5 Steps to Jump-Start Your Social Marketing Strategy

March 01, 2022

Contributor: Jordan Turner

Social is a critical component of a multichannel marketing strategy, but many marketing leaders struggle to start or refocus their programs.

In short:

  • Instead of developing and executing an outcome-focused social strategy, too many marketing leaders focus on growing followers, which has limited impact on business results.
  • This approach dilutes social marketing effectiveness, wastes resources and ultimately puts funding for this critical channel at risk.
  • Use our five-step formula to refine your social marketing strategy and focus your efforts.

Social marketing is critical to achieving your marketing goals: building awareness, driving conversion, generating demand and creating customer advocacy. Yet, many marketing leaders lack a coherent strategy that defines why they are leveraging social and what they hope to achieve. 

“There’s a continuing gap between heavily invested, successful social media marketers and those with underinvested or languishing programs. Closing that gap for your organization means first creating a social marketing strategy that clearly aligns to your organization’s goals,” says Jay Wilson, VP Analyst at Gartner.

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These five steps will help you execute a digital marketing strategy that can successfully launch or revive organic and paid social marketing programs.

Gartner's Social Marketing Strategy Formula

How to create a successful social media marketing strategy

Step 1: Determine a clear view of your target audience

Your target audience is likely active on social media. However, that doesn’t mean your content will be relevant to them as they use each platform. To inform your planning, start by segmenting your audiences on the basis of demographics. It may turn out that you only want to focus on certain audiences with social media — or with any given platform. 

Learn more: What Is Digital Marketing Strategy — And What Are the Keys to Its Success?

Step 2: Locate your customers on social media

Research what platforms and information sources your target audience uses most and where they are actively engaged in conversations. Customer personas, journey maps and even your sales teams are good sources for initial insight alongside online research. Consider conducting searches on social networks for mentions of your brand, industry and competitors. Armed with this research, you can begin to align your audience to the networks they use to focus your efforts. 

Step 3: Build out a content strategy

Social marketers who depend wholly on organic content (essentially, free advertising) struggle to find any measurable success. Paid advertising is a must to consistently drive reach and engagement on social media, especially if you know how to capture your audience’s attention with content. Social media is a conversational medium — it’s important to serve up a dialogue that will create value for everyone involved. Here are some high-level principles to keep in mind:

  • Take advantage of the instant feedback on your content and messaging that social media allows for. Assess your brand’s ability to respond to consumer needs in real time.
  • Use performance data to iterate and optimize your content.
  • Curate your content (and the format) based on customer expectations of the network they’re using.
  • Social requires a lot of content. Build a robust pipeline, and incorporate influencer and user-generated content into the mix. 
  • Aim to teach, not sell.

Leveraging these principles, build a social media content strategy that draws on your broader marketing content strategy. Focus on themes and think about content pillars that serve a multitude of audiences. 

Step 4: Determine your desired outcomes

Whether it’s establishing credibility in the B2B high-tech space through downloads of white papers or attendance of webinars, or encouraging customers to click through to view a video about the environmental sustainability of your product, your organic social content should be geared toward guiding customers through their buying journey by encouraging a next action. This leads to the question of what you want your audience to do or think as a result of interacting with your content.

Example objectives to focus on include:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Generating and converting leads
  • Driving sales
  • Increasing customer loyalty
  • Collecting market research

This doesn’t mean that each piece of content has to have a clear call to action, but it does suggest you need to at least think about what the desired outcome may be, so that each piece of content is tied to a goal.

Step 5: Define metrics to measure success

And finally, lay out the metrics that will actually tell you if your social marketing investments are paying off. For organic content, you’ll likely drive outcomes in “engagement.” Engagement metrics measure whether people devote their time to consuming or endorsing your assets. This is when content is designed to spark an action that is something other than an immediate and measurable purchase or conversion. When you throw paid into the mix, you can start measuring metrics related to sales, leads, etc. 

Ultimately, you have the opportunity to build a solid, cohesive social marketing strategy that can drive value beyond just marketing. Follow the simple formula outlined above and you’ll be well on your way.

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