Part 2: Build your social media strategy step-by-step


This is the second post in a four-part series looking at developing a social media strategy. This part covers general strategies (stage 3) and identifying target audiences (stage 4).


Part 1: introducing the social media planning cycle, listening (stage 1) and setting goals (stage 2).

Part 3: selecting the right tools (stage 5) and implementation (stage 6).

Part 4: monitoring (stage 7), fine tuning (stage 8) and creating your strategic plan.


Stage 3: Finding social media strategies that work

Your next step in developing a social media strategy is figuring out what general strategies you are going to use to achieve your social media goals. One useful tool is the eight Cs of social media strategy development:

(based on Barker et al. (2016))


Note that the outcome of this stage will be quite general strategic choices, not specific actions (which come later in the cycle). Working through each area will ensure you consider all the possible ways in which social media can help you achieve your goals. For example, these might be the strategies identified by a school, college or university looking to engage alumni:

Stage 4: Selecting your target audiences

Hopefully, at this point you can again reach out to your marketing plan, remind yourself of your target audiences and then consider how these groups use social media. If you don’t currently have a marketing plan (and I’d definitely recommend writing one!) then you’ll need to do a bit more thinking at this stage.


A good place to start is by writing down all the different parts of your community. The diagram below shows an example for an independent school. Then think about whether it would be useful to segment them by geographic, demographic or psychographic factors. Only hold on to divisions that are useful for how you interact with people – don’t over-complicate things unless there is an obvious benefit. This will result in numerous audience segments, for example Segment 1 in the diagram could be local parents, Segment 2 could be retired alumni etc.


So you now have a list of audience groups in front of you. Your next task is to identify those groups who can help you achieve the goals you set in stage 2. These are your target audiences. For example, for an independent school one target audience could be younger alumni and another could be international parents.


Obviously, you’ll need to consider how these groups use social media, but try to base this on evidence rather than assumption. But be careful not to fall into the trap of believing the myths of social media.


Pause here!

Check to make sure the social media goals (stage 2, in the first post of this series), strategies (stage 3) and target audiences (stage 4) you’ve identified are consistent with each other.


Now you're ready to move onto selecting the right tools in the next post.


Part 1: introducing the social media planning cycle, listening (stage 1) and setting goals (stage 2).

Part 3: selecting the right tools (stage 5) and implementation tips (stage 6).

Part 4: monitoring (stage 7), fine tuning (stage 8) and creating your strategic plan.



Juliet Corbett is an experienced education management professional and consultant.

If you need any help developing your social media strategy do get in touch.


I always welcome feedback - debate and conversation sparks innovation! Please contact me via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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