SMM 101: How to Create a #SocialMedia Marketing Plan From the Ground Up

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SMM 101: How to Create a #SocialMedia Marketing Plan From the Ground Up

We all know that digital marketing is important, but with so many different strategies and techniques being used today, how can you possibly manage to implement them all?

When you’re just getting started with digital marketing, it’s best that you don’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed, start with a single tactic and add more as you feel comfortable.

And of all the different marketing strategies out there, social media marketing is a great place to start. Social networking is one of the top online activities in the United States, with the average American spending 37 minutes per day on social media.

When you make it a point to spend time on these networks, you’ll be putting your brand in front of prospective new customers, as well as those that are on the fence between your offering and your competitors.

But just like you wouldn’t set out on a road trip without a map, you shouldn’t dive into social media marketing without a plan.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about creating a social media strategy for multiple clients, check out Debbie Miller’s Marketing Nerds episode.

Creating a social media marketing strategy from the ground up can seem intimidating, but when it comes down to it, there are actually only three steps required:

Choose Your Platforms

Although the first step in creating a social media marketing plan is to choose the social platforms on which you’ll be active, there are two important considerations you’ll want to take into account when making this decision.

The first is what you know about your company. What platforms make the most sense for your voice? Are any of your marketing team members particularly skilled at building an audience on one platform over another? How many staff hours do you have available to maintain your efforts? Answering these questions will help you determine how many channels to start with, as well as which ones fit your needs best.

The second consideration is what you know about your target customer. If you haven’t yet created a buyer persona, start there. Once you’ve got a better understanding of the kinds of people who are buying products, research where these people spend time on social media (and, since demographics often shift, do this at least once a year).

For example, while Facebook is still the top social media network for teens, the teens themselves think Instagram is more important. Similarly, LinkedIn is more popular than Twitter among adults, while Twitter has begun to skew toward male users.

Engage Your Audience

Once you’ve decided where you’ll post your content, the obvious next step is to post your content! Of course, social media marketing is about more than just posting updates for the sake of sharing. If you want to attract a following and use your social profiles to engage with your target customers, there are several factors you’ll want to keep in mind.

The first is your company’s voice. Before you begin posting, it’s vital to know what type of image your business is attempting to portray. Are you trying to be hip? Irreverent? Highly professional and authoritative? There’s no right answer here; your company’s voice online should be determined by what you believe your customers are most likely to respond to. The research you conducted earlier to complete your buyer personas should help shed some light on how you should address your followers.

You’ll also want to put some thought into the types of content you’ll post. Too many businesses fall into the trap of simply pasting blog post links onto their social profiles, but doing so doesn’t do much in the way of providing value to your audience. After all, if they wanted to read your blog posts, they could just go to your website in the first place!

So what should you post? While you can share anything from images to quotes to promotional offers, you might find it helpful to use the popular “80/20 rule” to plan your content. Following this model, 80% of your content should be informative or fun, while just 20% of your sharing should be related to your sales, product,s or services. When properly applied, this rule should help ensure that your social media efforts will be engaging without coming across as too self-promotional.

Finally, be consistent with your content posting calendar – having an irregular social network presence can be worse than not having one at all! To help maintain your schedule, be cautious about committing to more than you can consistently keep up with. Half-hearted and abandoned social media accounts say a lot about your company – and not in a good way.

Measure Your Results

Don’t just assume your social promotions are running effectively. You never really know the effects of your activities unless you measure them directly. Social media can seem like one of those “unknowable” benefits, as some claim that engagement and brand awareness can’t be counted. Nonsense! Everything worth doing can be measured in some way. And if you don’t take the time to put these measurement programs into action, you won’t know where to increase your efforts or where to quit investing time and money in things that aren’t working.

So how do you put a measurement program into action? First, you need to start by identifying the goals of your social media campaigns. Are you trying to create buzz around a new launch? Or are you using social media to build engagement and relationships? If so, what does engagement look like for you? Is it an increase in followers, a greater number of social mentions, a higher Klout score or some other metric? Without specific, stated goals, the data you capture won’t have any meaning.

In the case of engagement, one way to measure engagement is to create a point system that grades the results you’re looking for. For example, on Facebook, a share is more helpful in terms of getting your message seen by potential followers than a “Like” on your company page. With this in mind, you could create a system where a “Like” is worth one point, while a share is worth five points. Tallying up the engagement each posts receives according to your grading scale will show you what types of posts are performing best for your business.

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Use Facebook Insights to view post metrics. Here’s a good example of a Facebook Post From When I Work (my employer) with strong engagement

Many social media platforms offer analytics tools that can help you know if you are meeting your goals, though if these programs aren’t sufficient, third-party tools may be able to give you a more thorough understanding of your results. Keep in mind that the majority of these tools are meant to work real-time, so you’ll need them set up before your campaign begins. Once they’re installed, though, set aside a block of time every week or month to review the data you’ve captured and use it to improve your efforts going forward.

Although it might seem complex, social media doesn’t have to be intimidating. By familiarizing yourself with these three steps – choosing your platform, engaging your audience, and measuring your results – you’ll be able to develop a social media marketing game plan that will serve your business well, now and in the future.

Do you have a plan guiding your company’s use of social media? If so, share the factors that have made it successful in the comments below!

Image Credits

Featured Image: Startup Stock Photos

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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  • Michael Leedy

    Why I love this article, is because I’m actually in this process right now… and it doesn’t only seem intimidating… it feels like it, especially while working a job to pay the bills in addition to creating content, syndicating it… aggregating other peoples content… AND Engaging! Wheew… that was almost exhausting to type. lol.

    Reading your post, however.. makes me feel great about what I’m doing, now to just get the DMO running smoothly, so that everything can begin falling into place.

    Thanks for that… I appreciate your words.