By: Evan LePage
So you need to create a social media marketing plan. No easy task, right? Many of us struggle to iron out exactly what that is, let alone figure out how to build one from scratch.
Put simply, every action you take on social networks should be a part of a larger social media marketing strategy. That means every post, reply, like, and comment should all be guided by a plan that’s driving toward business goals. It might sound complicated, but if you take the time to create a comprehensive social media strategy, the rest of your social efforts should follow naturally. Everyone can do this if they approach it correctly.
Learn what a social media marketing plan should include, and follow our six-step plan for creating your own.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence with Hootsuite.
What is a social media marketing plan?
A social media marketing plan is the summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve for your business using social networks. This plan should comprise an audit of where your accounts are today, goals for where you want them to be in the near future, and all the tools you want to use to get there.
In general, the more specific you can get with your plan, the more effective you’ll be in its implementation. Try to keep it concise. Don’t make your social media marketing strategy so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable. The plan will guide your actions, but it will also be a measure by which you determine whether you’re succeeding or failing. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure from the outset.
Step 1: Create social media marketing objectives and goals
The first step to any social media marketing strategy is to establish the objectives and goals that you hope to achieve. Having these objectives also allows you to quickly react when social media campaigns are not meeting your expectations. Without goals, you have no means of gauging success or proving your social media return on investment (ROI).
These goals should be aligned with your broader marketing strategy, so that your social media efforts drive toward your business objectives. If your social media marketing strategy is shown to support business goals, you’re more likely to get executive buy-in and investment.
A key component of setting effective goals for your social media strategy is to determine what metrics you’ll use to measure their success. Go beyond vanity metrics such as retweets and likes. Focus on things such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rate. For more on this, check out our posts on the social media metrics, social ads metrics, and social video metrics that matter.
As you write your goals, keep your audience and customers in mind. Try creating audience or customer personas—archetypes that include details about demographics, interests, pain points, etc.—to test your goals. For example, if you’re trying to determine if a goal is properly fleshed out, ask yourself in what way it will help you reach your audience.
You should also use the S.M.A.R.T. framework when setting your goals. This means that each objective should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
A good example of a well-written S.M.A.R.T. goal might look like this: “For Instagram we will share photos that communicate our company culture. We will do this by posting three photos a week. The target for each is at least 30 likes and five comments.”
A simple way to start your social media marketing plan is by writing down at least three social media goals. Make sure to ask yourself what the goal will look like when completed, and use that to determine how you will track it.
Step 2: Conduct a social media audit
Prior to creating your social media marketing plan, you need to assess your current social media use and how it’s working. This means figuring out who is currently connecting with you via social, which social media sites your target market uses, and how your social media presence compares to your competitors’.
We’ve created a social media audit template that you can follow for each step of the process:
Once you’ve conducted your audit you should have a clear picture of every social account representing your business, who runs or controls them, and what purpose they serve. This inventory should be maintained regularly, especially as you scale your business.
It should also be evident which accounts need to be updated and which need to be deleted altogether. If your audit uncovers fraudulent accounts—a fake branded Twitter profile, for example—report them. Reporting fraudulent accounts will help ensure that people searching for you online only connect with the accounts you manage.
This is the perfect point in the process to assess which channels you want to continue using or potentially add to the mix.
Go back to your audience personas—those archetypes that represent your customers—these will help you determine which channels are most effective for your brand.
When trying to decide which social channels to move forward with, ask yourself two questions:
- Is my audience here?
- If so, how are they using this platform?
Not sure who’s using what and how? Check out our posts covering all the major networks:
Remember, it’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every social network.
As part of your social media audit you’ll also want to create mission statements for each network you plan to use. These one-sentence declarations will help you focus on a very specific goal for Instagram, Facebook, or any other social network. They will guide your actions and help steer you back on track if your efforts begin to lag.
Take the time you need to determine the purpose of every social profile you have. If you can’t figure out its purpose, you should probably delete that profile.
An example mission statement might look like this: “We will use Snapchat to share the lighter side of our company and connect with younger prospective customers.”
Once you’ve determined which channels to use, you should also think about your brand’s voice, tone, and style. This includes things like what sort of language your social accounts will use, whether your brand will post GIFs, and so on. Learn more in our post about creating a social media style guide.
Step 3: Create or improve your social media accounts
Once you’ve finished with your social media audit, it’s time to hone your online presence. Choose which networks best meet your social media goals. If you don’t already have social media profiles on each network you focus on, build them from the ground up with your broader goals and audience in mind. If you do have existing accounts, it’s time to update and refine them to get the best possible results.
Optimizing profiles for SEO can help generate more web traffic to your online properties. Cross-promoting social accounts can extend the reach of content. In general, social media profiles should be filled out completely, and images and text should be optimized for the social network in question. To ensure you optimize your pictures properly for every network, check out our complete guide to social media image sizes.
Each social network has a unique audience and should be treated differently. For network-specific optimization tips, check out the following blog posts:
Step 4: Gather social media marketing inspiration
Not sure what kinds of content and information will get you the most engagement? For inspiration, look to what others in your industry are sharing and use social media listening to see how you can distinguish yourself from competitors and appeal to prospects they might be missing.
Consumers can also offer social media inspiration, not only through the content that they share but in the way that they phrase their messages. See how your target audience writes tweets, and strive to mimic that style. Learn their habits—when they share and why—and use that as a basis for your social media marketing plan.
A final source of social media inspiration is industry leaders. There are giants who do an incredible job of social media marketing, from Red Bull and Taco Bell to KLM Airlines and Tangerine Bank. Companies in every industry imaginable have managed to distinguish themselves through advanced social media strategies. Follow them and learn everything you can. See if they’ve shared any social media advice or insight elsewhere on the web.
Here are a few suggested sources of inspiration in different areas of social media marketing:
- Content marketing: Unbounce, Virgin
- Social media customer service: Tangerine, Warby Parker
- Social media advertising: Airbnb, the American Red Cross
- Facebook strategy: Coca-Cola, Walmart
- Twitter strategy: Charmin, Oreo
- Instagram strategy: Herschel Supply Co., General Electric
- Snapchat strategy: Taco Bell, Amazon
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence with Hootsuite.
Step 5: Create a content marketing plan and a social media content calendar
Having great content to share will be essential to succeeding at social media. Your social media marketing plan should include a content marketing plan, comprised of strategies for content creation and content curation, as well as a content calendar.
Your content marketing plan should answer the following questions:
- What types of content do you intend to post and promote on social media?
- Who is your target audience for each type of content?
- How often will you post content?
- Who will create the content?
- How will you promote the content?
Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times you intend to publish Instagram and Facebook posts, tweets, and other content. It’s the perfect place to plan all of your social media activities—from images and link sharing to blog posts and videos—encompassing both your day-to-day posting and content for social media campaigns.
Create the calendar and then schedule your messaging in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day. This gives you the opportunity to work hard on the language and format of these messages rather than writing them on the fly whenever you have time. Be spontaneous with your engagement and customer service rather than your content.
Pro Tip: for ultimate efficiency, try bulk scheduling.
Make sure your calendar reflects the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile. If the purpose of your LinkedIn account is to generate leads, make sure you are sharing enough lead generation content. You can establish a content matrix that defines what share of your profile is allocated to different types of posts. For example:
- 50 percent of content will drive back to your blog
- 25 percent of content will be curated from other sources
- 20 percent of content will support enterprise goals (selling, lead generation, etc.)
- 5 percent of content will be about HR and culture
If you’re unsure of how to allocate your resources, you could follow the 80-20 rule—80 percent of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience and the other 20 percent can directly promote your brand—or try the social media rule of thirds:
- One-third of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit
- One-third of your social content should share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses
- One-third of your social content should be personal interactions with your audience
Step 6: Test, evaluate, and adjust your social media marketing plan
To find out what adjustments need to be made to your social media marketing strategy, you should rely on constant testing. Build testing capabilities into every action you take on social networks. For example, you could:
- Track the number of clicks your links get on a particular platform using URL shorteners and UTM parameters
- Use Hootsuite’s social media analytics to track the success and reach of social campaigns
- Track page visits driven by social media with Google Analytics
Record and analyze your successes and failures, and then adjust your social media marketing plan in response.
Surveys are also a great way to gauge success—online and offline. Ask your social media followers, email list, and website visitors how you’re doing on social media. This direct approach is often very effective. Then ask your offline customers if social media had a role in their purchasing. This insight might prove invaluable when you look for areas to improve. Learn more about how to measure social media ROI for your business.
The most important thing to understand about your social media marketing plan is that it should be constantly changing. As new networks emerge, you may want to add them to your plan. As you attain goals, you will need to set new targets. Unexpected challenges will arise that you need to address. As you scale your business, you might need to add new roles or grow your social presence for different branches or regions.
Rewrite your social media strategy to reflect your latest insights, and make sure your team is aware of what has been updated.
Once you’ve mapped out your social media marketing plan, use Hootsuite to schedule all of your social media posts, engage with your followers, and track the success of your efforts.
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June 28, 2017
Filed under: Social
For freelancers and agencies who provide social media services, having a proposal ready for your client should be an essential part of your workflow.
We’ll walk through the important components of a social media proposal, aided by tips from people who write proposals on a daily basis. Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll be able to write your own or make tweaks to an existing template.
Where Does a Social Media Proposal Fit into Your Workflow?
The proposal is part of your sales process.
Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association found that companies with a clearly defined sales process see 18% more revenue growth than companies that don’t.
What is a clearly defined sales process? It’s made up of stages, such as “prospecting” and “close.” It can resemble a pyramid, flow chart or even a circle. Below are three examples of different sales processes.
The number of stages differs from company to company. What is more important here is that each stage has clearly defined actions and metrics that are relevant to you.
For example, your “conversion” stage could include:
- Write proposal
- Send proposal
- Client reviews proposal and returns with questions
- You answer questions and/or revise proposal
- Client agrees on proposal
- You send a contract
- Client signs contract
Having a clearly defined sales process not only makes you look more professional, but it also helps you manage your workflow.
If you’re having trouble building an effective process, check out our Agency Partner Program. As a member, you’ll get access to tools, sales collateral and resources to streamline your process, win new business and prove social ROI to your current clients.
What’s the Purpose of a Social Media Proposal?
A social media proposal formalizes your ideas to your client. It’s not a contract (though it can be if you want it to be). This stage often comes after a consultation and/or research on what the client needs.
Let’s say you want to change up the look of your kitchen. You have a general idea of what you’re looking for, but you don’t have the knowledge to make your dream kitchen come to life. Your next logical step is to hire an interior designer and if you do your due diligence, you’ll find a few people who might have the experience you need. You’ll ask for proposals and after looking at what they send you, you’ll make a decision.
The tricky part of writing a proposal is that you need to persuade the client of your abilities without outlining every step.
An interior designer won’t send you three different kitchen designs, complete with sample materials in their proposal. Nothing could stop you from taking their design and executing it on your own. Instead, the designer would need to demonstrate industry knowledge and an understanding of your needs. Based on their recommendations and their portfolio, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on hiring them.
What’s in a Social Media Proposal?
As we mentioned before, a proposal needs to demonstrate an understanding of the client’s needs.
Some of the major proposal components include:
- Analysis: identification of the client’s problems
- Scope of work: your solution to the problems
- Project milestones and deadlines
- Proof of work
- Terms of agreement
- Next steps for the client
We’ll go into each part in detail.
1. Analysis: Identification of the Client’s Problems
An important part of a client relationship is managing their expectations. In the client consultation, you should be able to understand what their needs are for social media and how you can help them.
Oftentimes, clients will recognize that they need help in social media management, but are unable to describe why they need it or what their goals are for using social media. For example, if the client wants to use social media to increase their sales, this proposal section would include current sales metrics and an analysis of why the current strategy doesn’t work.
2. Scope of Work
This section closely matches your contract’s Scope of Work section. Essentially, everything that goes here is what you will do for your client. This is the biggest part of the proposal and can be broken into smaller pieces.
For social media proposals, work can often include any of the below:
- Posting schedule: Which networks are you going to be monitoring and how often will you be posting? If a posting approval process is needed, then be sure to outline what that would look like.
- Content creation and curation: This can include creating a social media content calendar, taking photographs and keeping a pulse on industry news.
- Brand keyword monitoring: Be sure to note which keyword(s) you will be tracking.
- Analytics and reporting: How often will you be reporting on analytics and what will you be tracking?
- Social media management details: When will you be available to engage on social media? How much time will you be dedicating to the client?
Andy Bishop, President at marketing agency Thin Pig Media recommended clarifying the number of hours of work a client is receiving. He explained, “Social media is very fluid and of course 24/7. It is important to set clear expectations to avoid issues in the future and also to let the customer know what they are getting.”
Our product can make a social media manager’s life easier. Not only do we offer easy keyword monitoring, but our reports come presentation-ready and can be exported at a click of a button.
3. Project Milestones & Deadlines
Often looped in with Scope of Work, this section will clearly define how you measure a project’s success.
If the client wants more brand exposure from social media, you’ll likely identify impressions and reposts to be part of your metrics. With their current numbers and growth rate in mind, you’ll be able to write reasonable, numeric goals in the proposal.
4. Proof of Work
Why should you be the one to work with this client and not your competitor? What makes you stand out from all the others? Chances are that the client is receiving multiple proposals for the same project.
This is where you demonstrate how your experience would fit into their needs. It can come in the form of client testimonials or examples of how you’ve successfully managed clients with similar goals.
Tessa Greenleaf, Matching Specialist at CloudPeeps agreed. “When sharing examples of accounts you’ve managed, it’s important to detail what you’ve achieved for those clients, as well as your goals when you began working with them. This tells a client why they should hire you for their job.”
She used follower growth as an example goal. To show how you grew one client’s growth, she said to “share exactly how many followers there were on the account when you began work, how many follows you grew the account to and what role you played in that growth.”
5. Terms of Agreement
This is the nitty-gritty of the proposal. The section should clearly communicate how you work and what the contract terms would be.
It can include important items like:
- Fees: project, hourly or retainer
- Billing practices: how you invoice, what your payment terms are or if you require a deposit
- How you work: remotely, in the client’s office and when you’re available to answer questions
- Termination: how to end the project if either party decides it’s not for them
Joyce Davis, Branding & Marketing Designer at Square One Creative recommends having a kill fee and expenses incurred as part of the termination. She explained, “This is important so there are no surprises, and the client is forewarned that if the project is not as presented, or gets too difficult, you’ll have the option to stop working with them.”
The termination goes both ways: the client can end the project if it’s not working out for them, as long as they know they still need to pay the kill fee.
6. Next Steps for the Client
What’s next after the social media proposal? To avoid limbo and a continual back-and-forth between you and the client, write down what happens after the proposal is sent. Will you be following up after a certain number of days? Does the client have a chance to ask for revisions on the proposal?
While these are major components of a social media proposal, there are countless other ways of writing a proposal. Some agencies like to include an expiration date on their proposals along with a copyright notice.
Proposal length can vary depending on the client you’re working with. A proposal for a small business would look remarkably different from a proposal for a multi-million dollar company.
Creating & Delivering the Proposal
For many social media marketers, a digital delivery of the proposal is sufficient enough. For others, you may need to make an in-person presentation. Just like when you write and design a resume, make sure your proposal is easy to read for the client.
With all of this in mind, you should be able to create your own social media proposal template. Services like Canva have presentation-ready templates that can be adapted for a proposal. Having a template will make new proposals easier for you, leaving you to focus on writing the details.
Having a well written proposal is great, but it doesn’t guarantee success. If you’re an agency or consultant looking for help to sell or grow an account, speak with one of our agency partner growth consultants.