How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

Social Media Marketing Planning Guide

Social media can now be considered a huge part of what makes up the face of an organisation, and it needs be be treated with the appropriate level of importance.

Without a plan, social media use can have the opposite effect to the one intended. Too many businesses simply use social media as a means to push out the odd sales pitch and don’t realise that unclear, uninformed and sporadic messages are likely to damage brand image and push consumers into the arms of their competitors. In order to fully take advantage of the many benefits of social media and digital PR for a business, you need to understand how to create a social media marketing plan.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is the use of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to the benefit of your business. Whereas in the past social media was used more casually by businesses, these days the importance and understanding of the effects it can have on sales revenue means that entire teams are being dedicated to its use, rather than adopting the old ‘just let the intern have a go at it’ attitude.

Who am I reaching out to?

In order to create an effective social media marketing campaign, you need to know who you’re targeting and what they’re going to respond to. The best starting point is to create online personas for your target audience.

Online personas

An online persona is essentially a profile of the key types of people that make up your target audience. It should outline in a general sense their key interests, how they use social media, and any other shared characteristics that could be of use. Using this information, you can create a picture of where your users are most active and to which sort of content they are going to be most responsive.

Choose the correct channels

Using the online personas, you should be able to see which social media platforms your target audience use the most – use these. Do not waste time and money on developing content and strategies for platforms that are simply not going to be effective.

What do you want to achieve?

Think about what it is you’re looking to gain from the use of social media. Most people will predictably answer “an increase in sales”. However, it’s important to think more specifically and set yourself objectives i.e. this is what the business needs to improve in order to achieve that goal. Here are a few examples of possible points your business may need to improve that you should consider.

Increasing website traffic

Including links to your website in social media pieces should naturally boost inbound traffic to the website – the more interesting the content, the more likely it is to be clicked on, shared or liked, which increases the chance of other users coming across the link (see our post on common social media marketing mistakes to help improve the quality of your posts).

Improving customer service

Poor customer service is one of the most annoying experiences as a customer, and thanks to social media word of it can spread fast. This can seriously damage any chance of repeat purchases or of attaining new customers. On the other hand, social media can allow you to respond to customer queries and issues in real-time and in a public domain, meaning everyone else can see you responding in a quick and professional manner, turning a bad experience into a positive one. From this your business will appear more attractive in the eyes of potential customers.

Retaining existing customers

The cost of attracting new customers is on average four to ten times greater than the cost of keeping existing ones, making customer retention an extremely beneficial area in which to invest time and effort improving. This is done by building relationships and creating a dialogue between you and your customers – developing brand loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases. Even something as small as replying to a comment on Facebook can make a huge contribution towards building a relationship with that customer and developing a community of followers.

Develop a content plan

Consistency is extremely important when it comes to implementing a successful social media marketing plan. Having a content plan set out beforehand will save a great deal of time, and make tracking campaigns far easier. Part of this plan should outline a tone of voice and message that should remain consistent across the campaign. Mixed messages will dilute the importance of what you’re trying to say, blurring brand identity and making it harder for customers to form a relationship with you.

Remember to think about the type of content you’re putting out there; videos, images, infographics all offer their own benefits and varying their use can prevent users from becoming bored with what you’re giving them. It’s also worth noting that whilst having your content prepared in advance is the best way to move forward, content focusing on any interesting current events can generate a huge amount of engagement and is definitely something worth including. Just be careful how you use this tool; as these brands showed us, it can sometimes backfire.

Benchmark

One of the best tools to use when planning your own social content is the content of your competition. What are they writing about? How are they sending their message across? Who is engaging with it? How successful has it been for them? Using this information, you can avoid repeating mistakes they may have made, and take inspiration for your own content to help develop a successful social media marketing plan.

It is not always the largest competitor who has the most successful social media strategy, so be sure to look at a number of other companies as well.

In Summary

Creating a social media marketing plan is key if you really hope to have long-term success with social media as a business tool. A plan will keep consistency throughout your social content, making it much easier to engage with and relate to from a consumer perspective. Importantly, it will also allow you more time to focus on other aspects of the business, without having to stress about getting that week’s social comms out (because once again, you’ve left it till the last minute and don’t know where to begin). And remember, whilst having your content prepared in advance is the best way to move forward, content focusing on interesting recent events is definitely something worth including as well.

If you’d like to discuss the development of a social media marketing plan for your business, feel free to contact us.

Ryan Sedgwick
Managing Director & Marketing Consultant at Impact Digital Markeitng
A Chartered Marketer, Ryan has gained extensive B2B and B2C marketing experience working across a broad spectrum of industries. Having graduated with a Masters in Marketing Communications from the University of Huddersfield, Ryan successfully utilises his skills and knowledge to effectively support businesses in getting the most from their marketing investments.