Managing social networks today is not as easy as it used to be in the past. Also, if you plan to incorporate them into your marketing strategy, it is not just about creating them and running them.
From choosing the right platforms to defining your content strategy, “analysis paralysis” is a problem for even the most experienced marketers.
That’s why we created this guide to create your social media marketing plan from scratch . These steps will help your brand identify the objectives of your social presence, attract more audiences and optimize your results:
- Set relevant goals for your business.
- Research your target audience and select the right channel.
- Define your most important metrics.
- Analyze the competition.
- Create and curate engaging content.
- Make timely content your priority.
- Evaluate your results and optimize.
- Keep your team informed about goals, challenges and achievements.
1. Set relevant goals for your business
First things first: figure out what you want to achieve with social media . At the end of the day, putting together a marketing plan means you have a purpose in mind.
Whether it’s leveraging your social presence to diversify your business‘ sources of income or expand your fan base, you decide how far you want to go.
The important thing is to set realistic goals. We recommend you start small and scale your initiatives in a reasonable and accessible way.
Examples of social media goals
Here’s a list of totally achievable goals, no matter the size of your company. According to Sprout Social , these are the top priorities today’s marketers are setting:
- Raise brand recognition
To achieve authentic and lasting recognition, avoid posting only promotional messages. Instead, focus on content that enhances your brand’s personality and values.
- Generate leads and sales
Whether online or in a physical store, customers don’t come to buy by sheer luck. Are you posting updates about your new products and promotions?
- Grow your audience
To attract new followers to your social profiles you must find the best ways to “introduce” your brand to people who have never heard of it.
That also means joining the conversation about your industry. This is only possible through monitoring or ” social listening ” for specific keywords and phrases or hashtags (#). This will give you the guidance you need to find your target audience faster.
- Increase your community engagement
To capture the attention of your current fan base you have to engage with them in your posts and content. For example, you can replicate the posts and hashtags generated by your users.
Something as simple as a Twitter poll or Instagram dynamic can boost your engagement rates. Remember that customers are the best promoters of a brand, but only if they are motivated to do so.
- Increase traffic to your website
If you are focused on generating leads or traffic to your website, social networks are a good alternative. Whether through promotional posts or banner ads, tracking conversions and landing page clicks helps you better outline your return on investment (ROI).
Any combination of these goals is valid and can help you understand which social networks are right for your business. And when in doubt, review them whenever possible so you don’t get sidetracked from your goals.
2. Research your target audience and select the right channel
Making assumptions or going on hunches is very dangerous for any social media marketing plan. However, thanks to the plethora of demographic data and analytics tools out there today, you don’t even have to rack your brains.
Almost all the information you need to know about your audience is at a glance. For example, platform demographics tell you directly which networks your target audience is on and what kind of content they are interested in. Here are some key points:
- Facebook and YouTube are the social media of choice for advertisers due to their high-income user bases .
- The majority of Instagram users are millennials or Gen Z, which indicates that visual, eye-catching content with personality resonates more on this platform.
- Women vastly outnumber men on Pinterest , which is also notable for generating purchase orders with the highest average value in social purchases , according to Sprout Social.
- LinkedIn ‘s user base is more educated, so much more in-depth and professionally focused content is often posted there than on Facebook or Twitter.
Therefore, there is no single platform that fits all audiences. Although this data gives you an idea of the demographics of each channel, how do you know what the profile of your own customers is?
Many brands today use social media management platforms such as Sprout Social or HootSuite , which have analytics tools that give you an overview of the behavior of your followers and the interaction generated by each channel.
These tools can also give you access to activity reports so you can direct your time and effort to the right social networks.
3. Define tus KPIs
No matter what you sell, your social media marketing strategy needs to be data-driven. This means addressing the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that best suit your goals.
Here are some social media KPIs you can monitor :
It is the number of unique users who viewed a post. How much visibility is your content having? Is it really reaching your users’ feed ? Organic algorithms are constantly changing, which is why measuring reach is more important than ever.
It is the number of direct clicks to content, brand profiles or even the logo. Link clicks help you understand how users move through your conversion funnels . Monitoring clicks by campaign is essential to distinguish between what generates curiosity and what encourages people to buy.
It is the participation of your followers and is calculated by dividing the total social interactions by the number of impressions. Your goal is to see who engaged and what percentage of the total reach they made. This allows you to know how your audience perceives you and how willing they are to interact with your content.
More than a vanity metric, measuring these interactions allows you to distinguish the impact of organic content from paid content. For example, on Facebook, organic engagement is much more difficult to achieve, which is why many brands resort to advertising; while getting organic likes is not that difficult on Instagram. Knowing these differences can help you budget your ad spend and schedule working time in different formats.
positive or negative sentiment
It is the measure of how users reacted to the content, your brand or your hashtags . Was your last campaign offensive to your customers? What reactions are people associating with your campaign hashtag ? It’s best to dig deep and find out what people are saying about your brand. It can be measured in a simple way (with the platform’s reaction reports) or with social listening tools.
4. Analyze the competition
Before you start creating content for your profiles, it’s a good idea to get a clear idea of what your competitors are doing.
While you can use specialized analytics tools, a simple review of your competitors’ social presence can yield some very useful insights. But beware: it is not about copying or stealing ideas!
Visiting the profiles of your competition will allow you to refine your own promotion strategy on social networks. This way you will be able to know what content works best and draw conclusions to apply them to your own campaigns.
Let’s see how two brands in the same industry took two different approaches to their social media marketing strategy and succeeded.
Two brands, two strategies
The Casper brand publishes content that is light and full of personality, emphasizing comfort and a sense of humor. The brand does its best not to convey a totally corporate image.
Meanwhile, Purple is known for his own sense of humor…and his memes. But this fun content is also combined with more “traditional” promotional posts featuring celebrities or influencers .
The bottom line is that brands have plenty of creative options to set themselves apart from their competitors. Of course, first you have to know who your competitors are and then move on to content creation.
How to spot your competition on social media
The easiest way to find your competitors is through a simple Google search. Search for the most relevant words, phrases and terms in your industry and review the results.
For example, if your keyword phrase is “organic soaps in Mexico,” go to the search results page and rule out big box retailers like Amazon and Mercado Libre. Then, take note of which brands appear in the organic positions and which in the ads section.
Then find out who is active on social media. In this particular case, Jabones Artesanales México is a small company with a growing Facebook account . This makes them a great candidate for tracking.
You can then use your social listening tool to quickly compare the competition’s social rating to yours.
In general, it all boils down to: reviewing what your competitors are posting on Facebook, contrasting engagement on Twitter, or knowing how they tag their content on Instagram. And then optimize your own strategy, test and repeat.
You can also go one step further and use advanced social listening tools to review feedback about your competitors, as well as what the buying public is saying about their products and services. With this you get the added bonus of finding conversations related to your own brand that you might have missed otherwise.
5. Create and curate engaging content
There is no doubt that content should be at the center of your entire social media marketing strategy.
And it is that, by this point, you probably already have a fairly clear idea about what you want to publish according to your objectives. Likewise, it is likely that you already have more certainty about which platforms you will use to reinforce your brand identity.
The question would be: how can I create social content that is attractive and effective? These principles can help you:
- Define a visual style
One of the most difficult challenges in managing social networks is the creation of visual content. And it is that, according to data from Venngage, a third of marketers struggle daily to create visually stunning images .
This underlines the importance of developing styles and formats , in order to approach the creation of visual content in a more accessible and staggered way.
Instagram is the network where you can get style inspiration due to its visual nature. For example, in the Postmates account you can see the effort they put into a consistent, colorful and aesthetically pleasing feed
In addition, having well-defined formats and styles will make it easier for you to create a content calendar on social networks (see point 6). For example, you can alternate short videos, product photos, and user-generated content in your posts, as long as you maintain an appropriate color scheme.
- Get the most out of interactive and user-generated content
User-generated content turns your followers’ accounts into additional “free advertising” channels, as well as giving them an incentive to continue engaging with your brand.
Whether you use their hashtags or share their photos or videos, mirroring your audience’s content is a smart tactic to increase engagement rates .
- Stories: “urgent” and fresh content
Taking advantage of the FOMO effect (“fear of missing out” in English), stories on Instagram and Facebook are a key factor for your content strategy.
In simple terms, stories are interactive and urgent content. And by appearing by default in your followers’ Instagram feeds , they keep your brand account up-to-date and fresh in your audience’s minds.
Another value that stories bring is that they take your followers “behind the scenes” and give your posts a more personal touch. So don’t hesitate to use stories to cover events or show the day to day of your brand.
- Take advantage of the “boom” of the video
Without a doubt, video is the dominant format on most social platforms. Whether it’s elaborate productions or small capsules, no brand should shy away from video, especially with the number of options and creative formats out there.
Consider, for example, one-minute videos like this one from Goodful , which have a lot of resonance especially on Instagram:
6. Make timely content your priority
Being current and in tune with your audience is a complex task. And it is that you cannot always make customers go “at the rhythm” of your brand. At the same time, you should do your best to connect with your followers “at their own pace” and respond to them in a timely manner. But how to do both?
Create an editorial calendar and schedule your posts at times of greatest engagement
Quick question: what hours is your brand available to interact with your customers?
Someone might tell you that it’s best to post late at night, but if your brand isn’t there to communicate, what’s the point of knowing what the “perfect time” is?
Instead, prepare a content calendar based on peak engagement times. You can use analytics from your own platforms, or studies published by Sprout Social or HootSuite as a guide .
Additionally, create an optimal mix of content for each social network and that is in accordance with your brand objectives.
For example, if you are just starting out with your account you can use the 80/20 rule, that is:
- 80% informative, educational or fun content.
- 20% promotional messages.
You can also try the rule of thirds:
- 1/3 of promotional, conversion and transactional content.
- 1/3 insights and stories from thought leaders in your industry.
- 1/3 interactive content.
Then use your social media monitoring and management tools to organize your media library and schedule your content ahead of time.
Respond to questions – and positive comments – from your customers as quickly as possible
Just as important is being ready to interact after each post.
Make sure your community managers are ready to answer any questions or concerns about your products or services once you post.
Consumers not only expect a quick response from brands, but also a meaningful, memorable interaction. To do this, you must take advantage of all those opportunities for conversation and interaction that come your way. Whether you’re responding to a compliment or a complaint, businesses should never leave their customers “on the hook.”
This will help you not only generate more engagement , but also raise the perception of authority and respect for your account, simply by being there and speaking directly to your audience.
According to Sprout Social, the average response time to targeted messages from brands on social media is around 10 hours, although most users believe brands should respond within four hours.
Use social listening again to locate conversations across all your channels to engage and respond to your customers. And with your network monitoring and management app you can also designate teams for specific tasks (publishing, complaints, customer service). The important thing is not to neglect the audience that participates and channel potential customers through your conversion funnels .
7. Evaluate your results and optimize
It’s important to have a plan, but also that you can adjust and make improvements as you go along. If you don’t analyze your results, how are you going to know which campaigns were effective and which ones didn’t work as well as you hoped?
The best thing is that, once the content calendar has been implemented, you are aware of the analytical data and monitor the performance of your KPIs (see point 3).
This information will allow you to make slight adjustments on the fly, as well as plan campaign or content tests (A/B tests) where you can discover more relevant data.
This dynamic approach makes perfect sense at a time when social media is constantly evolving. So you can apply short-term reactive tactics to get the most out of your running campaigns, and then proactively use these insights to optimize – or even redesign – your overall strategy in real time.
8. Keep your team informed about goals, challenges and achievements
Finally, a key point for social media marketers is collaboration .
And it is that being able to inform directors and owners of the company about results and ROI not only allows them to take responsibility for the strategy and tactics used, but also to recognize their value and that of the team members for the work carried out.
Perhaps the best way to convey that information is through easy-to-read reports on specific campaigns or KPIs. You can obtain them through your own platforms or with the management and analysis tools that you hire.
Finally, having the team aware of the results and changes in the strategy will allow them to become more involved with the objectives and goals that you want to achieve.
We hope this guide will help you complete your social media marketing strategy. Good luck!