A full social strategy in 4 easy steps

Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?

In partnership with

Celtics in 6. Luke is my young son & favorite player, but Boston has been here before, Jrue’s gonna have a big series, and Brown (not Tatum!) will win a Finals MVP.

But you’re here to talk social, not basketball, so we’ll hit on

  • The easiest social strategy process you’ve ever seen

  • Instagram Story tips straight from Instagram

  • Why you shouldn’t post Instagram Reels longer than 90 seconds

—Jack Appleby

A full social strategy in 4 easy steps

I was so tired of building long-winded decks. Every time our agency brought in a new client, we’d construct these laughably verbose social strategy presentations, easily eclipsing 50 slides on the short end. We’d force every minuscule detail into PowerPoints that’d creak from the final file size.

Social strategy should be simple.

How we communicate social strategy should be simple.

You really just need to answer four questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?

  • Who are you trying to reach?

  • What resources do you have?

  • How will you measure success?

Let’s break ’em down one by one.

What are you trying to accomplish?

We often think goals are obvious, then slip right past them because we just know how to social media. That’s a mistake. You gotta get real goals down, both for your brand’s sake and your own—you’ll wanna show you had goals and met them come review season.

The “SMART” acronym is a great, simple starting place for goals.

  • Specific: Are you targeting brand awareness? Conversions? Followers?

  • Measurable: If you can’t measure it, it’s not specific enough.

  • Achievable: You’re not getting to a million followers overnight. Be realistic.

  • Relevant: Your social goals should tie into to your business goals. Otherwise what’s the point?

  • Time-bound: Know when you’re checking in on your goals. Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?

Yeah, I know, frameworks can seem lame, but working with a fundamental approach builds a foundation for your social strategy thinking—it’s like memorizing your multiplication tables. This’ll save you from excitedly shouting, “ENGAGEMENT!!!” when your boss asks what you’re trying to accomplish.

Who are you trying to reach?

Knowing your target audience and stating it clearly matters. It’s easy to drift to viral dreams, hoping for mass appeal when what’s best for your brand is staying niche.

When I worked on organic social strategy at Ayzenberg Group for Microsoft Surface, we focused our content toward current Surface Owners. Think about it—the people who follow a tablet’s social media account aren’t tablet curious—they’re existing owners. When back-to-school season came and Microsoft wanted us pushing units to students, we didn’t suddenly make content to attract students—we made content to convince current owners that Surface was the best computing device to buy for their kids. That slight twist matters.

What resources do you have?

If you’re a social team of one, you may wanna start building your strategy here.

What skills do you have: Are you mostly a writer? More a graphic designer? Comfortable being on camera for the company’s TikTok? Maybe more importantly, with your full set of responsibilities as a social media manager, how much time do you have to dedicate to content creation?

Many types of creative content can succeed on social media—be selfish and build strategies that are best for your brand based around what you bring to the table.

That’s just as true if you’re working on a larger team. When I built social strategies for brands, I’d vary my creative approach based on what my creative teams were best at. When I led social for the game Dying Light, I had an incredible game capture artist, so nearly all my creative assets were in-game videos and screenshots. I had a different team at the same agency when working on Rock Band, so I leaned into my creative director’s Adobe After Effects expertise for a heavier cinemagraph approach. Both worked great, both based on what’s in the cupboard.

How will you measure success?

There’s a seemingly endless pile of social media metrics to choose from—the trick is identifying which ones matter to what your company’s hoping to accomplish.

Those SMART goals should get ya halfway here. If you’re focused on top of funnel, you might measure based on reach, views, or shares. Fostering a community until the next product drop? You’ll probably be more engagement-based. Goals built around conversions are gonna focus on, you guessed it, how much you sold.

You’re gonna want to identify a primary metric. Yes, you should still measure everything, but every social account should have a focus. Great example: the Washington Post Instagram.

Travis Lyles, the deputy director for social and off-platform curation at the Post, told Adweek: “rather than fixate on likes, comments, or other indicators of engagement, the Post treats shares as its north star metric. When an Instagram users shares a piece of content, that suggests they found it useful—a powerful signal and one that the Post attempts to evoke throughout its reporting.”

If you want an exhaustive list of measurement options, Sprout Social’s got a great list of metrics to choose from.

Rinse and repeat

Your answers to each of these questions won’t immediately gel. Maybe your resources don’t make the A in SMART as attainable as you thought. Drilling down on proper success metrics might’ve meant the target audience isn’t quite right. That’s okay! Get pen to paper, then begin massaging each section until the dots cleanly connect. How you get to that final strategy isn’t as important—getting there is.

Modernize your marketing with AdQuick

AdQuick unlocks the benefits of Out Of Home (OOH) advertising in a way no one else has. Approaching the problem with eyes to performance, created for marketers with the engineering excellence you’ve come to expect for the internet.

Marketers agree OOH is one of the best ways for building brand awareness, reaching new customers, and reinforcing your brand message. It’s just been difficult to scale. But with AdQuick, you can easily plan, deploy and measure campaigns just as easily as digital ads, making them a no-brainer to add to your team’s toolbox.

Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

There’s been so much confusion over max length of Instagram Reels. The above article summarizes the mess well, but the TLDR: yes, you can post longer videos, but they’re not really Reels as they don’t go to the Explore page, so just make <90 second Reels.

I like when platforms share good info on their own features. Honestly, you know most of this, but reminders on fundamentals are always a good thing.

I’m dreading the election so, so much. We’re gonna learn the hard way once again on social media’s role, and it’s gonna inspire every debate possible.