Social media is an exciting world of user generated content, real time feedback and viral opportunities. On the flip side, it’s also a platform for customer complaints and sometimes that can become one of the biggest advantages and one of the biggest disadvantages for small business.

So, how to refine your social media strategy to ensure that you can provide timely content, the right responses to real time feedback as well as tangible insights for your team?

Although the nature of social media marketing is reactive and ever changing, the key to the best social media optimization is planning. Every business should have a clear social strategy before even attempting to run a social media page such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. So where do you start?

5 Steps of Social Media Strategy

Here you go:

Social Media Strategy

1. Know your Audience

Before you can choose your social platforms, it’s important you know who you are reaching out to. Think about who you want to target and map out these key customers based on demographic data that you can gather from other areas of marketing (eg: your email marketing or any market research you have conducted online).

2. Choose Social Media Platforms

After understanding who you want to target in the social world, it’s time to look at the different platforms out there. Find information on what time people log on, the age ranges of people who use certain platforms and what each platform is used for.

For instance, if you want to target trade customers and B2B partners, LinkedIn is a great professional networking site, or if you want to increase both traffic and conversion, Pinterest is a fantastic product focused social pinning site for the white, educated and female majority.

3. Plan your Content

Every social strategy needs a leader who can help to create the content plan and align this with all the messages of the business. If you operate online and offline, don’t forget that online retail can often be a couple of weeks ahead of stores so ensure that the social media content plan is up to date. Content also needs to be useful / helpful / inspiring so always try to offer something different or something new.

4. Customer Service Guidelines

It’s inevitable that customer service issues will crop up on your social pages. If left unmanaged, this can very easily snowball into a viral complaint. This is why it’s very important to have a customer services plan in place. Think about your resource and allocate time and people accordingly; how many time should staff members log in per day? What is the target turnover time for social media replies? What is the tone of voice customer service advisors should take?

5. Use Social Media Analysis Tools

Social media is not only great for sharing information and promoting your latest products, but it can provide you with great insight. Using online app creators can help you review the number of people who viewed a promotion against the number of people who participated. Or you can use Facebook analytics to view your weekly fan growth and interaction.

There are also a number of free online tools which can help you analyze performance on websites such as Twitter or Facebook – most of these are free to download and can help you get under the skin of social media behavior in your target market.