How to Create the Best Documented Social Media Marketing Strategy In Eight Steps
Social media marketing takes a lot of effort.
If you’re putting effort into channels with little to no results, it can be difficult to continue using them.
Sound like your situation?
Part of the problem may stem from lack of a clear and documented social media marketing strategy.
With a solid plan in place, you can (as we say at CoSchedule), plan your work, and then work your plan.
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a thoroughly documented strategy that will be easy for you to execute.
Download Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Template
Before you start reading this post, download our social media marketing strategy template. This simple PowerPoint deck will make it easy to present your plan to your organization.
Plan, Measure, and Execute Your Social Media Marketing Plan With CoSchedule
When you’re equipped with the industry’s best social media and marketing calendar, you can:
- Plan every post on one unified marketing calendar.
- Schedule every post at the best time (automagically).
- Measure your results with Social Analytics and Social Profile Reports.
What Is A Social Media Marketing Strategy?
A social media marketing strategy is:
A detailed summary that outlines every aspect of your social media marketing projects and goals.
1. Start By Choosing Your Social Media Channels
The first part of developing your social media strategy should be deciding what channels you want to be active on.
Choose two to three channels to prioritize to start. Then, consider adding more channels.
How do you know what channels to choose? Determine the answers to the following:
- Where is your audience the most active: Are there specific channels that seem to be more popular with your target audience than others?
- Where is your website traffic coming from: Your website is what helps seal the deal when it comes to conversions. Is your audience coming from one channel more than another?
- Does a certain channel fit your organization better: If your target audience is full of millennials it would make sense to be active on things like Snapchat and Instagram. However, if your target audience is 55, Instagram may not be your best bet for your organization.
- Does your audience engage with one channel over the other: Is one social channel’s content engaging your audience more often than the others?
To determine which channels you want to be active on, rank the channels you currently use based on the answers to each of the above questions.
Rank the channels in your social media marketing strategy template from most to least active:
2. Determine Your Target Audience
Why is it essential define who your audience is?
- You need to know who you are creating your content for.
- By knowing who your audience is, you’ll know what kinds of content will connect and resonate with them.
- You’ll be more likely to convert your audience into customers with that content.
How do you define your target audience?
The easiest way to is to build an audience persona. We’ve got all the information you need on marketing personas here (plus a free template to make building one easy).
Once you’ve created a persona, use this slide to summarize demographical data about your target audience:
Analyze Your Social Media Demographics On Each Channel
Different social networks may attract different demographics who are still part of your target audience.
It’s important to identify those differences so you can adjust your content based on what your target audience wants to see on each channel.
How to Do Demographic Research on Facebook
Go to your Facebook business account:
In your top navigation, there should be a tab labeled Insights. Within your Insights tab is a short breakdown of your fan demographics including age, country, gender, and language:
Finding The Demographics Of Your Twitter Audience
Click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of your homepage. A drop down menu should appear. In that list is an analytics option:
On your analytics page is a menu bar, click the audience tab:
You’ll then be able to see information on your followers, interest, gender, country, and region:
Finding The Demographics Of Your Instagram Audience
Open the Instagram app on your phone, in the top right-hand corner is a bunch of little lines that look like a graph:
Inside that tab is a section labeled followers:
Click see more to get information on gender, age range, and location:
Finding The Demographics Of Your Pinterest Audience
Log into Pinterest Business account and look for the analytics tab. Click on People You Reach:
In the tab, you’ll see a break down of all the demographical data for your followers including gender, metro, and country:
Finding The Demographics Of Your LinkedIn Audience
LinkedIn analytics are only available for business accounts, so if you just have a personal LinkedIn page, you won’t be able to see demographic options.
Log into LinkedIn and select your company page. Then click Manage Page:
Click on Analytics:
Scroll down and check out your follower demographics. You can rotate through seniority, industry, company size, function and if your followers are employees or not:
Finding The Demographics Of Your Google+ Audience
Finding audience demographic data in Google+ is a little less obvious than on other social networks. Fortunately, our friends at Steady Demand wrote an excellent guide on Google+ analytics that covers the topic in full.
Like other social media channels, the audience demographics that you’ll find for your Google+ channel will include country, gender, and age.
Record those demographics in your social media marketing strategy template. You’ll notice that your template only includes two pre-set demographic sections. You can add or remove different demographics based on what your organization needs to keep track of:
Identify the Problems Your Company or Product Solves
Once you’ve established your target audience, it’s time to figure out what your business does for them.
This will help you focus your social media content on their needs. It all boils down to what is the overall mission of your company or product.
Maybe you don’t have those answers right off-hand. That’s okay. That just means you’ve got to find the right people to talk to. Take five minutes to sit down with a manager or executive and get answers to the following:
- What problem does our product or service solve?
- What are some common pain points our customer’s experience?
- Why do people choose us over our competition?
It may seem like a tiny step, but figuring out what problem your product is solving is the first step in unlocking who your audience is.
Then, complete the following section of your template:
Understand Why Do People Follow You On Social Media
It’s important to know why people choose to follow you (instead of just watching cat videos).
The first step is answering the question:
“What makes your brand unique?”
If your fans are taking the time to follow your brand on social media, there must be something that your organization is doing that is attracting their attention.
Take Casper for example (not the ghost, the mattress company).
People love following them because they crack awesome jokes about sleep-related topics (rather than just trying to sell mattresses directly):
Guess who woke up at 7am to go to the gym this morning?
— Casper (@Casper) November 18, 2017
The second question you need to answer is:
“What is your audience interested in?”
Create a survey link and ask your audience why they follow your social media channels. This could be through an email, or you could include the link in a social media post.
Some questions to add could be:
- What brought you to [insert social media channel] page?
- What do you like to see on our social media channel?
- What would you like to see us post about more often?
The final question you need to answer is:
“What content connects the products and services we offer to what our audience is interested in?”
Your content should sit at the intersection of what makes your brand unique and what your audience is interested in:
As you begin to record and analyze your results, write a short paragraph in your social media marketing strategy template.
An example of this could be:
CoSchedule provides the most actionable marketing advice on the web. This content is important to our audience because they want to learn how to work more effectively.
Once you have your paragraph finalized, add it to your social media strategy template:
3. What Are the Goals of Social Media Marketing?
Goal setting is a vital part of your social media marketing plan.
Without goals, your social media has no direction or path to success.
You would have nothing to measure your efforts against.
So how do you set up your social media goals?
Identifying Business Objectives
The first step in your goal setting process should be to determine your business objectives.
These are overarching benefits to your business that social media marketing can help achieve.
An example of a business objective might be one of the following:
- “We want 60% of our audience to be millennials.”
- “We want to be the number one soft drink for women over 40.”
- “We want to sell more ski resort passes to college-aged vacationers.”
You get the idea.
Once you have that goal nailed down, record it in your strategy document (on the left-we’ll set social media goals next):
Determine Your Social Media Goals
Now that you know what your business objectives are, you need to figure out how the social media goals you’re going to set will help affect your business objectives.
- Determine how social media can contribute to the overarching objective.
- Create a social media goal that would help achieve your business objective. For example, if you wanted to sell more ski passes to college students, you might set a goal to increase your percentage of social media followers who are in college.
Once you have determined those social media goals, document them.
Five Examples of Social Media Goals
Need help connecting social media goals to business objectives? This chart may help.
Set KPIs and Goals For Every Social Media Channel
Before you begin, let’s clarify the difference between KPIs and goals:
- Social Media KPIs: These are the most important social media metrics that are closest to your business objectives.
- Social Media Goals: These are the specific numbers you want to hit for each KPI.
Record those goals and KPIs in your plan:
4. Do Competitive Analysis
Why would you look at what they’re doing? You’re not them. However, you are fighting for their same audience. Understanding how and why they’re pulling in their customers is part of the key to your success.
Determine Who Your Competitors Are
You can determine some things from just looking at their social profiles. Before you can start, make a list of three to five of your top competitors. You’ll be observing their social profiles, so knowing who you’re tracking will be critical to begin.
It could look something like this:
What if you don’t know who my competitors are?
Start by manually searching each network you’re active on for businesses in your industry.
Choose a keyword that’s relevant to your industry.
For example, let’s say I wanted to open a coffee shop in Fargo, ND (one of two cities where our offices are located). My keyword would be “coffee shop.”
Since I’m not a national brand, I would want to look for local coffee shops in my area first.
Keep going until you’ve gathered enough data to complete the competitor research section of your strategy document.
Analyze What Works For Your Competition
The next step is to monitor your competitor’s social engagement.
Figure out which types of content appear to be working best.
Look for posts like the following that are grabbing the attention of your competitor’s fans.
That could mean:
- Types of media. Do videos or images appear to do well?
- Voice and tone. What types of messages appear to perform best?
- Types of messages. Do questions seem to be working? What about jokes? Branded slogans? Motivational quotes?
The opposite also applies. What types of content aren’t getting a lot of reactions or engagement?
Look for posts that have a lower interaction rate, like the following:
To find their average interactions take the number of posts, they published in a 30 day period divided by the total number of interactions in that same period. That number will be your average:
The last part of your competitor analysis should be recording at least three content types or posts that are working for your audience:
5. Create Your Social Media Content Strategy
The next part of your social media marketing strategy involves the content that you publish. Determining what types of content you want to publish and how often you’re going to post are critical to the success of your social media program.
Establish Your Voice and Tone
The first step in outlining your content plan for your social media channels is to determine your voice and tone.
Aren’t they the same thing?
Not exactly. The voice is the reflection of your brand personality online. It should encompass who you are as a whole and be recognizable to your brand. Tone, on the other hand, is the inflection or emotion behind the voice of a post.
So how do you define each of these things? First, list out three adjectives that would describe your brand. Here’s a list to help you out:
Those three adjectives will define your voice.
Tone is the emotional inflection that you apply to your voice. For example, Disney’s tone on social media is always warm and inviting:
Thank you for all the happy memories, Mickey. ❤️ Share why you love Mickey using #HappyBirthdayMickey.
Posted by Walt Disney World on Thursday, November 16, 2017
Record your voice and tone in a couple of sentences in your social media marketing strategy:
Determine What Types of Content to Create and Share
You’ve done your research on your audience, and you know what you’re competitors are posting, now is the time to determine what types of content your channels are going to publish going forward. Let’s look at your options:
- Blog Articles
- Text Posts
- Curated content from other sources
Some of these types of content will resonate better on other channels than others.
So when you choose your content, keep your channels in mind. Memes and GIFs will probably perform better on Twitter than they will on LinkedIn. Vice versa, photos are probably your best bet on Instagram and Pinterest.
Record each type of content that you’re going to post on each social media channel:
Create Your Content Curation Plan
Curated content should be another tool for your social media team to wield to help you fill gaps in your content schedule or increase your authority on a subject in the eyes of your audience.
So how do you create your content curation plan? You need to decide what sources you want to publish content from. These sources should be:
- Reputable: Make the most of the companies who already have high authority on a topic, share their content.
- Accurate: No one wants to read an inaccurate article.
- Up to date: If the source you’re curating your content from is out of date, you can assume their information will be.
To find sources to curate from, try a tool like Feedly. It’s a simple RSS reader that makes it easy to curate content.
You can also curate content quickly using CoSchedule’s Chrome Extension.
Recommended Reading: How to Curate Content To Increase Your Social Media Reach
Determine Your Posting Schedule
Your next steps involve you setting up your posting schedule. How often you post to each channel will depend on the best practices and the “lifetime” of each post.
For example, the lifetime of a tweet on Twitter is about 18 minutes. Therefore, you would need to tweet more often to reach your audience.
Now before you see a standard social media posting schedule keep a few things in mind:
- You only need to focus on the channels you’re active on
- If posting that often seems overwhelming start small, you need to walk before you can run
This is what a generic social media posting schedule might look like if you’re having trouble getting started:
Figuring out your posting frequency is important but posting a social media message just because you feel like you need to, to stick to your posting schedule could do more harm than good.
It’s better to have high-quality content that is posted fewer times than okay content that is posted more frequently. When you’re thinking about posting content ask yourself the following:
- What are you posting? Is this right for the channel?
- When are you going to post it? Is this content timely or can it wait a few weeks?
- Where are you going to post it? Does this content fit the context of the channel you want to post it on?
- Why are you posting it? Do you have an excellent reason for sending out this message? What is this going to give your followers?
Enter your social media posting schedule into your plan:
If you want to send your posts at the very best time use CoSchedule’s Best Time Scheduling feature.
6. Determine Your Social Media Budget
The next step in creating your social media marketing strategy involves determining your social media budget.
This is probably one of the most crucial points in your plan development because your budget will help determine what you can and cannot execute on your social channels.
So what exactly does your determining your budget do?
How Much Will You Invest in Social Media Marketing?
What should you plan to budget for?
- Paid Ads: Paid ads are on the rise and if you (or your client) wants to reach more people, ads are becoming the only way to do it.
- Video Shoots: Like paid ads, videos are on the rise. In fact, 1/3 of online activity is now spent watching video. Your budget plan should account for how much you can spend on video content.
- Agency Costs: If you work with an outside agency, set aside budget for tasks you’ll ask them to complete.
- Tools: How much are the tools that your social media team needs to use to complete their work each year?
- Misc: This is part of your budget that should be the home for things that don’t fit into your previous categories.
Record your budget on your social media marketing strategy:
7. Build Your Social Media Marketing Toolbox
There are three main categories of social media tools. The needs of your organization will determine what type of tool you need.
- Planning tools: These tools help you keep organized and handle project management effectively. This includes tools like Asana and Wrike.
- Execution tools: These tools help you schedule and execute posts and campaigns. This includes tools like Buffer and Edgar.
- Reporting tools: These tools help you measure your success. This includes tools like Simply Measured.
Once you’ve chosen your tools, record them in your strategy document:
8. Develop Your Measurement Plan and Reporting Schedule
To justify your budget, you’ll need to show results
That’s where your reporting schedule comes in.
To do this, you’ll need a toolset to gather data and build reports. Some options include:
- In-app Analytics: All of the major social networks include decent analytics functions to help measure performance.
- Google Analytics: It’s free (and you’re probably already using it to track social media referral traffic).
- Additional Tools: Third-party tools like CoSchedule are great for automating social media reports.
Record your reporting frequency and the summaries that those reports will include:
Instead of trying to build your social engagement report like CoSchedule do it for you.
First, go to your CoSchedule calendar and select Analytics from the left-hand menu:
Select Social Engagement Report:
The first part of the report will show you your overall engagement rate for all of your social media channels for the selected period as well as the number of engagements per channel:
The second part of your report will give you a more in-depth break down of what your engagement rates per message look like across your channels:
You can also schedule pre-made reports that will be sent directly to your inbox. To set your schedule scroll back up to the top of your report and select Export > Schedule:
Select the frequency that you want your reports to be sent:
Enter the email addresses of the people you want the report sent to and click Save:
CoSchedule will take care of the rest.
Get Ahead Of The Social Media Game And Start Creating Your Plan
Now that you have your outline it’s up to you to fill in your plan. By setting goals, determining who your audience is and finding the right types of content to post you’ll be able to create a social media marketing strategy that works for your organization.
Not to mention that having a plan in place will help you execute your ideas and prove that they’re working. Who wouldn’t like that?
Once you are ready to move to the execution side of your plan, see how CoSchedule can help you out.
This post was most recently updated on Dec. 15, 2017.