Social media marketing (SMM) is an umbrella term for activities on social media channels that aim to promote a brand, product or service. It is an excellent tool for raising brand awareness, generating leads, and converting them into clients, as confirmed by 73% of marketers, according to recent Oberlo findings.
Without a strategic marketing plan, you could be wasting your time and money on unattainable actions that don't bring desired results.
This article will introduce you to a seven-step SMM strategy you can use to develop a solid social media presence that will make clients’ heads turn.
Table of Contents
What Is a Social Media Marketing Plan?
A social media marketing plan includes social media goals, actions to achieve them and social media metrics to track your campaign and measure progress.
Social media platforms differ in marketing features, demographics, user numbers and many other specifics. Therefore, one SMM plan cannot cover all your social media accounts — you should set expectations for each and develop a unique social media marketing strategy for their fulfillment.
How to Make a Social Media Marketing Plan in 7 Steps
Now that we've established what it is and why it's important, we present the social media strategy ideal for small businesses, start-ups and any company that wants to improve their marketing efforts.
Here is how to make a social media marketing plan that stands the test of time:
Step #1: Define Your Business Goals
If you don't know, where are you heading, any path will look the same. Therefore, you need to specify your objectives before making any SMM moves.
Would you like to:
- Increase brand awareness?
- Attract more traffic to your website?
- Introduce more people to your offerings.
- Generate more leads?
- Boost lead conversion?
- Promote a new product or service?
- Position as an expert in your industry?
Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific — Your goals should be precise and clear, impossible to misinterpret.
- Measurable — You should be able to track your goal’s progress using various social media metrics and tools.
- Attainable — Your objective must be possible to achieve, aka realistic.
- Relevant — Goals should be relatable to your business visions and values.
- Time-bound — There should be a time frame within which you’ll achieve your objectives, regardless if it is a few months or a year.
SMART goals will help you focus and make the most efficient use of your time and resources.
Step #2: Identify Your Target Audience
The audience stands between your business and desired objectives. They will support you and push you toward your dreams if you find a way to tell a convincing story about your brand and its offerings.
If not, be prepared to be ignored.
Who is your audience? If you use social media for eCommerce, think about your ideal customer.
For example, if you sell woman's shoes, you’ll want to attract a broad female audience. Still, if you sell Louboutin 6-inch heels, you’ll need to target the female population between the ages of 20 and 40 who are interested in wearing and able to walk in such shoes.
You should know all the important demographic characteristics of your target audience:
- Job title
- Average income
Social media platforms provide you with a lot of valuable insights into your audience’s demographics and online behavior. You can also use social media tools like Google Analytics to improve your SMM strategy and target a narrower audience.
Step #3: Research Your Competitor’s Strategy
Your competitors are probably already present on social media; analyzing their social media marketing strategy will bring you a competitive advantage.
Identify your competition and find out the following information:
- Which platforms do they use?
- How frequently do they post?
- What are their primary keywords?
- What type of content do they use the most?
- How engaged is their audience?
- Does their strategy have any gaps?
Utilize wisely the insights you gathered and keep researching.
For example, suppose your competitors have an active Instagram account but don’t use Twitter. In that case, is Twitter your golden opportunity or should you avoid it too because your target audience doesn't use it? Make sure you have the answers before you engage.
Some of the best competitor analysis tools that can help you spy on your competition and borrow their ideas are Ahrefs, Semrush and BuzzSumo.
Bonus tip: these tools are also excellent for SEO strategy development and measurement!
Step #4: Decide Which Social Media to Use and Set Up Accounts
Naturally, you’ll use those platforms your audience uses the most.
Here are some interesting statistics about social media's prevalent users that might help you decide which platform to use:
- Active monthly users: 2.93 billion
- Dominant age group: 25 to 34
- Gender representation: 43.2% female, 56.8% male
- Active monthly users: 2.47 billion
- Dominant age group: 25 to 34
- Gender representation: 45.6% female, 54.4% male
- Active monthly users: 1.44 billion
- Dominant age group: 18 to 24
- Gender representation: 47.2% female, 52.8% male
- Active monthly users: 486 million
- Dominant age group: 18 to 29
- Gender representation: 27.3% female, 72.7% male
- Active monthly users: 849.6 million
- Dominant age group: 25 to 34
- Gender representation: 43.6% female, 56.4%
- Active monthly users: 1.02 billion
- Dominant age group: 18 to 24
- Gender representation: 56.2% female, 43.8% male
Note that the type of content you produce might not be suitable for all social media networks.
For example, video content works great on all platforms, but textual content won't get attention on YouTube, a video-oriented platform.
Also, each social media platform has a predominant purpose you should consider:
- Facebook is suitable for SMM of all kinds and businesses of all sizes and types.
- YouTube can help you reach a global audience.
- Instagram is best for new product presentations and influencer marketing.
- Twitter is ideal for customer support.
- LinkedIn is great for sharing the company’s visions and culture.
- TikTok is best for increasing brand exposure.
Once you decide which platforms to use, make business accounts and fill them with all the necessary information customers identify your brand with.
Congratulations. Now you’re ready to publish content and interact with your audience.
Step #5: Create a Content Schedule
Publishing quality and engaging content is vital for your social media marketing strategy to succeed. Still, you should research how frequently and when to post to achieve the best results.
Use a social media content calendar to organize your posting schedule. The content calendar contains lists of posting dates and times and the type of content. It can significantly help manage daily publishing and SMM campaigns.
How Often Should You Publish Fresh Content?
Many marketers and business owners are trying to determine an ideal posting frequency. Our advice is to focus on quality rather than quantity.
Instead of spamming your followers' feeds and quickly earning an annoying reputation (and probably an unfollow), 74% of customers think brands should post once or twice a day.
What Is the Best Time to Post on Social Media?
According to a survey of more than 300 marketers, the best time to publish content, regardless of the industry or social media platform, is from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The best days to publish are weekends, especially Saturdays.
Step #6: Produce Appealing Content
The content you publish should be compelling and engaging to get the attention of your target audience. It should provide value and inform, educate or entertain the readers.
Needless to say, your content has to be unique — you can borrow ideas from your competitors without plagiarizing their content.
Follow the 80/20 content strategy:
- 80% of your content should be informative, educative or entertaining.
- 20% should promote your brand, products or services.
- Another content plan you could test is the rule of thirds:
- One-third of the content should promote your brand, convert leads and generate profit.
- One-third should share relevant content and industry experts’ insights.
- One-third should be interacting with your leads and customers.
Step #7: Use Social Media Metrics to Track Your Success
Monitoring big data on social media will get you valuable insights into the performance of all aspects of your social media marketing plan.
Some of your tactics will underperform and you’ll need to adjust them. Some will surprise you with high efficiency.
Some of the key social media metrics you should monitor are:
- Conversion rate
- Engagement rate
- Audience growth rate
- Return on investment (ROI)
Regularly re-evaluate your social media plan to maximize its potential, getting you closer to your business goals.
Why Is a Strategic Social Media Plan Important?
A personalized social media marketing strategy will bring many benefits:
- Make your business stand out from the competition,
- Precisely target desired audience,
- Build brand image and awareness,
- Create a community of leads that will get to know your brand, develop trust and convert into satisfied customers.
A comprehensive social media plan will also give you an idea of the time frame and investment needed to reach your objectives. You’ll put efforts into suitable platforms and serve carefully crafted content to highly qualified prospects at the right time, bringing you closer to your goals.
Social Media Marketing Plan: Key Takeaways
SM platforms are ever-evolving and your marketing strategy must keep pace with their changes.
However, some tactics, like the seven steps described above, will never be outdated:
- Define your business goals.
- Find out who are the best prospects for your brand.
- Research competition and find gaps in their social media presence.
- Create accounts on the SM platforms most suitable for your brand.
- Establish a content schedule.
- Publish creative, engaging and unique content.
- Track the success of your work and adjust if needed.