I can hardly believe it either, 2023 is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning your marketing strategies for next year. If you work around an academic calendar or you launched your business in the middle of the year, you might be tempted to begin your strategy in a different month. There are two main reasons I advise you follow the January — December 12-month strategy timeline instead:
- A lot of time, research, and resources are spent researching and publishing the top trends for the coming year. Sources like Social Media Today are full of articles of this nature at this time of year. Other valuable sources for predicted trends are information published by platforms or by Social Media Management tools such as Falcon, Hootsuite and Later.
- A traditional year is broken into four clear quarters. It’s a good idea to have a quarterly marketing review where you come back to your strategy document and the research that informed it. A social media strategy (or any strategy) isn’t a document to create every December then file away; it’s a working document that should be continually reflected upon, measured against and updated.
What is a social media and content strategy, and why is it separate from my overall marketing strategy?
During my time working for large global companies, I would sometimes be part of marketing teams with over a hundred people. This is generally split into two areas; traditional marketing and digital marketing. Within that, there were experts in every specialism, so, within traditional, you’d have PR, events, printed materials and brand. Within digital, you’d have SEO, PPC, social media, content, website development and more!
Generally, the Marketing Director is responsible for the overall marketing strategy, budget and KPI’s which direct everything else. However, underneath that a lead in every division will be responsible for their own 12-month strategy, budgets and KPI’s.
But I am not a global brand!
So you don’t have a hundred-person-strong (or even a five-person-strong) marketing team? It may just be you doing all of it, plus a lot more besides marketing. Don’t worry, as the owner of a social media and podcast agency, I fly solo now too! Regardless of resources, there’s a lot we can apply from successful global companies to elevate ourselves.
Although for small businesses I don’t advise making a different strategy for every one of your marketing channels. I recommend you create one for your primary marketing functions such as your website and social media. For example, your website strategy may include SEO optimisation, backlink building and content creation.
Social media is a primary marketing function for many businesses because it bridges many of the abovementioned roles. In addition, PR, brand and PPC are very relevant and collaborative with social media which means many companies with limited resources can utilise this space efficiently.
Where do I start?
Step 1: 2023 Business Goals
You’re on social media to support your business, so think about what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Put simply; what is your purpose?
It could be:
- Brand awareness
- To educate
- To drive more leads
- To increase sales or loyalty from existing customers.
Step 2: Audience Profiling (This can be skipped if you already have it).
Who is your target audience? This needs to be more in-depth than age, gender and location. I want to know their political viewpoints and comedians they resonate with, whether they have children, what car they drive and which supermarket they shop in. Once you have this information, give them a name.
When working for global brands, I regularly referred to Mr. and Mrs. [Brand Name]. Although not every single one of your customers will fit into this mould, by ensuring you resonate with this imaginary version of them, you’ll resonate with people like them too. This exercise is also beneficial for nailing your tone of voice.
Step 3: Competitor Analysis
This is when you analyse brands with the same target audience as you. Look at their strengths and weaknesses. What’s working well and what isn’t? In addition to your competitors, it’s helpful to include brands from different industries with the same target audience; this might give you ideas you’d previously not considered. The purpose is never to copy, but rather to learn what works and doesn’t.
Step 4: Audit
Now it’s time to look at your own business strengths and weaknesses through the same lens you applied to your competitors. Celebrate your wins and learn from your weaknesses. Remember that social media is a medium that changes constantly, so don’t be too hard on yourself. The algorithms change, content types vary, and things move fast. As part of this audit, look back on your 2021 strategy (if you have one) and remember what your goals were then, whether you hit them and what changed during the year.
Step 5: Predicted Trends
Now it’s time to research the top predicted trends for 2023. It’s important to tailor this to your audience, industry and business. Just because dance Reels on Instagram are growing in popularity, it doesn’t mean an audience of refined, retired couples in their 50’s who care about ethical tourism want to see them. Equally, this can sometimes be cringe and a little forced in a b2b space.
Step 6: Build the Strategy
Now it’s time to take all the research you created in steps 1–5 and build your strategy document. This should include the following:
- Goals, budget and KPI’s.
- Channels — if you have lots consider primary and secondary channels.
- Content strategy e.g. videography, live streams, graphics, photography, and user-generated content.
- Influencer plan if you’ll be working with them.
- Rough content calendar for each month. This can include notable campaigns, product launches, events or content types.
- This could include some processes such as content creation and curation, proofreading and scheduling.
Refer to this document often!
Ensure that this document doesn’t become filed away and forgotten. If you have a marketing team, familiarise yourself with it once a quarter and include some insights in your planning sessions. You can also track your goals and KPI’s monthly against the goals of the 12-month strategy.
Over the coming months, this strategy might need to morph and change to accommodate market, industry and platform shifts. That’s ok, as long as there is an informed, valid reason to change the direction you can and should.
Don’t spend valuable time researching and creating a strategy only to forget about it a few weeks later.
I wish I had time for this!
I know, this sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s worth putting the time in now to get off to a strong start next year. If you have limited resources, I have ten years of digital marketing experience from Social Media Specialist, Content (and Podcast) Producer to most recently, Director of Social media.
Email email@example.com to set up a discovery call.