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The No-Nonsense Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy

Need a clear and easy path for navigating your social media strategy? You’ve come to the right place.

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GUIDEThe No-Nonsense Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy

An excellent social media strategy is the difference between making some noise and getting lost in it.

Social media is complex. There’s an assortment of different platforms, an array of content formats and best practices, and an ever-evolving set of trends to keep up with. And every brand under the sun is on social media competing for consumer attention.

In such a dynamic digital landscape, it’s important to develop a clear strategy to guide your initiatives. Attempting to leverage social media without a well-defined strategy can be the make-or-break for some brands. In such a case, you’re liable to get lost — or, at the very least, you’ll struggle to find the most profitable path.

With a concrete social media strategy in place, your efforts will be more decisive, efficient, consistent, and effective.

In this guide, we’ll cover the essentials you'll need to create a robust social media strategy:

  • Define your goals
  • Understand your target audience
  • Study the competition
  • Focus on the right channels
  • Create a content game plan
  • Leverage helpful tools
  • Analyse and refine

Define your goals

Goal setting is a crucial first step towards building a successful social media strategy. Business goals should be the foundation of any social initiative – if you lack clarity in your objectives, your strategy could fall flat.

So, let’s begin by reviewing six common goal categories you may choose to pursue:

  • Awareness: Positioning your brand in front of your target audience to establish familiarity
  • Traffic: Driving users to your website and social profiles to take further action
  • Engagement: Spurring audience interaction to build trust and nurture relationships
  • Sentiment: Shaping the public perception of your brand to win your audience over
  • Conversion: Capturing subscribers, leads, and purchases to fuel your bottom line
  • Customer experience: Turning your existing customer base into loyal supporters of your brand

Note how these categories are aligned with the stages of your marketing funnel. So, for brands, the question becomes which segments of the marketing funnel will we prioritize in our social media efforts?

Implementing SMART goals

Once you’ve considered your overarching goal categories, you’ll need to dig deeper by developing SMART goals.

A SMART goal is:

  • Specific: Replace general concepts with quantifiable outcomes
  • Measurable: Use objective metrics that can be tracked
  • Attainable: Sett ambitious but realistic aims
  • Relevant: Understand how the goal ties into your bigger picture
  • Time-bound: Use dates and deadlines to stay accountable

Here’s an example of a SMART goal within the traffic category: “We will reach 5,000 unique visitors per month from social channels by December 2024.”

So now you have your goals in place, the next step is to prepare to reach them. And this starts with a combination of reflection and research.

Understand your target audience

To resonate with customers in your social media strategy, you need to know who you’re talking to. This involves identifying, researching, and listening to your target audience to craft content and messaging that’s relevant to them.

A good place to start is by developing customer personas – which are a key method for defining target audience segments. A customer persona is a fictitious character you create to represent the key traits and characteristics found within your audience. You'll think about them with every post you create, so they're vital to get right.

A complete customer persona will include a detailed profile with information such as:


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Income
  • Marital status
  • Education


  • Personality traits
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Interests
  • Behavioral tendencies

These detailed profiles will allow you to tailor your content accordingly, maximizing its relevance and effectiveness.

A potential pitfall with customer personas is the temptation to create them based on intuition rather than data. This results in a set of personas that reflect who you want your audience to be — instead of who they actually are. The solution? Audience research.

Audience research

Unless your company just launched, you already have a rich source for audience data: your existing customer base. To learn more about them, implement surveys at various touchpoints, such as in emails or on checkout pages. 

You should also carefully analyze your brand’s online reviews, customer service logs, and CRM data to gather insights about their preferences and challenges.

If you already have a social media following, you can use the built-in analytics tools on each platform to assess your audience’s demographics and interests.

Brandwatch Social Panels is a brilliant way to learn about your target audience. This tool can help you listen to online conversations from specific groups of people to learn about their interests, needs, and opinions.

You can also use public forums like Quora to research what questions people ask about a particular topic. Those will often indicate what they’re struggling with. 

Remember, your goal should not only be to know who your audience is — but to understand what delights and challenges them.

Study the competition

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you formulate your social media strategy. Observe what other brands in your niche are doing (and what’s working for them) to help guide your own initiatives. Plus, you can try to beat them at their own game by doing it even better, or you can find new areas to capitalize on.

Put together a list of 5-10 top competitors in your space. If you need help, use Google and enter search terms related to your products or services. The results on the first page will likely be from the leaders in the field. Don't ignore the smaller competition – they can make waves in the industry, too.

When assessing your competitors, here are some key questions to ask:

  • Which social channels are they most active and popular on?
  • What types of content are they posting?
  • How much engagement are they getting on various channels and content types?
  • What tone and aesthetic do they use in their content?

Avoid doing a competitive analysis to copy what others are doing. Take notes of general principles, tactics, and trends you see with the goal of determining how your brand can make its own unique splash in the space.

Focus on the right channels

Once you've created your customer personas and conducted a comprehensive competitive analysis, you can decide which platforms you'll concentrate on in your social strategy.

Factors to consider include:

  • The platforms your audience is spending time on
  • The differences between platforms
  • Your industry
  • Your goals

Here are some key of the leading networks to consider:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • X (previously) Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat

With your primary channels selected, the next step is to outline a plan for publishing consistent, compelling content to engage your audience within each channel.

Create a content game plan

Content is the lifeblood of social media, and it should be a key focus in your social media strategy.

At this point, you’ve now compiled a substantial set of useful information to help guide your content creation:

  • You’ve pinpointed your goals, which should influence the content types and formats you use. That might look like: branded images for awareness, stories and polls for engagement, product images and demo videos for conversion.
  • You’ve defined your customer personas, which should influence your messaging, for example, speaking in a relatable way, celebrating the things customers love, and calling out the pain points that bother them.
  • You’ve assessed the competition to see their tactics, what’s working for them (and what isn’t), and how your brand can differentiate itself.
  • You’ve identified social media channels that best suit your customer personas.

By tying the above concepts together, you can develop a series of content buckets to categorize the content you want to publish. These buckets will bring organization, focus, and clarity to your content endeavors on social media.

Need some inspo? Here’s a hypothetical list of content buckets for a fitness app:

Like the above, you should aim to create a number of content buckets that suit your brand. These might evolve over time, so don't forget to revisit this section on a regular basis.

Brand voice 

It's important to have a diverse array of different content buckets. But one unifying aspect that should be the same throughout all your content is your brand voice.

Maintaining a consistent voice across social posts and channels is the key to establishing a brand identity. So, ask yourself: if your brand was a person, how would it sound? Would it be bold, quirky, playful, inspirational, dramatic, thoughtful, professional? And you don’t have to select just one tone. You can compile a collection of adjectives to paint a more holistic picture. 


Implement a content calendar to stay on top of your posting activities. In addition to the day of the week, your publishing calendar should also consider optimal social media posting times

You can put your calendar together manually or save time and resources using a social media scheduling tool to streamline the process. 

Leverage helpful tools

We know what you must be thinking at this point. With all these different social media channels, target audiences, goals, and strategies, you’ll have to be on social media around the clock to keep up. Nope!

There’s an abundance of social media tools out there to make your life a lot easier – and you should take advantage of them. These could include tools that help with:

  • Scheduling tools
  • Social media inbox management
  • Performance monitoring
  • Benchmarking
  • Content ideation

Analyze and refine

With the concepts and guidelines above, you should have everything you need to create a clear, robust social media strategy for your brand. This will allow you to be more decisive, efficient, consistent, and effective on social media.

Once you begin acting on your strategy, you should periodically review your performance to learn from your successes and identify weak areas to improve.

When assessing your social media performance, the truth is in the data — which means you’ll be digging into your KPIs and other metrics. Need some help? We’ve got you covered!

Final thoughts

Now you know what it takes to stand out and how to make social media work for your business. 

You understand the ins and outs of setting goals, psychographics, content game plans, and brand voice. These are all invaluable when building scroll-stopping social media content.

Falcon.io is now part of Brandwatch.
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Existing customer?Log in to access your existing Falcon products and data via the login menu on the top right of the page.New customer?You'll find the former Falcon products under 'Social Media Management' if you go to 'Our Suite' in the navigation.

Paladin is now Influence.
You're in the right place!

Brandwatch acquired Paladin in March 2022. It's now called Influence, which is part of Brandwatch's Social Media Management solution.Want to access your Paladin account?Use the login menu at the top right corner.