Let's face it: being a social media marketer developing a marketing plan for 2018 is not exactly in an easy position. After all, the techniques we use to reach customers are changing at a breakneck pace. That said, a plan is still a worthwhile investment: in my time advising clients, I find that there are some attributes that separate those that succeed and those that don't, and one is a proper social media marketing plan. Here's how to go into 2018 with the best possible plan:

What is a Social Media Marketing Plan?

Before we dive in, it's important to understand what a social media marketing plan is in the first place. Simply put, it is a document that outlines what you hope to achieve through your social media efforts, how you anticipate measuring your efforts, and what activities you'll undertake to reach your goals. Let's flesh each of those themes out a bit:

What do you hope to achieve?

Before we go any further, it's important to summarize your entire social media marketing plan. How does social media fit into what your organization is doing on a daily basis? What platforms will your company be engaging on? Who makes up your core social media team? Don't worry about going in depth too much; you'll do that in subsequent sections of your social media marketing plan.

One pro tip is to just get all your thoughts out as they come to you. If you decide you've provided too much detail in the summary, you can move that detail later on to a subsequent section. Likewise, if there's something you forget to include in the first pass that you later deem to be important, you can always add it in at the end.

How do you anticipate measuring your efforts?

It's important to outline your KPIs and objectives/goals. A KPI is simply a Key Performance Indicator: a value that can be measured, and that demonstrates how effectively you are achieving your objectives. Depending on what you're hoping to achieve, you may select different KPIs. For example: YouTube Channel Subscribers isn't a bad KPI if your strategy is very heavily dependent on video. If you plan on spending only about 10% of your time creating video, however, then YouTube Channel Subscribers isn't such a meaningful KPI.

Some of the most popular KPIs:

  • Instagram Followers
  • Facebook Likes
  • Facebook Engagement Metrics
  • Social Shares (across platforms)

Once again, and I can't stress this enough: it's important to pick the KPIs that will be the most meaningful to you and your organization, as opposed to anyone else's.

Making sure your goals are SMART

One of the most useful acronyms ever is SMART, with respect to ensuring you've set SMART goals:

  • Specific: well-defined
  • Measurable: able to assess how well we did/are doing
  • Agreed-upon: all stakeholders are aligned on the goals
  • Realistic: possible to achieve given resources and time constraints
  • Time-based: just the right amount of time to achieve the goal

A social media marketing plan should always have SMART goals. Run your goals through this process, and it's relatively easy to see if you are doing a good job at setting yourself up for success at the outset. It's all too often that I've seen a client create a goal that's MART or SART or another acronym, but remember, we're aiming for 5 out of 5.

What activities will you undertake to reach your goals?

Now that we've outluned our goals clearly, it's important to develop a breakdown of activities for each social platform you plan to engage on. Your breakdown should includes the following:

Platform focus: While your social media marketing plan will have an overall focus, each platform should have a particular reason that you're focusing on it. What can you get from being on this platform that you can't get from other platforms?

Percent of time allocated: This is relatively straightforward, but out of a total of 100, what percent of you and your team's time will be allocated to this platform? It's crucial to figure this out at the beginning to figure out how important this platform is to your overall strategy.

Percent of budget allocated: Their are all sorts of costs that go into putting together a winning social media marketing plan. Besides your full time staff, the top two costs will be for freelancers and for advertising. Once again, this is an opportunity to review if you're approaching your plan the right way. If you say Instagram is your most important platform but you're spending just 10% of your overall budget to building your following and engagement, your budget and goals are misaligned.

Synopsis of the strategy for this platform: What do you hope to achieve on this platform? What will your top activities be on this platform? How often will you be engaging in all of these activities? What is the timing, or cadence, for all of the activities on the platform?

For example, on Pinterest, your strategy may be to pin/repin content five times daily, and engage with others' content fifteen times daily on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Snapchat, you may have the goal of snapping three still photographs and two videos daily, with the secondary goal of responding back to 100% of all responses from fans within 60 minutes, from 9am to 6pm daily. The key thing here is to be as thorough as possible so everyone is aligned with respect to the social media marketing plan.

One last thing. On a platform by platform basis, I recommend breaking up all activities into two different areas:

  • Organic strategy: What are all of the activities you'll be undertaking apart from advertising? This can include outlining what types of photos you'll be taking for Instagram, how often you'll be posting inspiring quotes on Facebook, and so on. Generally speaking, most of your strategy should be organic.

  • Paid strategy: An increasingly important part of your social media marketing plan is your organization's advertising strategy. Simply put, social media isn't free; those days are long gone. In this section, you should be outlining what types of ad products you will be buying. For example, Facebook has the most options, from Brand Awareness Carousel to Engagement Text Post to Lead Generation Ad Form. Snapchat has solutions broken into three categories: Raise Awareness, Increase Consideration, and Drive Action. The choices on a platform-by-platform basis aren't endless, but they're pretty close.

Keep iterating on the above format for each platform, and you'll be on the path to 2018 social media marketing success! And if you have any questions, tweet me anytime.