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13 Tips for Building a Social Media Strategy that Actually Works in 2017 – Experts' Voice

13 Tips for Building a Social Media Strategy that Actually Works in 2017 – Experts' Voice

91% of marketers want to know the most effective social media tactics and the best ways to engage their audience with social media - according to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Report by Social Media Examiner.

It's a topic we first broached earlier this year when we analysed the Twitter marketing strategies of 20 global brands, but we wanted to revisit it from a different perspective to help you make sure that the second half of 2017 outperforms the first.

How to Create a Social Media Strategy that Works in 2017

So what do forward thinking brands and agencies need to do to make sure that promises made in January are delivered upon when it comes to presenting results in December?

To try and work out what’s working and what’s not, I talked to some of the smartest people working in social media and got them to reveal some of their insider tips for developing successful social media strategies.

They fell broadly into four categories - and if you click each category you can skip to the tips : )

But before we get into our tips, just a quick initial word of warning from one of our experts Ellie Hernaman, CEO of Truffle Social:

"Every strategy is different as no two brands are ever quite the same so we need to take into account the brand objectives, key messages and audiences."

So, with that said, let’s jump right in!

Social Media Strategy Tip #1 - Making the Most of Visual Content

The first tip is all about visuals and here’s why.

From powerful images to real-time video, social is becoming more visual than ever. Here are the secrets for getting it right from Warren Knight (Think Digital First CEO), Ian Anderson Gray (Founder of Seriously Social). Lucy Hall (Co-Founder of Social Day) AND Ellie Hernaman (Truffle Social CEO).

Warren Knight social media strategy tips

"This year has been the year of visual marketing for me, and I have spent more time, money and effort creating a variation of visuals and videos as well as live streams. The best tip I can give someone who wants to use visual marketing as a way to build a successful business online is to vary the content you are sharing, give YOUR audience what THEY want, and to always stay brand consistent."

"According to CISCO, 81% of all consumer traffic will be video by the year 2021. There's no question at the moment, there is a huge buzz in the marketing world around live video. It's a powerful format that enables brands to reach their audience with more authentic, engaging and interactive content.

It's tempting to see live content as becoming obsolete as soon as the broadcast has ended. But savvy live broadcasters are looking at making their live videos work harder in the longer term. That can mean repurposing live broadcasts into other formats such as podcasts, YouTube videos and blog posts. It can also mean focusing on making live videos evergreen. For example, adding closed captions, show notes, building communities around the comments and boosting engagement long term."

Lucy creating a social media strategy

"Using great visual content is a really important part of your social media content strategy. Text and links get little attention and engagement compared to vibrant images and animated gifs. It's also never been easier to create amazing graphics that help give social media users a better idea of what your product or service is all about.

Using image creation tools like Canva is an easy way to batch generate branded images for social media very quickly and apps like over do the same using only your mobile phone. Gifs are attention grabbing and you are now able to use them on Facebook comments, a good strategy for increasing engagement is to create branded gifs on a platform like gify and use them for replies across social media - andrew and pete have done this very succesfully.

As with all social media content the most important consideration is: does this content help my customers? Does it add value? Is it entertaining? If you answered yes to any of these then the content is worth posting. You'll soon get an idea of what your audience or community love by the engagement you get - rinse and repeat ;-)"

Ellie developing a social media strategy

"Videos are a major focus for us at Truffle as we move into the second half of 2017 and we already have big plans in store for 2018 when we will be developing our content creation department further. With the rise of Instagram and more and more people consuming information on the go, and because of Instagram’s auto play feature for videos that has an embedded facility where people can click on the video to play sound, subconsciously, consumers are less stressed than they were when the video feature was first brought out.

We predict that video is only going to keep on growing. Engagement for video is getting stronger and stronger across all platforms and it means that brands have the opportunity to paint a bigger picture for their brands. If a picture paints a thousand words, video paints even more! I predict that the brands who get on board with this sooner are going to have a head start in grabbing market share - so it’s time for them to start thinking about how to make video a key part of any brand’s content strategy."

Read More: How to take advantage of the power of visual content using visual listening

Social Media Strategy Tips #2 Measure, Measure, Measure

Ultimately, to really understand whether your social media efforts are having an impact you need to measure effectively. As Pete Drucker, the founding father of modern management says, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it". It’s a topic we cover extensively in our social measurement report and it’s something that our experts have also highlighted as a key focus for social marketers as we enter the second half of 2017.

Here's Andre van Loon (Research and Insight Director at We Are Social), Callum McCahon (Strategy Director at Born Social) and Manolis Labovas (Senior Digitial Supervisor Global at Coffee Island) with the tips.

Andre Social media strategies

"Establishing the effectiveness of social media marketing should not be as complex as it's often made out to be. What our industry can suffer from, however, is a lack of concentration on the measurement that matters: knowing how we changed consumer perceptions, attitudes and behaviour. We've all heard about the recent faulty metrics reporting by Facebook: "If that's wrong', the cry goes, "who knows what else is?" And yet, this story revolves around the most basic awareness metrics: impressions, views, view-through rates and the like.Of course these matter, but whether consumers engaged with, liked or were persuaded by social media content should be much more important to an evaluation of what worked.

Fortunately, measuring effectiveness isn't a supernatural skill, but a human, attainable one. Using mixed methodologies - not just social listening, but consumer surveys, focus groups, ethnography, desk research and good old-fashioned data analysis - can allow us to view singular social media campaigns in a larger context. And, at best, make the connection between creativity and sales or market share."

"I'm really excited about the burgeoning relationship between social media and business impact. Our ability to prove the return on investment of social is growing day-by-day. The platforms themselves are investing heavily in new measurement tools that help businesses to tie up their social marketing efforts with their business impact.

In particular, features such as offline conversion attribution from Facebook and Snapchat mean that the ability to measure ROI isn’t just restricted to e-commerce businesses. This is going to force businesses into measuring their social efforts in a more rigorous manner - assessing the extent to which their social strategy is solving a real business problem. You won’t be able to get away with justifying your social media strategy based on the amount of likes you’re getting any longer - and that’s only a good thing."

Manolis Strategic social media plan

"A key focus for us is to make sure what we really understand what our audience wants and provide them with social content at the right time, on the right channel, in the right context. To do that well, I think careful analysis and measurement of social media data is becoming increasingly more important."

Read More: The Case Against Useless KPIs - A 7 Level Method for Better Measurement

Social Media Strategy Tip #3 It’s time to get personal

Personalisation is turning into one of the key buzzwords of 2017 for social media marketing. With more and more technology available, there’s a sense that aspects of social can be automated to save time and resources. But, as our experts explain, what makes social media, well social, is the fact that you can actually reach out on a personal level. It’s what makes social media different to other forms of marketing.

Here's Victoria Taylor (Founder of Blend Social), Daniel Knowlton (Co-Founder of KPS Digital Marketing), Samantha Kelly (Founder of Social Media Summit Ireland) and Julia Bramble (Social Media Strategist) with advice.

Victoria strategy for social media

"I believe that personalisation will always win when it comes to developing meaningful business relationships. Particularly private personalisation as opposed to public personalisation. I personally have experienced less public sharing and more private sharing of information and I 100% believe that this correlates to making business decisions.

The past 12 months have seen me communicate on a one-to-one private basis more than ever before, this has increased business and the quality of relationships that I have with people and clients. Messaging Apps, for example WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat Messaging to name a few, have been a huge part of my own business growth and I foresee that this will increase further over the next 12 months.

This requires us to invest more time one a one to one basis, to be more thoughtful and go deeper, to really understand and develop relationships on a much more meaningful level than previously. I believe that business will take place between people who take the time to personalise their communication in a private environment."

Daniel what is a social media strategy

"Use social media to build your personal brand. People buy from people, which is why a strong personal brand can help you build a successful business. Nowadays, having a personal brand isn’t a choice. Whether you like it or not, whether you invest time in it or not, you have some kind of personal brand. You do have a choice about how you build your personal brand. Social media is one of the most effective platforms you can use to build your personal brand in 2017.

We’ve put together a list of 21 tactics to build a killer personal brand, below are some of our favourites;

  • Create native Facebook & Twitter videos of your sharing tips, strong opinions, industry news etc.
  • Share videos of you speaking at events on YouTube
  • Get noticed by Influencers on Twitter
  • Collaborate and create videos with influential organisations/ people on social media"

Sam social network strategy

"Nothing beats being actually present when someone engages with you. My followers know that when I tweet I am actually online. I'm not a huge fan of automation as it makes me feel like the person isn't actually there. Also Auto dms are a big no no on Twitter. If I get an auto dm saying 'great to connect, pls like my Facebook page' I will unfollow straight away. I know that being present is extremely important if you want to get that sale.

I used to run a hotel Twitter account and someone used the county's hashtag asking for a nice hotel in the area. We got the booking as I was there to see it and my hotel was the first one to respond. Another hotel responded 6 hours later. On Twitter, we expect a response within half an hour. You can automate certain things e.g. a blog post but it's important that when you schedule it, you are there to respond straight away to queries. Nothing more frustrating than asking a question and the account taking a day to respond.

Put time aside to be present and check your notifications. Within 5 hours is acceptable but within a few minutes is even better! Make sure your followers know you are present and you will see your followers soar!"

Julia strategies of social media

"One simple way to boost your social media strategy is to focus on the content you're sharing. Too many businesses seem to worry more about how often they post/ tweet than they do about what they're actually tweeting/ posting. We're drowning in content that, for the most part, isn't valued by the intended audience! Share content that is designed to attract your audience and encourages them to connect; share your stories and what you stand for to help build relationships and add in opportunities for your audience to take the next steps with you. Asking yourself 'what's in it for them?' and 'how does this make us stand out?" often will help steer you in the right direction."

Social Media Strategy Tips #4 Keep up with Innovation and Start Testing Now

As with most digital and online platforms, innovation is constantly changing the face of social media. From constant tweaks by the major networks, to the thousands of start-ups working on new ways to improve and enhance the social media experience, keeping up with the latest technology is critical for every social media marketer. What works today could easily be out of date in a month.

Here's Neville Hobson (Top 25 UK Marketing/Advertising Influencer) and Martin Shervington (Founder of Plus Your Business) to explain.

Neville building a social media strategy

"Artificial intelligence is a huge topic, one that’s gathering further momentum in 2017 to grab our attention and showcase both opportunity and risk with news and opinion often focused on a dystopian future that has plans to eliminate or automate jobs currently done by human beings and replace them with robots.

To help us see where AI fits into our workplace and our vision, we must venture beyond the obvious and see that ‘AI’ is far better described as ‘Augmented Intelligence’ where data and analytics - actual and predictive - are central to the effectiveness of every business function.

Think of AI as providing you with knowledge and insights that enable you to work more effectively or efficiently:

  • to focus on achieving an outcome and not the task list
  • to leave the mundane to a tech tool that excels at the mundane at huge scale
  • to amplify your cognitive prowess by leveraging (augmenting) the intelligence you have with the help of machines, algorithms and computer processing power
  • to concentrate on tasks that are perfectly suited to people: things like extracting valuable, actionable, insights from the analysis of myriad, increasing, amounts of unstructured data.

As communicators and marketers, we must fully understand the evolving landscape and show our leaders, colleagues and customers how to re-think what we do and use AI to leverage our differentiated positions. There’s not a moment to waste."

Martin social media strategy plan

"As content creators we all sense VR/AR/MR is a field about to explode. And having recently got married (for real) in virtual reality, it may come as no surprise I see it as a winning way to have fun and build a brand in this new space. Myself and my wife - Elisa - received a huge amount of coverage, including TV and features on Time.com. With a little creativity, I'd say people can replicate the model and use Social VR to tell their stories in a new way."

Read More: Chatbots, Virtual Reality and Predictive Analytics - The Death and Rebirth of Retail

So those are the tops tips from our social media experts but what do you think? Do you agree, are there other tips that you think we've missed? If there are, let us know in the comments below.