16 Simple Steps for Social Success — Part 1

16 Simple Steps for Social Success - Part 1

It’s easy to look at big brands on social media and think

“This isn’t so hard”

but while they make it look quite effortless, it isn’t without stress, trial and error. Even without the luxury of a large marketing department, smaller businesses can emulate the success of big brands by following the 16 steps laid out in this two-part series.

Define Your Goals

Like all other aspects of your business, your presence on social media networks needs to be linked to specific goals. Goals are often defined broadly, but linked to measurable marketing objectives (see below), and they form the basis on which you establish your strategy, objectives and the tactics you intend using. In terms of social success, you need to describe what you want to achieve through your marketing efforts on each social media network you have a presence on. Examples include:

  • Brand related — raising awareness of your brand, or reaching new demographics.
  • Customer service related — if you are using social media as a customer service platform, your goals would relate to response rates, engagement and even support tickets.
  • Lead generation — increasing web traffic, and the ROI on specific campaigns intended to drive conversion.

Netflix has a two-pronged approach to social media, one is to promote the brand — and obviously attract new customers — while the other is focused on customer service. They keep the two separate by having two Twitter accounts: one purely for entertaining, marketing related posts, and the other to deal with customer queries, and to post about service issues.

Outline Your Content Strategy

As with your company website, your efforts on social media should be controlled by a clearly outlined content strategy. As a minimum, your social content strategy should consist of the following:
A list of all the social media channels your company uses, and who is in charge of each.
The primary and secondary goals of your social presence, along with the KPIs you will be measuring.
Mini profiles of who your target audience is, and what you want/need from them, broken down per social media network. Your audience is likely to be different on each channel, but we’ll explain that later.
Important dates for the full year ahead. These would include holidays, special occasions and any promotions and product launches you already have planned.

Later on you will link this to a detailed content calendar.

Set Marketing Objectives

Your goals might be defined in broad terms, but your marketing objectives will be more precise, since they are the specific — and measurable — steps you will be taking to achieve your goals. Your goals might state that your presence on social media is intended to generate more leads, and increase sales, but your marketing objectives will add numbers to those goals, specifying how many leads you hope to generate via social media, and what increase in sales you hope to achieve through your social strategy. Your marketing objectives will also describe the tools and analytics you will use to measure your success. As mentioned previously, it is important that each of your objectives is linked to specific goals, and that timeframes are also attached to each objective — your goals are long-term, but your objectives are short and medium-term stepping stones towards achieving your goals.

Know Your Audience

Buyer personas are an important component of any business, helping you ensure you are targeting the right people, in the right places, at the right times, and with the right message. And the more detailed and accurate your personas are, the easier it is to reach both existing, and new customers. This is especially true when it comes to social media, since your audience on each network is likely to be very different, with some skewing to older generations, and others to much younger generations.

Be on the Same Channels as Your Audience

It is not necessary to have an active presence on every single social network, only those that appeal to your current (and target) audience, and where they themselves are most active. Remember: the right people, in the right places; everything else is just wasted time.

Discovering what networks your audience is most active on can be a little tricky for smaller businesses, but actually asking your customers can help, along with studying what your competitors are doing on social media (see below).

Separate Strategies for Separate Channels

Leading on from the previous point, you will probably also find that audiences on different social networks respond to different types of content, so it is vital that you analyse the performance of each post on all the networks you are active on to establish what content generates the best results. This will help you to refine your strategy, leading to better results on your objectives.

Wendy’s feed on Instagram is completely different to what you will find on their Facebook Page — no memes, just high impact visuals and videos.

But Use the Same Language as Your Audience

Like the rest of your content marketing strategy, your social media strategy is an opportunity to present a more human aspect of your brand to customers. Avoid using industry buzzwords and formal language in your social media copy, using a relaxed, almost conversational tone instead — especially when responding to customers on social media. But if you’re going to occasionally incorporate trending topics and hashtags in your social content, make sure you fully understand the context, and that it relates to your brand in some way, otherwise you risk embarrassing yourself, and alienating your customers.

Like Wendy’s, Denny’s content differs across the various social networks, with the content shared on Instagram being kookier than what is shared on Facebook. It is obviously targeting a younger audience on Instagram, and the number of likes and comments show that this strategy definitely works for them.

Know Your Competition

Knowing your competition on social media is not that different from knowing your competition in the business world. Identify 3–5 of your primary competitors, and analyse their activity on social media:
which networks are they using
what type of content are they posting
how many followers do they have
how frequently do they post content, and at what times
what are their engagement rates: how many likes, shares and comments does each post attract

Knowing this can help you shape your own content strategy, allowing you to incorporate some of their more successful techniques, and even target some of their audience.

Share Quality Content

In this context, quality is not simply about how polished your content is, it is about the value it adds to the lives of your customers: how it helps them. The greater the value to them, the more likely they are to engage with your content, and pay attention to your future posts. Quality content not only helps build trust, it can also help you grow your audience.

Wendy’s makes excellent use of their social media presence, and recently they started doing live streams on Facebook, giving their audience an opportunity to ask questions about Wendy’s, and anything else on their mind.


The path to social success begins with knowing what you want to achieve, and outlining the processes you are going to follow. And part of this is awareness of your audience, and your competition.

Social media is just one of many digital marketing tactics that can help to lift your small business to new heights. Learn more with this handy guide.

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