Digitally savvy brands have recognized early on Social Media as an essential part of their overall marketing strategy and as an important channel to achieve their business objectives.
However, many brands with a social media presence often neglect to establish a concrete action plan in advance. These brands sooner or later reach a social media marketing dead-end, struggling with growth, engagement and measuring the impact of their social media activity on their business.
The thing is, every single action you perform on social media, every tweet you post, every comment you reply to, is or should be, part of your overall presence on social media and yet another way to market your brand.
The truth is, that creating a social media strategy from scratch, can be a tedious, time-consuming task. But once you do have it place, it will save you a ton of time and effort in the future. All you need is an initial investment of your time.
What is a social media marketing plan
A social media marketing plan is a summary of everything you plan to do and aim to achieve for your business using social media. The more specific your plan is, the more effective you’ll be implementing it.
When putting together your plan, keep in mind that you’ll basically use this as a guide for all your future social media marketing actions. So it needs to be clear and concise, with well-defined goals and KPIs.
To help you out in this process and to simplify it as much as possible, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide you can use to set up the ultimate social media marketing plan for your brand.
Step 1: Set goals and objectives
This is perhaps the most important step in the process. Before you take any action on social media, you need to define clearly your goals and objectives in order to a solid base for a social media strategy. Your social media marketing goals should be aligned with your overall business strategy simply because social media is an important marketing tool with a great potential for helping you achieve your business goals.
I know, this sounds intimidating. But trust me; it becomes much easier once you follow the SMART approach for setting up your social media marketing goals.
Step 2: Define your KPIs
It might come as a surprise, but a recent survey revealed that only 15% of brands are able to quantify the impact of social media on their business.
[Tweet “Only 15% of brands are able to quantify the impact of #SocialMedia on their business. “]
So how are you going to determine whether your social media efforts are actually making a difference for your business? What key measures will you use to evaluate social media strategy effectiveness?
This infographic that surfaced a few years back, reveals what KPIs social media marketers focus on to quantify the impact of social media marketing on their business.
For example, if your social media marketing goal is to increase conversions through social media, which let’s just face it, is the ultimate goal for any brand on social, then using Google Analytics, you can track all conversions throughout platforms by checking the Conversions report under Acquisitions > Social.
Convince and Convert have put together a great guide of top Google Analytics reports every social media marketer should keep an eye on that cover different goals and KPIs. Check it out.
Step 3: Analyze your audience
Knowing who your audience is, is an important step in creating your social media marketing plan and one that will help you to better implement you content strategy, perform social media actions and of course decide the platforms you should focus on.
[Tweet “Audience insights can help to better define your social content strategy and social channels. “]
Given that social media is an extension of your overall marketing efforts, if you’ve already created personas for your marketing strategy use them as a base to define your target audience on social.
If however, your target audience is not clearly defined, gather the information you need on your audience’s demographic and psychographic characteristics by looking at your site’s analytics or by putting together quick surveys that will help you to better outline the profiles of your current and potential customers.
Step 4: Pick your platforms
The platforms that are more likely to have the biggest impact for your business are the ones that your audience is using and that are relevant to your product or service. Simply put, the fact that there’s a bunch of social media platforms out there, doesn’t mean that you need to be present on each of them.
Your competitors’ presence, as well as the profile of your customers are the two decisive factors when picking the right social media platforms for your business.
Step 5: Set your voice and tone
Many brands underestimate this step when putting together their social media strategy as they often take this as a given. However, defining your brand’s voice and tone is particularly important when more than one people are involved in managing social media for a business. But even when this is not the case for many small and medium businesses out there, having a clear voice and tone for your brand can help you craft better copy that resonates well with your target audience.
Your message is what you try to communicate. Your tone of voice is how you communicate it. Tone takes a statement and either breathes life into it…or sucks the life out of it.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on where to start with defining your brand’s voice and tone, check out Mailchimp’s wonderful guide here, or go through Distilled’s in-depth guide to tone of voice.
Step 6: Create a content plan
When you have a social media content plan, managing your accounts becomes a lot less daunting. Organizing the way you create and curate content helps you save a lot of time in managing social media but also allows you to have a clear overview of what type of content you post across different platforms, allows you to better plan your social media marketing campaigns and of course gives you a solution when you get to the “What should I post now” point.
The easiest way to organize a content calendar is by using a separate sheet for each month, with activities further broken down by month or day, depending on the volume of content you plan to publish.
1.Decide how often you should post across platforms
Although there are some general rules of thumb on the posting frequency for each social media platform, the ultimate posting recipe is different for every account as it often depends on the industry and audience, the type of content you post and of course the platform itself.
For example, for Twitter Counter’s Twitter account, we found out that shifting to a once-an-hour, round the clock posting strategy had a positive effect on the overall engagement of our account.
In general, according to a recent Buffer research a good starting point for posting across platforms is this:
Note: it is important to experiment with different frequencies for each platform. Timing is equally important to maximize the exposure of your posts depending on where your audience is.
For Twitter, Followerwonk can tell you when your Twitter followers are online and Twitter Counter calculates the most successful times and days in a week based on your engagement metrics.
Facebook insights offers information on the best times to post for maximum reach whereas for Google+, social media science concludes that weekdays from 09:00 am to 11:00 am are the best.
2. Decide what to post and where
Once you have decided on the best frequency and timing recipe for each platform it is time to decide on the type of content to post on each platform. If you have marketing campaigns planned through out the year, you can already start thinking your message, the visuals and the platforms you will want to use.
It is important to keep in mind that even though you could essentially post the same content on every medium, its structure and copy need to be adjusted to the specifics of each platform.
For example, on LinkedIn link posts with linger copy work better than on Facebook. On Twitter, the 80/20 rule is a rule to tweet by. This means that a good content tactic is sharing 20% your own content and 80% third party content from trustworthy, reliable sources. Twitter suggests images or video as the best option to accompany your tweets and boost your reach.
3.Write your copy and create your visuals
When writing your social media copy, keep in mind that length matters. Social media scientist, Dan Zarrella suggests that tweets that are 100 to 115 characters long are more likely to be retweeted.
On Facebook, posts that are maximum 40 characters long do perform better in terms of engagement, whereas Google+ and LinkedIn call for longer updates. For a quick checklist of what you should keep in mind when writing social media copy take a look at this amazing infographic from Quick Sprout.
4.Fill up your social media content calendar
The last step of your social media content strategy is creating a content calendar. This way, you gain an overview of what you are posting on each platform and it is much easier to plan relevant content around important dates such as product releases, holidays and so on. Oh, and of course you’ll never need to ask yourself ‘What do I post now?’
Depending how much of a visual type you are, you can either use a template or use your scheduling tool to plan your content ahead.
Remember that on social media, it is OK to repeat content as long as you present it in a fresh way using a different visual or copy for example. In fact, repeating content on social is key to boosting traffic and expanding your reach.
Step 7: Test and evaluate
Of course nothing is written in stone. So it is important that you revaluate your social media plan on a frequent basis in order to make sure you’re on the right track when it comes to reaching your goals and KPIs.
Apart from the ongoing measuring and monitoring of your social media activity, frequent social media audits, ideally once every three months, are the way to go in order to take a step back and evaluate not only the core of your social media strategy, but also its execution.
Here’s what your social media audit should cover in a nutshell.
1.Review of your Social Media profiles
Locate all the social media accounts for your brand and write down the current status and audience size. While you’re at it, make the necessary updates in their look and feel as well as in the profile descriptions.
Make a list of the competitors’ accounts you are interested in looking and analyze your social media behavior.
Points to look at:
- Social Media presence and Audience size.
- Type of content.
- Frequency of posting.
- Average engagement per post.
3.Assess your Social Media activity
Based on the data you have available, you should be able to (re)evaluate your presence on each social platform and estimate whether you are reaching your KPIs for audience, engagement, traffic or conversions.
4.Plan what’s next
After a thorough review of your social media activity, you probably have more than enough information to put together your action plan until the next audit by setting a specific set of goals.
Creating a social media strategy from scratch can be time-consuming. Yet, the long-term benefit of having a clearly-defined social media strategy outweighs the initial time investment you put in. What is important to keep in mind is that a social media marketing plan should function as your brand’s guide and provide you with direction on how to achieve your business goals using social media.
Now, let’s get the conversation going! Do you have a social media strategy for your brand? Which challenges did you face designing and implementing your plan. Let us know in the comments below.