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net101 Social Media Strategy Canvas

 

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These are the explanatory notes for Social Media Strategy Canvas which is part of the net101 Advanced Social Media and Strategy course.

The strategy canvas comprises several distinct, but integrated elements:

  1. Core objectives
  2. Strategic objectives
  3. Content formats
  4. Budget allocation
  5. Platform selection
  6. Audience reach (organic and paid)
  7. Calls-to-action (CTA’s)
  8. Conversion places and goals

These elements form the substance of a social media strategy – one which will align with your stated organisational objectives, while also prompting you to consider your current social media capabilities concerning:

  • Your ongoing ability to source, produce and publish relevant content
  • Access to meaningful data for analysis purposes
  • The level of internal support you have from other departments and colleagues
  • The level of funds budgeted for your paid campaign work

My recommendation is to work through the elements of the canvas in sequence from left to right, but as each element has it own dependencies they can be approached in any order. For example, understanding your limitations to produce original and relevant content may influence your stated strategic objectives, or vice-versa. Regardless, each of the elements are interrelated and should be viewed collectively.

 

CORE OBJECTIVES

An organisation – commercial, public or a not-for-profit – should be able to validate their  social media presence as a means of achieving one or more of three core objectives:

  • Increase revenue
  • Decrease costs
  • Increase stakeholder satisfaction (internal or external)

Important stakeholders for a not-for-profit organisation would be its benefactors and beneficiaries. In a commercial context important stakeholders should include existing customers or clients for retention purposes.

 

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES

Clarifying strategic intent is a must. Strategic objectives can be applied to your entire social media footprint, to an individual platform or have an organisational focus, e.g. a specific campaign, brand or geographic market. Common social media strategic objectives include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Prospects and leads
  • Customer service
  • Event support
  • Advocacy
  • HR/ recruitment
  • Crisis management

Each organisational social media account you control should be in service of at least one clearly defined strategic objective. In some instances, a social media account might serve multiple strategic objectives, or the objective could change over time, or the account might switch between objectives at different times and circumstances. But without at least one strategic objective for every account you will have difficulty measuring progress against a desired organisational-level outcome.

NB: Customer service or crisis management might not be strategic objectives, but people may still use one or more of your social media platform options as a customer service touch-point – for questions, comments, complains or feedback – or gravitate to them during an incident or crisis affecting your organisation. You will have difficulty preventing this.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM OPTIONS

The social media platforms listed below are the main options open to organisations operating within the Australian market in 2018. To simplify the canvas exercise I’ve excluded niche, but no less important platforms – Snapchat would be one example. Your platform mix may change as your resource capabilities increase or decrease, or new platforms are adopted or abandoned by your target audiences. The social media platforms included here:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Blogs

 

CONTENT FORMATS

Content is the ‘media’ in social media. It’s easy to underestimate the ongoing time and effort required to produce relevant content to be able to publish through to your target audiences. The types of content produced will be determined by which social media platforms have been chosen, the content preferences of your target audiences, your own technical capabilities, and access to in-house or external subject-matter expertise. There are five main social media content formats:

  1. Short-form text
  2. Long-form text
  3. Images
  4. Streaming video
  5. Streaming audio

Ideally you will be comfortable producing and publishing across all of these content formats to maximise the potential of each chosen social media platform, and to meet the varied content preferences of your target audiences.

 

CHOOSING YOUR PLATFORM MIX

Choose your social media platform/s based on the following sequential considerations:

  1. What is my primary strategic objective? (select from the ‘Strategic Objectives’ list above).
  2. Given my primary strategic objective, what are the demographics of my primary target audience?
  3. Knowing who my primary target audience is, which social media platform/s do they frequent? (select from the ‘Social Media Platforms’ list above).
  4. Knowing which social media platform/s my primary target audience frequents, which content formats do each of those platforms support, and which of these content formats will my target audience be most receptive to? (select from the ‘Content Formats’ list above).

Example 1
A Cooking School

  1. Your primary strategic objective might be brand awareness.
  2. Your target audience are men and women, aged 25-65, who live within a 35km radius of your cooking school.
  3. You determine your target audience frequent both Facebook and Instagram with a sizable overlap.
  4. Facebooks supports short-form text, images and short to long-form video. Instagram supports short-form text, images and short-form video. You believe your target audience will value aspirational images of food and table settings, simple written recipes, and short-form video cooking tips.

You now have clarity concerning who your target audience is, where to reach them, what content formats to concentrate on, and what the substance of the content will be.

Example 2
An Electrical Engineering Company Selling Gas Detection Units to Mine Operators

  1. Your primary strategic objective might be leads and prospects.
  2. You determine your target audience are operations executives within the national and international mining sector.
  3. You determine your target audience frequent LinkedIn
  4. LinkedIn supports short-form and long-form text, images and short to long-form video. You believe your target audience wants detailed technical information, case studies and articles related to mine safety. Not so many images, but demonstrations (in situ) in video format would be valued.

You now have clarity concerning who your target audience is, where to reach them, what content formats to concentrate on, and what the substance of the content will be.

Example 3
A City Council

  1. Your primary strategic objective might be event support.
  2. You determine your target audience are adult residents within the geographical boundaries of Council.
  3. You determine the majority of the target audience frequent Facebook.
  4. Facebook supports short-form text, images and short to long-form video. You believe your target audience wants notice of community events and activities, and information on attending in short-form text, aspirational images (the value of attending), and images and short-form videos of recent events and activities.

You now have clarity concerning who your target audience is, where to reach them, what content formats to concentrate on, and what the substance of the content will be.

 

CHANNEL VISIBILITY – ACHIEVING REACH

Now that you have selected the social media platform/s platforms your primary target audience frequent, and you know what content formats you will be using and the substance, the question is now one of achieving target audience reach. ‘Reach’ is a common social media metric which signifies the number of unique individuals who were physically served your post (not to confused with ‘impressions’ which is the number of times a post was served).

Total reach can be measured in aggregate across all of your posts on any social media platform within a specified time-frame, or just for specific posts. Total reach can in turn be broken down into its organic and paid components.

Organic Reach

Organic reach is published social media content that was served to a user-base without you paying for that to happen. People are able to view your content organically (for free) as a result of:

  • Users who visit your account/profile page directly and view your content.
  • Users who perform a platform-specific keyword, hashtag or geo-tag search which aligns with an aspect of your content.
  • Users who are subscribers - your fans or followers – and your content is served onto their newsfeed (referred to an initial reach).
  • Users who are your subscribers, served your content, and who then push it onto the newsfeeds of their personal connections as a result of engaging with it – liking, commenting or sharing (referred to as viral reach).

The extent of your organic reach within any given social media platform is determined by a combination of factors: the number of direct visitors to your account, the number of fans or followers you have, the level of user engagement with your content, and each platform’s unique newsfeed algorithm. These algorithms - sometimes referred to as quality filters - determine the type of the content each user sees (and doesn’t see!) on their newsfeed, and from which sources and in what order.

A Note on Search

Your blog content and your public YouTube videos are also able to enjoy extended organic reach via internal search and external search engines such as Google. The content you publish through these platforms gets crawled and indexed, and is stored indefinitely within the search engine data centres which drive any given search result. This is not the case for most of your published social media content, hence the requirement to publish regularly to maintain your visibility.

Paid Reach

Most social media platforms offer paid options to achieve target audience reach. Paid reach is often used to supplement organic reach, or for more granulated targeting. Paid content typically presents on a user’s newsfeed as ‘sponsored’.

Paid Reach - Promoted Content

Most social media platforms allow you to individually select already published posts and pay for it served onto the newsfeeds of specified user groupings. This is commonly known as promoting or boosting your content. Promoted content can be targeted to existing connections, their connections, or to users based on filters of differing granularity, depending on the platform.

Paid Reach – Advertising

Most social media platforms also provide a targeted advertising option across a range of formats and placements. Content which is served to specified users via this option is (usually) not visible on your own page/ profile. An ‘ad’ – any post serving any purpose - can be also be targeted to existing connections, their connections, or to users based on filters of differing granularity, depending on the platform. In some cases, the targeting and reporting capabilities of ad-served content is greater than that of promoted content. In addition, ad-served content typically incorporates clear buttons or links to drive consideration or a conversion action. Facebook for example allows advertisers to select from a number of call-to-action buttons for their ad-level content:

  • See Menu
  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Download
  • Get Showtimes
  • Learn More
  • Send Message

NB: Additional organic reach can be achieved off the back of sponsored content (boosted content or an ad) if users engage with it. Depending on the platform, user engagement often times pushes sponsored content onto the newsfeeds of their close personal connections.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGET

Given the variability of the newsfeed algorithms which underpin the extent of your organic reach you might find it difficult to achieve your strategic objectives without direct financial investment, i.e. the option to sponsor your content. Organic reach often needs to be supplemented with paid reach, i.e. promoting select content and/or running targeted communications through an advertising panel. Social media campaign budget allocations can be smaller and more targeted than with traditional off-line channels, and can be applied on a per campaign or rolling basis.

 

CTA’s (CALLS-TO-ACTION)

Social media are the means for people to discover, consume and engage with your branded content, communicate to you and amongst themselves. At times, however you will need to invite your audience to move off social media to help meet your strategic objective/s, e.g. visit our website, visit us physically or contact us. To facilitate this movement, you will need to install highly visible calls-to-action (CTA’s) from your social media profile pages and content to one or more of your conversion places.

 

CONVERSION PLACES

Conversion Place: Your Website

By bridging social media users to your principal online asset - your website - you have greater control over the process of getting them to some end-point. As well as customising their landing page experience, you have the ability to move your website visitors through any number of your conversion goal pathways, culminating a measurable - and backwardly attributable - conversion goals. Website goal examples include:

  • Online payment
  • Reservation
  • Make an appointment
  • Become a partner
  • Create an account
  • View product or service details
  • Get an estimate
  • Check inventory or schedule
  • Find a location
  • Donation
  • Enquiry
  • Application
  • Email subscription
  • Download
  • Pages views
  • Time spent on site
  • Media views

NB: In some instances, the website will serve as an intermediate bridge to other conversion places, i.e. to a physical location or through to your contact centre.

Website Analytics, Conversion Tracking & Return-On-Investment 

Your website analytics - most likely Google’s robust and free Google Analytics (GA) - will automatically break most of your visitor traffic down by the mediums and sources they clicked away from before landing, e.g. ‘social media’ as the medium and ‘facebook’ as the source.

Once you have your website conversion goals set up and nominal values assigned to each, GA is able to report on the number of completed goals, the aggregate actual or nominal value which has been generated through those goals, and most importantly provide attribution insight to the mediums and sources which drove that conversion-level traffic in the first place. At an advanced level, the specific CTA buttons or hyperlink can be tracked, which in turn enables return on investment analysis.

Facebook also provides landing page and conversion tracking on your web properties from all Facebook derived traffic if you have their tracking pixels installed (sourced via Facebook’s Ad Manager). Facebook’s website conversion reporting includes:

  • View content
  • Search
  • Add to cart
  • Add to wishlist
  • Initiate checkout
  • Add payment info
  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • Complete registration

 

Google Analytics Campaign Tracking URL’s

To be able to attribute in-bound traffic to the specific button or hyperlink which acted as the CTA bridge to your website, and then to overlay that information with your website goal conversion data, you will need to install campaign tracking URLs (sometimes referred to as an UTMs) at points where visitors were invited to click away from. Campaign tracking URL strings contain additional descriptive information which you supply about the CTA button or hyperlink. They are then installed behind a button or converted into a shortened hyperlink by yourself. For every visitor who lands on your website via a campaign tracking URL, GA captures the additional descriptive information.

Any CTA button or hyperlink that you have control over that clicks back to your website – and as many as you’d like - can incorporate one of these uniquely identifiable campaign tracking URL’s. They are free and easy to create.

 

Conversion Place: Any of Your Physical Locations

Invite people to travel to a one of your physical locations to trial a product or service, to browse, purchase, meet with your people or attend an event. Common CTA’s which facilitate a physical visitation include nearest location finders, interactive maps, map links, street addresses, opening hours, travel directions, public transport options, and nearby parking.

Measuring the online medium and source which drove a physical visitor to a location is more difficult to measure than for a website visitor. This makes the calculation for return-on-investment purposes more of a challenge. This is known as the attribution problem and much has been written on it. Campaign specific offline redemption vouchers are one possible means of reducing the attribution problem.

 

Conversion Place: Your Contact Centre

Make it easy for people to communicate with you directly through their chosen communication channel, i.e. via any line of communication that leads through to your contact centre: phone, email, contact forms, snail-mail, live chat modules or private direct messaging. The more direct the line of communication the more likely you will be able to meet your strategic objectives.

Unfortunately, the attribution problem will also affect your return-on-investment analysis for social media assisted conversions which take place through your contact centre.

 

CALCULATING YOUR RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

The strategy canvas illustration incorporates a sideways funnel overlay which narrows to the right: Awareness > Actions > Conversions. This denotes the sequence of contingent events required to achieve any of your strategic goals:

  • Reach facilitates target audience awareness.
  • Target audience awareness facilities user-actions.
  • User-actions facilitate a virtual or physical movement away from social media to your website, any of your physical locations or through to your contact centre (your conversion places).

Each of these three funnel points - Awareness, Actions and Conversions - contain measurable indicators of success for their own ROI analysis:

  1. Total Reach ROI
  2. Audience Actions ROI
  3. Conversions ROI (online or offline)

Which ROI funnel-point you use will depend both on what your strategic objective/s are, and your ability to capture data at key points. To calculate the ROI at any funnel-point you will need to quantify what it took to generate the outcomes – measured in reach, actions or conversions. To determine whether a social media investment of time or money has generated a positive or negative return, you will need to apply the numbers against an internal or external benchmark, or a campaign target. ROI can be measured in various ways – here are 3 examples:

Total Reach Funnel-Point – ROI Calculation Example

Imagine your strategic objective is brand awareness. Awareness is preceded by target audience reach (organic and paid as previously discussed). You will need to measure your aggregate or post-specific organic reach, and your paid reach if you have undertaken any -  add them together to get your total reach number. You can then calculate your Total Reach ROI by dividing the number of people reached by the money and time (using your local currency equivalent) that was invested.

For example, the organic reach for a post was 1000, and $100 invested reach gave me an additional paid reach 4000. Total reach is therefore 5000. My time to put the post together was the equivalent of $50, therefore the total spend was $150. This is roughly equivalent to 33 people reached per dollar ($150/5000).*

Audience Actions Funnel-Point – ROI Calculation Example

Imagine your strategic objective is customer service. You therefore need to service various stakeholder groups with timely and useful interactions (reactive, and potentially proactive in nature).

You might measure volume of engagements, engagement sentiment (positive, neutral, negative), engagement type (visitor post, mention, private message) or average response time – amongst others. There is more than one ROI analysis possible here, but the simplest would be to divide the full-time equivalent of customer service person’s salary or wage by the local currency internal value of each of the actions above across a shift.*

Conversions Funnel Point – ROI Calculation Example

Imagine your strategic objective is prospects or leads. You therefore need to reach your target audiences with your desired organisational communications, convince them undertake your call-to-action so as to move them away from social media to a conversion-place where they can compete a conversion goal, e.g. submit a completed application form via the website.

Firstly, you need to reach the target audience to expose my call-to action. If the organic reach for this post was 2000 and a $150 investment gave me an additional paid reach of 8000, your total reach is 10,000. Your time to put the post together was the equivalent of $50, therefore your total spend was $200. If 200 people heeded the CTA and clicked back to the landing page on your website you’ve paid $1 per action ($200/ 200 clicks). If 10 of those visitors goes on to submit an application form you’ve paid $20 per conversion ($200/10 applications).

*Whether this a positive or negative investment results will depend on what benchmarks you’re applying. Also, don’t be afraid to run a Happy Test, i.e. are we happy with this result?

 

FINAL NOTES

Timeframes

This canvas has no timeframes attached to it – you need to apply your own, i.e. how long will it take to achieve our strategic objective/s with the proposed investments of time and money.

The Attribution Problem

We can’t always trace backwards to the origin of our virtual or real traffic to our website, a physical location or our contact centre. Accept that not everything can be measured, but measure and report on what you can.

Try to Compare Apples with Apples

Attempt to equate all input and output values to your local currency, including your time. This enables you to isolate what the investment was as an actual or nominal dollar value against the calculated returns in using the same dollar values. Assigning relative dollar values to a direct message enquiry or a website visitor, or by reaching the newsfeed of a target audience member is valuable discipline.

Internal Benchmarking

Don’t be afraid to establish your own internal benchmarks for determining if a measurable outcome can be deemed successful. If for example the acquisition of a warm lead is worth a nominal $50 to your organisation, apply that benchmark across all of your social media and other marketing channels – online or offline. Then you’ll know that if you spend anything less than $50 on average to acquire a lead you’ve just generated value; and if you spend anything more you’ve just lost.

Avoid Vanity Metrics

Resist the temptation to report on numbers which are disconnected from your strategic objectives. Visitors to your website or the number of Facebook Likes on your brand page are are generally means to some other end, not reportable ends in themselves.

Reporting

Rely on your own data as much as possible, especially the analytics being generated through your website. If you’re outsourcing campaign work to a consultant or agency, compare their reports with your own and question any significant discrepancies.

Sub-Strategic Plans

The execution of a social media strategy should be underpinned by a Content Strategy and a Measurement Plan. No content, no visibility. No measurement, no know.

Learn by Doing

Social media has many moving parts: content production and publishing, two-way engagement, measurement and reporting, adapting to algorithm updates, and mastering increasingly sophisticated platform features. My advice: learn by doing - build the plane as you’re flying it. Test, measure, refine. Experiment. Fail. Learn. Enjoy.   


If you would like to have this strategy canvas exercise presented as part of a conference presentation or workshop, or an in-house training session, please contact Tim Martin here. If you would like to attend the Advanced Social Media & Strategy public course instead, the dates are here.