Essentials for an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

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Social media apps can be a boon to your podcast or your YouTube channel, helping to define your brand and expand your audience. But to effectively break through the noise, get your message across, and reach your target customer, you need to go in with an effective social media marketing plan. Strategizing and planning your social media posts will help build your brand image and attract legions of new fans who will (hopefully) slide their way past your DMs and right to the bottom of the marketing funnel to become active listeners or viewers, and maybe even paying customers (if that’s your goal).

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What is a social media marketing plan?

A social media marketing plan is an organized and detailed roadmap for leveraging TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to achieve your marketing or branding goals. These goals can really be anything you need or want them to be — from simply drumming up more followers and engagement to announcing a new product (like a new podcast or even just a new episode) to gathering feedback and intel from your audience.  

There are three overarching categories of posts as they pertain to social media for marketing purposes:

  • Organic posts are those on your brand’s social media pages. These posts appear in your followers’ regular feeds based on their interest in your content, as determined by the platform’s algorithm.
  • Paid posts are content that you pay to promote as an advertisement so that it appears in your followers’ feeds and in the feeds of the demographics you target. These might include posts that were part of your regular feed that you put money behind to boost their visibility and draw more users to your page, or they can be specifically created for paid advertising purposes.  
  • An influencer post is content you pay certain individuals with a large or highly engaged following to make and post to their account. The influencer essentially acts as a spokesperson for your brand and creates content on behalf of your company.

Organic and paid posts are both part of social media marketing, which is a subcategory of marketing, and focus on a company’s own posts across its own social pages. Influencer marketing is slightly different, in that it concerns content created by and posted to other people’s pages for a fee. You can create a social media marketing plan that’s purely focused on posts for your own accounts, or it can include a strategy for working with other accounts and influencers.

4 benefits of social media marketing

Social media marketing helps to establish your brand voice through curated content, effectively target the right demographics to expand your reach, and creates a way for you to communicate directly with your audience.

  1. Establishes brand voice. Social media platforms are an opportunity for you to communicate your brand voice and give people a sense of what you or your company is all about. Everything from the look and feel of your images and videos to your font choices to your caption copy plays a part, along with the content itself. For example, you may convey a more youthful, connected voice through the use of memes that are popular with a younger audience. Or you may want to use social media as an extension of your brand’s overall polished and concise marketing strategy, posting professionally shot photos and videos that appeal to an older demographic more accustomed to TV advertisements.
  2. Create hype around new products. Social media campaigns can help you generate buzz about an upcoming product launch, whether it’s an actual physical product, a new podcast, or an episode of your YouTube show. Take Popeye’s for example: With a single, two-word tweet, the company sent the internet into a proverbial tailspin and sold out of its new chicken sandwich within days (the product remained sold out for months too). Even if you don’t go viral, you can use the power of social media to get the word out about your projects to the people who care — your followers.
  3. Consistency across channels.  A social media marketing plan can help you make sure that your brand messaging stays consistent across accounts even when the content differs for each respective platform. For example, a company that runs a podcast and YouTube channel about sustainability may want to leverage Earth Day to promote their content and get more followers. They noticed that they got more engagement on Twitter with their posts about the podcast, while they were able to get more views on TikTok by repurposing their video content. Therefore, when planning their Earth Day campaign, the company could plan different posts for each platform, while making sure each ladders up to the same overarching goal. In this case, the goal was two-fold — they wanted to inform people about the importance of caring for Mother Earth and share their original content.
  4. Build a connection with your audience. According to one survey, 86% of consumers value a brand that presents itself honestly and authentically. Social media channels are an ideal space to do just that. You can get your message across and develop a long-lasting relationship with consumers, responding to users who comment on Instagram posts or send direct messages. Not only can this help with your company’s customer service, giving customers another point of contact, but it also helps build a trusting relationship with your audience which may, in time, lead to more revenue. Social media allows you to target the right audience too. For example, a Pew Research survey found that 73% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 use Facebook. On the other hand, only 29% of that demographic uses Instagram. So, if you’re selling products geared toward the over 50 crowd, prioritizing Facebook is a good move.

6 tips for a killer social media marketing plan

Getting your social media marketing off the ground and successful requires a bit of research. You want to understand the market and your competition, create some goals so that your plan isn’t aimless, and lay out a management system to help keep you on track. Here are six tips for a successful social media marketing plan.

1. Engage in marketing research

Marketing research is the process of establishing a set of questions or problems to help you better understand your target customer or where your product sits in the market, and then conducting research to answer those questions. In terms of social media strategy, marketing research can help you determine who you want your posts to reach and how you’ll best reach them. By identifying your target audience, you can create content that resonates with them, which is the key to boosting engagement. Questions you can ask for improving your social media include:

  • Which platforms does my audience use the most?
  • What other accounts does my audience follow?
  • What type of content do they interact with?
  • Are my customers using social media to voice their concerns about products?
  • Where do my customers spend their money? How does that affect their social media usage?

2. Analyze the competition

You want your social media content to be authentic and original. To avoid rehashing a competitor’s content, research and analyze what’s already happening online. For example, if you want to start a new hashtag campaign to promote your project, you might see which hashtags your competitors have already used on Instagram and Twitter — and avoid them. In addition, by scoping out the competition, you might discover gaps you can fill. Have your competitors not ventured into influencer marketing? There’s a potential chance to stay ahead. Have your competitors neglected Instagram stories? See what you might do with that tool, and what it can do for you.

3. Establish clearly defined milestones  

Clearly defined milestones give your social media marketing plan purpose, so that you can measure the success or failure of content. Consider setting SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Timely) goals, a helpful framework for creating and prioritizing data-driven milestones.

  • Specific. Though you definitely want your company’s social media content to boost sales, engagement, and followers, you need to be specific about what you want. Ideally, you want a specific set of data-driven goals such as increasing engagement by 10% or boosting website traffic by 15%. Doing this will establish objective benchmarks for success that you (or your social team) can focus on and measure against.
  • Measurable. Your social media marketing strategy shouldn’t be based on some vague idea of “going viral,” because that’s not something that can be objectively agreed upon. Rather, to assess whether your strategy is working, you should have goals that are measurable, like impressions (or how many times a post was viewed) and engagements (including all interactions, likes, retweets, replies, expansions, and link clicks). Maybe you set a benchmark goal to aim for Twitter posts that reach at least 10,000 people and lead to more than 500 engagements. Then, when you audit your tweets, you can measure which ones hit those markers and refine your strategy from there.
  • Attainable. Though you’d surely love to come up with a ubiquitous TikTok challenge or fire off a tweet that’s viewed by millions, it’s a good idea to start with more attainable goals. When drawing up your plan, set a couple of reasonable goals, e.g., getting micro-influencers to boost user-generated content for TikTok challenges by 10%, or having 70% of your tweets reach 10,000 people. In other words, your goal can be a reach, but not out of reach.
  • Relevant. Your goals and metrics should be relevant to your business. A B2B podcast should have a robust LinkedIn presence because that’s where your competitors and potential consumers are. A relevant social media marketing plan for a B2B business would therefore focus on building engagement on LinkedIn rather than on Instagram. On the flip side, someone building their cooking channel on YouTube may want to create unique content for TikTok that they can then post to Instagram — LinkedIn probably isn’t going to help them much.
  • Timely. Set a date for when you want to accomplish your goals. For example, specify that you want to increase your Instagram followers by 20% by the end of the year, with 5% increases every quarter.

4. Create a management system

There are many different social media management tools on the market. Some are specific to social media, like HootSuite, and some are broader project management programs, like Asana. With any tool you choose, you should be able to create a social media calendar that everyone on your team can access so they know what's being posted and when. This gives you a big picture view into scheduling posts across platforms that are working toward the same goal. A management system can particularly come in handy when you’re using multiple social media platforms for the launch of a new product or service.  

5. Analyze your posts and adjust your strategy accordingly

An effective social media marketing plan relies on monitoring which posts are working well. After you run a Twitter campaign promoting a new product, you’ll want to see which tweets performed better than others. That recon will tell you exactly where to invest your time in the future. For instance, GIFs may seem like a fun way to engage with your audience, but you won’t know whether they’re helping you reach your goals if you don’t conduct an audit. Did tweets with GIFs get more engagement through retweets? If so, it’s worth trying more in GIFs for your next marketing campaign. You can also measure the volume of engagement on your posts using social media analytics tools such as Buffer Analyze and Sprout Social, and monitor how many followers you gained or lost during a specific period with Followerwonk.

6. Scale up

Once you’ve established your brand voice and content, you can scale up your marketing campaigns and set more ambitious goals. For instance, once you hit your ideal metrics on Facebook and Instagram, your next phase might involve scaling up your efforts on Twitter and TikTok. Or, if you’re sticking to a couple of platforms for your target demographics, you can level up by striving to make more impressions, increase website traffic, and boost conversion rates. As you scale up, continue to apply all of the data-based lessons you’ve gathered from your audits of previous social media posts.

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Christiana Cromer

Community Manager at Descript. People lover. Tree hugger. Bookmark collector.

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Christiana Cromer

Community Manager at Descript. People lover. Tree hugger. Bookmark collector.

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