create a social media plan that drives engagement

How to Create a Social Media Plan that Creates Engagement11 min read

It’s easy to believe that merely having social media accounts for your business is enough to drive engagement with your brand. If only it were that simple. To be successful on Social Media you need to be organized, have a consistent posting schedule and a great social media plan.

That’s why, in this week’s blog, we’ll teach you all industry insights you need to create a great social media plan that will surely grow your engagement rate.

Social media isn’t just a place where people go to spend their time. It’s THE place people go to spend their time.

The majority of human beings on the planet are on social media. That figure currently stands at 4.021 billion and grows 7% year-over-year. In 2017, the average internet user spent 135 minutes of their day on social media.

Where should you start building a Social Media plan?

That’s a 2 hour and 15-minute window of opportunity for your brand. To make the most of that opportunity, you need to build a comprehensive social media marketing strategy.

Remember, it needs to include everything you plan to do and everything you want to achieve in that window.

You also need to build a long-term plan so you can achieve your goals. Let it guide your actions and act as a measure of whether or not you’ve hit your objectives.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in likes, comments, retweets, and shares. Of course these metrics are valuable – to a certain extent – but they’re not the be-all-and-end-all. They’re a sign of whether what you’re doing right and what your audience responds to.

However, keep in mind that social media is just part of your overall marketing strategy.

In this post, we’ll show you how to build a social media plan that creates engagement in 7 easy steps – so that you don’t just improve your social media presence, but all your marketing efforts.

1. Set realistic, relevant goals

monthly goals

Let us explain.

You need to set goals that are realistic, i.e. that you’re likely to be able to achieve. Your YouTube channel isn’t likely to hit 1 million followers after a month… but it could hit 100. Maybe even 1,000.

Similarly, you need to set relevant goals, i.e. goals that are relevant to your business’ interest.

SMART Goals

smart goals clipboard

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Each of your goals must be SMART. If they’re not, you won’t be able to measure your success, or your social media ROI (return on investment).

It’s also how you keep goals both realistic and relevant, by ensuring that you can keep track of them and that they don’t get out of hand in terms of budget and time allocation.

Generally speaking, there are 9 social media goals you can use:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Generate new leads
  • Grow revenue (by increasing signups or sales)
  • Boost brand engagement
  • Build a community around your business
  • Provide social customer service
  • Increase mentions in the press
  • Listen to conversations about your brand

It’s likely that you’ll have more than one of these, which is fine. The main thing is to be aware of them, and to know which metric you need to focus on when you report on them.

Likes, retweets, and shares are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value for your business.

Instead, focus on conversion rates, leads generated, and web referrals. These are very real metrics that you can align with your overall marketing strategy and show the value of your work.

2. Get to know your audience

people using phones

If you’re already a reader of our blog, you’ll know how valuable we consider this step to be in all aspects of marketing.

That’s because knowing who your audience is and what they want to see is crucial to the development of an effective social media plan.

It’s also crucial when it comes to moving that very same audience further down the buyer journey, from a passively interested social media viewer, to the ultimate goal of becoming a repeat customer.

It’s likely that you already know who your target audience is.

Learning about them on social media means learning what they do online and understanding what they like to see. Uncovering this isn’t actually as difficult as you might think.

Of course, there are a lot of social media channels, however there are tools you can use to analyse your audience.

Facebook Audience Insights

facebook audience insights screenshot

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool is one such tool. All you must do is define the audience that you want to explore (by demographic, interest, or behaviour) and you’re set. You’ll see detailed reports of their most-liked pages, their interests, and so on.

Analytics can teach you a lot about your audience. You can then use the information that you’ve gathered to make astute judgement calls on what kind of on-brand content you should produce to get them to engage and slowly work their way towards becoming a customer.

3. Audit your social media presence

quality score and ctr graph

Are you confident that your social media is functioning as well as it could?

Before you can plan where you want to be, you need to have a good idea of where you are currently. On the one hand, you might well find that you’re already doing something really good on one channel.

On the other, your activity on other channels might leave a lot to be desired.

Ask yourself these questions and document the answers:

  • Which networks are you active on? Are there networks you want to use, but aren’t currently?
  • Have you optimized the networks you’re on? (Look at your bio, cover images, photos, URL, etc).
  • Which are the most valuable networks for you?
  • Are the networks you spend less time on worth spending time on?

Once you’ve answered those questions, create a new section. These questions are about your audience:

  • What works and what doesn’t with your current efforts? What do people like?
  • Which social media sites does your target market prefer to use?
  • Who connects with you on social media?

The purpose of this audit is to work out what purpose each of your accounts serve. You might find that some accounts aren’t worth pouring that much effort into. In which case, it’s best make sure everything’s in order, then just keep them ticking over with minimal effort.

Ask yourself three final questions to complete the audit:

  • Does my audience use this channel?
  • How are they using this channel (if at all)?
  • Can I leverage this channel to help achieve meaningful results for my business?

These are tough questions, for sure, but they’ll make your presence a lot more valuable.

4. Learn from the competition

Odds are that your competition is already on social media.

If that’s the case – which it very probably isthen you’re in a good position. Compare your profiles to theirs.

They’ll have spent time planning their campaigns, budgeting for different eventualities, strategizing for different channel. These are highly valuable insights which you can very easily learn a lot from.

It’s not a question of copying what your competitors do. That’s not a sustainable approach in the long run. Copying the competition means that you’ll never surpass them and stand out.

5. Social listening

Instead of copying, try social listening.

Identify your competitors and see which platforms they’re most effective on. They could be very good on YouTube, but neglect the other channels, like Facebook and Twitter. Track what they’re doing on their dominant channel and learn from it.

Continue with this process until you have all the platforms covered. Once you’ve got a competitor who performs well on each platform, monitor their activity, and draw what seems to work from it.

Always keep an eye out for what doesn’t work at the same time; that’s equally important. If your competitor has run an unpopular campaign, note their mistakes, and move on. Don’t repeat their errors.

6. Finding inspiration for your posts

open notebook in front of laptop

What you post on social media depends on what impression you want people to have of your brand.

Social media is where people go when they want to get to know your brand. It’s where they’ll go to find out if people have had a good experience… or a bad one.

The reality is that your social media channel has a lot of roles to fulfil. Your best bet is to keep your tone consistent with your brand, so that people know what to expect when they deal with you.

Now, while you’ll have your own unique tone of voice, you can still draw inspiration from other businesses. This doesn’t have to be through competitor research either, because your competitors aren’t the only people who could have something to teach you.

Popular advertising campaigns can teach you a lot.

Facebook offers its “Facebook Business Success Stories”, case studies which can give you valuable insight into your marketing campaigns as well as your social media presence.

A lot of businesses hire people with the specific objective of being good on social media. Wendy’s Twitter account is pretty much legendary. Some people might find their tone abrasive, but there’s no denying that it’s gained them a lot of traction.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, you could always just ask your followers what they think.

Just make sure to keep your tone consistent across all channels.

7. Create a robust social media content plan

Once you’ve performed all your research, it’s time to look forward and plan your social media output.

When and how often you share matters, just as much as your posts. You also need to factor in the time you’ll spend responding to your audience; you can’t just post and expect everything to go well.

calendar

We’d advise that you create a monthly schedule – including times and dates – of all the posts you want to release.

Include your day-to-day posts as well as any special social media campaigns. Once you’ve put all of this together, you’ll ensure that everything is published at the right time.

8. Your output needs a structure

Your social media calendar needs to reflect your business’ objectives for each channel. There’s no point in spending all your time on brand awareness campaigns if you want to make immediate sales.

We believe in a social media rule of thirds approach. This means that:

  • A third of your traffic promotes your brand, converts readers to purchasers, and generally aims to generate profits.
  • A third shares content ideas and posts from industry thought-leaders and other like-minded businesses (but not competitors, of course).
  • A third of your time is spent personally interacting with your audiences.

This approach achieves balance, but it’s flexible, of course.

Make sure that your calendar is kept up-to-date and readily accessible. It makes sense to save everything in one place, perhaps in an Excel sheet with links to the Word documents that hold the copy for posts, or through an external app, like Hootsuite.

9. Never stop testing

You won’t get it right at the first try.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor was Apple’s brand power.

It takes time and money for a brand to achieve recognition. That’s why it’s important to get into the habit of testing your social media efforts from the start.

You can never assume that the idea you’ve had will work; not until you see the proof in your key performance indicators.

people working and testing

Continual testing is a process that applies to every aspect of marketing, not just social media. There will always be scope for improving your campaigns, modifying copy, testing budget allocation, and so on. Your social media profiles are very much a part of that endless testing.

Things change fast on social media. New features to learn are regularly added, audience tastes begin to change, new networks emerge, whilst others experience a shift in demographics.

The point is that your social media approach needs to evolve as the platforms do. You might even find that you start to re-evaluate your own business goals through the things you learn on social media.

Stick to your plan so that you keep on track for sur, but don’t build it once and wait for people to come. Remember, the first iteration of a product was never the one that was built. The first draft of a book was never the one that was published, so keep trying!

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