How to Develop a Winning Social Media Strategy
In March, I decided to implement a concrete social media strategy in order to begin growing my Instagram as well as my blog at a quicker pace. It is now the beginning of November, and I have grown exponentially since I started in March.
This post has been updated in November 2018 to reflect new information.
To begin, allow me to explain that I am a micro influencer. I don’t have 10s of thousands of followers, or hundreds of thousands of blog views a month. I started my blog in March 2017, & didn’t take growing it seriously until December 2017. So, here I am, almost a year later…trying to grow just like everyone else.
At the end of every month since January, I have been doing analytic reports to track my progress. Here are a few stats that I’d like to share from March 2018, when I began, and now, November 2018.
- Just in the month of March, I grew my Instagram following by 821 new followers.
- I grew my blog page views by 57%, and I didn’t post a single blog & I didn’t pin anything new.
- Since March, I have grown my following from 2,254 to 13,400 new and engaged Instagram followers. I have an engagement rate of 4% which is slightly above average.
- I’m still not blogging on a regular basis, but I do see a steady amount of traffic each month. In October, I pulled in 3K page views, with one new blog post. Imagine how my numbers would look if I posted more than once a month.
I actually haven’t blogged consistently this entire year, because I’ve been focused on relaunching, and employing new tactics so once I do start back posting regularly, I will be able to generate very decent traffic, IMO.
I say all that to say, I’ve done the BARE MINIMUM, with my blog, and I am still generating views because of the tactics & strategies I am employing.
How? I took a step back and reevaluated what I was doing. I planned out my blog business plan, my social media strategy, as well as my marketing strategy.
Purchase the same social media workbook I used to rapidly grow my Instagram!
November 2018 Update: I gained 11,140 new followers in 8 months, all thanks to my social media strategy.
Here are a few tactics that I implemented for Instagram since I started.
Social Media Strategy
What is a social media strategy?
A social media strategy reports how a blog or business will plan, execute and analyze all social media marketing efforts.
As I stated above, I set a concrete social media strategy. I created a workbook for myself, and I filled it out. It allowed me to take a look at what was working for me, and what wasn’t. I was also able to define my target audience, set a budget, and create a system to constantly grow my social media following.
Pros: I know exactly who my target audience is, where they are online, and how to appeal to them. The social media strategy is the most IMPORTANT aspect needed when it comes to growing your social media, and you will not succeed without one.
Most people try to throw something at the wall until it sticks, not realizing that as the Instagram algorithm changes, your life changes, and your online presence grows, your strategy will change as well.
It has been 8 months since I created my social media strategy, and now I know that at the end of 2018, I will need to re-do it.
On Instagram, there are thousands of popular pages that will feature your photos, blog, or business. I had been following a lot of pages that featured African American children and mothers. Because half of my target audience is minority mothers, I added a list of feature pages to check out.
I decided to utilize the paid promotion services of the featured pages. Before then, I had been featured on over 70 Instagram pages and garnered over 200,000 likes for free. One of my favorite features gained me almost 30,000 likes on one photo. At the time, however, I was not measuring how many followers I would receive from each repost. But, it did help boost my followers.
Since March, I have worked to gain ORGANIC features, meaning I did not have to pay for anything. One important thing to mention is that Twitter helped a ton with gaining a huge amount of followers in a short amount of time.
Thanks to ONE viral post on Twitter, I gained over 2K new followers in just a few days. The post started on Twitter, and was shared on Instagram where it went viral there as well.
Pros: If you decide to go the paid featured pages route, the prices are very affordable. The pages that I have looked into charge anywhere from $5-$40 depending on the type of post, where they will post (feed or Instagram stories) the duration of the post, and how many times they will post. If you pay for a feature you are guaranteed a repost. You can also try to submit your photos to feature pages by simply tagging them and waiting for a repost. I’ve had luck with not having to pay for features, but it is still a sound social media strategy that I highly recommend.
Cons: Although you may see an increase in followers, the owner of the very first page that I tried paid promo for, did not TAG ME for FIVE DAYS in the post that I PAID for. I had to send them a message letting them know of my dissatisfaction and to take the post down and repost it with the proper tags. Be aware that the owners of feature pages may or may not have your best interest at heart.
An Instagram takeover is when you have a certain amount of time (usually a full day), where a page that is not your own, features all of your photos and content. This has been my favorite part of the social media strategy so far.
For example, I participated in an Instagram takeover for Black Moms Blog that gave me over 400 new followers in 24 hours. During the course of the takeover, Black Moms Blog posted 7 photos over the course of 12 hours on their Instagram page. I provided the photos as well as the captions for each photo. During that 12 hours, they did not feature anyone else on their Instagram page.
As an added bonus, they also added my photos to their Instagram story and included a link to a story that I wrote for them.
Pros: The takeover allowed me to gain new followers in my niche, I met new mothers, and actually formed a few new relationships. It also gave me a lot of blog traffic as well. I mentioned one of my blog posts in a caption, and the followers went out of their way to go read it!
Cons: The process of an Instagram takeover will be different depending on the way the owners run their page. All I had to do was email all of the photos and accompanying captions and the owner of the page took care of the rest. If you have to post everything on your own, then the takeover can take up a lot of time. I had to constantly engage with commenters and new followers over a period of 12 hours. That’s not a bad thing, but make sure you actually are able to give your undivided attention to the page over the duration of the takeover.
A loop giveaway is a giveaway on Instagram composed of a group of bloggers, individuals, and businesses. They pay a buy-in fee that goes toward a really expensive gift. Each person involved in the loop giveaway will post the exact same contest photo on their page at the exact same time, with the exact same caption. The only difference is that each person has someone different tagged. To enter, you have to follow each person that is tagged, until you “loop” around to the person’s profile you initially started on and comment “Done.” Other steps are included, and other formats exist as well. At the end of the contest, each member will send in one person from the comments, and a generator will pick the prize winner.
Pros: You gain a lot of followers in a short amount of time. I participated in a low-engagement loop. Therefore, the buy-in is was relatively inexpensive ($40). However, there are high-engagement loops that cost a lot more ($100+), but you gain thousands of followers.
Cons: I will probably not participate in any more loop giveaways. Although I gained almost 500 followers, and I did not lose many afterward, those followers are not necessarily in my target audience, nor did I see an increase in engagement from them like I did with all of my other tactics. They only followed me for the prize, so it was not a good use of my social media strategy budget.
Since the beginning of March, I have NOT participated in any loop giveaways! I tried one just to see if it would help me any, and it did not. As I stated in the cons, it is a waste of money, in my opinion.
In March, I also began commenting on and liking pictures of people that are in my target audience.
Pros: I was able to connect with more mothers and business owners. I increased my engagement rate from 7% to 8.4%.
Cons: I had to spend a lot more time on social media than I used to, which is difficult when you have a family and/or a full-time job. I also can not guarantee that people will follow me because I like or comment on their photos. A majority of the time, when I like someone’s photos, they will like mine. The same goes for comments. I received about 20-30% new followers from this method.
As my followers grew, my engagement rate decreased. That is to be expected. The more followers you have, the lower your engagement rate will be. It’s just facts. Kylie Jenner has an engagement rate of 1%. My engagement rate with 13K followers is currently 4%, which is slightly above average.
One thing I also do not recommend is using engagement pods. I do not participate in them because I believe they create a false sense of engagement. The goal is to have highly engaged followers that are truly interested in your content and could possibly be converted into customers. Are those people in your engagement pods actually clicking over to your blog or following you on your other social accounts, or are they simply “liking” your photos & leaving a generic comment?
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