As a marketer, you believe in the motto ” if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Yet when it comes to social media, you may focus on details and tactics and forget the big picture, the strategy. Well, it’s time to change that. From now on, you will start with a social media plan. Simply put, a successful social media plan highlights where you are now, where you want to be, the tools and tactics to get there, and how to measure your performance. To be effective, your social media plan should be focused and concise. A simple actionable plan is more effective than a big confusing one. With that in mind here are my
11 steps to an effective social media plan
1.Start with a mission statement
For each social media platform, set a mission statement, e.g. our Facebook page will show the social and human side of our company and enable daily engagement with our customers. This way, when you get in the thick of things you can check your mission statement and get back on track.
2.Set SMART goals
Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. For example, you want to increase your target audience awareness of a new development or technology. In that case, Your SMART goal could be to post one new article each week, get 50 shares, 5 comments and 10 website referrals within the first month.
3.Conduct a situation analysis i.e. social media audit
Before planning forward you should start with an analysis of your current situation. What social networks you are currently on, who controls or manages them, what purpose they serve and who connects to you. This way you will have a clear picture about which accounts need updating and which should be deleted altogether. You should also manage your online reputation. If there are fake social media pages carrying your name, report them.
4.Research your competition
You need to know what the top 3 performers in your category are doing, what types of content they share, how frequent they post, what type of audience they target, and the level of engagement on their sites. You can plan your actions accordingly and you may learn a thing or two from their successful strategies.
5.Identify your target audience
Your plan cannot work if you are talking to the wrong people. So start by drawing a complete target audience persona including age, demographics, interests, needs, social habits, etc.
6.Create or improve your social media accounts
If you don’t have social media accounts, build them from the ground up. If you have current accounts, refine and update them. You should consider your target audience while you are choosing your social media channels. That is if your audiences spend most of their time on Facebook and little time on twitter, it makes sense to allocate more time and presence to Facebook.
7.Create a content plan and editorial calendar
Producing social media content is a meticulously orchestrated effort that although it looks natural and easy on the surface it takes a lot of work and planning. So how do you design your content creation plan? To start you need to answer the following questions;
- Which target audience you will speak to on each platform?
- What type of content do you want to share on social media?
- When and how frequent will you communicate?
- Who will create the content?
- How will you promote the content?
To keep a regular posting schedule, plan your posts in advance using any of the post scheduling services like buffer or HootSuite.
Now that you have your calendar in place, you need to decide who does what. Set clear roles so that your team members know their responsibilities such as strategy, content creation, and moderation. You can use a project management or team collaboration software to orchestrate their efforts.
9.Allocate the budget
You need to decide on the budget from the very beginning. There are 2 ways to do it, you can set a certain figure which could be a pre-set percentage of your marketing budget and then see which tactics you can get, or the other way that I prefer, to start with a list of the tactics that will help you achieve your objectives such as social media monitoring, email marketing, CRM, services you will outsource or subscribe to, graphic design, video production, content writers, social media moderators, etc. Then add up the costs to come up with a bottom-up budget. What if you cannot afford the budget, in that case, you need to prioritize your tactics and start with the ones that give you the best value for money. Later, you can add more tactics as your budget allows.
10.Test, evaluate and adjust
To make sure your effort is not wasted you must track and measure. You can track the number of clicks your links get on each platform using link shorteners. You can track your website page visits coming from social media posts using google analytics. Analyzing your successes and failures enables you to adjust your plan and actions. You can also use surveys to ask your audience about their opinion about your social media efforts.
11.Don’t set it and forget it
Social media is rapidly changing so you have to be a quick respondent. Incorporate new channels, update your goals and tweak your budget. Your target audience may even move to other platforms. Follow them where they go.
Just like traditional marketing, a successful social media marketing campaign starts with a successful social media plan.
Share your view
What is your process for social media planning? Share it in the comments