All startups, small businesses, and large conglomerates require a social media plan—unlike the early days of digital media use when anything went, social media now needs structure.
Because social media cannot be discounted in the digital sphere—social media is a powerful tool that can help build email lists, boost web traffic, and increase company revenue.
How does a startup’s marketing team build a social media plan that is foolproof yet adaptable? We outline the five essential steps below.
Step 1 – Social Media Audit
The first step in creating a social media plan is undoubtedly the hardest—looking back at the successes and failures of your social media accounts in the past.
A social media audit is a necessary step, but it is hard to be objective—a campaign may have taken months to plan, yet yielded poor results.
One’s attachment to the campaign is understandable—time and energy went into building it—but if it wasn’t successful, then the campaign needs to be reworked, or scrapped.
There are other more technical areas that you need to examine—whether or not you have been using the right image sizes for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
The posting schedule for different platforms may need rejigging—adhering to set time slots for posts may seem convenient, but if the posts aren’t being seen then changes are required.
Conduct a social media audit by creating a comparison infographic to compare and contrast how effective campaigns have been and which areas require improvement.
Step 2 – Setting Goals
The SMART goal setting system should be the guide for all startups—it will make the process of creating a social media plan more effective and productive.
A social media plan must have set goals to focus the marketing team’s efforts. These social media goals should align with your business ideas—they need to be relevant, and measurable.
Set out specific goals for your social media team—percentage increase in followers, 1000 more YouTube video views, more posts that drive engagement.
Additionally, social media is a key part of the omnichannel strategy so it can’t exist in a vacuum.
Think about the goals you need to achieve beyond the social media realm—driving traffic to your website, generating leads, boosting conversions, and increasing revenue.
And the goals you set should be achievable—aiming for 100 new followers every day may not be within the reach of startups and puts unfair expectations on the marketing team.
One way to set reasonable goals is to look at the numbers being generated from your current social media accounts.
Create a year-on-year chart—using a line graph template—to measure the growth you have achieved thus far. This will allow the team to manage expectations for the coming year.
Setting goals will also help the team identify which social media channels require more attention over others—having an equitable presence on all channels isn’t possible for in-house teams.
Step 3 – Choosing Your Audience
Personalized messaging is an important digital marketing trend in 2020, which is why understanding your audience is so important in social media.
To choose the correct target audience—that will be most receptive to your messaging—you need to start by creating user personas for your brand.
A maximum of three personas should be enough to create a targeted social media plan—too few and your focus will become too narrow.
Too many user personas will dilute your messaging to the point where nobody reacts to your posts.
The user personas should include their psychographic profiles—their interests and opinions—as well as the kinds of products they buy and the brands they support.
You can use lead generation tools like Buzzsumo to identify who is reacting positively to your brand online.
Based on these profiles, you will have a good understanding of who your social media campaigns should be targeting.
Another area of customer targeting that needs to be examined is the customer journey—where a customer is during their journey to your product impacts how they react to content.
Examine the customer journey along with the customer profile to set a core audience to target.
You can then create content and adapt your tone to appeal to these users—thus making for more effective campaigns that lead to engagement and conversions for your brand.
Step 4 – Defining Social Media Channels
The audience you define will also help you implement a social strategy for the various platforms—and to decide which channels work best to sell products online.
Facebook and Twitter are news and opinion-oriented, and your posts will have to follow that pattern.
Snapchat and TikTok are more about entertainment. Instagram and Pinterest tend to be viewed as aspirational.
Additionally, if your audience is skewed towards younger millennials and Gen Z, your social media plan should prioritize efforts on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Those are also the channels where you can successfully collaborate with social media influencers—influencer marketing continues to be an important aspect of the digital world.
The way your audience uses the various channels will impact the content you create for these platforms—their behavior needs to be taken into account.
You also need to look into social messaging—chatbots are becoming more popular and you may want to incorporate them into your social media plan.
Choosing the right channels will make your marketing strategy more effective in the long run.
Step 5 – Content Calendar
Once your goals are set, your target audience has been chosen, and you have a clear idea of which channels you want to focus on, it is time to build a content calendar.
The social media plan doesn’t need to go into extreme detail about content sharing, but the marketing team should have a basic outline to work off of.
For instance, holidays and major product launches should be noted in the content calendar so posts can be geared around the event.
To create the content calendar, look at the posts that have performed well in the past—what days and times worked?
Use a tool like Hubspot’s marketing automation to track mentions and engagement rates so the team can learn how to structure the calendar.
There are also several marketing tools that can be used to schedule posts automatically—thus saving the team time that would otherwise have been spent manually posting on social media.
Most of these tools can also share insights into the posts—set up weekly or monthly reports that are delivered directly to the social media manager’s inbox with details about posts.
The content calendar should be kept flexible—social media is an ever-changing landscape and the calendar should be able to reflect any unexpected changes that appear.
Creating a social media plan that is effective, yet adaptable requires five simple steps, as we have outlined above.
The important thing for marketers and startups to understand is that social media is constantly evolving, as are the users on these platforms.
Though an adaptable nature is required to make social media plans successful, a strong base is what makes the strategy work in the long term.