Social Media & Social Ads

How to Make a Social Media Marketing Plan (8 Steps)

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By Shanon Roberts, on 11 November 2019

A well-thought-out social media plan is crucial to the success of any brand’s social media marketing. Establishing a solid social media marketing plan allows you to gauge how effective your posts are, and measure them against your overall digital marketing goals. Not only that, but it’ll make your job much easier!

Whether you’re looking to refresh your brand’s current social presence, or you’re starting from ground zero, these 8 steps will help you establish a killer social media plan.

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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan in 8 Steps

1. Set Goals for Your Presence in Social Networks

Why do you want your brand to be on social media? The first step to building a solid marketing plan is to clearly define your goals. This step is crucial because if you never set any goals, you’ll never know if your strategy is successful or not. Without goals, you have nothing to work towards, like taking a shot in the dark.

To set effective goals remember to make them “SMART:”

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Within social media marketing, the “M” of SMART goals is especially crucial in determining the success of a campaign.

But it’s important to measure the right metrics. Instead of focusing on “likes” or comments, think in terms of KPIs that have a real impact on the business. You may measure each network differently, since you may desire to achieve different goals through each one.

2. Learn About Your Audience

The second step of your plan is to develop a comprehensive understanding of your potential audience. If you understand your audience in-depth, you’ll be able to create content that is more relevant to them. Creating messages or content that attracts or brings value to your customers is a great inbound method.

But how do you understand your audience before you even have one? Start by creating a profile of your ideal follower. Search for real data about the profile of users of different networks and the analytics of your page. This will help you refine your strategy and also be more effective when launching social ads.

3. Take a Look at the Competition

Most likely, your competition already has some sort of a social presence. Don’t be afraid to take a peek at their different channels and draw some inspiration for your marketing plan.

A competition analysis helps you understand what your competitors are doing and what works (and doesn’t work). Looking at their pages helps paint a broad picture of how your sector treats social media marketing.

This analysis will also help you find market opportunities and gaps. For example, maybe your direct competition has dedicated a major part of their strategy to Facebook. This means that Instagram could be an area to explore for your own brand. Instead of competing directly with them, you can cultivate a strong and unique presence on a different platform.

When analyzing the competition, social listening is your ally. Keep track of competing brands and industry keywords and constantly monitor their results.

4. Do a Social Media Audit

If you're already on social media, a social media audit will analyze your effectiveness. Try to answer these questions:

  • What's working and what’s not?
  • Who is connecting with your brand?
  • What social networks is your target audience on?
  • How does your presence compare to your competition?

The social network audit is also a good time to resolve other issues:

  • Check if you have any old accounts that have been inactive or that are unnecessary. If they don't align with your goals don't be afraid to delete those accounts. Remember, it is better to have an active presence focused on a few channels rather than haphazardly trying to be on everything.
  • Look for possible imposter accounts. If you can, verify your profiles on each social network so that your audience knows that you are a legitimate account.

5. Create Profiles on Social Networks

So, you’ve mapped out your strategy and have a clear plan. Now it’s time to decide which social channels you want to include in your marketing strategy and how you will use each of them.

For example, maybe you’ve decided to use Twitter as a customer service channel, and Instagram as a place for tutorials for your products.

To further focus your network presence, try writing a mission for each channel summarized in a single sentence.

Once you’ve decided which networks to join, create your profiles or optimize the ones you already have. When you can, use keywords adapted to users' search habits to make it as easy as possible to find your account.

6. Create a Content Calendar

Because social media is such a fast-paced and topical medium, it may initially seem counterintuitive to plan out your content in advance. But a content calendar can free you up to stay on top of trends and news, while also ensuring that you’re regularly sharing high-quality content.

You can find several different examples of social media calendars online. In general, I recommend including the date, time, copy, any additional elements (links, videos, gifs, etc.), and the network in which the content will be posted in the calendar. Having a calendar ensures that you're taking advantage of the “peak hours” to post.

Content calendars also help to determine how to distribute your content. For example, you can decide that 50% of your content will be focused on directing traffic to your blog, 25% will be from other sources, 20% will be aimed at objectives such as lead generation or conversion and 5% remaining will refer to the culture of your company.

In general, I recommend you follow the 80:20 rule. 80% of your posts should be entertaining, informative, or educational, and only about 20% should include direct promotion.

7. Get Inspired!

Let’s be real - social media marketing is a lot harder than it looks! Sometimes, you need to step outside of your brand and get a little inspiration and take a peek at what other brands are doing.

Every social network has case studies or success stories that show how different brands are using their tools. You can usually find these in the business information sections on each social network’s website.

Another way to generate some ideas is to look at different digital marketing awards, like The Shorty Awards. See what the winners are doing, and ask yourself how you can apply their tactics to your own brand and voice.

Finally, you can also ask your followers directly what they would like to see on your social channels. After all, they’re following you for a reason! You can also use social listening to see what their online behaviors are and how you can take advantage of them in your social media marketing plan.

8. Test, Measure, and Adjust the Strategy

Developing a marketing plan is an essential first step, but likely the first method you use won't always be the most successful. Include periodic checks and tests in your plan to analyze what’s working and what’s not. And remember, social networks are a changing environment, so you will have to adapt to the habits of users.

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Shanon Roberts