The Simple & Manageable
Social Media Strategy


Social Media Strategy — three words dreaded by many companies. The sentiments are justified considering the challenges our industry faces on these platforms. Trying to market products and services deemed “unsuitable” for social media companies is frustrating. Gun and gear-oriented companies are mostly prohibited from advertising on social media. It can be difficult to get motivated about social media, but developing a social media strategy doesn’t have to be complicated or unmanageable.

In its simplest form, a social media strategy involves marketing research, content creation and customer service. Diving deeper into these components will help you better understand not only what to post but how to make these platforms work for you.

Social Media Isn’t Free Advertising

There are countless social media marketing blogs and self-professed gurus offering both free and paid advice online. Some will tell you what to post, what not to share, when to upload and how frequently to do it all. These recommendations may be sound for a make-up brand, beverage company, charity or a celebrity, but what about brands in our industry? What may be successful for some businesses may be a waste of time and resources for yours.

For regulated businesses, your focus should be on growing reach organically and how to make the most of platform developments. When social media companies roll out new features, learn more about them and brainstorm with your team on ways you can implement them. Early adopters reap the benefits of greater exposure.

Instagram, for example, started out as a photo-sharing app. When the company rolled out Stories (and later Reels), the algorithms rewarded early adopters. The best part? Most of the time, you’ll see these new features pop up in your apps and a simple online search can tell you what you need to know.

When social media companies roll out new features, learn more about them and brainstorm with your team on ways you can implement them. Early adopters reap the benefits of greater exposure.

From limited character tweets to TikTok dance moves, the landscape is always changing. In addition to paying attention to new features, you’ll want to explore the platforms that make the most sense for your company. Tap into your employees’ knowledge on their experiences online. How do they use social media and what creators and companies do they follow? Don’t forget to ask your customers which platforms they prefer to use as well. This will help you decide where to focus your efforts. The hottest platform may be enticing but if your customers are on Facebook and are engaging with you there, don’t desert them for something new.

A final note on research, read the fine print. As a member of the firearms industry, the odds are already stacked against you. Rules change frequently and violations can result in removal without any possible recourse. Think of it as building on land you do not own. You can be evicted at any time, without warning. Regardless of how unfair this may seem, keep up with FTC regulations and rules for each platform you participate in and follow them as best as you can.

Content Can Become Connection

It’s important to have realistic expectations for what you post. The odds of your content becoming a viral sensation are slim. You’ll have posts that perform better than others. Some content will be more engaging. Perhaps the most frustrating part is how difficult it will be to predict posting success. There are simply too many factors beyond your control to determine how many likes, views, or shares a piece of content will generate. Being closer to both the products and the content makes it even more difficult to determine what will resonate best with your audience.

When it comes to content, posting for the sake of posting isn’t the answer. More isn’t more. (Less isn’t necessarily more either.) A simple calendar can help you create a content strategy that works best for your time and resources. Think about key events for your business and when it’s best to share them. Season-themed posts can be planned well in advance. From new product announcements and sales to trending topics and current events, a calendar can help you schedule and move content ideas around as needed.

Social media may not be “free” but it does allow you more freedom to test how to market best. Don’t be afraid to try different content types. Photos, memes, links, polls, videos (both short and long-form) and even simple text posts can generate both engagement and reach. Yes, certain types of content typically perform better on some platforms, but there are no hard and fast rules. Successful strategies involve sharing posts that educate, entertain or inform. You hit the jackpot when a piece of content does all three.

The hottest platform may be enticing but if your customers are on Facebook and are engaging with you there, don’t desert them for something new.

This is where influencers come in. Influencers are invested in their online success and want to post content that will resonate with their audience. Choosing an influencer that aligns with your brand and partnering with them can increase reach and engagement for both your company and the influencer. Whether it’s a how-to, sponsored review or something creative and personal, influencers inject personality and expose your products and services to new customers.

An influencer can also help bring brand exposure to a social media platform. Not on TikTok? Perhaps you won’t feel you need to be if you can work with an influencer who has an account on the platform. Tap into their followers to generate interest without the hassle of learning and monitoring a new app.

When working with influencers it’s about balance. Encourage creativity but also have clear guidelines and basic requirements that will help you make the most of your investment. You’ll want to make sure the influencers you work with honestly disclose to their followers that they are receiving your support, either in product or monetarily. An influencer who asks to avoid such disclosures is a red flag.

Don’t Forget The “Social” In Social Media

The final component for a simple social media strategy is often overlooked. Social media thrives on engagement. The critical component you can’t ignore is customer service.

If you’re a small business this may be the most difficult. Posting with some level of consistency might not be an issue whereas keeping up with responses may seem daunting. If you want to make the most of social media, being active in the comments is necessary. Comment moderation to ensure that posts you deem inappropriate are hidden or removed makes for a better online experience for everyone. Answering questions about store hours, products and other services will help you connect with customers one-on-one in a way that can be viewed by many.

It may not be possible to comment or react to every post with a like, but customer engagement should be a priority, especially on posts that educate or inform. If you have a dedicated employee for social media, customer service should be a part of their job. If you don’t, schedule a time each day to go through comments and messages. Apologize for any delays and do your best to address questions and concerns.

A social media strategy doesn’t have to be overly complicated. By researching the platforms and their practices that best suit your brand, you can focus your efforts on existing and potential customers alike. A simple content calendar with the goal to educate, entertain and inform will help you broaden your reach. Finally, a commitment to the comment section and direct messages will help you further connect and build loyalty.