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How to develop a social media plan

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Our simple pragmatic approach will help you create a plan that doesn't sit on the shelf gathering dust, but helps you get the results you want.

 

Marketing through social media has become an integral part of the modern marketing mix. Social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (and many others) is helping businesses build better relationships with existing customers and reach new ones. 

 

Social media marketing often incorporates content marketing. Content marketing provides a customer with value in a way that traditional marketing does not. Customers get consistent, regular, useful information in such a way they build a relationship with your business, which in turn leads to trust, loyalty and sales. Read more about content marketing.

 

Why do I need a plan?

Taking the time to write a plan will help ensure that your social media use will benefit your business. It will also enable you to:

  • Consider risks/benefits of each tool and select the one(s) appropriate for your business.

 

  • Know where you are heading and define what you hope to achieve through using social media.

 

The confusing thing about Plans

There is a lot of information on the Internet, and there are many approaches you can take.   However, because content marketing and social media usually go hand-in-hand some of the terminology used in the planning stage can be confusing.

 

An overarching plan can be known by many different names; Content Marketing Plan, Social Media Plan, Social Media Strategy, Content Strategy etc.  In addition (or as part of) an overarching plan, businesses should also document a list of their planned social media messages.  To confuse matters further, this list can be called a content plan, a publishing schedule, a social media calendar, or even a social media plan.

 

At Digital Journey, our approach is to write a social media plan which details your social media parameters (think strategic) and a publishing schedule which contains the details of each social media post or message (think operational).

 

Getting started

To help small/medium businesses we have compiled a simple approach to creating a social media plan.

 

Step 1:  Define your target audience

Who are you trying to reach? Where do they spend their time online? How can you help them?

 

Step 2:  Identify your objectives

These should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and within a time frame).   Define what it is you want to achieve through the use of social media. For example, do you want to increase sales, build your customer database or create brand awareness?  Ideally your objectives should tie in with the overall goals of your business.

 

Step 3: Determine the types of content you will produce

Which would best deliver your message?  A how-to guide, case study, info-graphic, blog post, etc.

 

Step 4: Identify your delivery mechanism

Think about where your target audience spend their time online. What is the best way to communicate with them - podcasts, video, images, websites, online presentations, social media posts, targeted emails?

 

Step 5: Map out your timeline

Remember to be consistent and focus on quality over quantity.  The detail, such as publish dates, should be included in a publishing schedule.

 

Step 6: Document how you intend to measure success (and failure)

This may be webpage/social media stats, emails opened, documents downloaded etc.  Before getting started it may be useful to audit your existing social media accounts. This information can be used as a baseline from which you can judge the success (or not) of any new activities.  

 

To help you out with this approach, check out our Social Media Planning template at the bottom of this article.  

 

Creating a publishing schedule

Once your plan has been defined, you can use it to create a publishing schedule. This is essentially a list of your planned social media posts or messages, and can take some of the stress out of managing your social media activities.

 

For each planned message your schedule should identify key details such as:

Have a look at our Publishing Schedule Template at the bottom of this article.

 

Stuck on what to write about or how to write it?

For your plan to be successful it should generate a two-way conversation.  As well as being shareable, your content should trigger discussions and encourage comments or action of some kind. Consider the issues in your industry, questions your customers are asking, and any current trends relevant to your products, services or customers.

 

Try to create value without overselling. Consider providing discounts and information around your products or services. When used wisely, photo and video content can be much more engaging and effective than text. Social media isn't a space for hard selling. Your tone is likely to be more informal and conversational. Again, keep your customers in mind. What would they expect on this social media channel? Decide on the tone and keep it consistent throughout your posts or communications. 

 

Remember, your social media plan should not sit on the shelf gathering dust. It should constantly be changing as new social media channels emerge, objectives are achieved, new challenges arise and your metrics identify successes and failures.

 

Let us know how you get on.  Good luck!

 

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