If you’re used creating strategies in-house or for yourself, you’ll find creating a social media strategy for your client (or clients) an entirely different challenge.
You have to become familiar with fresh audience and the inner workings of a new business.
You also have to get results – both the obvious ones (engagement, followers, reach) and the not-so-obvious (making clients feel confident, reducing their stress, and taking work off their plate).
But luckily, all strategies you create for a client will follow the same principles:
- They address the concerns of client (eg we’re falling behind our competitors, we don’t know how to start building a community)
- They make their goals seem like an inevitable conclusion (eg this is why you’ll beat your competitors in 6 months, this is how we reach your first 1000 super followers)
- They show the client why you are the best possible choice to execute on the strategy
To hit these three principles, and to make sure you have the best chance of getting hired for project after project, here’s how you can create a winning social media strategy for your client.
Steps for creating a winning client social media strategy
Here are the key components of any social media strategy:
- Client interview and goal defining
- Research and analysis
- Choose the client’s social media channels
- Create KPIs and set goals
- Define the client’s content pillars
- Create a posting schedule
- Workflows, collaboration, and sign-off process
- Customer service and crisis management
Client interview and goal defining
This is the most important step in the creation of your client’s social media strategy.
If you don’t have the best possible grasp of your clients’ actual needs, your best work is as likely to miss as it is to hit.
Even if your results are amazing.
To find your client’s goals, here’s a few questions you can kick off with:
- What are your monthly, quarterly, and annual marketing goals?
- Where do you see social media helping you reach marketing goals?
- What do you feel is the biggest weakness in your current social strategy?
- What do you feel is the biggest strength in your current social strategy?
- Who is a competitor you would like to beat?
- What other brands do you like? Which ones would you want to be like?
- Do you currently have super followers? Are we able to get in touch with them?
- What are your monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals?
- Where do you see social helping you achieve sales goals?
You’ll also want to interview a few people in the business:
- CMO or head of marketing
- Content marketer/manager/specialist
- Social media manager
- Product marketer
You’re not always going to get all these people on a call or in a meeting.
What’s important is that you get the best possible understanding of what needs to happen from a range of viewpoints.
Best yet, by being the focal point of these different groups, you’ll be able to reveal to them things they never knew.
And that kind of insight makes you invaluable.
Research and analysis
Research is the foundation of any great social media strategy. Having data to back up your recommendations adds a layer of legitimacy to your plan and makes it more certain that the client will reach their goals.
It’s also a good idea to perform a social media audit on the client’s existing accounts before developing your strategy. This will give you an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. You can apply the findings from your audit to pinpoint the best ways to improve the client’s results.
Your research and analysis should cover three areas: Audience discovery, Competitor analysis and Industry standards.
First and foremost, you need to know who your client’s customers are. What are their interests and behaviors? When are they most active on social media? The client can’t reach their audience if they don’t know where they are.
It’s important to regularly check the client’s social media analytics to see which channels most of their engagement is happening and when. Sked Social uses data-driven and statistics-backed analytics for Instagram. Find the best time to post, analyze your post and story performance, compare your activity against your competitors, and more with our free 7 day trial.
You can also use built-in platform insights to learn more about your client’s audience. On Instagram for example, if your client has a business account, you can go into “insights” at the top of the page and see a breakdown of their audience’s age ranges, locations, and the days of the week and times of day that they are most active. This will affect the types of content and the posting schedule you set out for the client.
Next, you need to take a comprehensive look at your client’s competitors and what they’re doing on social media. This will help you spot what others are doing well and what they’re not doing so well to identify opportunities for your client to stand out.
Write down the names of your client’s top 3 competitors and check out their profiles on all platforms. Take notes on the types of content they’re posting, which types of posts have the highest engagement, and which areas your client can build upon to stand out and differentiate themselves.
Industry standard reports are an invaluable tool to help you understand how people are using social media. Dig into the data to identify which platforms different age groups are using. Compare this to your client’s target demographic to ensure they are putting their efforts into the right platforms. Take note of the average engagement rates per industry, how many posts per day, and how many posts per week are the standard.
You can also browse popular hashtags within the client’s niche to see who the notable accounts and influencers are. These are the people who you want to build brand awareness with to help get more eyes on the client’s brand.
Decide which social media channels your client should be on
It’s tempting to be everywhere. Before jumping into every channel, consider your client’s resources, team, what kinds of content they have and what their industry or niche is. It’s better to do a couple of platforms really well than to do a poor job at everything.
Is your client new to social media? If so, start out with two to four major channels. These should be tailored to your client’s business and target market. For example, if they’re a clothing brand, they might have more success on Instagram or TikTok. If your client sells accounting software to other businesses, they might have better luck on LinkedIn.
If your client already has an established social media presence and is looking to reach a new audience, refer to your audit to see which platforms they aren’t on yet. Cross-reference this with the data from your audience discovery and industry reports to see where else their audience might be active. These are prime opportunities for the client to break new ground and expand their social reach.
Set SMART goals and create social media KPIs
Any goal you set for your client should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Each goal you set for them should also have a corresponding KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, that measures whether or not the goal was met. Here are some examples:
- Smart Goal: Increase brand awareness by 25% month over month
- KPIs: X impressions, X reach, X% audience growth per month
- Smart Goal: Increase web traffic by 50% month over month
- KPIs: X clicks, X website visits per month
- Smart Goal: Generate four new sales leads this month
- KPIs: X clicks, X website visits per month
Your goals should showcase the value of social media. Each social media goal should connect back to the client’s business goals that you laid out in the beginning. Ultimately, the client is investing in social media to help grow their business, and each goal should align with that.
Goal setting also helps you prove and improve the value of your social media work. If you can show the client that you’re hitting the targets you set for them, it’s likely they’ll see your value and continue working with you.
Define the brand’s content pillars and guidelines
Quick recap: Content pillars are the 3 to 5 key areas that your client’s content will tie to. These should be overarching, general themes rather than hyper-specific categories to start.
Content pillars allow your client to gain clarity on their niche. Being an expert in a few specific things will help their audience grow faster and build credibility. It also makes planning out your client’s content much easier.
Your client’s content pillars should be specific to their brand but can encompass multiple themes. For example, a fitness clothing brand’s pillars could be body positivity, workouts, community, and sustainability. Each piece of content they produce should tie back to one of these pillars.
To define your client’s content pillars, refer to your research around audience discovery. Think about the use cases customers might have for the client’s product or service. For example, if the client is a hiking shoe brand, users may want to know what materials make a great hiking shoe. Come up with 3-5 use cases or problems that the client’s content will provide a solution to. These will serve as their content pillars.
If your client is already active on social media, look at their analytics to see which types of content are performing best. These insights allow you to tailor the client’s content pillars to match their audience’s preferences.
In addition to creating specific content pillars for your client’s brand, you should also create some guidelines or standards around the content they are producing. For example, photos and videos should be high quality and image sizes for each platform should be specified. Even with platforms like Instagram Stories or TikTok that work well for homemade, spontaneous content, you still want to ensure that there is a standard of quality for everything your client posts.
Create a posting schedule
A social media posting schedule can help the client ensure they’re reaching their audience at the right time.
Here are some guidelines on the best times to post:
- The best times to post on Facebook are Wednesdays at 12pm and 2pm, and on Thursdays at 1pm and 2pm
- The best time to post on Twitter is between 9am and 10am on a Friday
- The best times to post on Instagram are Wednesdays at 3pm, Thursdays at 5am and 11am and between 3-4pm, and Fridays at 5am
- The best time to post on LinkedIn is between 3-5pm on a Wednesday
Along with optimal posting times, it’s also important to look at posting frequency. Here are some general recommendations by platform:
- Facebook – at least 3 times per week
- Twitter – 3 to 30 times a day (it sounds like a lot, but Tweets have a short lifespan, meaning it’s important to spread out your tweets throughout the day)
- TikTok – 3 times per day
- Pinterest – 3 to 30 pins per day
- Instagram – 1 to 3 times per day
- LinkedIn – at least 2 times per week
- YouTube – 1 time per week
With social media, consistency is key. Posting consistently is the best way to build your client’s following and establish authority within their niche. It also comes down to trust: people don’t want to purchase from a business they can’t reach or depend on.
For instance, if you aren’t able to pin 30 times per day, scale it back to a number that’s realistic to maintain. It can help to automate posts using a scheduling tool so that you can make sure your client is posting enough content and that posts are going out at optimal times of day.
In addition to posting content, decide how much time per week you will spend engaging through the client’s account. Social media is all about social interactions. Businesses that focus on building their engagement create better reach and greater brand awareness, which makes it easier to attract new customers. A llocate about an hour a day to spend on social engagement. This includes liking and commenting on other accounts or relevant influencers’ content and following new accounts to build the client’s following.
Map out workflows and approval processes
Now that you’ve determined what kinds of content you’ll be posting for your client, how often, and when you’ll be posting, the next step is to identify how the client will publish their content. Who will draft it and schedule it? Who needs to be involved in the approval process?
To avoid long periods of delay or rounds of client edits, the easiest way is to present the client with a pre-made content calendar or an Excel sheet that outlines the content at least a month in advance.
Check out this social media content calendar template from HubSpot for ideas.
It’s also important to set due dates with your clients. These could include things like:
- When the client’s photo or video content for the month are due
- When the creation of your grid layout (on Instagram) or caption copywriting is due
- When the first round of revisions or client feedback is due
- When your revised posts are due
- When final versions of the posts will be scheduled
- When reporting and feedback will happen
Laying out these foundations ahead of time will pay off in the long run and result in a better organized system for both you and the client.
Create a plan for customer service and crisis management
Social media is more than just creating beautiful content. It’s one of the main ways that businesses can offer their customers support in the digital age. The brands that stand out the most are the ones that offer an unparalleled customer experience. To do this, your client needs to have an effective plan in place for managing customer inquiries online.
When inquiries or complaints come in via the client’s social media inboxes, you need to have clear guidelines about who the point of contact is within the organization to answer them. It also helps to set a standard of how quickly the customer should receive a response.
If your client receives a high volume of customer inquiries, it can help to automate responses on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to acknowledge their message and assure the customer that someone from the team will be with them shortly. This assures customers that they can reach you when they need to, making it more likely that they will purchase from you again in the future.
When disaster strikes, you need to be prepared. As the global COVID-19 pandemic taught us, crises can emerge at any time and are beyond your control. It’s becoming ever more important to have a crisis response plan in place for social media, should you need it.
This crisis communication plan can outline common concerns or issues that might arise and help you identify the correct person on the team to contact if things are getting out of control. This allows you to act quickly before the issue escalates.
Here are some good rules of thumb to add to your crisis strategy:
- Report the incident to the client or the appropriate team member as soon as possible
- Pause all scheduled posts to avoid any awkward moments
- Engage with the complainant, but don’t argue or become defensive
- Learn from the experience and show your followers how you plan to move forward
How to get the client on board with your social media strategy
Now that you’ve created a killer client social media strategy, there’s one obstacle left to face: getting the client on board. If you have done a thorough job and used research and data to back up your strategy, this shouldn’t be overly difficult. Here are some quick tips to get the client excited about your strategy and win their approval:
- Invite your client to jump in on exciting trends and content opportunities as they arise
- Create a shared asset library of client-approved content
- Create a sample content calendar to show your strategy in action
- Set up a system to showcase value with scheduled reports
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