8 Point Checklist for your Social Media Marketing Plan
In today’s world, you do not exist on the internet if you are not active on social media. Social media has transformed our everyday lives drastically. These changed lives have led to a drastic change in the way we consume anything, be it content, products, or services. Companies can no longer rely on traditional marketing if they are to succeed in the current landscape.
Since humans have changed in the way they live their lives, companies must also adapt to the changing lifestyles. To reach their intended audience, they must create a robust Social Media Marketing Plan.
Social Media Marketing Plan can be defined as the comprehensive, all-encompassing strategy which acts as a guide and a blueprint in achieving the business’s defined goals through the means of social media in an as efficient way as possible.
Hence, there are several necessary points one needs to keep in mind if he/she wants to create an effective Social Media Marketing Plan. They have been listed in the form of a numbered checklist below.
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. Define Marketing Goal clearly
Before we do any task in life, it is always better if we are clear about the motive behind the action. The same principle applies while creating a Social Media Marketing Plan. Marketing should not be seen just as a personal endeavor to get people’s attention.
There must be a central idea and a goal behind it. The ideal way is to ask you the following questions:
- What do I want to accomplish by social media marketing?
Marketing must be done for a crystal clear purpose. The purpose of a plan can be to increase a brand’s visibility, to gather leads for a product or service, to increase sales, or to increase consumer awareness. One can’t set out to achieve all the goals at the same time.
Each marketing campaign must focus on a single objective.
- Is my goal objective enough?
The goal must be objective, not subjective. For example, ‘I wish to surge the online sales by 10% ’ is much more objective than ‘I want to make more sales and increase my revenue’. The key behind objectivity is to define parameters numerically and not leave them to anyone’s whims and fancies.
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Fix your Budget
Ideally, we want to do everything possible in our social media marketing plan. We would love to be active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and anywhere where we can be seen. But, if you try to do that there are very fewer chances of that marketing campaign being defined as a success. Always remember that marketing is just a small part of running a business.
There is a limit to how much a business can spend on marketing. Eventually, the aim of any task commissioned by a business, including marketing, is to achieve its revenue and other targets.
Therefore, the budget allocated for marketing must be defined. A marketing expert must try to achieve the marketing goal in that budget itself. The whole strategy must be defined keeping the budget in mind. Also, here efficiency becomes very vital. For example, when our budget is very limited, we must try to market our product on every platform. We must identify which platform offers us the best value for the money spent.
This can be seen by focussing on terms such as Cost per Conversion, Cost per Click Cost per Million Impressions, etc.
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With each day you do your marketing, the cost incurred by the company increases. Also, the market is changing every day. For instance, you have been hired to create a social media marketing plan by a garments company.
The company desires to trade its latest collection of winter garments. Now, it is very obvious that there is an inherent time limit by which you have to accomplish the marketing goal. Your marketing has to show results before the winter season is over.
Similarly, different businesses may have different constraints. Some may have budget issues, some businesses may be seasonal. But always there will be a factor of time by which you would be expected to produce the results. The life cycle of any business does not allow it to focus on only a single entity throughout the entire year.
The company has to move ahead and pursue other endeavors. So, while creating a social media marketing plan, the projections must be done in such a manner that the objectives are achieved in the required time frame.
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Understanding your Target Audience
This is one of the most important factors around which any social media marketing plan must revolve. Understanding the behavior of the intended consumer of our product or service is essential before crafting any strategy. Asking you the following questions can act as a very good guide.
- What is the age of my prospective customers?
- Is the user more likely to be male or female?
- Which devices are they more likely to use: Mobiles or Laptops or PCs?
- How much are they willing to spend on my product?
- What is their monthly income?
- What social media platforms are they likely to visit?
- Do they prefer living in cities or towns?
- What time of the day do they use social media?
- Which type of content are they more likely to respond to – images or videos?
Let us understand this by example. You are asked to weave a marketing campaign for a Meditation App to reduce stress for corporate professionals. The age of such people will vary from 20 to 60 years. They would be equally likely to be male or female. They can spend a few hundred rupees per month as the amount they pay for any subscription service.
They are more likely to use LinkedIn than non-working people. They are more likely to live in cities. They use LinkedIn during their work hours and Facebook when they commute to and from work. They are busy and hence don’t have enough time to browse videos.
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Finalize Marketing Platforms
Once you have done the above steps, it is time to choose your marketing platforms. Each marketing platform has its advantages and disadvantages. You must choose social media platforms that suit your budget, time constraint, and target audience behavior. The type of product or service which you are trying to sell also makes a vast difference.
Let us have a look at the nature of different social media platforms.
- Facebook: It is used by an overwhelmingly large population and hence, provides a very large reach. On the other hand, it is highly competitive, and targeting a niche audience is a bit difficult. It may not be the best way to increase sales but is ideal for increasing brand awareness and introducing new products.
- Instagram: It is an image-based social media platform. It is ideal for arts and crafts businesses that can showcase their products through vivid imagery. It features a younger population than Facebook and can be expected to align with modern trends faster. It takes a lot of effort to create a visually appealing post.
- Twitter: It is a good way to promote a persona-based / ideology-based business. It is an opinionated platform that offers a good way to connect with people having similar views. Hashtags are a great way to align current trends with your business interests. People using Twitter are more likely to be proactive in making choices and are less laid-back.
- Youtube: It is a brilliant way of engaging with people and introducing products or services which they would not search for otherwise. It also grants a lot of creative freedom to put forward your ideas and commands a greater attention span of the viewer compared to a platform such as Facebook where one scrolls very quickly.
On the other hand, creating high-quality content for youtube is much more time-consuming and costly. But, it is very effective in creating a loyal fan base.
- LinkedIn: It is a platform strictly restricted to working professionals. Hence, the purchasing power of an average user is more likely to be higher and can afford premium products. Any service that supports career advancement or is focused on improving the daily life of an individual is very likely to succeed here.
On the other hand, marketing here may prove to be an expensive affair due to a premium clientele. After understanding your requirements, the platform(s) must be chosen. The decision you make here will be a reflection of how well you understand the Consumer Persona and your business.
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Availability of Human Resources
Any task requires human effort. The success of the task depends on the quality and quantity of human resources available at our disposal. The same principle applies when you create a social media marketing plan. For example, you feel that Youtube videos are the best way to promote your business after considering the above-mentioned factors.
But, if you do not have a good video editor, actor, or director it would be very difficult to go ahead with the plan. Now consider at the same time if you have a good Graphics or Image editor as your employee. Then, you can very well use Instagram to promote the business. It may not be ideal as you had intended, but it offers efficient use of the resources available to you.
Further, the success of your social media marketing plan will depend on the quality of your social media manager. If he/she lacks the expertise to market well on a particular platform, it makes very little sense to pursue that platform.
Also, the number of hours one can devote daily to social media marketing is a key determinant. For example, becoming a Youtuber may be a full-time job. On the other hand, posting images on Instagram can be done by only devoting a small portion of your day.
Therefore, the skill level and involvement of human resources play a massive role in defining the direction of our plans. It may seem relatively insignificant, but it must not be neglected at any cost.
Nature and scale of business
The type of business defines how one needs to target the customer. For example, if you run a physical store, you would aim to drive as many people to your store as possible. You want them to be physically available at your store and you would sell your product at the store.
On the other hand, if you run an online business or sell digital products, you don’t need people to go to any physical location. Then you would aim to acquire leads or sell the products online.
The scale of your business is also of prime importance. If a company is a big brand, then brand awareness and retention become necessary. Marketing for such companies is not only about making sales but also about driving the company’s message towards people. Also, they are likely to have a large marketing budget and may run multiple campaigns simultaneously at multiple platforms, each campaign being run for a different purpose.
But if you are working for an SME (Small and Medium enterprise), the main focus is then on increasing sales and making meaningful relationships with clients. They are more result-oriented and focus on issues like brand awareness may take a backseat.
They would target only limited platforms and would have very specific goals in mind while commissioning a marketing campaign. In short, they require more objective results than any subjective gains.
This is how the nature and scale of a business can affect our social media marketing plan. It is paramount to identify which category our business falls under and respond accordingly.
Organic or Paid Growth
There are two types of marketing: Organic and Paid. Generally, any Social Media Marketing plan will include both of these methods and won’t rely on only any one of them. A good marketing plan is designed in such a way that Paid and Organic growth complement each other. Let us try to understand these terms in a bit more detail because they are the two pillars of marketing.
It is a type of marketing where a company aims to achieve a ‘natural rate of growth. Here the effort is to stand apart from the competition by making better, more interesting, and interactive content. The key driver of marketing is content quality.
For instance, if the business has an Instagram page, the popularity of the page will solely depend on the quality of the images used, the content of posts, the frequency of the posts, and the usage of hashtags. Similarly, if the business promotes its products through Youtube by aiming to increase the number of views on its videos and to increase the viewer interaction by the means of comments, likes, and subscriptions.
Here, too the likelihood of success depends on the content quality, keyword research, Search Engine Optimization, and the frequency of videos being uploaded.
In Organic Marketing, no external monetary investment is made to make one’s content stand apart from the others. It is a good way to grow if one has limited monetary resources and a lot of time at his/her disposal.
Such marketing involves the expenditure of money to grab extra eyeballs and to target the consumers more effectively. Also, it must be understood that not all expenditure is on Advertisements. Advertisements are a part of Paid Marketing, but it consists of other means as well.
For example, as a Facebook Business Account Manager, you observe that a certain post is gaining much more traction than the other posts. Then it would be a great idea to ‘Boost’ that Facebook Post by spending some money so that it gets more eyeballs than your post normally would. In that way, all Paid marketing is not about Advertisements where a company makes a direct effort to put forward and sell its products and services. Having said that, Advertisements remain the most important part of Paid Marketing. Remember those Youtube Ads which you skip after 5 seconds to browse the video you.
wanted to see! Remember those Facebook Ads which suddenly come in between when you are browsing a video or certain Banners which appear when you scroll your Feed! Nowadays, even Twitter is not left behind. If you see ‘Sponsored’ or ‘Promoted’ written on any post, it is safe to assume that it is a Paid Advertisement.
Paid marketing also provides access to certain platforms which cannot be accessed by Organic Marketing. You can easily show up your website link on top of Google Search results just by bidding on certain keywords. You would have noticed certain Ads in the form of images when you visit various websites. Those are Google Ads too.
Paid marketing is a very good way to achieve our goal if we have enough money to spend and if we want to get quick results. It is also a good way to check the Proof of The concept behind our products.
Okay, now having learned all of that, I know what you are thinking- ‘All this was very informative, but can anyone please tell me how to go about my work?’ I understand what you are going through. Frankly, creating a robust Social Media Marketing Plan is not that difficult if the basics are done properly. First of all, you don’t need to be overwhelmed.
Secondly, do your homework well. It means that you should understand the company, its aims, its products, its ideology, and its audience very well. Do your research well and devote some time to it. This research and hard work are what separates the best Social Media Marketers from the rest. Thirdly, learn the technical aspects well too.
Get acquainted with all the industry terminology and learn to think objectively. Results must always be measured in terms of certain parameters. That is why it is essential to understand the significance of every technical jargon. Fourth, understand the various social media platforms in depth. Try to see what makes each of them unique, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each of those platforms.
Learn from your own experience and those of people around you. Observe how people consume social media. Try to understand the psychology and methodology behind their behavior. Fifth, learn from those who have done it successfully before. Try to do some online courses from successful marketers. Follow them on their Social Media Pages.
Look out for interesting case studies. Sixth, try to get some proof of your skill. You have the required skills but it would be very helpful if you can convert those skills into Certifications that can vouch for your credentials on your behalf. Also, such certifications give you a professional look and help you fill the gaps which you may not have noticed otherwise.
Now, let us talk about the single most important secret for a successful Social Media Marketing Plan. The secret is to not fear and start acting. Irrespective of how much you plan, you can never plan it to perfection. The key is to not let those doubts deter your progress. Social Media is a field where one learns on the ‘Job’. You cannot learn it without actually doing it. Also, there is nothing such as a perfect strategy. The best strategy is the one that adapts the fastest and in the most efficient manner. Regular monitoring and the zeal to learn from the market is the key to success here. Staying up to date with the trends and learning from the mistakes of the previous day is what would make you a better Marketer tomorrow. One must not be rigid and be always ready to respond to the feedback one gets.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up your pen and paper now and start creating your Social
Media Marketing Plan. I am sure that a very adventurous journey full of possibilities awaits you!