Social media has grown a lot over time and it is continually evolving. For instance, take a look at how fast TikTok is growing. Statistics from eMarketer show that TikTok is growing faster than the majority of other social media platforms currently available online.
And that’s just one of many platforms.
A few years ago, business owners were asking “Why should we use social media?” But today, that question has been replaced with “How can we use social media to grow business?” That’s because social media marketing is no longer a trend but a vital tool that businesses need to succeed online.
However, a lot of small businesses are still making the mistake of trying to market on different social media platforms without a properly documented strategy.
If you are ready to figure out the perfect social media strategy for your business but don’t know where to start, this article is for you.
In it, we take a look at what you need to know about how to create an effective social media plan for your business from scratch. We’ll look at everything from audience research to defining your strategy, optimizing your results, and much more.
So without further ado, here are the 11 steps to create the perfect social media marketing plan.
1. Understand and Find Your Audience
Your first step in creating a great social media strategy is to understand and find your audience. You need to focus on your audience demographics. Find out who your ideal customer is, which social media platforms they spent most of their time on, and so on.
If you already have well-developed buyer personas, then great. However, transforming your social media marketing strategy may require you to revisit them or create new ones from scratch.
Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
For you to be able to market your products or services well, you need to know exactly who your target customer is. The better you can define your ideal customer, the easier it will be to sell your products or services to them.
You need to get as specific as you can with this part. For instance, if you were to identify your target market as “moms”, that would be okay.
However, if you identified your ideal customer as “A single mom who lives in the United States, aged between 35 and 50, and earning over $75,000, who primarily uses Instagram and is interested in outdoor activities” – this would give you a lot more success.
Capture the information below to help you create a highly focused customer avatar:
- Career/Job Title
- Purchase Behavior
- Goals/Challenges/Pain Points
- Most Frequented Social Network
Even the best marketers with the best product will fail if their marketing is directed at the wrong audience. So take the time to ensure that you develop robust buyer personas that will make the rest of your social marketing efforts a breeze.
Important Note: There are a lot of social media platforms these days and you don’t have to be on all of them. Just choose the ones that are relevant to you and your audience. For instance, you can choose just two or three platforms if that makes business sense.
2. Claim Profiles and Make Branding Seamless
Brands need to give the same experience from one social media profile to the next, both visually and tone-wise. This is vital for brand recognition.
Now that you know who your ideal audience is, and which social media sites they hang out on, it’s time to claim your profiles on those platforms and make your branding seamless.
One of the best ways to do this is by optimizing each of your profiles.
A lot of your time will be spent on creating great content and scheduling your social posts. However, it’s important to focus on the information included in each of your profiles because it’s vital to the success of your marketing efforts.
Your profile should instantly speak to your brand and it should have relevant visuals and compelling copy.
Follow the tips below to help you optimize each of your social profiles:
1. Complete All Sections of Your Profile: Fill out your profiles completely. Every field for information is an opportunity for you to brag a little about your business. Find creative and succinct ways to describe what you do, what your business offers, and how you can add immense value to your customer’s lives.
2. Have a Consistent Brand Image: If using a picture on one channel, use it across all of them to keep your branding consistent. For instance, don’t use your company logo on your Facebook page and then use a totally different profile picture on Twitter or Instagram.
3. Add Keywords for Enhanced SEO: As a business owner or marketer, you already have a list of keywords that are relevant to your products, brand, and industry. Use them strategically in all sections of your profile to help boost your search engine optimization. This includes your bio copy, experiences, interests, photo names, and so on.
3. Define Success Metrics
It’s vital to define your goals before you launch your social media marketing campaign.
If you want better results, you need to be able to measure the different metrics so you can know how to improve them.
When defining your goals, you can have primary or secondary goals, but the focus should always be on metrics that help you move towards your ultimate business goals.
Not vanity metrics, such as “likes” and gaining followers who never become paying customers, but real goals that are good for your business and help you make more money.
So, what goals can you set to help you determine if your social media marketing efforts are working?
What are the best success metrics to measure to improve your business’s bottom line?
Some of the goals you might want to establish for social include:
- Drive website traffic
- Raise brand awareness
- Generate new leads
- Boost brand engagement
- Nurture leads
- Establish authority and expertise in the industry
- Build a community around your brand
- …and so on.
Still not sure which goals to choose? Here is a survey of what other marketer chose as their main goals for social media marketing:
By establishing clear goals for your social media marketing strategy, you make it more likely that you will be able to stay on track doing all the tasks that are required to support those goals, such as content creation.
The main objective here is to give purpose to all your social marketing efforts.
And keep in mind that your goals can be broad and objective, such as “boosting brand engagement”, but to show you what success looks like, you can set measurable results like “25% increase in engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and mentions”.
Here are more examples:
4. Analyze Competition
Now that you know who you’ll be marketing to, and you’ve claimed your social profiles and defined your success metrics, it’s time to analyze the competition.
Running an efficient competitive analysis is one of the best ways to find inspiration and ideas to boost your own social strategy. Just be careful not to copy or mimic your competitors’ content.
During your competitive analysis, try to focus on the most engaging content that is popular within your own social efforts and those of your competitors. Since you both have similar ideal buyer personas, it makes sense to start there.
I did this when I re-launched my YouTube channel at the start of 2020. As I did a competitive analysis for my brand, I realized that many people were using YouTube to earn more revenue and grow their social following.
Consider the questions below during your analysis of your competitors’ social media marketing efforts:
- What are your competitors talking about, and do those topics result in high audience engagement?
- Which marketing channels are your competitors using, and are they finding success in those channels?
- Are there any areas in your social strategy where you are outperforming your competitors?
You can use simple tools like Google search to spot your competitors. For instance, look up some of your industry’s most valuable keywords and industry terms. The businesses that show up in your space, both organically and through Google Ads (excluding big retailers like Amazon) – that’s your competition.
One of the most effective ways to directly compare your marketing efforts against one or more of your competitors is by using social analytics solutions like Mention.
5. Determine Your Brand Voice
Different brands have different voices, and social media is a unique opportunity for you to stand out from the masses. An example of a brand that does this exceptionally well is Taco Bell. This company uses unique tactics to stand apart from its competitors.
When determining your brand voice, just keep in mind that you don’t have to do the sarcastic thing for the sake of being unique, but you can find creative tactics that will help you stand out positively.
Whether you’ve already been marketing on social media or if you’re just getting started with your very first social media campaign, it’s tempting to jump right in and begin sharing before setting the voice and tone for your brand.
However, you should resist the temptation. By finding your marketing voice first, you will make the rest of your marketing efforts more focused and on point. Creating a brand voice will also allow you to maintain a consistent voice among all your social media channels.
Furthermore, it will help you come up with the right content that resonates with your audience the majority of the time.
To help make the process of finding your marketing voice easier, imagine that your brand was a person, and then ask yourself the following questions:
- What kind of personality does it have?
- What is its relationship to your customers? (Is it a coach, teacher, friend, dad, etc.?)
- Use 3 to 5 adjectives to describe what your brand’s personality is not.
- Which other brands have a personality that is similar to yours? In what ways are they similar?
- How do you want consumers to think about your brand?
By the end of this exercise, you should have quite a few adjectives that describe your social media marketing tone and voice.
Just remember, your voice needs to align with your audience’s interests and match your communication style – all the while staying true to your brand.
6. Review Current Social Strategy
Before you start strategizing about where your social media marketing strategy is headed, you must first take a look at where you are right now.
Your next step involves reviewing your current social strategy. It’s important to do a thorough audit of your social presence so that you know where you stand, and what your weaknesses and strengths are.
By looking at the state of your current social strategy, you will be able to discover what works and what doesn’t, as well as how much of old content should remain and what should go.
You’ll also be able to see if a full social media rebrand is required for your business.
Listed below are a few important areas to consider during the audit of your social media presence:
- Which social platforms are you active on?
- Are those networks optimized? (this includes cover images, photos, bio, URL, etc.)
- Which social networks are bringing the most value to your business?
- How do your company’s profiles fare when compared to your competitors?
- What types of posts resonate the most with your audience and receive the most engagement?
Conduct a total online presence audit, and be sure to focus on deep analysis not only of your social media profiles, but also content, SEO, web structure, and so on.
Identifying your most popular channels and best-performing content will help you more easily come up with key priorities and a possible plan of action so you can create future social media content that fully caters to your audience’s interests – and be able to share that content in the most effective way.
7. Define Your Social Strategy
When it comes to defining your social strategy, there are some important factors you need to take into consideration, such as:
- You need to determine when you should post
- You must decide how often you’re going to post on social media
- You must choose the types of content you post (by category)
- Decide if you should include competitors and industry information?
- For larger companies, do you need to include employee insights?
You’ll need to align all your postings on social media with your business objectives to ensure that the content helps you move toward your ultimate goals.
So here are the seven steps to follow to help you define a perfect social media marketing strategy
1. Brainstorm Content Ideas: Get your creative juices flowing and plan out different types of content that will resonate with your social media audience. Think of what your business already does well and how you can turn that into engaging content. Are there some popular content pieces that you can reformat and repurpose for social media channels?
2. Choose Your Content Types: When choosing the right content types to use, opt for content that will not only keep your audience engaged, but also benefit your brand the most. Refer back to your buyer persona to help you determine which types of content might perform best. And remember to keep your content diverse to maintain audience interest.
Some of the most popular types of content to use on social media include:
- Interactive content
- Live streaming
- User-generated content
- …and much more.
3. Create a List of Relevant Keywords: Your next step is to identify all the relevant keywords associated with your brand. You will use these to guide your content creation process, as well as when sharing your content. You can use social media listening to help you identify the keywords that are most often associated
4. Create and Curate Engaging Content: Content is what fuels social media, and it should be your top priority to create high quality, engaging content. Now that you know who your target customer is, and you’ve used that information to create a social media marketing plan, it should be easy for you to start creating and curating engaging content.
Helpful Hint: One thing that’s worked really well for me is creating a course for your social media following and giving it away for free in exchange for an email opt-in.
I’ve made these free mini-courses and offered them on social media numerous times and I always get a boost in subscribers when I take this approach.
5. Optimize Your Content: Your content needs to be optimized so that your marketing efforts don’t go unnoticed in today’s overcrowded social arena. Here are a few tactics you can use to optimize your social media content:
- Shorten links
- Add hashtags
- Include images
- Adapt content for different social channels
These are just a few of the things that will help you maximize your reach and boost audience engagement.
6. Decide How Often You Should Post: Listed below are some recommended guidelines for when businesses should post on the different social media sites. These are gleaned from my years of experience, but it should give you an idea of posting frequency for your business.
- Facebook – Once or twice per day
- Twitter – Three to ten times per day
- Instagram – Once or twice per day
- LinkedIn – Once or twice per day
- Snapchat – Five to 20 times per week
- Pinterest – Five to ten times per day
7. Find Optimal Posting Times: Timing research from Sprout Social has shown the best times to post to get the most engagement on social media. I recommend experimenting with different times as you are starting out. After you’ve been posting for a while, you can check your own data to find your brand’s best time to post and then refine your strategy.
8. Create a Social Media Calendar
Your next step is to create a calendar that will help you stay on target with themes at different times and help you vary the content you post.
It’ll also give you a birds-eye view of everything to make it easier for you to keep track of your social media marketing strategy.
Your calendar should outline your posting frequency and timing for each network. It should also show which topics you will share, as well as the types of content.
Place different content types in your content calendar to ensure you maintain a good mix. Use the 80-20 rule which states that 80% of your social media posts should educate, inform, or entertain your audience, while only 20% should be for promoting your brand.
Speaking from experience, if you intend on having YouTube as part of your brand strategy, make sure that you leave enough time for editing.
One of the bottlenecks of YouTube is the editing time to produce videos. There are a lot of editing platforms for YouTube and some are quicker than others, but leave it up to your contractors or employees to determine what the best option is.
For best results, invest in a Social Media Management Tool
As a marketer, you can leverage tools that will help boost your productivity. Concerning your social media marketing plan, you will be able to schedule the posts in your calendar ahead of time, allowing you to scale your efforts with ease.
9. Post and Review Performance
Now, begin posting and then reviewing the performance of your social media posts to see what is working well and confirm that it aligns with business objectives.
Track your content to gauge engagements and see its movement across social channels.
With the right social analytics tools, you can analyze published content right down to individual posts to understand how it’s performing with your target audience.
Such tools make it easy for you to see your progress towards the goals you set at the beginning.
10. Revise Strategy
This is where you revisit and readjust your social media marketing strategy.
When evaluating your strategy, you should use hard evidence to report on the success of your social media marketing efforts.
This includes the data you have collected through tracking content shares, social listening, and analytics.
Let the data guide you to determine how to adjust your strategy.
You must experiment with new things to see how well they’re received. Once you know how something performs, you can either double down if it did well or replace it if it performed poorly.
11. Monitor and Evolve
Congratulations! You have successfully created a perfect social media marketing plan. Take the time to celebrate your transformation.
All that is left is to monitor and evolve.
Monitor your brand to see how others reflect on your marketing efforts. Try new things and set clear boundaries – but always be willing to go outside of your comfort zone to further engage your fan base.
At this stage, you should have a system that you can follow to help you stay on top of your social media updates and easily engage with your audience.
A tool like Mention will help you create a system for posting, listening, and engaging so you can stay on top of everything so that you don’t miss any conversations that are happening around you.