• How to Create (and Carry Out) an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

How to Create (and Carry Out) an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

Random tweets and pins might find a few customers here and there. To make the most of your social media marketing, however, you’ll want to develop a specific plan for reaching and converting clients. Here’s how to create and execute an effective social media marketing plan to help your business grow.

How to Create (and Carry Out) an Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

Determine Which Social Platforms to Use

Not all social media platforms are created equal. If they were, we wouldn’t have so many of them. Instead, each caters to a different audience by providing unique features. Use those differences to your advantage by carefully selecting which platform will help you accomplish your social media marketing goals.

Some businesses make the mistake of trying to market on every platform at once. While you can certainly build a marketing strategy for each site over time, it’s best to focus on one or two at first. Find a strategy that works before trying to master them all. Here are a few guidelines to compare the marketing capabilities of social media platforms:

  • Facebook: Stands out for its wide reach, targeting capabilities, and detailed analytics; skews toward a 35+ audience
  • Twitter: Great for direct communication with clients and customers; helps build relationships; analytics and demographic data are not as thorough
  • Instagram: Largely visual medium, which is excellent for building brand awareness; good choice for a younger audience (15-35); no clickable links, so not as good for driving traffic
  • LinkedIn: Allows for fine-tuned targeting by industry and position; works best for B2B marketing; can be expensive when looking at cost per click
  • Pinterest: Another great choice for visual marketing; helps drive traffic since pins automatically link back to source; skews female (nearly 70%); not as effective for B2B

Decide Who You Are Targeting on Social Media

Are you trying to get noticed by potential customers who have never heard of you? Or are you hoping to increase engagement with an audience who already follows you? These are some broad questions you’ll want to consider, but you can also dig deep into the details.

Once you’ve decided on a platform, you’ll want to identify specifically who you want to reach. The amount and type of data you’ll have on a potential audience will differ for each platform.

Facebook, for example, will allow you to refine your targeting with demographic and psychographic data. That means you can market to individuals who like a certain product, personality, or particular television show (or other entertainment). You can also use a tool like the Facebook Pixel to retarget an audience who has visited a specific page on your website.

While the data set from other sites is not as robust as Facebook’s, you will still be able to choose who you want to target. This allows you to send your message to the right group depending on what goals you have set for your campaign.

Set Your Social Media Goals

To know whether or not your social media campaigns are successful, you first need to define concrete social media goals. Here are a few steps to consider:

  • Identify metrics: Decide what you will measure and how. Are you looking for increased traffic? Do you want to grow your email list? Raise brand awareness? Each of these goals can be measured by specific metrics within the social media platform or your own site.
  • Commit to reporting: Often. You want to know what is happening so you can improve. At the very least, you want to know what worked and what didn’t after a campaign is complete. But if you report frequently, you’ll have the chance to adjust your strategy on the fly, boosting your reach and/or conversions.
  • Use what’s available: Even if you’re not an analytics expert, even if you don’t have a data scientist on the payroll, you can take advantage of the metrics provided by the social media platform where you’ve decided to market. While you should start collecting data from your site as well, you can learn a lot about your strategy with just the analytics basics.

Optimize Social Media Profiles on Each Platform

The qualities of a fantastic Facebook fan page are not necessarily the same as an effective LinkedIn company page. At the very least, you should complete your profile to 100%. The more information you provide, the more likely your audience is to find you and connect with you. Also keep in mind that many of these pages will be indexed by Google, so you’ll want to use long-tail keywords to reap any potential SEO benefits.

Consider the audience you are targeting on each platform. Then adjust your presence for that niche. You should stay true to your brand, of course, but tailor your profile to the platform.

Determine a Posting Timeline

Much like with a traditional marketing campaign, you’ll want to plan your messaging in advance. You might not need to have every post and every ad completed before you launch the first volley, but you will want to have a general idea of what the arc of your marketing looks like.

Consider the following for your social media posting timeline:

  • Frequency: How often should you post? This will depend in part on the platform and your goals. Remember that not everyone will see your message the first time, so it’s okay to repeat ideas or repurpose them.
  • Time of Day: While you can find general guidelines about the optimum time to post, don’t think of these as rules. Instead, find out when your audience is active. If you have an international fanbase, for example, you might need to post at multiple times to accommodate various time zones.
  • Be realistic: If you don’t have the bandwidth to tweet dozens of times per day, then don’t set a goal you know you can’t reach. Instead, do what you can. Once you start seeing results, it will be easier to devote more time and energy to social media marketing.
  • Use automation: Automate with caution. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can help you craft messages in advance so you don’t have to always post them live. Remember, that these automated posts can cause problems when tragedy strikes. You don’t want to seem callous or indifferent because you forgot to pause your automated tweets.

Follow Best Practices for Posting

Again, what works for LinkedIn might not be as effective for Pinterest. Each site has its own best practices, but some general rules apply to almost any social media marketing effort.

Here are a few social media guidelines that apply across the board:

  • Use visuals: Images are more engaging no matter which platform you’re on. The best sizes for each site differ, though, so don’t forget to resize your visuals when necessary.
  • Optimize your text length: This will vary for each platform. Brevity for Twitter, obviously. But Facebook posts can be longer, assuming that they are engaging.
  • Use hashtags appropriately: Most social media platforms allow you to use hashtags, but their effectiveness will depend on the site. Twitter makes good use of hashtags, for example. They aren’t as useful on Pinterest, and most other sites are somewhere in between.
  • Be useful: There’s too much content out there for all of us to consume. If you want to engage your audience, make sure you provide valuable information and try to be entertaining when possible. Sometimes a light-hearted approach can stand out from the bland, serious marketing we see so often.

Social media marketing isn’t magic. If you want it to work for you, you’ll need to be intentional and ask some important questions about your audience and your goals. Follow the guidelines above for your next campaign and let us know how it goes.

Kristen McCormick
Kristen McCormick
Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for ThriveHive, where she geeks out daily over SEO, organic traffic, and A/B testing. When she's not equipping business owners and marketers to get their name out there through effective content, she's out pedaling the streets of Boston on her beloved bike.

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