How to Create a Great Social Media Strategy in 2024 (+New Data)

Creating social media strategies can be overwhelming, especially when you’re just launching your brand or just building your online presence for the first time. So many channels, features, tools, and products available – but so little time to fit them all into your marketing strategy.

If you don’t have a full-time team of social media experts at your disposal, it’s even harder. But the fact is that your online success depends on having a sensible and straightforward strategy that fits your resources and goals.

I spoke with three top-tier social media experts, and dug into recent HubSpot research (including our 2024 State of Social Media Report), to show you how to develop a social media strategy that drives traffic and ROI to your brand.

Your social media strategy is your master plan for how you create, post, and engage with your social media content.

It encompasses your social content guidelines, posting cadence, social media marketing campaigns, target audience, and engagement strategy that promote your business and brand.

Many companies use social media to connect with customers, provide support, advertise new products and features, and promote special offers.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

According to our most recent The State of Social Media, social media marketers’ top challenges include creating engaging content, generating leads, and reaching target audiences. While these are some of the trickiest challenges, they’re also the items you’ll want to think about most when making an effective plan.

Ultimately, well-thought-out social media strategies equip you to set goals and guardrails, track performance, and tweak your benchmarks over time.

“One of the biggest challenges I think social media marketers face is saturation and competition. There is so much content on social media that sometimes it makes it challenging to stand out from the crowd. Having a robust strategy that understands the target audience includes strong copy and unique content can help to cut through the noise,” says Ellie Nash, social community executive at Kurago.

Without a starting point, you can‘t measure what’s working and how to shift your activity to hit your goals.

A social media strategy also helps you set expectations for broader team involvement and get everyone aligned on what they should and shouldn’t do on your social networks.

1. Define your target audience.

If you haven’t already identified and documented your buyer personas, start by defining the key demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach — such as age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies, and interests.

To meet your audience where they are with marketing that won’t annoy them, you first need to learn out what they want and why. 

Social Media Motivations

Are social media users visiting these apps to learn, explore, shop, or just have a good time?

In our most recent State of Consumer Trends Survey this summer, we asked over 500 general consumers to pick the three most common reasons they use social media. 

While 65% actually use it socially to keep up with friends, 53% just want to be entertained while 50% want to learn new things. Unfortunately, 28% say they prefer to go on social media to learn about new products or brands. 

The good news? Later in the survey, when we asked consumers how they prefer to research and learn about brands and products, a whopping 41% said they like to do this on social media channels (a slight increase from a similar survey we ran six months prior).

While Gen X and Boomers skew lower on this average, Gen Z and Millennial generations are using social for brand research more often – which is not surprising due to their hyper-connectedness to the web.

As you might be able to tell from our data above, your target audience plays a role in how successful the right strategy will be. And, better catering to them helps you create focused advertising that addresses your ideal consumer’s specific needs.

For instance, the below-sponsored post by, a project management platform, highlights the platform’s flexibility and workflow customization feature.

The post targets business owners and project managers who may feel limited by other project management software.

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Consider your ideal consumer’s challenges and what problems they’re solving daily. Focus on no more than four types of people representing most of your buyers. Don’t get hung up on the exceptions or outliers, or you’ll never get started.

Once you start creating content for your audience, focus on engaging your audience at every level.

Pay close attention to any questions or comments your audience posts, and be quick to address them, as that engagement could make or break a conversion or purchase.

Consumers like feeling like they’re part of a community when they’re on your social media pages. More than 1 in 5 social media users joined or participated in an online community in the last year.

Speaking of communities, creating social media groups is a smart move to attract, keep, and engage the audience, with 90% of marketers agreeing.

Here’s why:

Groups help people get involved.
Followers can learn from each other.
Your brand becomes a connector — something like a helpful friend.
Communities feel more friendlier to chat compared to pages. 

In 2020, HubSpot made a small Facebook Group called Marketer to Marketer with 4.9k followers. It’s not as big as our Facebook page, but conversions prove its worth it.

Pro tip: To reach the right audience, use social listening tools. These tools check social media for keywords, assess if the talk is positive or negative, and give you reports. This helps in creating a buyer persona for better targeting.

2. Incorporate ecommerce.

As more and more people use social media to discover new products, they’re also finding convenience in shopping for those products directly in the social app they found them in.

While one-fourth of social media marketers are already seeing more effectiveness in social shopping tools than they are with ecommerce site strategies, 80% of social media marketers believe consumers will eventually buy products directly within social apps more often than on brand websites or through third-party resellers. 

What’s more, 25% of users between the ages of 18 and 44 had already bought a product on social media by summer of 2023. We wouldn’t be shocked if this number increased in 2024.

Lastly, if we look at how this trend is fairing across the globe, several other countries have already made social media shopping a norm.

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For example, check out this comparison of data from the UK, China, and the US:

In the UK, social shopping saw a rise from 2021 to 2023, with 4.1% of the population engaging in this trend. Anticipated data suggests a further increase in 2024 and a growth of approximately 2% in 2025.
In 2022, around 84% of Chinese consumers have shopped on social media platforms. Despite some COVID-19 challenges, it reached 850 million users in 2021, making the market worth more than 2.5 trillion.
In 2023, the US made $68.91 million from social commerce, which is 5.9% of all online sales. This is a sharp increase from $39.51 million in 2021.

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Translation? If you sell products, social media should be a key part of your ecommerce strategy in 2024. It doesn’t matter where you are. Social selling is a big deal — so it’s time to take it seriously.

Most platforms offer built-in e-commerce features like shoppable posts, and 47% of social media marketers are already taking advantage of selling products directly within social media apps.

The most popular social selling tools for marketers are:

Instagram Shops and Instagram Live Shopping — high ROI.
Facebook Shops — average ROI.

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(Psst: Need help building a Facebook page for your business? We have you covered.)

If you need inspiration for incorporating e-commerce into your social strategy, take a cue from Sephora.

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Whenever the beauty brand shares an image of a product, it uses a product tag that links to its shoppable page above.

This makes it easy for its followers to instantly buy something they see on the page without ever having to leave the app.

One critical element of successfully selling on social media is establishing brand trust so users feel comfortable purchasing your products directly on the app.

While Sephora has built an established brand reputation over time, you can build trust in other ways, even if you’re building your social media strategy from scratch.

Focus on sharing customer reviews and testimonials, user-generated content (UGC), and product data to build social proof.

Pro tip: Go with image, video, and carousel ads for brand awareness to emphasize store visits, ad impressions, and engagement. For increased sales, select product, collection, or shopping ads to drive direct purchases and product page visits.

I spoke with three top-tier social media experts, and dug into recent HubSpot research (including our 2024 State of Social Media Report), to show you how to develop a social media strategy that drives traffic and ROI to your brand.

3. Optimize your social channels for search.

Social search is on the rise.

As more people turn to social with their queries instead of search engines, 89% of social media marketers agree that social search is important to their overall social media strategies in 2023.

Nearly 24% of consumers aged 18-54 use social media first to search for brands.

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For marketers, this insight means that your social channels must be optimized for search. Prioritize social SEO if you want your social channels to show up in the results when your audience searches for your brand.

Similar to optimizing for search engines like Google, there are a few ways you can optimize your social presence. Here’s how social media marketers did it throughout the last year.

Include relevant keywords and hashtags in your posts and bio.
Make sure your username is easy to search for.
Keep your username consistent across accounts.

When adding alt-text, do not use this as an opportunity to stuff keywords, says Annie-Mai Hodge, director and founder of Girl Power Marketing.

“This feature describes the image on a page for the visually impaired, so it’s important you describe the image accurately. In doing that, you’re providing extra context for the social platform too, which can, in turn, get your content more visibility in search results,” says Hodge. 

Over 30% of U.S. desktop searches on Google feature video carousels and video results, according to Semrush Sensor

For instance, I searched for “best gaming laptops in 2024,” and the second result was a YouTube video. So, being active on YouTube to promote your brand is worth considering.

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Pro tip: You don’t need to film an hour-long video. Even short videos, aka YouTube Shorts, can help you rank higher in SERP. You can use UGC videos and testimonials for that purpose.

4. Focus on a few key social channels.

Most small businesses or social teams don’t have the bandwidth to establish and sustain a quality social media presence on every single channel.

It’s also overwhelming to learn the rules of engagement on multiple networks simultaneously.

Focus on the channels that will bring in the highest ROI. For most brands, this will be Instagram.

Instagram has proven to be the best source of ROI, engagement, and quality leads. Additionally, 23% of marketers believe Instagram offers brands the most potential to grow their audiences in 2023.

Adding an Instagram feed to your website is also a smart move to keep your site looking fresh and even to nudge people towards buying, as social media content can increase conversions by up to 29%.

With a tool like Flockler, even if you’re not a tech expert, you can make your site more lively and exciting with your latest Instagram posts. See their easy guide on how to embed an Instagram feed on a website.

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Brands need to be careful about which platforms they now show up on.

“The platform can say a lot about the brand itself. With more and more consumers being more in tune with how they spend their money and whether corporations’ ideals align with theirs, this is becoming more of a consideration for brands in the long run,” says Tameka Bazile, social media strategy manager at TIME.

If you want to create a strong social media strategy from scratch, start small. Research key networks to learn where your target audience is spending time.

For instance, if your ideal consumers are business professionals, it may be beneficial to post on LinkedIn rather than Instagram.

Bazile says brands should also consider the following when it comes to expanding their presence across multiple platforms:

Means. “Does their social team consist of enough members and get enough budget to successfully manage multiple accounts?” Bazile asks. 
Consumer Access. “Are their ideal consumers found on the platforms they are seeking to expand to?” she says. 

I recently read insightful expert perspectives on this LinkedIn article about picking the right social media platform.

Amidst all the chatter, Roel Timmermans‘ comment caught my attention: 

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Or as Annie-Mai Hodge says, “You don’t need to be on every single social media platform, full stop — for most businesses, it’s a waste of time and resources to be on platforms where your audience isn’t active.”

When creating your strategy, Hodge says, “You would’ve looked at where your audience is, what your competitors are doing, and what you’re aiming to achieve with social media — all of this will help inform you as to what social media channels you should be focusing on.”

Pro tip: Check where your competitors are most active and what kind of content they post. You’ll see what works or doesn’t and how engaged their audience is. Don’t copy them — just use that info to make smart decisions for your strategy.

5. Repurpose your content.

Why stress over creating different content for each platform? 

Keep it simple: repurpose and use the same awesome content in different places – within reason of course.

According to our research, most marketers repurpose content in some way, shape, or form, while 19% consider it one of their key strategies. Meanwhile 40% plan to invest more in content repurposing in 2024.

This makes sense. By repurposing content, you can leanly and easily:

Get your message to more people on different platforms.
Save time by using what you already have instead of starting from scratch.
Stay visible on search engines by updating and reusing content.
Cater to your audience’s preferences with different formats.
Make your content last longer by updating timeless pieces.
Improve your strategy by checking how your content performs on different channels.

We at HubSpot love repurposing content—from simple LinkedIn posts like this…

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…to hilarious TikTok video:

@hubspot Always look for a desk with a view (of your manager’s eyeline)
♬ original sound – HubSpot

However, one word to the wise is to not lean on it for every single campaign. Although most marketers do it, only 7% told us it yields them substantial ROI compared to content that’s more catered to platforms. 

So, if you’re low on time or bandwidth, experimenting a new platform that’s similar to one you already use, or can make light tweaks to optimize content for different channels – feel free. Just make sure you’re giving your audience what they’re looking for and not over-spamming them with content they’ve seen several times already.

Pro tip: Looking for a creative content idea that feels more personal than repurposed? Make catchy quote pictures from customer thoughts, share email insights on X or LinkedIn, and whip up quick videos from podcasts — people love that kind of stuff.

6. Make a plan for customer service.

When putting together your social media strategy, consider how you’ll use your channels for customer service.

Social media is so ingrained in our day-to-day lives that it’s no surprise that people turn to these platforms for everything from brand discovery to customer service.

According to our State of Social Media and Consumer Trends research, 1 in 5 social media users contact a brand through social DMs for customer service each quarter.

43% of marketers use customer service reps, 41% rely on platform managers, and 13% employ automated tools like chatbots.

Whether you create a separate account dedicated to customer service or have an auto-reply set up when people DM you on Instagram, have a plan for how you’ll handle customer support through social media.

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It’s a good idea to add working hours in the Support page’s bio so people know when to expect help. Consider what Twitch did in its X profile:

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Now, let’s talk a little bit about the importance of good customer service on social media. According Khoros research:

42% felt disappointed, 43% were unhappy, and 41% reported anger with poor customer care.
67% shared bad experiences, and 65% switched to a different brand.
43% are more likely to buy from a brand after a good customer service experience.
83% feel more loyal to brands that resolve their complaints.
73% of brands expect more inbound channels, and 53% anticipate more outbound channels in the next one to two years.
Pro tip: Apart from clearly stating working hours, let customers know the expected response time and inform them about quicker alternative resources if available.

7. Develop a recipe card to guide you.

Social media isn’t an exact science. It doesn’t work the same for every business or industry.

To see results for your business, create a recipe card. A recipe card is a posting and engagement schedule that keeps your team on track and helps you post content consistently.

HubSpot has a list of social media tools and templates that you can use to plan your content and create a posting schedule and content calendar.

One of the best ways to manage an SM content calendar is the method Bazile shared with me.

Here’s how she categorizes it:

Evergreen engagement content.
Evergreen promotional content.
Specific campaign content.
Recurring communications content.

“Breaking down content into these buckets allows social teams to maintain regular presences online while also separating content data into easily trackable pieces,” she says.

Develop a reasonable recipe card and well-organized calendar. Stick to it and get your team to follow. Set goals for your posting and engagement frequency, and hold yourself accountable for following your recipe.

Pro tip: Choose platforms that allow easy editing and content management within your team. This ensures smooth collaboration and calendar updates.

8. Talk WITH, not AT, your followers.

In our latest Consumer Trends research, 41% of consumers pointed to relatability as the most memorable aspect of posts from brands or companies on social or the web. 

Friendly brands win more followers (and hearts). So, skip the self-promotion overload. Instead, get into conversations and respond to comments authentically.

People love it when you chat with them, not just throw information their way. It makes them feel special, creating a genuine affection for your brand.

You don’t have to sound super professional. Casual talk works even better on social media. Just take a cue from McDonald’s:

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I personally can’t get enough of BMW and its fantastic relationship with fans and followers. They always try to respond to every comment on social media:

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And here’s something interesting to remember — very few people, less than one percent, interact with the brands’ posts. 

Here are the platform breakdowns:

Facebook: 0.09%.
Instagram: 1.22%.
X: 0.045%.

So, once you get a comment, find the right way to interact and show that you care.

Don’t just ghost and ignore. These comments boost your post higher in algorithms and make it more visible. 

Pro tip: Never delete negative comments unless they’re super offensive or totally inappropriate. Instead, use them as an opportunity for constructive engagement and improvement.

9. Measure your results.

“Without goals, a product roadmap, or even a full brand strategy, social media managers will struggle to know what to prioritize in the social space, what metrics to measure to convey progress, and what sort of content or social presence is ideal for the brand,” Bazile says. 

There are countless things to track on your social media channels. Start by looking at how much traffic your social accounts drive to your website or blog.

Social media platforms offer tools to help businesses track analytics.

For example, you can use Facebook’s Page Insights, Instagram’s Account Insights, and LinkedIn’s Visitor Analytics to see what people are responding to and look for trends related to topics or keywords that generate the most interest.

Once you get an idea of your average traffic and post-performance, set goals for key metrics and keep a scorecard to measure your progress.

Be sure to choose metrics that are easy to gather because if it’s too time-consuming to track, you won’t be motivated to do it.

Examples of simple metrics include the total number of interactions, traffic to your website, and sales or revenue that can be attributed to social.

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“One of the most valuable indicators, in my opinion, is impressions,” Nash says, “Impressions measure the number of times a piece of content is displayed on users’ screens and help to evaluate the effectiveness of your content strategy in terms of exposure and brand awareness.”

Pro tip: Don’t only focus on platform numbers. Track the social sentiment as well. See if people express positive or negative feelings about you in online conversations. It takes a bit of manual work, but it’s worth it. Check regularly for better insights.

10. Adjust your tactics as needed.

Social media won’t start working overnight.

Establishing a following, stabilizing your brand, and seeing the results of your efforts take time. So, experiment to find the right combination of channels, content, and messaging that works for your audience.

We can pick up some cool tricks from Victoria’s Secret in this regard.

They’ve shifted from using only professional photos and videos to incorporating more casual content. Now, VS’s Insta feed also includes UGC and interviews with random people on the street and in their stores.

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Victoria’s Secret proves that even as a high-end brand, you don’t lose anything by including everyday people. 

Actually, you gain. 

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More followers, more engagement, more exposure.

Keep track of changes in your post views, audience demographics, and post interactions, and make changes as needed.

Over time, you’ll be able to adjust your recipe card, content, and personas based on the information you’re gathering, which will help you fine-tune your strategy and generate more consistent results.

Trying new stuff might seem a bit daring, but sometimes, it’s just necessary to “survive.”

For instance, try to use funny content whenever possible.

In our 2023 survey of over a thousand global social media marketers, 66% said funny content works best, followed by relatable (63%) and trendy (59%) content. While 45% talk only about their brand values, the key is to use humor for the most impact. 

Don’t believe that humor can pay the bills? One-third, or 34% of Consumer Trends respondents also told us funny content is most memorable to them. 

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I asked Hodge to tell me about a time when changing tactics improved social media results. She recalls that at the start of 2023, Girl Power Marketing stopped growing on social media and started losing engagement. 

“It wasn’t until I sat down and reassessed my strategy that I was missing something, and that was humanization,” Hodge recounts. “Why should people trust my thoughts, opinions, and guidance if they have no clue who was behind GPM or the mission behind it?”

Hodge shares that she started showing up more intentionally. She created content that showed more of herself, her personality, and GPM’s mission. 

“And a year later, GPM has grown to a community of 180k+ people – all because I switched up my tactics that no longer worked,” says Hodge.

Pro tip: Tailor your content to match seasonal trends and holidays. This helps keep your brand messaging timely and relatable. And most importantly — people love it.

Keeping Up With Social Media Strategies

While these tips will help you optimize your strategy for ROI in the present day, it’s important to get your footing and keep up with the big shifts that are inevitable as new tools, channels, and trends arise.

To keep up with low stress, keep following research like our State of Social Media Report and check out our blog and resources for the coverage of social trends and tactics you actually need to keep on your radar.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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