In 2020, marketers in the U.S. are expected to spend more than $20 billion on social media advertising. But social media success can’t hinge on sponsored posts and paid ads alone.

Four secrets to ensure our clients’ social media strategies work smarter—not harder—than their competitors’

Create content with a purpose.

Content may be king, but it can’t rule without a purpose. And this purpose won’t reign if it doesn’t map back to business goals.

To start, we identify our clients’ 3-5 overarching business goals. Then we brainstorm how social platforms could contribute, even in a small way, to reaching those goals. For example, if a nonprofit client is working to grow its membership, Stern puts social media to work in driving awareness of the organization and services. As awareness spreads among a wider audience on social, users are organically positioned to take the next step: to become a member of the organization. Other goals might include building engagement, increasing web traffic or generating sales leads.

Identify clear measures of success.

Once we’ve pinpointed ways social media can drive value for the business, we identify clear checkpoints to benchmark and track progress; steps along the user journey from awareness, to consideration, to action. At the awareness phase of a user’s journey, for example, we track metrics such as total impressions or reach per post. During consideration, metrics including clicks, engagement and web traffic from social matter most.

Prioritize quality over quantity.

Does this post make sense for social? It’s a question everyone should ask whenever they’re creating or sharing content, and it’s especially important on social media. To help answer this question, Stern creates a content matrix that maps content types, platforms, user goals and post frequency. A good content matrix can also reveal gaps that can be filled by other assets. For example, does our client need more content that grows impressions? If so, we’ll identify intriguing and exciting stories versus educational ones. Quantity (i.e., post frequency) matters, but quality matters more.

Audit the performance and adjust the strategy.

Here at Stern Strategy Group we live and work by the mantra that there’s always room for improvement. Rarely is social media strategy (or any strategy for that matter) perfect right out of the gate. We continuously track progress and audit performance to assess what’s working and what should be working better. Audits, which also serve as pulse checks against predetermined metrics of success, help us clarify user journeys, fine-tune content voice, tweak post times and frequency, and much more.

Your brand must be present on social media, but it can’t “just be.” What you need is a social media strategy that aligns with your goals and differs from competitors’. We have the expertise to set you apart from the pack in a smart, engaging way.