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The Fundamentals of a Strong Social Media Plan

Social Media CloudNothing is worse than playing catch-up. The key to an effective campaign is creative ideas facilitated by preparation and execution. Similar to any marketing or public relations effort, a social media plan should include all the essential components of an equipped strategic foundation.

The Similarities

  1. Research
    David Ogilvy once said, "Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals." This is true for your social media campaign as well. Your first step should be extensive research on the product, the brand, the company, the target consumer, the competition and of course an analysis of current social metrics.

  2. Summary
    This should be an assessment and situation analysis of your plan. Creating a summary will help with identifying objectives and goals. Incorporate your research findings to show your client that you understand why social media is an effective tool and investment for their business.

  3. SWOT Analysis
    A great way to organize and build strategies for your plan is through a SWOT Analysis. SWOT evaluates the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). 

  4. Objectives
    Once you have completed an ‘Executive Summary' and a ‘SWOT' chart, there should be a clear cause for action. List all of the objectives and goals for your social media plan.

  5. Strategies & Tactics
    Create a chart listing your strategies and their corresponding tactics. 

  6. Timeline & Calendars
    Because social media evolves so quickly, create a timeline to stay on track.  This rapid change also means that a 12 month timeline is unrealistic and unwise. Staying current is so important in social media that planning for engagement 8 months from now doesn't make much sense. Create a 2 to 3 month timeline and then reassess goals and create another one. 

  7. Measurement & Reporting
    Create a list of expected results and methods for measurement (e.g. Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, Radian6, etc). 

The Differences

  • Considering the massive shift in communication, news, and media- social brings something different to the table. Remember that the social consumer evaluates and absorbs information differently from the traditional consumer.  
  • The conversation is now a two-way street, it is necessary to monitor your community and respond with the established "voice" of your brand. Across all social media handles, always maintain consistency in the manner that you present your brand.
  • Because this relationship is about interaction, develop and position your message in a way that invites your community to relate and connect with your brand.
  • Like I've said in the past, social media is still very much the unknown, professional best practice methods haven't been established (yet.) To stay on top of your game, move quickly and don't dwell on tactics that may have flopped. Instead be assertive and move onto the next thing.
  • In terms of your editorial calendar, place emphasis on content versus media placement. 

This is definitely going to be tough because many businesses still don't understand social media and because this will be a process of trial and error. But as you build your strategies, creating an organized plan will provide you success. 

Join The Conversation

  • albertrsp's picture
    Sep 25 Posted 4 years ago albertrsp

    Hi Mary and group.

    Yes,covers the basic guides.Sometimes i'ts easy to get off track.Like they advocate; K.I.S.S.

    Also SWOT,We sales people do use it in the field,very useful in overcoming Objections/


  • IamJude's picture
    Feb 12 Posted 5 years ago IamJude

    This is very helpful.

    I truly love what you did. It's something that we can benefit from. :-)

  • BethNeibert's picture
    Feb 8 Posted 5 years ago BethNeibert@gma...


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a great post. I especially liked your "differences" segment. I couldn't agree more.

    Too often, many who use social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and others) seem to think it's about selling, selling and selling more. When in fact, the majority of the content should be about sharing information with no expectation for gain. Using this strategy, you share your knowledge and people come to trust your wisdom, product or services and then buy.

    I love how Dr. Ivan Misner put it, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

    Couple that with a "call to action" to encourage participation or comment then continuing the conversation is what being "social" is about.

    Beth Neibert
    Principal, Beth Neibert & Associates, LLC

  • Feb 5 Posted 5 years ago DavidPhillips

    Mary, I think that there is a bigger job to be done before going public.

    The internal buy-in, rulesof engagement, training and loads of internal communication all come first.

    In my experience there is also a long discussion with the commercial director and lawyers.

    Getting a Board to understand the wider implications of the internet if they do sanction involvement and even more important, what happens if they don't all come ahead of your last seven points and measurement should really be monitoring.


  • Jan 31 Posted 5 years ago Starfish Media

    All true. Maybe some refinement? For example. I work for the tropical institute in Antwerp Belgium as an independent. The focus for them is to get going with social media. And, as described here, building the strategy is an important part and you do not want to rush that. You need to create an inventory of the online media, marketing and communications landscape first.

    In doing so you will most probably find out that it is not about social media as such, isolated and stand - alone. Social media is a peninsula in the overall online media map of your clients world...

    Look at the benefits closely. Who should benefit? The client? The audience they serve? You? That question is easy to answer. All should benefit. Makes it the most difficult answer at the same time because the next step would be to map out all the involved. How do they relate, what do they want, can everything be served through social media or are there segments and categories they would better not interact with in that way.

    In the end you will find yourself guiding change, specifically in organizations who have a long online media road ahead of them. You'll be a catalyst for all sorts of discussion ranging from who is the audience to what can we create to interact better and what does it mean to our content. Even if you are not from the outside helping organizations and you are on the inside looking out, it will sometimes feel like being like guiding those who cannot see.

    There is so much left to say and I will not bother you with that. The message I would like to get accross is take it lightly but seriously. Attention for detail and taking time is important.

    Greetings, Marcel Cramer
    Chief Fanatic @ Starfish Media

  • Mac Ocampo's picture
    Jan 29 Posted 5 years ago Mac Ocampo SQB

    Great post, Mary. I like the fact that you included the basics like creating a SWOT analysis. A real marketer knows that every product should have a SWOT analysis. It's just a bit tricky once you include it in your social media plan.

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