social media strategy

10 Building Blocks of a Winning Social Media Strategy

Digital strategy is exhausting. Every day there’s a new channel, a new trend, and a new demand on your budget. Before you add more items to your social media content strategy—and more items to your team’s to-do list—give consideration to this 10-step tune-up.

1. Select the right channels. Be choosy: the right social media platforms are the ones where your audience is. Determine the audience that’s most critical for you to reach and engage with them on the platforms they’re on.

For example, to reach parents, Facebook is a good bet since over 80 percent of 18- to 49-year-olds are on the platform. To target teenagers, head to SnapChat, where they make up the channel’s largest user base.

Different types of content perform better on different channels:

  • Facebook: Curated content and video
  • Instagram: Stories, styled high-res images, and quotes
  • LinkedIn: Industry or company news
  • Pinterest: Recipes, step-by-step instructions, and infographics
  • Twitter: GIFs, blog posts, and news

And don’t feel the need to rush immediately to every new channel. Wait and see: Does its audience match who you’re trying to reach? Is it going to be around for the long haul? (After all, aren’t you glad you didn’t waste your resources on Google Plus and Vine?)

2. Create a channel content strategy. You can publish the same content on each social media channel, but rewriting the headline or accompanying introduction should suit the audience for that channel. Social channels attract different demographics that have unique needs. Speak to the channel’s particular niche.

For example, LinkedIn is an important platform for B2B marketing. Twitter is the place to publish news and PR that healthcare journalists may share. A post on texting and driving would appeal to Instagram’s younger audience. Information on caring for aging parents is more likely to be shared on Facebook.

But pay attention to your audience and the trends you see on different social media channels. Maybe your particular audience is spending more time on Twitter. Only time, and paying attention, will tell.

3. Mix up your content. Article links are valuable in certain contexts, but with the way social media has evolved, you can try different approaches. Delight your followers with funny memes, educational infographics, and inspiring images. Since the core of social media is community, prioritize interactions with your followers. Post a poll, ask questions, and respond.

4. Get inspiration from news and pop culture. Use trending topics from the headlines (think celebrity pregnancies, sports star injuries, or heroic rescues) and provide your organization’s point-of-view on those stories.

5. Pay to play. Put money behind your content, or the stats for organic reach are against you—no one will see it. Try ads, sponsored posts, and boosting to see which gives you the biggest return.

6. Video enhances great storytelling. Virtually every social platform supports video. A short video gives followers a more powerful insight into what’s behind those hospital doors and makes strong accompanying content for text that’s critical for accessibility.

Take advantage of Stories on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat. These short videos or slideshows stay in your newsfeed for 24 hours. On Instagram alone, Stories top 400 million daily users and encourage them to stay on the platform longer. You can set up your Instagram account to automatically publish your Stories to Facebook. And, because Stories are at the top of the feed, they attract views right away.

7. Get inspiration from your staff and patients, too. Listen to your organization. Stock images feel trite. Use images of the people you work with every day. Try photos or videos of the therapy dogs that visit the nursing home, the clown juggling in the pediatric unit, or the thank you cupcakes a patient brought to the nurses’ station.

8. Don’t forget long-form content. In this age of sound bites and one-minute Instagram videos, you may think consumers don’t have the attention span to read long content anymore. But BuzzSumo’s study of 100 million articles found that the most shares came from content between 3,000 and 10,000 words . To catch people’s attention, create an image or infographic with some compelling stats and encourage people to click for more information.

9. Verify, verify, verify. The purpose of your social media accounts is to build a connection with consumers. Users should trust your institution and the experts behind it. Don’t tank that trust by sharing clickbait or fake health news. Run your content by an expert in that subject first.

10. Make analytics your guide. Those cold hard numbers will help you improve. Run reports from tools like SproutSocial, AgoraPulse, or BuzzSumo to determine your social media homeruns. Review the report monthly and before you plan the next round of content. Use those highly engaging and proven posts as the basis for more ideation, repurpose them in your ads, and put your social spend behind them.

A strong social presence doesn’t happen overnight. Stick with a strategy for 6 months to see if it’s working, letting analytics steer you. Once you have a rock-solid social strategy, keep branching out and use that success to fund your next exciting project.

Need inspiration for your Instagram channel? 10 top healthcare marketers shared their best Insta’ strategies for Aha Media’s latest eBook. Get it here.

Learn more: Ahava Leibtag will be presenting two sessions at the Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit, May 21-23, in Chicago. Join her, with marketers from Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Northwell Health forFuture-Ready Content: Search, Voice, and Chatbotsand with Lehigh Valley Health Network forThe Challenge: A Massive Content Rewrite.”

Ahava Leibtag is the president and owner of Aha Media Group, LLC, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She is passionate about content and prides herself on tackling the toughest content projects—from healthcare to higher education to hip-hop (seriously).

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