As a marketer or entrepreneur, you know that social media is one of the most essential parts of digital marketing—and for that, you need a strategy. You cannot approach spreading the word about your business without intention or direction. If you post aimlessly and create ads without sufficient thought, you’ll waste both time and money—and lose the chance to make money in the process. Your strategy will include elements like what kind of content you will create, when you will post material, how you interact with followers, which influencers you partner with, and more. 

However, there are a few things you should think of before you dive into the more complicated details. They are fundamental aspects, though, and will steer the remaining components of your campaign. Here are a few things you need to make a part of your pre-strategy:

Determine a niche audience

Every business needs a niche audience. You cannot appeal to everyone—even if your products are universal, creating content for different demographics is a tall order. You can still provide products and services to people outside your niche, of course, but according to Issuu:

“Small but mighty, niche audiences hold great value for brands and their success. Niche audiences are so valuable because they are often more engaged, active, and responsive users. As well, due to their specific likes/dislikes this makes it very easy for marketers to target content to them, instead of worrying about a large crowd with varying interests.” 

Who your audience is will affect almost everything about your business. Put careful thought into who you want to serve and who is most likely to find you interesting and useful (your goal is, after all, to provide value that people do not have otherwise). Who will you cater to, and what platforms will you use (you do not have to use all popular channels)? It might be older adults, students, people from warm climates, people with low income, foodies, crafty individuals, young families, or anyone else who will not just purchase from you, but become part of your brand’s community. 

Set achievable goals

Setting goals will give your strategy something to work toward. What do you expect to accomplish if you create social media posts without intention? Saying that you want to have lots of followers and likes is not clear enough—goals like “I want to convert X amount of followers into customers by Y time” will orient you better.  

If you need direction, follow the SMART guidelines: work toward goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific. According to a study from Harvard Business, 83 percent of people are ten times less successful than 14 percent of people who have goals in their heads—but the three percent of people who write them down are 30 times more successful. It’s okay if your goals are flexible—they should be—but it helps if you define them. 

Consider your current status 

If this campaign is your first attempt at social media marketing, it still helps to take a step back and analyze the current state of your social media presence is. What platforms do you have accounts on? How many followers do you have? How many likes do your posts get? Looking at where you stand will help you determine where you need to go. 

If this is not your first attempt, perform a more detailed social media audit. What strategies have worked for you in the past, and what haven’t? What is the ratio between your follower count and engagement rate? Who is connecting with you, and what seems to encourage them to do so? How does your presence compare to your competitors? Understanding your current situation is essential for identifying what gaps to fill and what goals you should aim for. 

What are your competitors’ stances?

On a related note, what do your competitors’ social media presences and campaigns look like? While you should never copy their content, it’s okay to mimic strategies that are obviously effective for them. You and your competitors can learn a great deal from each other—and it’s important to know who is vying for the same customers—so analyzing their efforts can help you define your own.  

Social media tools

It is impractical to approach social media blindfolded, so you’ll need the best social media and top Instagram tools to give you actionable insights into your campaigns’ performances, and resources like SocialSteeze to help build your follower base quickly. When you have a clear understanding of what elements are working and which are not, you can amend it accordingly. So, have these tools ready from the get-go so that you can monitor your efforts’ effectiveness from beginning to end. You can use social media-comprehensive analytics like Sprout Social and Hootsuite, or platform-specific ones, like the best Instagram tools 

Your social media game needs a strategy—but that entails a pre-strategy. What steps will you take before you begin planning your online campaigns’ details?