A Roadmap to Social Media Success
As a senior communication major, I have worked with social media in several different contexts during my college career. While working with these various teams, I have gotten the opportunity to learn many techniques and software programs relevant to the industry. Below you will find an explanation of my personal social media process as well as recommendations for some of the most useful software I’ve had experience with. I hope this will serve as a jumping-off point if you are interested in learning more about working with social media, but do not know where to start!
Brainstorming and Organization
Before you can create quality social posts, you have to brainstorm.
What are your goals? What message are you trying to convey? How do you want to convey it? Who is your audience? All these and more are questions you need to ask yourself as you develop a social media strategy. I recommend that you sit down with your team and talk through any and all ideas you have to make your company or organization’s social media as successful as possible. Keep a running list on a Google Doc so that everyone can access it once the meeting is over. This is what we do at the Pearce Center and it’s always super helpful.
Once you have your ideas on the table, it’s time to organize! Make concrete decisions on what paths you want to take. Write out a clear, organized list of your action items, goals, and deadlines. Assign roles to your team members. Google Sheets (or other spreadsheet software) is great for this step. Use it to organize your ideas into categories, develop content calendars for upcoming months, and stay on top of deadlines.
Design and Copywriting
Next up is actually making the posts!
Design is one of the most important parts of a successful social media campaign. Not only does your message need to be impactful and well-thought-out, but your visuals need to pull their weight as storytelling tools. To build your design skills, try out different graphic creation tools. My favorites are the Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop and Illustrator), which is paid, and Canva, which is free. Come up with an idea and try to achieve it through experimentation or watch tutorials and follow along. (Bonus tip: Having trouble deciding which colors to use in your graphics? Try Coolors or the W3Schools Hex Code Color picker for inspiration.)
On top of your design, you need to have high-quality copy. Figure out what you want to say in your captions. Is there additional information you want to share that isn’t present in your graphic? Are there any hashtags you want to include? Make sure you think through this part of the process as carefully as you do design to have an overall well-crafted social post. Check out this post from SocialMediaToday for some additional tips.
Once you have your content created, it’s time to schedule it. If you decide to share some of or all of your posts manually, make sure that you have a plan for when and where the posts should be shared. Put a reminder in your planner or calendar so you don’t forget.
If you would prefer not to post manually, there are lots of handy tools out there that allow you to schedule your posts in advance, which can be more convenient. Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools for scheduling content to be posted ahead of time and for good reason. It’s designed cleanly, is intuitive to use and is flexible. If Hootsuite isn’t your thing, there are tons of alternatives. Figure out what works best for you and develop a routine with that platform.
Once you have shared your post, it’s time to look into analytics. Look at how many likes, comments and shares your posts are receiving. How many impressions are your posts getting? What does the conversation look like surrounding the things you have shared? Most social media apps have built-in analytics features that will help you get started with this. Beyond those, there are several handy tools you can pull into your social media practice. Some that I have used and liked in the past include Social Studio, Rival IQ, SocialBearing and Socialblade. (If you’re not satisfied with any of these, G2 has an exhaustive list of similar applications. Look through it to find what works best for your needs.)
Use the information you glean from your analytics to understand how successful your social efforts have been. If you don’t feel that your posts are getting as much engagement as you would like, you can switch up your approach and try something new!
The last and most important step of the social media process is to make sure you are always learning and improving. The field of social media is constantly changing, so it is imperative that you keep up with new developments and trends if you want to be successful. There are tons of resources available online that can help you with this.
To start, there are several free certification courses you can take online that help bolster your knowledge of social media and digital marketing. Hubspot Academy and Google Analytics Academy are two of the most well-known (and enjoyable) ones that I’ve encountered. Did I mention they’re free?
Additionally, stay up-to-date with industry blogs and news sites. These are a great resource because they give you the chance to hear from a variety of voices in the industry. One of my absolute favorites is the Sprout Social blog. It consistently has great advice and is visually appealing. Other sources I enjoy include Social Media Week, Hootsuite’s blog, and SocialMediaToday. (Bonus tip: follow these companies on LinkedIn to have their top content curated on your feed.)
Finally, and most importantly, listen to those around you. Digest the feedback your clients provide you (especially constructive criticism!). Listen to your coworkers’ ideas for your latest campaign. Ask your supervisor what you could be doing better during performance reviews. Take all of these interactions as opportunities to learn and get better at what you do. I can’t tell you how much I have grown as a social media professional just by listening to my professors, mentors and teammates.
The moving parts of social media are a fun challenge, but they can be intimidating to take on in the beginning. I hope this article gives you a blueprint to develop a social media routine that works for you and your clients. Happy posting!
Written By: Taylor Summey