Whether you’ve been blindly posting on social media or you’re getting into social media marketing for the first time, you’ll hardly find success without a proper plan in place.
A social media marketing plan helps you organise your efforts, take a strategic approach, and focus your time and resources on the most important things. So check out the following steps on how to create your first social media marketing plan:
Step 1: Set meaningful and realistic goals
First, you have to start out with a clear idea of what you want to achieve through your social media marketing efforts. Having a defined goal will help you understand what success looks like for your brand and what to measure your performance against. It will also guide the rest of your social media strategy as it’ll be easier to work towards something rather than simply posting blindly and hoping for the best.
Ideally, your social media marketing goal should be specific and measurable, it should also be realistic to achieve and relevant for your brand. In addition, you should have a specific timeline in mind for when you should achieve the goal; else you might have a hard time figuring out when to start measuring for success.
For example, you could have a goal to use Instagram to increase sales by 3% by the end of the quarter.
Based on your goals, you’ll also have a clear idea of which social media metrics are important to track. This will help you maintain a more focused tracking and monitoring effort.
Step 2: Thoroughly research your target audience
Next, start looking at the people you’re trying to reach through social media. Your social media marketing plan should be centred on the needs, preferences, and expectations of this target audience. So it’s crucial that you get a thorough understanding of how you can appeal to them and engage them.
Start by figuring out the basic demographic details such as:
- Geographic location,
- Typical industry/job title,
- Average income,
- Interests, etc.
The native analytics on different social media platforms will usually give you demographic insights about the people you reach on social media.
Then further conduct audience research to find out:
- Their favourite social media platforms,
- How active they are on the platform,
- What types of content they expect to see from you,
- Their biggest pain points, etc.
You can use third-party audience analytics tools for this, but you should also conduct polls and surveys as well.
Step 3: Understand where your competitors stand
While understanding your audience will help you learn how to engage them, your competitors can show you how to engage them better. Creating a social media marketing plan involves understanding where your competitors currently stand.
How are they marketing themselves on social media? What strategies can you replicate and improve upon? What shortcomings can you capitalise on? All of this will help you develop a social media marketing plan that lets you stand apart from the competition.
Besides a manual glance through your competitors’ social media feeds, you should also use competitive analytics and social listening tools. For instance, tools like Sprout Social will let you listen in on conversations surrounding your competitors and their products. You can then track the engagement, sentiment, and share of voice for topics relevant to your competitors to see where they stand.
Step 4: Audit your current presence
Then to see how you measure up against the competition, conduct a complete audit of your current social media presence. This audit will help you understand exactly where you stand in terms of engagement and impressions as well as how effective your existing approach is. So if you’re on social media already but don’t have a definite plan, this will give you an idea of exactly what is wrong with your approach.
A social media audit should help you figure out:
- Whether you’re using platforms that your audience uses,
- Whether your existing account can help you achieve your social media goals,
- Whether the account needs optimisation and how,
- Which approaches you should change and which ones you should keep, and more
Step 5: Decide on which networks to prioritise
Next, based on the insights from your audience research and your social media audit, decide on which social networks you should prioritise. This largely depends on factors such as your industry and your product type. However, you should focus most on where your audience spends the most of their time.
You can then further narrow down on your choice by identifying which platforms can help you achieve your goal. For example, the linking limitations on Instagram may make it challenging to accomplish goals such as traffic generation, especially if you don’t have enough followers to share links in your Stories. Instead, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn could be a better choice depending on your industry.
B2B companies typically focus their efforts on LinkedIn. But you can also find them engaging in conversations and sharing content through Twitter. Consumer brands typically flock to Instagram because of its focus on visuals. However, it could still make total sense for fulfilling certain social media goals for a B2B company.
For example, MailChimp uses Instagram to share impressive visuals with a focus on telling customer stories and building a brand community.
Step 6: Create and/or optimise your profiles
During your social media audit, you might have realised that your profiles need some optimisation to help you achieve your goals. The exact area you need to optimise may vary, but you should typically focus on the following best practices:
- Make sure your username matches that of your brand so people can easily find you in search.
- Upload profile pictures and cover photos that not only look great but also match your brand’s visual guide. For example, check out Figma’s colourful and eye-catching cover photo that uses the same colour scheme as the company’s logo and has graphic elements that show people what the product is about.
- Write a bio or description that helps people understand what your business is about and how your product/service addresses their pain points. But don’t forget to include some relevant keywords and phrases naturally. Use the video below to learn how to write the perfect Instagram bio for your business.
- Include a link in your bio or profile that takes people to the desired landing page. Ideally, make sure you have a branded link in your bio to improve your branding efforts and instill trust.
- Provide customers with a phone number, email address, or link to contact you in case they need assistance. For example, Dribbble adds a link to the brand’s support page on Twitter so customers can reach out in case they need help with their account.
Step 7: Get inspired
Now let’s get to the most fun part about creating a social media marketing plan – finding inspiration. This doesn’t necessarily involve looking at your competitors for inspiration but rather at your favourite brands and companies doing social media marketing right.
What kinds of content are they posting? Do they try to be helpful or do they just try to entertain? How are they connecting with their audience? What kind of voice are they using and why does it work?
Make a note of all the things that you could implement in your own social media marketing plan. For example, you could replicate how the Fred Aldous Instagram store neatly organises their Instagram Story highlights into categories like news, portraits, new in, and more.
Step 8: Develop a social content calendar
One of the most crucial steps in creating a social media marketing plan is developing a content and publishing calendar. This is the part where you really put your research discovery and insights into action.
Based on what you’ve discovered about what types of content works for your competitors and what your audience wants to see, you can start out by determining the right content mix. For example, you could have 40% of posts that inform and educate your audience, 20% of posts curated from other sources, 25% of posts that directly promote your products/services, and 15% that highlight your work culture.
You can then create a publishing calendar that aligns with this content mix as well as your audience’s online timings.
Step 9: Measure and improve
Creating a social media marketing plan is only the first step; it’s equally important to keep optimising this plan to generate even better results. So make sure you keep measuring your performance to see what works and what needs improving.
But don’t just stop at measuring your performance based on native social media metrics; you have to go beyond that to get an even more complete picture. This means keeping track of which posts and which platforms help you drive actual leads and traffic. You could use Rebrandly to create UTM-tagged links and easily save those presets into templates that you can keep using for different posts and platforms.
Check out the following video on how to add UTM parameters to your links.
A social media marketing plan gives you some sense of direction in using social media to promote your business. It helps you make a focused effort so you don’t waste your time or money on things that don’t work. So make the most of the steps given above to start creating your first social media marketing plan and watch your business grow.
If you have any questions about these steps, let us know in the comments.
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This article is about:
- Social Media Marketing Plan
- Social Media Marketing
- Marketing Plan