Social media platforms have incredible reach in today’s modern world. Consider that LinkedIn has more than 675+ million user profiles. While Facebook is fast closing in on the 2.32 billion users mark according to Statista - that’s 26 percent of the world’s population. And, these users are sending out social media posts at least once a day often with visual content, for an extra kick.
The power of using social media as a tool in your marketing arsenal is far-reaching. It can create opportunities for influencer marketing while reaching a targeted audience and engaging with potential customers you may never have had access to previously.
Building a social media marketing strategy is akin to building out a digital marketing strategy. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot more to winning at social media than posting a few tweets and status updates. If you want to meet your goals then you need to make the most of social media for your business. This means a fool proof and successful social plan.
WHAT IS A SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING PLAN?
A social media marketing plan establishes goals for social media, is an audit of all accounts and identifies the tools to use to achieve specific goals. Creating a plan is the first step towards achieving social media success for your company. Here’s how you can get started.
#1 DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES AND GET SMART
Having objectives and goals in place are critical parts of your social media marketing plan. They’re helpful when choosing which tactics to pursue in your campaigns, and can highlight campaigns that are performing poorly and need refocusing.
When creating your objectives, it’s imperative to structure them around a SMART framework.
Remember that your goals need to align closely with your company’s overall business objectives. This improves your chances of securing buy-in and investment from your management team.
#2 CONDUCT AN AUDIT OF YOUR NETWORKS
Before going after your goals and objectives, you’ll need to carry out a thorough review of your social media accounts. Naturally, this step only applies if your business has active social media accounts.
The goal of a social media audit is to determine:
- Who is currently connecting with your business via social channels?
- Which social media platforms are favoured by your target audience?
- How does your business’s social presence measure up to your competitors?
After you’ve gotten a clearer image of the state of your social media accounts, you’ll want to create a mission statement for each platform. By developing these declarations, you set goals for each network that guide your efforts going forward. Be sure to check that there aren't any forgotten accounts lurking about that might confuse your new strategy. Any accounts you don’t plan on using, or don’t serve a purpose should be deleted.
#3 IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Just as with any inbound marketing activity, social media marketing requires a targeted approach to be successful. Developing and maintaining buyer personas is essential not only as a foundation on which to base all your inbound marketing activities but also for targeting through social media.
Sending out untargeted social media messaging is unhelpful. It will result in engagements from individuals outside of your personas, which will be a waste of your time and resources. The idea is to boost your conversions achieved through social media, and the best way to do so is to establish your buyer personas and to create messaging targeted for them and their needs or interests.
#4 LOCK DOWN YOUR CHANNELS
Not all social media channels will work for your target audience. If your primary persona is a middle-aged male CFO, Pinterest (used by 45% of women, as opposed to only 17% of men) might not be the best network to focus on and they won’t be looking at your Instagram Stories. Whereas LinkedIn, currently the B2B social network leader with over 106 million visitors a month, might be far more appropriate.
Rather than wasting time, effort and budget in an attempt to market across all social media networks, zero in on those most likely to be used by your personas. You’ll gain a clearer idea of which networks will work for you when you conduct the audit of your networks. It’s also a good idea to include questions regarding social media usage as a part of your surveys and buyer persona research questions.
Remember that trends change, and social media channels can wax and wane in user popularity. Monitor trends and make sure you are engaging in social listening. Understand how your personas use the various platforms so that you can make changes or focus on relevant networks trending at any given time. Tip: An all-in-one marketing tool like HubSpot will be able to tell you which of your leads (by email address) have Twitter accounts.
#5 DO SOME COMPETITOR RECON
Your competitors are a valuable resource when it comes to developing your social media marketing plan. By checking on their activities and content across social media, and their levels of engagement, you can gain insight into which tactics and what content works for them. This is useful information when deciding on your social media strategy. Three critical areas of focus when looking at the social media pages of your competitors are audience/followers, engagement and content.
Engagement speaks to how successfully your competitors’ strategies across social media are performing. Their content can guide you in choosing the type of media that might perform well on your channels too and their followers numbers indicate their success across the board.
To calculate engagement, you simply take the total number of engagement activities for a defined number of posts on a competitor's page and divide them by the total number of fans the page has gathered. This gives you a general idea of how well your competitors' pages do, and how your pages stack up in comparison.
#6 DEVELOP A CONTENT STRATEGY
If you're looking to connect with your target audience, there's one vital point you can't afford to miss. Social media needs consistent, regular attending to and maintenance. The frequency and regularity of your posting may mean the difference between great and poor levels of engagement. You're going to need to commit to posting to your channels daily with a fresh stream of content to see good results.
This isn't an easy feat to achieve on the fly. It takes planning to ensure you're always publishing and that your content is appropriate for your target audience. One of the best ways to go about doing so is to set up a social media content strategy and editorial calendar.
Your content strategy should detail:
- The types of content you intend to post and promote via your channels (e.g. own content or curated?)
- How often you plan on posting
- Your target audience for each type of content
- The party responsible for creating or sourcing the content
In conjunction with the above, you'll also need to develop an editorial calendar that covers the dates and times you intend on publishing content across the networks. This needs to be aligned with blog publishing and events calendar to get ‘breaking news’ promoted while it’s hot.
The idea is to set up scheduling in advance using both a strategy and editorial calendar. By doing so you have ample time to craft your daily messaging to best represent your brand and prevent rushed or subpar posts.
THE RULE OF THIRDS
Remember that your goal on social media should never be to spam brand messaging at your audience. Instead, as with other forms of inbound marketing, your content needs to be geared towards your audience and their needs.
There's an unspoken rule that your social media content strategy should adhere to when you create and plan out your content. This is the "Rule of Thirds", which states that best practice is to divide your content into thirds as follows:
- One-third of your content should share ideas from thought leaders in your industry and other like-minded businesses. The goal here to focus on your audience's needs and to post or share content they might find useful or enjoyable.
- One-third of your content should promote your business, convert readers and help you generate a profit. This means scheduled posts that promote your latest eBook or blog, or perhaps detailing special offers or events related to your company.
- One-third of your content should be based on personal interactions with your followers and prospects, with a focus on building your business's personal brand.
It may seem challenging at first to step into the unknown and to start sharing content that doesn't promote your brand. But this action is key to proving to your audience that you're an industry guru who's confident enough to share other people's content. It also boosts your exposure through the connection of your content to audiences outside of your own.
#7 EXAMINE YOUR BUDGET AND RESOURCES
Even though social media might seem free at a glance, properly utilising it as a marketing tool requires resources. This could be the cost of having someone dedicated to managing your social media platforms full-time, or the tools you may utilise in your social media plan. Social media advertising is also an area you may want to look into for your business, which would also involve costs.
Understanding your resources when creating your social media plan will help you align your activities and strategy to your available budget. It'll also guide you when you're prioritising tactics based on ROI.
#8 BECOME ACCOUNTABLE
When it comes to executing your social media marketing plan, you need to assign roles to the individuals who will fulfill certain tasks within the plan. Because of the ongoing, daily nature of social media, accountability is critical to ensuring you're always on top of your tactics. Before executing your strategy, decide who will be creating content, posting it or responding to interactions.
A FINAL WORD
The ever-changing nature of social media means your strategy will never be set in stone. It needs to be flexible enough to adapt as you notice trends and new areas of potential to mine.
Social media can bring in some great rewards and quick wins for your business. You simply need to develop the appropriate plan of action. Need help? Feel free to reach out to our team anytime.