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How-To Guides

Social Media Strategy: Template With 8 Actionable Steps

Sabina Varga
Sabina Varga
Table of Contents

Social media marketing has revolutionized how brands connect with their audience. Gone are the days of shouting into the void, hoping your clients hear you.

Today, social media platforms create a vibrant online space where you can connect with millions worldwide.

Audiences expect you to be there and act your best, while you must recognize the social media reach and social media engagement that you can get.

A successful social media strategy can do wonders for creating a strong, loved brand, so let's dive into everything you need to know to create a winning approach for a powerful online presence.

Bonus! Get this FREE social media strategy template designed in Canva (because Canva ๐Ÿค Social Media Professionals) to plan your marketing activities and measure results.

Track KPIs and present your plan like a pro to clients or managers.

How to create a social media strategy

What is a social media strategy?
Why brands need a social media strategy
8 steps to create a an effective social media strategy
Social media strategy template
FAQs about social media strategy

What is a social media strategy?

A social media strategy is a detailed blueprint outlining a brand's approach to using social platforms to achieve marketing objectives such as brand awareness, lead generation, or sales.

It involves identifying target audiences, determining the most suitable social channels, creating a social media plan with different themes and formats, and publishing consistently.

Get strategic insights with Socialinsider

Social media audits. Competitor analysis. Historical posts data. Track and measure social media performance.

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Why brands need a social media strategy

Simply put, nowadays, businesses cannot afford not to have a social media strategy plan.

Marketing on social media allows you to directly address your audience, sparking engagement and fostering connections in a way that wasn't possible in the past.

You can authentically share your brand story and get real-time feedback from your prospects and customers. Their responses, opinions, and questions provide invaluable insights that can help you refine your products and brand message and create more efficient marketing campaigns.

Social channels are great places to build and nurture communities around brands, improving brand loyalty and boosting word-of-mouth marketing.

Not least, social media channels such as Instagram or TikTok are increasingly being used as an alternative to search engines, so optimizing your social media pages and posts can result in a better reach and more potential clients.

To get all the benefits of successful social media planning, you must create a well-defined strategy that will enable you to achieve the following:

  • Focus and relevance. A social media content strategy ensures that you consistently focus on the most relevant channels and types of content for your audience.

  • Better budget and resource allocation. The world of social media is abundant with opportunities, but a lack of strategy can result in scattered efforts. A social strategy helps you plan months ahead, organize activities to ensure proper executions, and decide where the money is best spent.

  • Enhanced brand identity. A social media marketing strategy helps build a recognizable brand voice that resonates with your target audience and helps you stand out.

  • Measurable results. With a strategy in place, you can track and analyze key metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your social media efforts, enabling data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement.

  • Better customer experience. Feedback and audience insights allow you to personalize your communication, improving customer service and satisfaction. After all, 76% of consumers appreciate when businesses prioritize customer support on social media.

8 steps to create a an effective social media strategy

1. Set SMART social media goals and track them
2. Research your social media audience
3. Analyze competitors
4. Perform a social media audit
5. Choose the most relevant social media channels
6. Social media content strategy
7. Use strategic social media paid campaigns to boost reach and conversions
8. Test, evaluate, and optimize your social media strategy

Creating a strategy for social media marketing from scratch is challenging. It will test your creativity and marketing knowledge, but the result is worth it.

The good news? You don't need to be a marketing guru to know how to develop a social media strategy.

Follow these strategic social media marketing tips below and apply them to your audience and needs.

You will soon be the proud owner of a winning marketing strategy for social media that fuels your brand's success.

#1. Set SMART social media goals and track them

Before posting all your great creative ideas, the best social media practices for 2024 are setting up your social media goals and defining the right metrics to track.

Social media goals should align with your business objectives, support your overall marketing strategy, and ultimately help you sell more products and services.

To be effective, they should also be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound.
Social media goals alligned with business objectives
Social media goals alligned with business objectives

Here are a few examples of SMART goals for social media strategies:

  • Build brand awareness by achieving a 10% increase in the first quarter of 2024.

  • Increase customer satisfaction by responding to all inquiries on social media within 24 hours.

  • Generate 20 qualified leads per month through social media campaigns.

  • Boost online sales by 15% through social media promotions by the end of the second quarter of 2024.

  • Improve engagement on social media posts by 20% within four weeks.

  • Increase the number of positive social media mentions of the brand by 10% in the next two months to improve brand sentiment.

  • Implement a social media analytics tool to track key metrics and efficiently measure success by the end of the month.

Setting SMART goals will ensure that you are moving in the right direction and that everyone can access the same roadmap.

social media goals examples
Social media goals template 

While defining several goals when starting is tempting, remember that too many objectives can create more confusion than clarity.

Identify your primary objective and build your plan around achieving it.

Break down your main goal into smaller, measurable milestones to track progress and optimize when necessary.

If your resources allow it, define one or two secondary objectives and plan for their execution.

When you're just starting with social media planning, focus on doing one thing right and gradually adding to the complexity of the strategy.

For example, your primary objective can be to build brand awareness, so you will have to find the social channels preferred by your audience to grow a following.

And that takes us to the next step: knowing your target audience.

#2. Research your social media audience

Imagine organizing a birthday party, but instead of gathering family and friends, you pass around invitations to everyone you can find. You might get a lively crowd, but would it be enjoyable? Probably not.

The same goes for social media marketing for business. Without knowing your target audience, your content might be great, but it won't resonate with the right people.

Defining your target audience is crucial in creating a social media strategy because it will help you focus and attract people who care about your business.

Here's what to research:

  • Job title: What sort of job titles does this persona have?
  • Demographics: Age, gender, location, income, and education level.
  • Interests: Hobbies, passions, preferred brands and products.
  • Social media habits: Preferred platforms, topics they engage with, and frequency of use.
  • Online communities: Forums and groups relevant to your audience.
  • Brand affinities: Which brands do they already interact with or admire on social media?
  • Budget for your product/service: What do you know about how much they are willing or able to spend in your category?
  • Goals/aspirations: What do they aim for in life, and how does your brand support them?
  • Pain points: Problems they face and challenges they need help addressing.
  • How we help: How does your product/service solve their challenge?

With this information, you can create a list of themes and topics, choose the right platforms and content formats, identify relevant conversations to join, decide on a posting schedule, and refine your tone of voice.

social media audience data for strategy
Social media audience template

If you're not familiar with audience research, here are the sources that will help you fill in the blanks:

  • Existing customer insights can come from your own surveys or data available on social media analytics platforms. Socialinsider helps brands better understand their audience by offering comprehensive reports of followersโ€™ profiles, as in the example below.
  • Competitor analysis into who similar brands target on social media and who their followers are.

  • Social listening to better understand online behavior and identify topics of conversation among your clients.

  • Industry reports and research studies that offer insights into your target audience's behavior and online habits.

  • Brand audits to access quantitative and qualitative data on how your audience perceives your brand.

  • Cross-channel analysis to understand which channels your audience is most active on and where you can find different demographics.
Conduct a cross-channel analysis with Socialinsider
Conduct a cross-channel analysis with Socialinsider

Combining these methods allows you to create a detailed profile of your ideal social media audience.

Remember that your target audience can evolve, so regular research and monitoring are essential to keep your social strategy current.

#3. Analyze competitors

In her book The Extended Mind, Annie Murphy Paul explains that although we live in times where originality is praised, imitation is the winning strategy.

By looking at how your competitors have achieved success and adapted their digital marketing strategy, you can learn and make your life much easier.

That's why competitor analysis is so valuable. It's not about copying what others do but seeing what works and what doesnโ€™t and applying only the relevant insights to your strategy.

Social media competitor analysis template
Social media competitor analysis template

Social media competitor analysis is useful for audience research, as mentioned above, but much more than that:

  • Get insights into content topics that do well with your target audience.

  • Observe what social media channels your competitors prefer.

  • Gather the most relevant hashtags to help your content perform organically.

  • Make a list of relevant influencers for your industry.

  • Identify content gaps in competitors' strategy and use them as opportunities to stand out.

  • Conduct a SWOT analysis to highlight an overview of your competitorsโ€™ social media plan.

This data is invaluable for social media managers looking to create an impactful strategy. Instead of starting from scratch, you get to see a social media plan example in action.

Get ideas, insights, and practical data to inform your decisions.

SWOT analysis template
SWOT analysis template

#4. Perform a social media audit

If youโ€™re already present on social media, itโ€™s crucial to take a good look at your pages, analyze past performance, understand what has been working, and where your resources might be wasted.

A social media audit provides crucial information to build a stronger social media strategy.

Here's how it helps:

  • Understand whatโ€™s working and whatโ€™s not. Identify areas where your social media presence is thriving and areas that need improvement. Analyze metrics like engagement rate, follower growth, reach, and content performance to understand what resonates and what doesn't with your audience.
Here's the Socialinsider dashboard for a cross-channel analysis
Here's the Socialinsider dashboard for a cross-channel analysis
  • Check alignment with marketing goals. An audit helps you evaluate whether your content promotes brand awareness, gets leads, or promotes sales โ€” depending on your goals. If there's a disconnect, your new social media strategy can correct that.

  • Get audience insights. Look into who your current followers are, what content they interact with, and where they might be located. Check whether you're reaching the right buyer persona or if your strategy should course correct.

  • Find growth opportunities. Maybe you need to pay more attention to a platform where your target audience is highly active or a type of content that generates high engagement. A social media audit can uncover these gaps, allowing you to explore new tactics.

  • Create a list of actionable steps. Based on the information gathered in the previous steps, make a list of actions that you can implement to improve your social media presence. Include these in your strategy, track changes, and measure results.
social media audit template

#5. Choose the most relevant social media channels

What is the best social media platform? It depends.

There's no single "best" platform, but the one that best fits your needs. The key is choosing channels where your target audience is already actively engaged and tailoring your content strategy to each platform's strengths.

Before you include a platform in your strategy, understand if it's a good fit for your brand.

social media channels to consider
Social media channels to consider

Here's a quick guide to some popular platforms and their strengths:

  • Facebook: Ideal for brand awareness, building communities, and targeted advertising. While used by all age groups, it's most popular among males aged 25 to 34.
Distribution of Facebook users worldwide as of January 2024
Distribution of Facebook users worldwide as of January 2024
  • Instagram: Excellent for visual content marketing (photos, stories, reels) and influencer marketing. Try Socialinsider's advanced AI Instagram listening and influencer identification to get a competitive edge.

  • X (Twitter): Great for real-time updates, customer service, and thought leadership. While used globally, it's most popular in the North America, East Asia, and Southeast Asia regions.

  • LinkedIn: Perfect for B2B marketing, professional networking, and content marketing.

  • TikTok: Thrives on short-form video content and is particularly popular among younger demographics (Gen Z and Millennials). It aligns with a casual and fun brand voice.
TikTok age demographics statistics
TikTok age demographics statistics

Choose one or more platforms for your social media marketing plan, but don't chase all. Few brands have the resources or the need to create content for all channels.

Where some social media strategies go wrong is publishing the same content everywhere.

To be effective, you must adapt each platform's content type and format.

So, focus on communicating with impact on one platform at a time.

Check out these 2024 Social Media Benchmarks to optimize your presence across channels.

#6. Social media content strategy

Content is not king, but the president elected by popular vote of your social media presence.

Creating relevant, useful, and engaging social media content is a must if you want to achieve any of the SMART objectives you formulated at the beginning of the process.

So, letโ€™s look at how to put together a successful social media content strategy.

Conduct a content pillars analysis

Content pillars are the main themes that guide your social media content creation. Formulate pillars taking into account three important ingredients:

#1. Brand objectives. Your social media content should support your business goals, so it's important to create posts that align with your overall brand direction and messaging.

#2. Audience needs and interests. Research topics that are relevant and important to your target audience because they are the most likely to get their attention and generate engagement.

#3. Competitor analysis. Examine competitors' social media presences to identify their content pillars and observe performance. Fill in gaps in your own plan or refine your strategy based on whatโ€™s producing the best results.

At the intersection of these three factors, you will find your ideal content pillars to include in your social media content strategy.

Social media content pillars

Create a social media content calendar

Now comes the creative part! Brainstorm content ideas that resonate with your audience and support your content pillars.

A few content goals to consider:

  • Informative: industry insights, educational tips, tutorials, and answers to frequently asked questions.

  • Engaging: questions, contests, user-generated content (UGC), and live Q&A sessions.

  • Entertaining: memes, employee stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

  • Promotional: new product highlights, customer testimonials, offers, and exclusive discounts.

With your content pillars and themes in mind, create a social media content calendar that maps out the type of posts, platforms, publishing frequency, hashtags to use, resources needed, etc.

Below is a social media plan example that you can adapt for your brand.

To keep your audience engaged, include a mix of content formats. These could be images, videos, infographics, blog posts, polls, UGC, etc.

BONUS: To help you gain content inspiration, we've put together a list of effective post options for different platforms or formats, such as Instagram Story ideas and TikTok video ideas.

Create high-quality social media posts

Weโ€™ve spent a lot of time creating the right framework for your content and ensuring that you have all the information to be relevant to the right people.

Itโ€™s time to fill in the content calendar with social media posts that will help your brand shine:

  • Focus on creating valuable content that addresses your target audienceโ€™s pain points, interests, and questions.

  • Have an authentic and recognizable voice by using your brand personality and values.

  • Mix informative posts (such as educational tips, industry insights, and trends) with engaging content (such as questions, polls, or UGC) to keep your audience interested.

  • Use high-quality visuals that complement your content and brand identity.

  • Use clear and concise CTAs that encourage people to interact with your content: Read more, Discover, Share your thoughts.

By understanding your audience and constantly creating content that resonates with their needs while staying true to your brand, youโ€™ll achieve your social media goals.

#7. Use strategic social media paid campaigns to boost reach and conversions

Social media ads can be a powerful tool for accelerating growth and more effectively reaching objectives, so make sure to include them in your strategy.

By strategically boosting posts, you can significantly increase your visibility to a broader audience within your ideal demographics.

You can also create targeted campaigns customized for your specific goals, such as driving website traffic, sparking interest in new products, and capturing leads.

Social media is also great for generating more sales. 76% of users have bought something they saw on social media, according to Forbes.

While highly effective, social media ads can quickly eat at your budget, so be sure to invest wisely:

  • Target the right audience.
  • Use high-quality images or videos.
  • Write a clear and catchy headline.
  • Write benefit-driven copy.
  • Include a strong CTA.
  • A/B test different variations
  • Analyze results and improve campaigns.

#8. Test, evaluate, and optimize your social media strategy

Leverage social media analytics tools to gain insights into how effective social media marketing efforts are.

Measure and track your social media performance

Track key metrics like reach, engagement, click-through rates, and follower growth. These metrics clearly show what's working and what areas need adjustment.

Gain access to comprehensive social media analytics
Gain access to comprehensive social media analytics

Don't wait for the year's end to discover that you didn't reach your goals or spread resources too thin.

Monitor KPIs monthly to see trends in performance, identify possible problems, and be proactive about solving them.

For example, a dip in engagement compared to previous months can point to a technical glitch, an issue with the content, or the targeting. A growth in followers and brand sentiment can signal that you're on the right track.

The important thing is not to do guesswork but to let numbers and facts guide your strategic decisions.

Optimize your social media strategy

You've done a great job creating a powerful social media strategy. But you're not done yet.

Besides seeing the strategy through, you must regularly tweak and adjust it to optimize your social media game.

But don't worry. When you go through the steps we described, you build a strong foundation on which you can keep building

Here is what to do regularly:

  • Keep an eye on social media analytics to understand whatโ€™s working and what is not.

  • Use learnings and insights to create actionable plans for improvement.

  • Regularly brainstorm new content ideas.

  • Refine the posting schedule based on your audience's behavior and platform insights.

  • Adjust targeting based on observations.

  • Experiment with new social media features.

  • Partner with relevant influencers to reach a wider audience and gain more credibility.
Watch this talk with Dorien Morin-Van Dam to learn more about how to create a social media strategy.

Social media strategy template

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information and steps you need to take?

Weโ€™ve got your back with this social media strategy template designed in Canva that will quickly position you as a marketing guru.

Use it as a social media plan example or create a copy and start filling it in with your brandโ€™s information.

You can use it as an internal document to present to your team or to other stakeholders. Enrich it with visually appealing social media reports and insights about your brand, audience, and competitors, which you can generate with Socialinsider.

Hereโ€™s what you will find in this free social media strategy template:

  • SMART social media goals
  • Detailed social media audience profile
  • Blueprint for a social media competitor analysis
  • Steps for a social media audit
  • Social media channels breakdown
  • Social media content plan layout
  • Outline for your social media strategy evaluation
We know you love Canva, so get your copy there now and rock your social media marketing strategy.

Start editing this template and fill the blanks with your numbers.
Get your free social media strategy template!

FAQs about social media strategy

Do I need a social media marketing strategy?

Definitely. A social media strategy outlines your goals, target audience, and tactics for using social platforms effectively. It helps build a solid online presence, better engage with your audience, and improve social media ROI.

What should be included in a social strategy?

A comprehensive social media marketing strategy includes goals, target audience research, platform selection, content calendar, engagement tactics, KPIs, and an optimization plan.

How can I measure the success of my social media strategy?

Social media analytics tools and the data available on social platforms help you understand performance. Track key metrics like reach, engagement, click-through rates, and follower growth. Analyze this data to see what's working and adapt your strategy for continuous improvement.

Which social media platforms should I be on?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your target audience and brand. Research where your ideal customers spend their time online and choose platforms that align with your content strategy.

How often should I post on social media?

Posting consistency is key, but the frequency can vary depending on the platform. Analyze your audience behavior and platform insights to identify optimal posting times and avoid overwhelming your followers.

Should I consider paid advertising as part of a social media strategy?

Yes, you should consider paid ads as part of your social media strategy. Paid campaigns can amplify your reach to specific demographics and drive measurable results. Analyze the cost-effectiveness, start small, and add budget as you understand what works.

Sabina Varga

Sabina Varga

I'm a freelance writer who helps people write better and businesses be more relevant through content.

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