[Guide] The Social Media Management Maturity Model

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Published May 29th 2024

Creating a Good Social Media Plan: Effective Strategies for Business Success

Top tips for building an effective social media plan that'll boost results for your business.

Like it or not, working on a social media plan to create a well-rounded social presence is a crucial component for businesses and organizations’ marketing efforts.

Fostering a strong and compelling social media presence not only strengthens your brand but also enhances customer relationships, ultimately driving growth and success. 

And good social content doesn’t just appear out of thin air.

It takes time, skill and resources to put together.

If you’re a marketer, you need a social media plan and an effective strategy to meet your business targets.

This guide aims to show you what a good social media plan looks like and how you can create a social media strategy template that works time and time again.

What is a social media plan?

In recent years, businesses have capitalized on the popularity of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and LinkedIn to promote their brands, products, and services.

Marketing on these platforms doesn't come easy, which is why organizations need a social plan before they get started.

Let's start with the basics. An effective social plan is not just about planning out time to work on social media.

Your plan will involve setting clear objectives, figuring out how to target the right audiences, and, crucially, working on the appropriate social media platforms to meet your marketing goals.

Bonus: You'll save yourself some time in the future too.

As you craft your social media plan, it's essential to keep the importance of consistency in mind.

Chopping and changing your approach all the time is a recipe for disaster. Instead, you need to be a few steps ahead.

Having a plan means that when a curveball’s thrown, you can catch it with ease and keep going. You can be agile without compromising on your fundamental strategy. 

The basics

In a nutshell, to ensure your social media strategy thrives, you can begin your planning by evaluating your business goals and pinpointing the desired outcomes of your efforts. These might include growing your audience, boosting brand awareness, or driving sales.

With these elements in place, selecting the most suitable platforms to execute your plan is crucial.

Even if you already have a presence across many social platforms, it might be worth reconsidering each of them in terms of if they are the best place to put resources.

You'll also want to consider your target demographic and the nature of your content, as these factors will influence the platforms you choose and optimize for.

Researching your target market is another important step. Understanding their preferences, habits, and needs enables you to create a tailored social media content calendar that resonates with them.

It might sound like a lot of work, but there are many benefits to consider.

Benefits of social media marketing include

  1. Building brand awareness: Your business’ presence on social media helps build your brand and reach a wider audience. By posting good content, you will gain visibility among potential customers as well as cementing the trust of existing customers. The value of this shouldn't be understated – while building brand awareness might seem 'fluffy,' it's really about making sure your business is top of mind when someone comes to evaluate potential solutions.
  2. Driving website traffic: Sharing links to your website on social media platforms can be an effective way to get more visitors to your landing pages. This can ultimately lead to higher conversions and increased revenue for your business.
  3. Engaging with your audience: Social media platforms provide opportunities to communicate directly with your customers. This means responding to questions, complaints, and feedback in real-time, increasing customer satisfaction and building trust. It also allows you to deal with issues early on, saving you a headache down the line! Insights you get from these interactions can be helpful to your wider organization - don't forget to share.
  4. Cost-effective marketing: Most social media platforms are free to use, and you can reach a large audience with minimal investment. Of course, you'll want to be boosting your brand's visibility in the right way, which is where having a solid strategy and plan is important.
  5. Easy content sharing: Social media makes it easy to share your content with a wider audience. You can post blog articles, videos, images, and other content that align with your overall social marketing strategy to meet your audience where they are.
  6. Targeted advertising: Social platforms offer powerful targeting options for advertising. You can reach your audience based on demographics, interests, and online behavior, ensuring your ads are seen by those most likely to be interested in your products or services.

To take advantage of these benefits, you'll need a tight social media marketing strategy with clear goals, a target audience, clever tactics, and the metrics you plan to track to ensure you're driving success on social media.

Developing your social media marketing strategy

Let's get into the detail on how you create that winning social media marketing strategy.

Part one: Identifying business goals

To create a successful social media strategy, you first need to look to your business goals.

Your goals for social media should ladder up to your overall business goals, meaning they should support the success of the overall business.

Make a list of your primary business objectives for social media, such as increasing sales, brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting customer engagement.

Then make sure you align these goals with your overall business objectives. This is a good chance to review your goals with your leadership team to ensure they're bought in.

An effective plan will contribute to the long-term success of the business, so you'll want to make sure everybody’s on the same page.

After all, you'll want to get the credit for the success of your social initiatives!

Part two: Audience analysis

Understanding your audience is crucial to any social media strategy.

Start with some audience research. This means gathering information from across the business on your target audience – you'll want details such as age, gender, location, and interests. This might involve speaking to colleagues in product marketing or operations. You need to get a really good understanding of who you're trying to target, and then translate that into a tailored social media plan that delights that audience.

This will also help you understand where your current social media marketing activities are falling short. For instance, you might have a lot of engagement from millennials, but if your organization wants to be selling to a Gen Z cohort, you need to think about how to get more engagement from that audience.

Utilize tools like Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and Google Analytics to collect data about your audience's preferences and behaviors. You can also use tools like Brandwatch's Social Panels to understand what your target audience is currently enaging with.

Part three: Competitive analysis and market research

A competitive analysis of your market and, of course, the social media channels used by your competitors is a great way to start to see what you should prioritize with your social media strategy.

Research your competitors' audiences and content to identify their strategies and where you can fill gaps and take opportunities.

Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses to avoid common pitfalls.

For instance, if a competitor has good content, but posts infrequently, with better posting consistency you can take some of that audience’s attention.

If a competitor has strong branding but limited audience engagement then you might be able to increase audience interaction by meeting that audience where they are (elsewere).

Again, this kind of competitor analysis can be great to share with your wider organization, giving the rest of your team important intelligence on what your competition is focused on selling.

Part four: Choosing the right social media platform

Selecting the right platforms is probably the most crucial part of your social plan as it will allow you to reach your audience effectively.

Consider each platform's demographics and capabilities before making your decision, and don’t spread yourself too thinly by trying to cover all of them.

Some of the most important platforms include:

  • Facebook: The largest platform in the world, Facebook is a great choice for businesses targeting a diverse audience. It’s the place to share all different types of content, such as images, videos, and articles.
  • X (formerly Twitter): Ideal for fast moving businesses, allowing you to share short, timely updates, and links to thought leadership content. Use hashtags to reach a wider audience and engage in industry trends and conversations.
  • Instagram: Image- and video-centric, Instagram caters primarily to a young, creative audience.
  • Here you need to use high-quality visuals and stories to showcase your brand and products, so make sure you have an in-house design whizz!
  • LinkedIn: The go-to platform for professional networking, LinkedIn is great for businesses targeting B2B markets or professionals in specific industries. It’s perfect for starting conversation or sharing niche content.
  • TikTok: The platform is a go-to video platform. Ideal for joining in with trends, and sharing viral content aimed at a younger audience.

Of course, these platforms are changing all the time – keep up with new features and updates is important for social media managers wanting to leverage social networks to their full potential.

Social media budgeting and resource allocation

Determining your social media budget

Once you’ve got your social media strategy together, you need to think about budget before you can make a plan. 

Strategies are all well and good, but if you don’t have the resources to carry them out, then you’re going to struggle with creating an actual plan.

Consider what your priorities are – do you want to spend money on graphic design, or buy in video equipment? Or do you just need more staff? Do you have the right tools?

Negotiating your budget

Once you’ve got a rough idea of the potential budget required for your social media strategy, you’ll need to get hold of the money.

Can you negotiate with your manager to improve the budget allowance for social media?

Industry benchmarks suggest that companies typically spend between 12% and 24% of their total marketing budget on social media.

This fact might be useful for a conversation with your manager if you’re encountering pushback. You can also point to competitor analysis you've done and your own successes to show how scaling your efforts could have a positive impact on the business.

Social media marketing plan resource management

For all businesses, managing resources efficiently is crucial to making the most of your social media efforts. 

Here are some tips to help you optimize your approach:

  1. Prioritize: Identify the platforms where your target audience is most active and focus on those. You don't need to be present on every platform; just on those that matter most for your goals.
  2. Automate: Utilize management tools which allow you to schedule social posts in advance, as well as monitor their performance, and therefore engage with your audience more efficiently.
  3. Create smart content: Develop evergreen content that can be shared multiple times without losing relevance. This approach might take more investment at the beginning but saves time and effort further down the line, while still providing value to your audience. 
  4. Collaborate: Engage with influencers, partners, or even your audience to share the workload and get more engagement. This will also help increase your social media reach.
  5. Learn and adapt: If you don’t regularly review your social media performance, you won’t learn what works and what doesn't, which can ultimately waste time and money. Keep fine-tuning your strategy with regular reports and learnings. This is especially important for small businesses with limited resources.

Tools and resources for social media management

Creating a strong team of social media marketers

Social media’s not just one person’s job anymore.

Executing a successful social media marketing strategy involves teamwork.

If you can, assemble a social media team with individuals who possess a diverse range of skills. As well as just social media managers, this might include skills such as content creation, analytics, social strategy, graphic design, and community management. 

Working with a social team

As with any other team, while working with your social media team, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Set clear objectives and expectations for each team member.
  • Establish a reliable communication platform so everyone stays up to date.
  • Hold regular marketing team meetings to review progress, share feedback, and brainstorm ideas.
  • Allocate sufficient resources and budget for your team so they can have access to the best social media management tools and training materials.

Utilizing a social media management tool

Once you’ve got your social media strategy nailed, it’s time to make the plan. 

First up, how are you going to share your content?

Social media management tools provide a convenient and efficient way to organize, schedule, and analyze your social media content across various platforms.

Spend some time researching and comparing these tools to find out which one best fits your social media goals.

Features you might look for include:

  • Advanced content scheduling and organization
  • Comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities
  • Integration or partnerships with social networks
  • Customizable team collaboration and approval options
  • Automation and AI features

Creating a social media plan

Once you’ve got a social media strategy and the tools and team you need, you can then create a plan around your social media marketing goals.

List them clearly, so you have a direction for your content and campaigns and your overall social efforts.

Ideally, your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Examples of SMART goals:

  • Increase engagement by 20% within 6 months
  • Grow the number of social media followers by 1000 per month
  • Achieve a 2% click-through rate for 6 months

Of course, for each goal, you'll want to make sure you're going after the right audience. This will ensure that your content is tailored to resonate with your intended audience.

Now it's time to create a social media content plan, which outlines the type of content you will share, the platforms you will use, and the posting frequency.

Deciding on your approach to content

To start thinking about content, start with your social media strategy. Especially the part where you analyzed your audience.

Focus on creating engaging content that speaks to your audience's needs and interests.

The easiest way to do this is to determine the type of content that works best for your brand (informative, entertaining, inspirational).

You can then decide on your mix of curated content, user-generated content, and original content.

It's good to experiment with your approach here – introduce something new every now and again to see how it performs.

Whatever your approach to content, make sure you maintain a consistent tone and style that reflects your brand personality.

Establishing an engagement strategy

Another key component is your engagement strategy.

Start by defining your "rules of engagement."

Detail how you will interact with your audience and respond to comments and messages.

Define your response time goals and establish guidelines to maintain a consistent voice.

Crisis planning should come into this – if you're dealing with a serious complaint, what's your approach?

Finally, outline your monitoring and measurement plan for engagement.

Decide which metrics you will track, and establish benchmarks to measure your performance.

Crafting a content calendar

A well-structured social media content calendar is the heart of any effective social media strategy and plan. This will help you stay organized and ensure timely posting.

Using a content calendar can help you manage resources effectively, stay ahead of holidays and events, and identify content gaps.

From there, your plan starts to create itself.

Social media content calendar - step by step

Start out with filling in important dates for your brand - new launches, updates, and other milestone dates.

In addition, make note of important dates such as holidays, events, or product launches, so you can create timely and relevant content.

Social media marketers are spoilt for choice with everything from National Popcorn Day to more serious awareness holidays to celebrate.

Of course, make sure you’ve got enough time to build up to the important events. That ensures you can bring something fresh and unique that adds to the conversation.

Once you’ve identified opportunities like this, you can start to create a posting schedule.

One way to do this is to assign each day of the week to a specific content theme or format (for example, Mondays for blog posts, Tuesdays for user-generated content, etc).

Include the date, time, platform, and a brief description of each post on your content calendar, and you’re ready to distribute it to your social team to start creating content.

Note: If your social media management platform allows, make sure to tag your posts appropriately so you can measure different kinds of content based on their individual goals.

For example, tag user generated content in your platform to see how it compares to your original content.

Setting key performance indicators (KPIs)

Once you’ve got a social media strategy, you just need to stay organized and on top of it.

A vital part of this is establishing KPIs to measure the success of your social media marketing strategy.

What to keep track of

Focus on the following social media metrics:

  1. Engagement – likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc.
  2. Reach – total number of users who saw your content
  3. Impressions – number of times your content was displayed
  4. Follower growth – change in the number of followers over time
  5. Conversion rate – the percentage of users who took the desired action (e.g., sales, sign-ups, downloads, etc.)

By tracking KPIs consistently, you can refine your content strategy and social media content calendar, make data-driven decisions, and improve the overall effectiveness of your social media marketing plan.

Executing your social media plan

Building your social media presence

Once you’ve got going with a social media plan and regular schedule, you might want to go further with your social media strategy.

Working to build your social media presence is a big part of this.

Consistency for your profiles

Focus on maintaining a consistent brand voice across all social media channels and ensure your social media pages reflect your brand's personality, visuals, and values.

For consistency, consider the following on your social media accounts:

  • Add a recognizable profile picture and cover photo. Ideally this should be same across all platforms
  • Use official business names and handles and beware of imitators. Again this should be the same across platforms
  • Complete the About and Bio sections with accurate information
  • Add relevant links such as your website or online store, and use tools like LinkTree and Lnk.Bio to share more than one link.

Consistency for your content

Once you’ve got consistent with your branding, it's time to be consistent with your content.

Your content needs to be strong and mixed to attract followers and maintain their interest. But it also needs to be recognizable.

Make sure to stay on brand, so people know who they’re talking to.

A good way to do this is to have clear tone of voice and style guidelines in a central place.

When a new team member is onboarded they should be trained in this guidance to ensure there isn't a sudden and unexplained change in the look or feel of your posts.

Creating engaging campaigns

For your social media campaigns to be successful, they need to resonate with your target audience by offering value, entertainment, or information.

To create high quality content, consider incorporating the following into your social media campaigns:

  • User-generated content
  • Real-time updates or live streaming
  • Contests or giveaways
  • Announcement of product launches or updates
  • Partnership content or collaborations with influencers

To encourage wider reach and increased engagement, use hashtags, mentions, and location tags appropriately.

Social media advertising

Supplement your organic growth with social media ads to reach a broader audience.

A social media platform will often provide sophisticated targeting and analytics tools to ensure you get the most return on investment (ROI) for your social ad spend.

Keep these tips in mind when creating your social ads:

  • Set clear objectives and select the appropriate ad type
  • Use compelling images and copy that align with your brand voice
  • Segment your target audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors
  • Monitor and optimize ad performance regularly to improve results

Measuring and analyzing performance

Conducting a social media audit

It's a good idea to regularly conduct a social media audit to see what's working.

An audit helps you gauge the effectiveness of your social media marketing strategy and ensures that your accounts are aligned.

This will provide you with a good idea of what's working, what's not, and where improvements can be made.

Where to start with a social media audit

Begin by making a list of all your social media profiles and recent social media posts and analyzing the following:

  • Description and purpose of each account
  • Profile completeness and accuracy
  • Consistency in brand voice and visuals
  • Audience demographics
  • Posting frequency and content type
  • How much engagement each account receives (likes, comments, shares)

Comparing these factors across multiple platforms can help you identify areas in your marketing strategy that need strengthening.

Tracking metrics and insights

Once you've completed your social media audit, it's time to gather some data and see if the key performance indicators (KPIs) you set for your social strategy align with what you’re getting back.

As we noted above, some important metrics to track might include:

  • Engagement: likes, comments, shares, click-throughs
  • Reach: the number of unique users who saw your content
  • Impressions: the total number of times your content was displayed
  • Follower growth: change in the number of followers over time
  • Conversion rates: how many leads or sales can be attributed to social media

Create a spreadsheet or use Brandwatch's comprehensive social media analytics tool to track these metrics and gain insights into your audience's preferences and behaviors.

Adjusting plans based on data

To develop an effective social media plan, use insights derived from your audit and measurement to adjust your approach.

For example, if your content on one platform receives significantly more engagement than on another, consider doubling down on the more successful platform.

Or maybe you need to be reevaluating the type of content you share on the less successful one.

Adjusting your plan isn't a sign of weakness – it's about being agile so you can achieve your goals.

Ways to tweak your plan to deliver on your social media strategy

A few ways to adjust your strategy may include:

  1. Incorporate more visual content, like images, videos, or GIFs.
  2. Experiment with different content formats and posting schedules - is there a time that your audience are online and you’re not posting?
  3. Utilize social listening methods to stay informed about current trends and topics that matter to your audience.
  4. Engage with your audience by responding to comments or asking questions, which will in turn bring your engagement up.
  5. Analyze competitors and industry leaders to learn from their successes - there might be a few quick wins in there

Advanced techniques in social media marketing

Take your social strategy to the next level with the following ideas.

Implement social listening

To enhance your social media marketing efforts, you can use social media listening, otherwise known as social listening.

This is one of the more advanced social media strategies that allows you to get a holistic picture of your brand's presence and your target audience's activity across all social media networks.

This process can involve monitoring what's being said about your brand, competitors, and industry trends across various online sources, including social media channels.

By doing so, you'll be able to gather valuable insights into conversations and trends, and be able to adjust your plans accordingly.

There's truly a whole world of insight to explore here.

To get started, you can use tools like Brandwatch Consumer Research to track and analyze social media conversations.

Here's a quick step-by-step guide to social media listening:

  1. Identify keywords and phrases: List relevant terms about your brand, products, competitors, and industry that you want to monitor on social media.
  2. Select the right tools: Choose a tool that suits your budget and requirements, focusing on ease of use and comprehensive data analysis.
  3. Monitor and analyze: Regularly review the information collected, looking for patterns, trends, and feedback.
  4. Engage: Respond to direct mentions and join relevant conversations to build relationships with your target audience.
  5. Adapt: Based on insights gathered, refine your social media marketing to improve results.
  6. Automate: Platforms like Brandwatch will allow you to receive automatic alerts when something changes in the data, while AI features can help you analyze vast online conversations.

Innovative ways to generate leads

To effectively generate leads using social media marketing, consider employing these innovative approaches:

  • Contests and giveaways: Encourage users to share your content, sign up for newsletters, or follow your social media channel in exchange for entry into a giveaway or contest.
  • Social media advertising: Utilize advanced targeting options available on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to reach your ideal audience. Invite them to your site with a valuable asset like a gated report to collect relevant leads.
  • Webinars and live events: Host educational webinars or live events and require registration to capture leads.

Marketers with social media strategies that involve generating leads should measure results carefully to show the ROI of these initiatives.

Draw inspiration

To ensure continuous growth and improvement in your marketing efforts, it’s always a good idea to keep on top of industry developments and insights from other social media marketing experts.

Reading widely and attending conferences and events will provide valuable insights, tips, and best practices on how to constantly be updating and improving your social media plan. Reading Brandwatch content is a great first step!

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