their work, with Facebook as the top platform used. Forty-one percent depend on it to drive revenue. The first port of call for consumers and businesses seeking information is a social media platform, with more than 1 in 3 Internet users saying they use social networks when looking for info about a brand or product, says Small Biz Trends.

Social media is a fast-paced, evolving channel that thrives from a cleverly thought-out, aligned and monitored framework. View it as an integrated part of your business’s overall marketing strategy and you won’t make the mistake of missing key opportunities and tangible results. Just as your business has financial goals and plans to achieve them, your social media presence should be treated the same way, as a valuable asset with a defined place in your marketing plan.

The benefits? Well, they’re endless…

Social media allows for brand authenticity and an increase in awareness. A strategy gives you the framework to effectively communicate to a specific target audience, such as potential partners and investors, or customers. You’re able to show them who you are as a company beyond your products and services, in a meaningful way that puts your followers ahead of the hard sell. Simply put, raising interest in a genuine way builds stronger relationships.

An excellent example is an organic social media strategy we created and implemented for a Fortune 100 retailer. Our goal was to drive their digital transformation narrative, making use of social media to amplify real client stories. We utilized the retailer’s Medium content and internal employee spotlights to tell visually engaging stories, increase platform awareness, and drive traffic to the content. The 2019 Results were some of the best we’ve experienced, with a 288.8% year over year increase in impressions, a 417.5% year over year jump in Engagements, and a 525.4% year over year spike in link clicks. Total net following growth, meanwhile, climbed 100% from 2018 to 2019.

Successful strategies must also incorporate data, such as one we built for travel technology company Bluesmart Luggage in 2017. A data-lead strategy allows companies the exciting opportunity to perform social activities differently from those of competitors, developing a distinct blueprint. Companies can effectively target the right audience, at the right time, in the right location, through the right channels and with the right products and services. For Bluesmart, we researched, vetted, engaged and built relationships with technology, travel, fashion, and lifestyle influencers on social media from April to June 2017, aligning efforts with the company’s Indiegogo crowdfunding launch. By the end of the campaign the results were 10M Reach, 576K Engagements (383.9K Views, 189.4K Likes, 1.9K Comments, 773 Shares) with a 6% Engagement Rate (measured by “likes” and “shares.” In this case, the data-driven strategy provided a framework to measure, report, and accurately benchmark against competitors – ultimately leading to better-informed improvements.

A strong social media strategy can even drive investment growth. At the end of 2017, Spark was challenged to grow Simple Token’s (now OST) project awareness, as well as build and manage the online community to support a successful ICO while laying the groundwork for sustained visibility beyond token sale. This all occurred in a crowded and noisy cryptocurrency market. Our strategy was to amplify media hits and engage with leading Crypto/Blockchain, Business, Tech writers and influencers. We also built, grew and managed online community presence on Bitcoin Talk, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Steemit, Telegram, and Twitter, working closely with the internal client team as needed. Showing that a secure social media strategy can successfully assist in raising $21MM, or 189%, of the company’s initial funding target with high visibility, drawing more than 6000 individual participants globally. Resulting in strong social community growth across channels including growing Telegram channel from 20 members to 8000+ during the engagement.

Organic social media content and strategy such as the ones previously discussed are key for brands who want to compete in an ever-connected digital world. However, constantly changing social media algorithms continue to work against businesses and brands—even those with great content. Platforms like Facebook prioritize posts from friends and family over company content in users’ news feeds. So even if users follow your brand on social media, they might not be seeing your posts.

The solution? Paid social media campaigns.

There are a ton of advantages to paid social that we’ll delve into more deeply in a later post, but the #1 benefit is this: Paid social lets brands share content with granular targeted users who don’t follow them on social media, allowing brands to grow their awareness, follower base and drive conversions. Social media platforms are also a treasure trove of first-party data, so brands can hone in on their target audience via advanced targeting tactics.

Whether a company does paid or organic social media, or a healthy blend, it’s clear that a well-aligned social media strategy compliments almost any marketing goal that a company has set for itself. From core value, to branding, to generating leads and increasing returns, it is one of the most versatile and cost-effective methods a business can use to reach their target audience and accomplish goals. It enables everything to work together, and progress towards the same objective.

Natalie Colby leads Sparkpr’s South Africa office, spearheading our organic social media efforts, new business social strategies, social media audits, data-management and reporting. A social media specialist, she has a decade of experience championing social audits, social strategy, social media tools, reporting and data analytics.

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