How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

Social Media Marketing
How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan
Article by Ivana Ivanova
Last Updated: June 17, 2024

Social media marketing (SMM) refers to the use of social media to build a brand. It involves promoting your company and its products and services on social channels, so you gain more exposure, reach a broader audience, and get more profit.

With that in mind, a social media marketing plan is essentially detailing every step of your SMM. In this article, we’ll share why a social media marketing plan is important and how to create one similar to what top social media marketing agencies use.

What Is a Social Media Marketing Plan? 

A social media marketing plan is everything you need to create a social media strategy in one place. It includes social media goals, actions to achieve them, and key 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 marketing strategy to fulfill them.

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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 the 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 can then put your efforts into suitable platforms and deliver carefully crafted content to highly qualified prospects at the right time, bringing you closer to your goals.

How to Make a Social Media Marketing Plan in 7 Steps

Now that we’ve established what a social media marketing plan is and why it’s important, let’s go over the 7 key steps of a social media strategy for small businesses and large enterprises. But before that, you should first assess if an SMM plan is the right thing for your business.

Juliana Weiss-Roessler, Founder of WR Digital Marketing, advises on the starting point: “Determine whether focusing on social media benefits the client. While social networks promote frequent posting for more engagement, businesses need tangible results like more clients and sales. For many, it's effective to use social media as a channel to validate their business's credibility and meet customer needs rather than as a primary tool for awareness or conversion.”

Nick Fernandez, Founder of Upsway Marketing, provides one more actionable piece of advice regarding this moment: “Before developing a strategy, conduct social listening and audit the client's current social media presence to understand which platforms and content types work or don't and why. Then determine the most suitable social media platforms for the client, considering their industry's and target audience's specific needs. Finally, create engaging content plans that mix informative, fun, and promotional content aligned with their goals.”

Step #1: Define Your Business Goals 

Once you’re sure that a social media marketing plan is right for your business, start by defining your objectives. This will narrow down what you want to achieve, making it easier to fit all other SMM steps.

Elaine Freeman, Owner & Co-Founder at Parliament Marketing Group, shares a useful tip: "We urge clients to prioritize between one to three goals. By mastering those goals, they can achieve a more significant impact before moving on to the next challenge.”

Ask yourself if you’d 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?

Regardless of what you set your objectives to be, they should always be SMART:

  • 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, so be realistic.
  • Relevant — Goals should be relatable to your business’s visions and values.
  • Time-bound — There should be a time frame within which you’ll achieve your objectives, regardless of whether 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 goals if you find a way to pique their interest in the brand and its offerings.

To complete the second stage of your social media marketing plan, think about who your audience is. If you use social media for eCommerce, consider this your ideal customer. However, it’s not just about finding a general audience — you must segment it according to your offered services/products.

For example, if you sell women's shoes, you’ll want to attract a broad female audience. Still, if you sell Louboutin 6-inch heels, you might 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.

When figuring out your target audience, you should know all the important demographic characteristics, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Education
  • Job title
  • Average income
  • Interests

Only after you have these data can you do audience segmentation, i.e., divide them into subgroups so you can target them more easily. For this, you can use social media tools like Google Analytics.

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Step #3: Research Your Competitor’s Strategy 

Social Media Marketing Plan - Competitor Research

Almost everyone is on social media. This includes your competitors. So, 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?

This will give you key insights into the market, the strategy that works best, and how to avoid the problems they’ve previously faced. Once you have that, you can create a risk management plan as part of your overall social media plan.

For example, suppose your competitors have an active Instagram account but don’t use X (formerly Twitter). Why is that? Have they used it before and seen it was a mistake? Should you avoid it? If not and X (formerly Twitter) is your golden opportunity, what are the issues you should be worried about and set contingency plans for, like potential threats or bans on the app? Make sure you have the answers before you engage.

Overall, conducting a competitor analysis today is not that hard. Some tools can help you analyze your competition and utilize their ideas, like Ahrefs and BuzzSumo. Plus, you can use these tools for SEO strategy development and measurement.

Even experts agree that conducting a thorough competitor analysis before any other step in your social media marketing plan is highly important.

Kymber Heinze, Director of Social Media at SmartSites, suggests a comprehensive research approach: “Social media strategy involves thorough research beyond just crafting captions and visuals. We delve into competitor analysis, hashtag effectiveness, optimal posting times, audience interests, and industry trends to keep our clients competitive and avoid common pitfalls. Customizing posting schedules based on unique audience insights is crucial for maximizing engagement. We also stay current with industry trends to create content that resonates with the audience. This comprehensive approach allows us to develop a tailored strategy, which we test for 2-3 months and adjust based on ongoing data analysis.”

Step #4: Decide Which Social Media To Use and Set Up Accounts

The next step of your social media marketing plan is choosing a social media platform. Depending on the size of the company and what you’re trying to accomplish with an SMM plan, you can try different tactics to find which social media to best use. For example, cross-department collaboration may be required so you can address all potential issues or present products/services different teams work on.

Regardless of how you plan to achieve it, your social media management plan should focus on the platforms your audience uses the most. Here are some interesting statistics about social media platform users that might help you decide on a platform to use:

Facebook 

  • Active monthly users: 3.06 billion
  • Dominant age group: 25 to 34 
  • Gender representation: 43.3% female, 56.7% male  

YouTube 

  • Active monthly users: 2.5 billion 
  • Dominant age group: 25 to 34 
  • Gender representation: 39.8% female, 60.2% male  

Instagram 

  • Active monthly users: 2 billion
  • Dominant age group: 18 to 24 
  • Gender representation: 46.7% female, 53.3% male

X (Formerly Twitter)

  • Active monthly users: 415.3 million 
  • Dominant age group: 25 to 34 
  • Gender representation: 39.1% female, 60.9% male  

LinkedIn 

  • Active monthly users: 900 million 
  • Dominant age group: 25 to 34 
  • Gender representation: 43.7% female, 56.3%  

TikTok 

  • Active monthly users: 1.5 billion
  • Dominant age group: 18 to 24 
  • Gender representation: 45.7% female, 54.3% male

Note that each social media platform has a predominant purpose you should consider:

  • Facebook is suitable for SMMs 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.

Step #5: Produce Appealing Content 

Your social media marketing plan won’t do you any good if you don’t produce the right content tailored for your chosen platform. Today, not all content types are 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.

Of course, the content you publish should be unique, compelling, and engaging to get the attention of your target audience. It should also provide value, inform, educate, or entertain the readers.

To get to this type of content, consider using 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

Finally, put the spotlight on user-generated content. This is the content that comes from customers, such as testimonials, pictures, unboxing videos, etc. Since this is one-of-a-kind, it can help bring in more buyers and spread the word about your offerings.

Step #6: Create a Content Schedule  

When you have your content, it’s time to start considering how to publish it. Publishing quality and engaging content is vital for your social media marketing plan to succeed. Still, you should research how frequently and when to post to achieve the best results.

Many social media marketing agencies have varying 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.

Moreover, when it comes to the ideal time to post your content, a CoShedule analysis of over 37 million social posts showed that the best time to post in general is between 3 PM and 8 AM on Friday, Wednesday, and Monday.

If you can’t keep track of your social media posting schedule, use a content calendar to organize it. 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.

Step #7: Use Social Media Metrics To Track Your Success

The final step in your social media marketing plan is to keep track of performance. Monitoring big data on social media will give you valuable insights into the performance of all aspects of your social media marketing strategy.

Some of your tactics will underperform, and you’ll need to adjust them. Some will surprise you with high efficiency.

Key social media metrics you should monitor are:

  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • 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.

Social Media Marketing Plan Template

Social Media Marketing Plan Template

  1. Goals and Objectives: Define specific, measurable, and time-bound goals for your social media marketing efforts, such as increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or generating leads.
  2. Target Audience: Identify your ideal audience demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  3. Content Strategy: Outline the types of content you'll create (e.g., posts, videos, infographics) and the topics or themes.
  4. Social Media Platforms: Choose the platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) that align with your audience and goals.
  5. Posting Schedule: Define a posting frequency and schedule that ensures regular, consistent content.
  6. Engagement Strategy: Detail how you'll interact with your audience through comments, messages, and community management.
  7. Paid Advertising: If applicable, describe your paid advertising strategy, including budget and targeting options.
  8. Influencer Collaboration: If relevant, identify influencers or partners you'll collaborate with.
  9. Metrics and KPIs: List key performance indicators (e.g., likes, shares, clicks, conversions) to track progress toward your goals.
  10. Budget and Resources: Allocate resources, budget, and tools needed to execute your plan effectively.
  11. Monitoring and Reporting: Define how you monitor performance and report results. Include tools and frequency.
  12. Adaptation: Specify how you'll adapt your strategy based on insights and changes in the social media landscape.

Social Media Marketing Plan Takeaways

SM platforms are ever-evolving, so your social media marketing plan must keep pace with changes. However, some tactics, like the seven steps described above, will never be outdated:

  1. Define your business goals.
  2. Find out who the best prospects for your brand are.
  3. Research competition and find gaps in their social media presence.
  4. Create accounts on the SM platforms that are most suitable for your brand.
  5. Establish a content schedule.
  6. Publish creative, engaging, and unique content.
  7. Track the success of your work and adjust if needed.

Social Media Marketing Plan FAQs

1. What does a social media marketing plan include?

A social media marketing plan typically includes the following:

  • Objectives
  • Target audience analysis
  • Content strategy
  • Platform selection
  • Posting schedule
  • Engagement tactics
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Performance tracking

It outlines how businesses leverage social media platforms to achieve marketing goals and connect with their audience.

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