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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

Social media is a vital marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. The common question a few years ago, “why should our business use social media?”, is now being replaced with, “how can our business grow with social media marketing?”.

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.

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 Social media marketing plan should have S.M.A.R.T. goals

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’.

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?

Facebook demographics and statistics
Instagram demographics and statistics
Twitter demographics and statistics
LinkedIn demographics and statistics
Snapchat demographics and statistics
Pinterest demographics and statistics
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.

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

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.

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
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.

 

The Marketing Plan Section of the Business Plan – Part 2

The marketing plan section of the business plan explains how you’re going to get your customers to buy your products and/or services. The marketing plan, then, will include sections detailing your:

  • Products and/or Services and your Unique Selling Proposition
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Sales/Distribution Plan
  • Advertising and Promotions Plan

The easiest way to develop your marketing plan is to work through each of these sections, referring to the market research you completed when you were writing the previous sections of the business plan.

(Note that if you are developing a marketing plan on its own, rather than as part of a business plan, the plan will also need to include a Target Market and a Competitors’ Analysis section.

Products and/or Services

Focus on the uniqueness of your product or service and how the customer will benefit from using the products or services you’re offering. Use these questions to write a paragraph summarizing these aspects for your marketing plan:

  • What are the features of your product or service?
  • Describe the physical attributes of your product or service, and any other relevant features such as what it does or how your product or service differs from competitors’ products or services.
  • How will your product or service benefit the customer?
  • Remember that benefits can be intangible as well as tangible; for instance, if you’re selling a cleaning product, your customers will benefit by having a cleaner house, but they may also benefit by enjoying better health. Brainstorm as many benefits as possible to begin with and then choose to emphasize the benefits that your targeted customers will most appreciate in your marketing plan.
  • What is it that sets your product or service apart from all the rest?  In other words, what is your Unique Selling Proposition, the message you want your customers to receive about your product or service that is the heart of your marketing? Marketing plans are all about communicating this central message to your customers.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy portion of the marketing plan involves determining how you will price your product or service; the price you charge has to be competitive but still allow you to make a reasonable profit.

Being “reasonable” is key; you can charge any price you want to, but for every product or service there’s a limit to how much the consumer is willing to pay. Your pricing strategy needs to take this consumer threshold into account.

The most common question small business people have about the pricing strategy section of the marketing plan is, “How do you know what price to charge?”

Basically, you set your pricing through a process of calculating your costs, estimating the benefits to consumers, and comparing your products, services and prices to others that are similar.

Set your pricing by examining how much it cost you to produce the product or service and adding a fair price for the benefits that the customer will enjoy.

Examining what others are charging for similar products or services will guide you when you’re figuring out what a fair price for such benefits would be. You may find it useful to conduct a Breakeven Analysis.

The pricing strategy you outline in your marketing plan will answer the following questions:

  • What is the cost of your product or service? Make sure you include all your fixed and variable costs when you’re calculating this; the cost of labor and materials are obvious, but you may also need to include freight costs, administrative costs, and/or selling costs, for example.
  • How does the pricing of your product or service compare to the market price of similar products or services?
  • Explain how the pricing of your product or service is competitive. For instance, if the price you plan to charge is lower, why are you able to do this? If it’s higher, why would your customer be willing to pay more? This is where the “strategy” part of the pricing strategy comes into play; will your business be more competitive if you charge more, less, or the same as your competitors and why?
  • What kind of ROI (Return on Investment) are you expecting with this pricing strategy, and within what time frame?

Sales and Distribution Plan

Remember, the primary goal of the marketing plan is to get people to buy your products or services. Here’s where you detail how this is going to happen.

Traditionally there are three parts to the Sales and Distribution section, although all three parts may not apply to your business.

1) Outline the distribution methods to be used.

  • How is your product or service going to get to the customer? Will you distribute your product or service through a website, through the mail, through sales representatives, or through retail?
  • What distribution channel is going to be used?
  • In a direct distribution channel, the product or service goes directly from the manufacturer to the consumer. In a one stage distribution channel, it goes from manufacturer to retailer to consumer. The traditional distribution channel is from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. Outline all the different companies, people and/or technologies that will be involved in the process of getting your product or service to your customer.
  • What are the costs associated with distribution?
  • What are the delivery terms?
  • How will the distribution methods affect production time frames or delivery? (How long will it take to get your product or service to your customer?)

If your business involves selling a product, you should also include information about inventory levels and packaging in this part of your marketing plan. For instance:

  • How are your products to be packaged for shipping and for display?
  • Does the packaging meet all regulatory requirements (such as labeling)?
  • Is the packaging appropriately coded, priced, and complementary to the product?
  • What minimum inventory levels must be maintained to ensure that there is no loss of sales due to problems such as late shipments and back orders?

2) Outline the transaction process between your business and your customers.

  • What system will be used for processing orders, shipping, and billing?
  • What methods of payment will customers be able to use?
  • What credit terms will customers be offered? If you will offer discounts for early payment or impose penalties for late payment, they should be mentioned in this part of your marketing plan.
  • What is your return policy?
  • What warranties will the customer be offered? Describe these or any other service guarantees.
  • What after-sale support will you offer customers and what will you charge (if anything) for this support?
  • Is there a system for customer feedback so customer satisfaction (or the lack of it) can be tracked and addressed?

3) If it’s applicable to your business, outline your sales strategy.

  • What types of salespeople will be involved (commissioned salespeople, product demonstrators, telephone solicitors, etc.)?
  • Describe your expectations of these salespeople and how sales effectiveness will be measured.
  • Will a sales training program be offered? If so, describe it in this section of the marketing plan.
  • Describe the incentives salespeople will be offered to encourage their achievements (such as getting new accounts, the most orders, etc.).

Advertising and Promotion Plan

Essentially the Advertising and Promotion section of the marketing plan describes how you’re going to deliver your Unique Selling Proposition to your prospective customers. While there are literally thousands of different promotion avenues available to you, what distinguishes a successful plan from an unsuccessful one is the focus – and that’s what your Unique Selling Proposition provides.

So think first of the message that you want to send to your targeted audience. Then look at these promotion possibilities and decide which to emphasize in your marketing plan:

Advertising – The best approach to advertising is to think of it in terms of media and which media will be most effective in reaching your target market. Then you can make decisions about how much of your annual advertising budget you’re going to spend on each medium.

What percentage of your annual advertising budget will you invest in each of the following:

  • the Internet
  • television
  • radio
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • directories
  • billboards
  • bench/bus/subway ads
  • direct mail
  • cooperative advertising with wholesalers, retailers or other businesses?

Include not only the cost of the advertising but your projections about how much business the advertising will bring in.

Sales Promotion – If it’s appropriate to your business, you may want to incorporate sales promotional activities into your advertising and promotion plan, such as:

  • offering free samples
  • coupons
  • the point of purchase displays
  • product demonstrations

Marketing Materials – Every business will include some of these in their promotion plans. The most common marketing material is the business card, but brochures, pamphlets, and service sheets are also common.

Publicity – Another avenue of promotion that every business should use. Describe how you plan to generate publicity. While press releases spring to mind, that’s only one way to get people spreading the word about your business. Consider:

  • product launches
  • special events, including community involvement
  • writing articles
  • getting and using testimonials

For more about publicity, see Getting Publicity for Your Business.

Your Business’s Website – If your business has or will have a website, describe how your website fits into your advertising and promotion plan.

Trade shows – Trade shows can be incredibly effective promotion and sales opportunities – if you pick the right ones and go equipped to put your promotion plan into action. Before You Attend That Trade Show explains how to choose appropriate trade shows.

Other Promotion Activities

Your promotion activities are truly limited only by your imagination.

But If you plan to teach a course, sponsor a community event, or conduct an email campaign, you’ll want to include it in your advertising and promotion plan. Sporadic unconnected attempts to promote your product or service are bound to fail; your goal is to plan and carry out a sequence of focused promotion activities that will communicate the message you want to send about your products and/or services with your potential customers.

While small businesses often have minuscule (or non-existent) promotion budgets, that doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t design and implement effective promotion plans.

No business is too small to have a marketing plan. After all, no business is too small for customers or clients. And if you have these, you need to communicate with them about your products and/or services.

How to Write a Business Marketing Plan- Part 1

Firms that are successful in marketing invariably start with a marketing plan. Large companies have plans with hundreds of pages; small companies can get by with a half-dozen sheets.

Put your marketing plan in a three-ring binder. Refer to it at least quarterly, but better yet monthly. Leave a tab for putting in monthly reports on sales/manufacturing; this will allow you to track performance as you follow the plan.

A marketing plan is a core component of a business plan. It relates specifically to the marketing of a particular product or service and it describes:

  • An overall marketing objective
  • A broad marketing strategy
  • The tactical detail related to specific marketing activities
  • The various costs associated with these activities
  • Those tasked with delivering these activities by name

 

The starting point for any marketing plan is an analysis of the strategic context, as a typical objective for most plans is promoting a good or service as effectively as possible. An assessment of the company, its environment and its customers helps to ensure that the author of the plan obtains a holistic view of the wider context. In turn this helps them to focus their energies and resources accordingly. This is particularly important given that most marketing managers will be subject to that all-too-familiar constraint—limited resources (invariably financial). In effect, a marketing plan is produced to ensure that limited resources are allocated to activities that are likely to bring the maximum return.

An assessment of the context will include analysis of both internal and external factors. There are a number of frameworks and tools designed to assist you with this:

  • A SWOT analysis forces you to consider internal Strengths and Weaknesses alongside external Opportunities and Threats.
  • Porter’s Five Forces is a framework designed to assist you in considering the broader competitive and environmental context.

 

It is also vital that you have a thorough understanding of your customers; look to whether segments exist within your broad customer group that can be profitably served utilizing specific and targeted marketing activities.

Following an analysis of broader conditions, a marketing strategy can then be put in place. This strategy needs to include financials so that all activities can be assessed in the context of their cost as a portion of the overall marketing budget. Regardless of the product or service, the objectives tend to be similar for most managers; create awareness, stimulate interest in the offering, and ultimately (profitably) convert this awareness into sales. All these factors are intertwined and, hence, the importance of effective market planning.

Using a local restaurant as an example, their marketing activities are going to be predominantly concentrated within a two to three mile radius of their restaurant, as this area is where the vast majority of their customers are likely to come from. Tactically, there is no point in such a restaurant advertising on TV (even locally) as the cost would be prohibitive in the context of their business model. They are limited in terms of capacity (number of seats) and their average cost per head so that, even if they created huge awareness and interest via TV advertising, the resultant revenues would still be unlikely to cover the cost of the specific marketing activity. On the other hand, stuffing leaflets through local letterboxes is extremely targeted and comes at low relative cost, which explains the sheer volume of fast-food fliers most of us get on a daily basis.

The reader of the plan should clearly be able to relate to the marketing initiatives in terms of the message, the target audience and the means to accessing this audience. A good marketing plan will detail specifics, i.e., a number of marketing activities, their respective costs, and the expected return on investment. Measuring return on marketing has historically been one of the greatest challenges the industry has faced. The advent of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising via the Internet has finally resulted in managers being able to track sales resulting from specific campaigns and adverts. However, this is just one means of advertising, and calculating effective ROI (return on investment) figures for other forms, such as billboards and TV, remains as elusive as ever.

In summary, a marketing plan should enable marketing managers to document their assessment of the opportunity in terms of effective allocation of limited resources. While most managers would love the luxury of a seven-figure marketing budget to spend on every conceivable advertising medium, the reality is that most need to market effectively on a pittance. A marketing plan assesses the most efficient means to attract potential customers and ultimately convert them to sales. Without a plan, a business is essentially rudderless and marketing activities are more likely to be reactive and, hence, considerably less effective.

Company Website Updates

Welcome and thank you for reading this quick blog update on our company website. We just wanted to let all existing and new customers know what additional functionality we have added to our website. As we are truly a global business we wanted our customer to be able to easily translate our website into the most popular languages around the world to make it easier for you to learn about our business.

Also as we know people are always on the move and mainly view website via there mobile phones and tablets we want to add an easier way for you to contact us. We have added Business WhatsApp functionality to our site so it makes it allot easier for you to get in touch in more of a practical way. We believe this was definitely the route to take to engage with our existing customers and new customers.

Please find a screenshot of our current website with the new updates indicated with arrows and text just in case you missed them while viewing our site.

USA Website Screenshot Update

 

Regards

Unique Solutions Agency Team

Unique Solutions Agency partnership with Brand Branding PR

SophieUnique Solutions Agency are proud to announce the joint partnership with Brand Branding PR. Who will now take over all of our client branding from start-ups to corporates.

”With over a decade of experience within PR, social media management and branding, Sophie has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world as well as innovative new start-ups, and most recently launched her new Brand Branding PR agency in the USA.”

Armed with an arsenal of varied skills and experience, Sophie has helped both new start-ups and existing businesses to communicate the right brand message to their constantly evolving target audience, build brand awareness and increase market share.

Head hunted for the PR Executive role of a major UK magazine aged 18 (The Big Issue), Sophie went on to build a successful career as an exclusive venue promoter and event manager in London.  Sophie worked on some major events including album launch parties for Kanye West and John Legend, as well as organising annual parties for huge clients such as FHM Magazine.

Sophie’s first business, a global entertainment agency, was nominated for 3 prestigious business awards including Business Innovation, and was selected as 1 of 6 companies to be showcased by Richard Branson for his Back of an envelope campaign.  Sophie went on to become a business mentor and guest judge for The Young Enterprise – an entrepreneurial program for young people in schools and colleges across the United Kingdom.

Sophie’s main Social Media clients have seen engagement in particular rise by as much as 500% in 2016.  Now a certified journalist and foreign media correspondent, Sophie is currently based in Miami, maintaining a monthly column in one of the UK’s leading magazines (Lifestyle Monthly).

There is so much more to branding than just, well, branding.  That’s why Sophie offers additional Public Relations & Marketing services.  So, if you’re looking for someone who can handle your brand from conception to global domination, you’ve come to the right place!

Services:

Branding Strategies

Social Media Strategies

Marketing Strategies

Social Media Management

Online Reputation Management

PR Representation

Editorial/Blogging