Marketers usually start the financial year with a social media marketing plan—what channels they will target, their audience, the kind of content they want to create.
But halfway through the year, that social media plan will have to be changed because it hasn’t done its job. Why?
Because social media is saturated with content and consumers, and the changing algorithms are making it harder for your posts to be seen.
If you want the impressions your brand deserves, you need a new plan, something advanced that doesn’t need to be changed every quarter.
In this guide, we will take you through the steps of creating an advanced social media plan that will boost your content marketing strategy.
Step 1 – Assess Your Current Social Media Plan
Content Audit. Source: Venngage
A social media plan is constructed with a great deal of thought and detail. But if it isn’t yielding the desired results, you need to take a long, hard look at your current plan.
They say hindsight is 20/20 vision, and you should make use of that adage. Look at what aspects of your current plan have worked.
Then turn the clock back even further—what aspects of last year’s social media plan yielded results? What about before then?
Social media may have progressed in the past few years, but there are some aspects of content marketing that continue to thrive—such as long-form writing, for example.
How was your business successful in promoting those posts on social media before and can you use those strategies now? Or at the very least adapt them to current social media practices.
Once you have seen what worked, it is time to examine what didn’t. This part of the assessment process requires you to be brutal, but it is necessary.
Is Facebook not generating the traffic and lead generation opportunities that Twitter and Instagram are? Perhaps it is time to cut that channel out or change the strategy for Facebook entirely.
Has your Instagram account failed to give you more leads? It could be time to switch to a business account.
You also need to understand how much effort is going into your channels and the kind of content you are creating for them. What results are they yielding? Is it proportionate to the labor and time being spent on it?
Despite the amount of energy a social media audit will take, you will find some surprising and helpful results that will help you structure your advanced social media plan.
Step 2 – Understand Your Brand and Audience
Audience persona. Source: Venngage
Having assessed your past and current social media plans, you will have a fair idea of what has and hasn’t been working for your social media strategy.
To create a better plan, you now need to analyze your brand to find your target audience.
Go back to the basics—what is your brand’s mission statement? What does the brand represent to its ideal audience?
Ask yourself what your brand has been trying to achieve through social media. Is it brand awareness, web traffic, or sales? Incorporate the needs of your brand into your plan.
And on the flip side, study your audience. Have the demographics changed over time? Has your social media plan accounted for these changes?
Social media platforms share a great deal of insight into the interests of followers. Have these interests been changing over time? Your social media content should also be adapted to these changes.
This step requires you to return to the grassroots of your marketing strategy. You may even need to examine your business plan.
Your brand and audience are intrinsically tied to how you make your social media plan. Only with a thorough understanding of these aspects can you create a foolproof plan.
Step 3 – Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis. Source: Venngage
A comprehensive examination of the needs of your brand cannot be completed without understanding your competitors. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your competitors doing on social media?
- Which competitor posts are doing well?
- How do their social media numbers compare to yours?
- What are your competitors doing that you aren’t doing?
- Who is their target market? Where do they not overlap with you?
Asking these crucial questions and doing in-depth research into your competitors is a crucial step in advancing your social media plan.
Use SWOT analysis templates to examine your competitors and compare them to your social media efforts thus far.
Conducting a competitor analysis will give you insights into your industry and your particular niche. It will also give you an understanding of what you should be doing, and what kinds of content you should be avoiding.
When conducting a competitor analysis, remember that just because something is working well for one brand, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you.
Social media is not a one-size-fits-all medium—different brands evoke different reactions from their followers.
Also, while analyzing competitors, avoid trying to co-opt their tactics. Not only will such a move impact your brand negatively—wily followers will notice that you have copied from someone else—but the plan may not work at all because of your target demographic.
Be inspired by people in your industry, but don’t copy their work or methods. Being original is hard work, but the rewards will be immense.
Step 4 – Choose Measurable and Achievable Metrics
Social media metrics. Source: Venngage
Having understood your brand’s needs and your competitors, you need to look at the metrics you have been measuring on social media.
There are numerous metrics you can examine on social media but which KPIs work for your brand?
Some of the more popular metrics that brands examine include:
- Number of Followers
- Shares/ Retweets
The old saying ‘less is more’ is never truer than with regards to social metrics. There are so many available that a marketing analyst can feel like they’re drowning in numbers.
And not all metrics are equal—impressions may be of greater importance to one brand, while for another, follower growth could be the aim.
The metrics that you deem important are also related to the stage your business is in. For a startup, follower growth may be more important as it means that they are boosting brand awareness.
While you were examining your current social media plan, you would have also taken note of the best and worst-performing posts. This is where that information will come in handy.
The metrics you achieved in the previous quarter or previous year can be used as your baselines to measure the metrics you can achieve with your new social media plan.
But we have to reiterate the importance of choosing the right metrics, as those will impact the ultimate goals for your plan.
Set your aim too high, and your plan will never be profitable. Keep the goals too low and you will undersell your brand.
Use the SMART goal setting method to give yourself two or three major goals and you will be able to create a social media plan that is goal-oriented.
Step 5 – Convert Goals into Actionable Tasks
Social media goals. Source: Venngage
Having decided on your goals, you need to turn them into actionable tasks that can be executed by your team.
If your goal is to attract 25% more followers on Instagram, you need to break that into tasks that will help you reach that goal. This could include any or all of the following tasks:
- Creating content
- Posting content regularly
- Repurposing content for other channels
- Commenting and engaging with audiences
- Following members of the target audience
- Following industry experts
- Tapping into influencers
- Hosting a Facebook contest
- Advertising or promoting posts
These tasks can be further broken down into smaller tasks that can be executed by members of your team. Together, they will help you achieve that goal of increasing your followers by 25%.
A goal on its own may seem like a mammoth task but by breaking it into smaller tasks, you make the goal easier to achieve in your social media plan.
Step 6 – Create a Content Calendar
High-level content calendar. Source: Venngage
With your goals and tasks outlined, you can start creating a content calendar. Your first drafts for the calendar will need revisions, but you should not skip this step.
You should start by creating a content calendar overview for the year—you won’t have to go into too much detail for this.
Avoid adding exact times and dates—we will discuss channel-specific content and scheduling times in the next step.
Only add specifics if you are absolutely sure about them—for instance if you have to create content for an event or launch that has already been set.
Set out your high-level goals per quarter or for every month and give a rough outline of what kind of content needs to be created and shared on social media.
A content calendar will include such information as to how many blogs and vlogs have to be created every month, as well as an overview of how many social media posts are meant to be shared.
Knowing how much content needs to be created in a certain period helps the marketing team become goal-oriented. It also gives them an idea of what is expected of them.
With a high-level understanding of the content calendar, you can decide whether your social media plan is too ambitious or not ambitious enough.
Once you have an overview of the calendar, you can get down to the details.
Step 7 – Channels and Scheduling Times
With a content calendar for the month/ quarter/ year set out, you can start scheduling in the exact times and channels for each piece of content.
This part of the content calendar is extremely detailed—you need to know exactly when you want to send out a post for what kind of content, alongside the media that will be accompanying it.
This step is not something that can be done in a hurry. It is also best not to attempt to create a detailed content calendar for a long period. A month is enough, but work out the details of a week first.
By being too ambitious in this step, you could make crucial mistakes that will have a snowball effect on your entire plan.
Use social media lead generation tools that will help with the planning and execution of your content calendar.
Also, remember to be flexible—neither your content calendar nor your social media plan are cast in stone.
Things change, new trends appear, and your calendar needs to have enough wiggle room to accommodate these changes.
Step 8 – Re-Evaluate Your Social Media Plan
Social media timeline. Source: Venngage
You have examined your old plans, measured your posts, analyzed your competitors, chosen your metrics and divided them into actionable tasks. Your high-level and detailed content calendars are ready.
For all intents and purposes, your social media plan is good to go. But this is not the end of your planning process.
As we mentioned, your social media plan can’t be set in stone. But it isn’t only because of the changing nature of social media—it is also because you want to avoid becoming complacent.
Your social media plan can, and likely will, change year on year depending on the latest innovations and trends in the industry.
The plan you have created is more advanced than what you used to have but it is still subject to change. And you need to be ready to accept those changes.
Examine your plan once it is created and conduct a SWOT analysis on the plan—as you did earlier for your competitors.
Are there still weaknesses and threats that can be ironed out? Work on eliminating those and see how it improves your plan.
By following these steps to create an advanced social media plan, you can improve your engagement and achieve your goals. But be prepared to keep working on making it better.