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Create Effective Social Content
Learn how to create a social media strategy and content plan that fits with your department and follower needs.
Create a Social Media Strategy
Your social media strategy is a summary of how you plan to achieve your goals on social media. It guides your actions and helps you assess what’s working and what isn’t. Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting started.
Step 1: Draft a social media strategy
We’ve created a strategy template to help you plan your social media strategy. The benefits of using this template include:
- Get a framework for building a strategy
- Help get manager buy-in
- Strengthen your case for the resources you need
- Provide a common understanding within your team
- Create a “compass” for guiding your social activities
Step 2: Know your audience
Get to know your fans, followers, and communuity as real people with real wants and needs. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to target and engage them on social media. Some important audience information includes:
- Needs and interests
- Online behaviours
- Connection to SFU
- Typical job title or industry
Step 3: Know your peers
Are your peers or competitors already using social media? If so, you can learn from what they’re doing right—and wrong.
Undertake a competitive analysis to understand the landscape and what they’re doing well (and not so well). You’ll get a good sense of what’s expected, which will help you set social media targets of your own.
Here are some ideas for getting started:
- Identify your competition’s organization's name and account handles on social media
- Search for other relevant keywords on social media
- Research what they’re sharing and how people are engaging with them
- Look for posts that generate a lot of engagement, such as shares, retweets, likes, and replies, and consider why these posts are popular
Here’s a good article by Hootsuite on how to do a competitive analysis.
Step 4: Audit your existing social media accounts
If you’re already using social media, take stock of your efforts so far. Your audit should give you a clear picture of what purpose each of your social accounts serves. Ask yourself:
- What’s working and what’s not?
- Who is engaging with you?
- Which networks does your target audience use?
- How does your social media presence compare to the competition?
Once you collect that information, you’ll be ready to start thinking about ways to improve. If the purpose of an account isn’t clear, or it isn’t performing well, think about whether it’s worth keeping.
To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my audience here?
- If so, how are they using this platform?
- Does my competition use this platform, and are they performing better? If so, what can I learn from that?
- Can I use this account to help achieve my goals?
Step 5: Set up accounts and improve profiles
Select your social networks
A key first step in creating your social media strategy is deciding on the best channels to use to reach your audience. As you decide which social networks to use, you will also need to define your strategy for each.
Set up your profiles
Once you’ve decided which networks to focus on, it’s time to create your profiles for each, or improve any existing ones so they align with your strategy. Here are some thing to focus on:
- Make sure you fill out all profile fields
- Include keywords people would use to search for your account
- Use consistent branding, such as logos and cover images, across networks so your profiles are easily recognizable
Pro tip: Write a mission statement for each network. This is a one-sentence summary of your main goal. If you can’t think of anything to write, that may indicate this platform is not worth using.
Step 6: Find inspiration
While it’s important that your brand be unique, you can still draw inspiration from other higher education institutions and businesses that are doing great work on social.
Here are some articles to help find some accounts to follow and maybe spark some ideas:
Step 7. Create a social media content calendar
When it comes to sharing content through your social media channels, when you share content can be as important as what you share when it comes to engaging with your audience. Create a social media calendar as part of your overall strategy. It maps out your planned social media activities for the year.
Posting frequency guidelines
Some channel analytics can show you when your audience is online. If possible, schedule posts around these times. Monitor your content to see how your audience responds to it. Adjust your content and posting frequency accordingly. Here’s a recommended frequency to start with:
- Facebook: One to two posts/day
- Twitter: Three to ten posts/day
- Instagram: One post/day
- Instagram Stories: No limit
- LinkedIn: One post/day
- TikTok: One to four posts/day
Step 8. Create compelling content
Remember those mission statements you created for each channel in Step 5? As part of your social media strategy, it’s a good idea to create some examples of the type of content you’ll share with your audience to show how you’ll achieve your goals on each network.
The idea here is to:
- Keep your content aligned with the purpose of each network;
- Show other stakeholders (if applicable) what kind of content they can expect to see on each network.
Ideally, you will generate content types that are both suited to the network and the purpose you’ve set out for that network.
Here are some articles to get your creative juices flowing:
- Social Media in Higher Education: 6 Essential Tips
- 29 Creative Social Media Content Ideas You Should Try
- 55 Effective Social Media Post Ideas To Fill Your 2022 Content Calendar
For more tips, read Deciding what content to post.
Step 9: Test and re-evaluate constantly
As you implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected. You can access performance data about your accounts through Hootsuite and platforms’ own social media analytics features.
Constant testing allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t. It enables you to tweak and refine your social media marketing strategy in real time.
- Check the performance of all your channels at least once a week and get to know the basics of social media reporting so you can track your growth over time
- Test different posts, social marketing campaigns, and strategies against one another
Pro tip: If you use Hootsuite, you can review the performance of all your posts on every network in one place. Once you get the hang of checking your analytics, you may even want to customize different reports to show specific metrics over a variety of different time periods.
Step 10: Make it a “living” document
The social media environment changes constantly. New networks appear and others decline in popularity. That’s why your social media marketing strategy should be a “living” document. You should aim to review and update it periodically.
- Refer to it often to stay on track
- Don’t be afraid to make changes so that it better reflects new goals, tools, or plans
- Let everyone on your team know when you update your social strategy, so everyone can work together to achieve your social goals