Create A Winning Social Media Marketing Plan With This Easy Peasy Checklist ✔️

Developing a clear, concise and thorough social media marketing plan should be the first thing any business does when starting to use social media to market their business. Having a clear plan will make the difference between a social media presence that thrives and is effective and one that isn’t. Constructing your plan needn’t be a daunting task however, it is simple answering several key questions to ensure that you clearly know the direction to take to develop an effective presence that helps you achieve the results you want for your business. Start your marketing plan today by answering these several fundamental questions;


 

What Objectives do I want my Business to Achieve by Using Social Media?

Whether you want to use your social media presence to gain exposure for your brand, directly educate and interact with your customers, promote specific products and services or all of the above, clearly identifying your objectives is the critical first step towards a successful social media presence. Identifying your objectives in the beginning ensures you will be able to tailor your content and posting schedule to maximise effectiveness and provide value to your customers. Having clear objectives also ultimately helps you to accurately measure your success as you will be aware of the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently.

Common Social Media Objectives

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Website
  • Providing Customer Service
  • Engage with Fans
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Launch New Products or Services
  • Generate Leads
  • Increase Sales
  • Research and Insight
  • Build your Community
  • Improve SEO
  • Competitive Analysis

 

What Platforms am I Going to use for my Business?

What you platforms you choose to use will ultimately depend on where your customers are and what are right for your business. Spend the time researching where your current customers are online and what platforms can be best utilized with your resources and business. The key is to not spread yourself too thinly across lots of social media platforms just because you think this will gain your business more exposure, rather it is much more effective to run a handful of platforms consistently and efficiently and to spend the time reviewing the platforms you are on to make sure they are as effective as they can be. You should also keep up to date with research into new technologies and platforms that your business could potentially utilise in the future.

Selecting the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

The key to choosing the right social media platforms relies on you having a clear understanding of your objectives for social media, your target audience and what resources/ information you have to share as having a clear idea of these will inform you of which platforms are going to be the most effective for you. Ultimately ask yourself these three questions;

Purpose – What information do you want to share with and communicate to your audience?
Format – In what format is the best way to present this information? Videos, Podcasts, extended pieces of writing etc.
Platform – Which social media platform will allow me to share this message best and which platform has the correct audience that I want to reach?

 


Have I Done my Research?

A successful social media presence is always aided by a good, solid foundation of prior research. You should look to do initial research into key areas such as your competitor’s social media, your target audience demographics, the latest trends and news in social media, marketing and business as well as many others. Conducting research and paying attention to changes in your industry and audience for example should also be a regular and active occurrence as things, especially social media, evolve and change so you need to keep up to date to ensure your strategy is as relevant and effective as possible.

Market Research – Who is your target audience? How do they behave on social media? Where are they online?

Your Competitors – Which platforms your competitors are using? Are they directly engaging with prospects online? What are they good at online? In which areas could they improve? Can you get case studies? (both successful and unsuccessful examples?

Latest business and social media news, trends and techniques – Do you know the latest techniques on your social media platforms that are effective? What is changing in social media and/or business that could affect your marketing?

 


Who are My Target Audience?

Determining the audience that you want to reach and engage with on social media is fundamental to your strategy. Whether your target audience is your current or potential clients or customers, affiliate businesses, thought leaders or all four, your aim is to create a successful social media strategy that matches and is tailored towards understanding and acting on your target audience’s behaviors online. What are your target audience’s interests? Where do they spend their time online? In what format do they like to digest their content online? These are a few of many questions that you need to know the answers to in order to develop a successful and targeted social media strategy that will bring real results for your business.

 


Who is Going to Set up and Maintain My Business Social Media Platforms?

In the beginning you will need to decide who will implement and maintain your social media accounts. Whether you want to run them in-house or hire a social-media marketing manager or firm, you need to ensure that the person who is in charge of your platforms can effectively represent your brand and know how to create and maintain a successful social media presence. That person is going to ultimately control how your business is presented to others in the online world so you need to be absolutely confident that they are the right person for you and your business.

 


What is my Publishing Schedule?

Your publishing schedule is going to be ultimately dictated by three things, your business capabilities, the platform you’re using and your audience needs. In the beginning you will need to experiment to find a publishing schedule that works best for your business, goals and readers and is the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants. Part of this consideration is also understanding the nature of the platform you’re using to publish and whether it is one such as Twitter that favours several short updates per day or Facebook where posting 3 – 5 times a week is effective. Ultimately, how often you post is different for everyone and personal to your business so you when you are creating a publishing schedule you need to ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently?, Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the most effective schedule for you, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value, maximising value and engagement from readers and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

 


 

How am I Going to Ensure my Business Branding is Representative and Consistent?

Having a social media presence is a great way to show a wider audience who you are, what you stand for and ultimately why they should love you. From this, it is important that you know clearly what your brand stands for and how this is going to be conveyed consistently and accurately across your platforms. This consideration needs to be applied to everything from the voice you want for your brand that can be consistently applied across all your posts to the creative aspects of your platforms- that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your social media platforms it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand.


 

What Resources/ Content do I have at my Disposal?

Each social media platform has a certain type of content that is best suited towards it, for example Pinterest and Instagram are both inherently visual and as such require good-quality and memorable images to be effective. From this, you need to understand what type of content that the platforms you are using are most effective and importantly what content resonates best with your audience. Once you are clear on both these aspects, you will be able to form an effective content strategy with maximised effectiveness. It is important that you share with your audience a diverse and interesting mix of content types that encourages engagement so you need to think about the types of questions you will ask, updates you will share and ultimately what resources do you have that you can utilise and repurpose for your social media platforms.

 


 

How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Social Media Marketing Efforts?

Tracking your social-media marketing metrics is fundamental as it helps gauge which tactics are successful and which areas are in need of improvement. From this, you need to have a clear vision of what your business objectives are for your social media presence and subsequently what are the most effective metrics you should therefore be analysing to ensure you are reaching those objectives. So whether you want to boost your personal brand through LinkedIn or use Facebook to drive traffic to your site, ensure you have clear objectives with your platforms and routinely assess whether you are successfully meeting those objectives and they are still relevant to you, and if they’re not then you will need to reevaluate.

 


Am I Going to Have to Create a Written Social Media Policy for my Employees?

If there are going to be several different administrators of your platforms or you run a business with staff members who have personal and/or business social media accounts, it is well worth creating a social media policy for your staff to sign so everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when they are representing or discussing your business online.

 


Ultimately, Have I got a Clear Strategy?

Having a clear idea on every aspect of your social media marketing strategy is key to its success. Ultimately, you should easily be able to answer confidently and with clarity the below questions that form a basic marketing strategy. Part of maintaining a strong, successful presence is also to regularly assess whether certain aspects of your original strategy have changed (For example are your objectives still the same? Is there a new social media platform that your audience is using?) and then adjust your efforts accordingly. As you become a regular participant on social media you will find ways in which you need to improve certain areas and areas in which you excel in, so never stop learning and listening to what your audience and your analytics tell you.

  • Why do I need social media?
  • Who will be responsible for social networking?
  • Who are my audience?
  • What do I want to tell them?
  • How am I going to tell them?
  • What content am I going to create?
  • How often am I going to post?
  • Which social media sites will I use?
  • What tools will I use to measure my success?

 


 

How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy

At its most basic, Instagram is a social networking app made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. From a marketing perspective, Instagram makes a strong business case with 800 million monthly active users. When compared among the major social networks, only Facebook and YouTube have more people logging in each month. Instagram provides a huge asset for visual content, which we all know is driving social like none other and has developed itself into a fully-fledged, global platform that allows brands to humanize their content, showcase their products, inspire their audience and promote their brand all in a friendly, authentic way without directly selling to your customers.

Why You Need Instagram For Your Business

From the boom in popularity of Instagram Stories, to the very impressive stats of user adoption engagement and the recent expansion of advertising opportunities—it’s a good time to be using Instagram for business. Only if your business can thrive in this creative and inherently visual platform though.


 

How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy

Many businesses feel pressured to be on every social media platform without thinking through their strategy, especially when it’s the new exciting platform that all the millennials are using! However, since Instagram is very different from other popular social sites it requires a different marketing strategy.

  1. Determine Your Objectives

First thing’s first, you need to lay the foundation and establish what you want to achieve on Instagram. Whether you’ve never published a single photo or you’re an Instagram pro, it’s important to start with clear goals in mind. Consider the following the questions to help build a solid foundation to your Instagram marketing strategy:

  • Why are you using Instagram?
  • How can Instagram assist you in achieving your overall marketing goals?
  • How does Instagram offer you something different to other platforms?
  • Who is your target audience and which members of your audience are active on Instagram?
  • How will Instagram integrate with the other networks in your social media strategy?
  • How much time or budget can you commit to Instagram?

Depending on your industry, brand and key performance indicators, your Instagram marketing strategy should ideally target several objectives. Here are some common ones that businesses tend to choose:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Showcase your team and recruit new talent
  • Increase customer engagement and brand loyalty
  • Showcase products and services
  • Share company and industry news/updates
  • Connect with influencers
  • Drive sales through traffic
  • Showcase your company culture and values
  • Advertise to potential customers

As you continue to create your strategy, these objectives will guide you in determining the best approach to each part of the process.

 

2. Determine Your Instagram Audience

Marketing is all about delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time. Just like on any other social media platform, you need to determine the audience you want to reach before you begin marketing on Instagram. Don’t know where to start? Some helpful factors to consider when narrowing down your target Instagram audience are age, location, gender, income, interests, motivations, and pain points. If you already have other marketing strategies in place, you can draw from those to help. Some other tips include, taking a look at your competitor’s followers and monitoring popular event and interest hashtags that are related to your business then find out who’s using and engaging with the hashtags and check out their profiles.

 

3. Competitive Analysis for Instagram

After you determine your Instagram audience, do a competitive analysis to see what other marketers in your field are posting as the information you gather from this audit will serve as a benchmark as you start growing your own account. If you already know your top competitors, start with searching for their Instagram profiles. If not, try searching for terms related to your business or industry to find similar, relevant accounts.

Conduct a quick audit of those accounts looking specifically at;

  • What types of posts are getting the highest amount of engagement?
  • What popular hashtags they are using
  • What kinds of captions they are writing
  • How often they are publishing
  • How quickly they are growing.
  • Are there any marketing opportunities they might have missed?

 

4. Choose Your Content Strategy

Instagram is an inherently visual social platform and the content you share with your audience is the back bone of your marketing campaign. It should be relevant, valuable and engaging for your followers whilst at the same time being consistent with your brand and strategy.

Common Types of Content

  • Product Based Content: This is a popular Instagram marketing strategy focusing all your posts on your products in a straight forward marketing campaign. All your followers receive pictures and videos of your products exclusively.
  • User Generated Content: Another effective marketing strategy is to rely on user generated content. The aim is to create campaigns focused on attracting a large audience who are willing to get involved with the brand’s channel and hashtags and upload their own content. For example, upload themselves using the product etc.

Successful brands use a mixture of both on Instagram. Once you have decided on the type of content for your strategy, you Importantly need to think about the hastags you will use to supplement and enhance the content. Hashtags are sometimes just as important as your brand image and they will help you grow followers exponentially if used correctly. You can use popular hash tags in order to get more chances to be discovered through search engines but at the same time, you can choose to use less popular tags if they are properly targeted inside a specific niche. By all means you can create your own user generated hashtags to build your brand awareness, and for competitions you are running etc.

To get you started, below is a list with some of the most successful Instagram image types.

  • Behind the Scenes Posts: These posts are designed to humanise the brand by offering a glimpse into a part of your business or brand that people don’t normally see.
  • Repost From Employees: Sometimes you don’t need to look any further for great content than your own employees. Reposting great photos from your employees is an easy way to curate authentic content and help humanize your business.
  • Educational Posts: These type of posts offer quick tips on how to do or make something – often related to your product or industry.
  • Influencer Posts: Tap into an expansive audience by piggybacking on the fame of a celebrity or well-known public figure to draw attention to your brand. These posts often include a visual of the influencer using or interacting with your product.
  • Motivational Posts: A motivational post usually combines a simple visual with some kind of uplifting text or quote overlaid on top. They can be a great way to motivate your audience but be careful not to appear cheesy.
  • User Generated Content: User generated content is curated content from your fans and followers. Take a look at your tagged photos or posts using your brand hashtag and consider reposting high-quality images that are particularly positive. Remember to @mention the original poster in the caption as this gives a nice shout-out to the fan showing you care, but also has the benefit or boosting your brand.
  • Special Observances: Join in with relevant fun observances like National Hamburger Day and National Sibling Day to reach a wider audience and tap into potential great engagement. Just ensure the observances are relevant to your brand and not just for the sake of joining in.

 

5. Setting Up an Editorial Calendar

On average, brands post about six images per week on Instagram which adds up to over 300 posts per year! With that many posts, it can be difficult to keep track of all the content you need to post as well as what you’ve already posted. Instagram does not reward quantity but if you are consistent and able to deliver quality content frequently, your followers will reward you with a higher engagement rate. Creating an editorial calendar is a helpful way to cut down on the amount of time required to manage your Instagram presence and is also a great place to record any key events you want to highlight on your Instagram account such as new product launches, national holidays, special observances or special offers. Ultimately, your content schedule and the frequency of your posting depends on two things your available time/resources and what your audience wants. This is why after the first couple of months, you should look to study your audience and try to find out vital insights such as when to post in order to get the most engagement as this will guide your strategy going forward.

 

6. Building a Consistent Brand on Instagram

It’s clear when a business on Instagram doesn’t have a consistent brand strategy as their content is random, sporadic and disjointed, which will do nothing but confuse their audience and will likely cause an account to lose followers. To avoid this, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand aesthetic across your Instagram account. To determine what yours looks like, start by thinking about your brand personality. What are your brand values? What’s your brand personality? Are you bold and adventurous with a bright colour palette? Or are you sensible and regal and use a lot of purple in your brand? Ideally, someone should be able to see a picture in their feed and instantly know that it’s from your brand just by looking at the photo.

 

7. Utilize Paid Advertising

You can create a successful marketing strategy on Instagram without paying for ads but only to a certain point. If you want to be sure of your future success, you need to capitalize on this feature and leverage the opportunities available to you to boost traffic, sales and awareness. It’s important to note that at current, the advertising feature on Instagram is linked with Facebook ads and cannot be used independently. In a nutshell this means, you will have to create a Facebook account as well in order to use them, in case you don’t have one already. Whilst it might appear to be somewhat annoying to have to do this, it’s actually of tremendous benefit to you as Facebook has access to more user data than any other social media or advertising platform. Therefore, you can be assured that you are getting the best ad targeting option available for marketers with great results in the long term.

 

Here are some top tips for maximising advertising campaigns on Instagram:

  • Use eye-catching images: Ads are not intrusive and are shown in users’ feeds just like any other posts, therefore your ads need to be as attractive and persuasive as your regular posts. This means that you need to focus on great imagery, professionally quality photos and attention-grabbing captions.
  • Target your ads precisely: To maximize your gains from the advertising campaign you must target your ads precisely. This means carefully studying your followers, potential customers and your competition to identify specific segments of your targeted population and deliver your ads to them. The more you can narrow down the pool of potential customers, the better the results will be.

 


This is an extract from my new book ‘The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses’ Available now on Amazon as a downloadable eBook and Paperback!