How to Create a Social Media Marketing Content Plan in 7 Steps
Wondering how to deliver relevant social media content consistently?
Planning your social media content delivery keeps your marketing on-message, making it more likely that you’ll reach your business goals.
In this article, you’ll discover how to create a social media marketing content plan for your business.
#1: Understand How Your Ideal Customer Moves From Awareness to Conversion
Whether you’ve been in business for 24 hours or 10 years, defining your target customer is a crucial part of your journey. You may be thinking it’s easy to define your target customer based on the usual demographics, age, gender, etc.
However, you need to go beyond simply identifying your target customer’s marital status, where they live, or what their hobbies are. In the era of the “experience,” you have to give your customers an experience they’ll fall in love with. For example, Uber and Airbnb have grown to be successful companies because they provide a great customer experience while fulfilling a need.
Put yourself in your target customers’ shoes. What is their first thought when researching a product? How do they progress from there? Most importantly, what’s the final question they ask before making a purchase? To better understand this exercise, let’s analyze two hypothetical target customers: Rita and John.
Rita is a creative entrepreneur and visual in her approach to business and lifestyle. She’s passionate and inquisitive, always asking questions before making a decision to buy a product or service. She calls her friends on the phone, and searches with Google and through social media. Rita’s way of finding answers is through a Pinterest infographic or an Instagram post.
Here’s how you might identify Rita’s thought process when purchasing a product or service.
John is more analytical and methodical when it comes to a home and work/life balance. He’s more interested in facts and figures than Rita, but like Rita, he talks to his friends and uses Google to gather information. He prefers LinkedIn’s more B2B approach to getting answers to his questions.
Here’s how you might identify John’s approach to purchasing a product or service.
The three stages in the customer acquisition journey are always the same but with a different human approach. Your ideal customers are asking different questions, and your business can build trust by answering their questions and providing valuable content in the form of blog posts, images, infographics, and webinars.
By taking the time to understand how your target customer thinks, you’ll better understand what content will resonate with them and how you can earn their trust.
#2: Decide Why You’ll Use Social Media for Business, and Identify KPIs
Defining a goal for your social media efforts is crucial. Without a goal, you can’t assess the success or failure of your plan. Let’s look at three potential goals you may have and how to measure them.
Build a Community
Suppose you’ve spent 12 months building a closed community of people who have engaged with you and bought your product or service. You’ve grown a private Facebook group to 350 members, and while this may not seem like a lot (considering you have a database of 17,000+ email addresses), the group is by invitation only and full of nurtured customers.
Here are the metrics you can measure when looking at the growth of this specific community:
- Number of group members
- Engagement on your live videos
- Engagement on your daily posts
- Questions your group is asking
Unfortunately, Facebook’s analytics don’t offer much in the way of solid statistics for private Facebook groups, so consider using a third-party tool like Grytics.
Increase Brand Awareness
The biggest reason marketers use social media is to build brand awareness. The average person will spend close to two hours a day on social media, which is why brand awareness is a key goal for businesses.
Suppose Twitter is your network of choice. You could analyze the following metrics to assess brand awareness:
- Follower count
- Mention and shares
- Top tweet (to help you understand what your audience engages with the most)
- Top mention
- Profile visits
- New followers
You can find this data in Twitter Analytics.
Engagement is the second most important metric businesses use to measure social media success. Boosting engagement helps you build brand trust, recommendations, and perception online. Engagement is particularly important on Facebook and Instagram because they prioritize posts with higher engagement, showing them in the feed before posts with less engagement.
Analyze engagement measures similar to those discussed above. In addition, take a closer look at the number of community members who reach out to you on a daily basis through retweets, likes, questions, and any other communication.
#3: Choose the Right Social Network to Engage Your Audience
Targeting every social network without looking at each platform’s demographics won’t provide the results you’re looking for. Before deciding which platforms to invest your time in, you need to do some research to find out which social networks attract your target customer. Focus on two key areas: network demographics and reciprocity across platforms.
Facebook has over 1.86 billion monthly active users. According to a Pew Research study from November 2016, 79% of online adults use Facebook. The breakdown by age is 18-29 (88%), 30-49 (84%), 50-64 (72%), and 65+ (62%). From a gender standpoint, a higher percentage of online women use Facebook (83%) than online men (75%).
Facebook users watch more than 100 million hours of video content on the platform daily. Since the launch of Facebook Live, there has been a 700% growth in video views, with people spending 3x longer watching live video than they do recorded video.
Twitter has 319 million monthly active users. According to the Pew study, 24% of online adult men and 25% of online adult women use Twitter. Eighty percent of Twitter’s usage is through mobile.
Per Statista, 22.5% of Twitter users are between the ages of 25 and 34. The next largest age groups are 35-44 at 19.5% and 45-54 at 17.9%.
Instagram has 600 million monthly active users. By 2018, the network is projected to have 106+ million users in the U.S. alone. Instagram’s worldwide mobile advertising revenue is expected to reach $2.81 billion in 2017.
Instagram skews female according to the Pew study, with 38% of online adult women using the platform compared to 26% of online adult men. Fifty-one percent of Instagram users access the platform daily, and 35% check the platform several times per day.
In 2016, Instagram released a new feature called Instagram Stories, which now has 200 million daily active users.
Per the Pew study, nearly one-third of adult Internet users are on Pinterest. Pinterest’s demographics are less balanced than Twitter or Facebook, with 45% of online women using the network versus 17% of online men.
Still the B2B social network leader, LinkedIn has 106 million monthly unique visitors. The network has members in 200 countries and is available in 24 languages. According to the Pew study, 31% of online adult men use the network versus 27% of online adult women.
Forty percent of users check their account daily, and two new members join the network every second. More than 1 million LinkedIn users have published long-form content on the platform, and 160,000 long-form posts are published each week.
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine and boasts 167.4 million unique YouTube users per month. Four hundred hours of YouTube video is uploaded every 60 seconds, and 58.2% of U.S. Internet users have a YouTube account.
In an average month, 80% of 18- to 49-year-olds watch YouTube. YouTube is a male-dominated network at 62%, with females at 38%. The user breakdown by age is 18-24 (11%), 25-34 (23%), 35-44 (26%), 45-54 (16%), 55-64 (8%), 65+ (3%), and unknown age (14%).
Snapchat has 301 million monthly active users. The audience is predominantly young, with the company reporting the majority of users are younger than 24 years old and a sizeable portion are between the ages of 13 and 17. A quarter of Snapchat users access the service more than once per day, and the app ranks ahead of Tumblr and Twitter with U.S. Millennials for user engagement.
#4: Research Content Topics
Once you’ve decided which social networks to focus on, it’s time to plan your content. The content you create needs to be specific, relevant, and unique, and not all about “you” as a business.
If your goal is to create content that’s either the next big thing or a viral sensation, that’s not realistic and the wrong approach to content creation. Instead, focus your efforts on creating content that will engage your target audience.
Now that you know who your audience is and where they hang out, get engaged in a two-way conversation and find out what kind of content your audience wants to consume. Run a Twitter poll or create an audience questionnaire to gather feedback.
When creating a questionnaire, decide what you want to achieve and choose your questions accordingly. To encourage more responses, consider offering a reward for completing the questionnaire.
Tip: Google Forms is an excellent free tool for creating professional-looking questionnaires and tracking results.
Another way to get the creative juices flowing is to talk to friends, colleagues, and family. Even if they aren’t invested in your business, a conversation may spark content ideas you haven’t already thought of. If your friends or family happen to be your typical target customer, that’s even better. Don’t be afraid to ask for their input.
Also look at your competitors. Follow your competitors online and see what works for them, and maybe it will work for you too. Don’t copy their ideas or content, but do find inspiration for your own content. Create a Twitter list to segment the content they’re sharing so you can easily find it.
Tip: Feedly is an excellent tool for researching your industry online. It can bring together hundreds of great pieces of content that can spark ideas for your own.
#5: Plan Your Content Calendar
After you’ve done your research, you’re ready to create content for your blog. First, decide which target customer the content is designed for and then choose a topic. Get specific with topics in your industry.
Next, choose a blog article title. Look at three types of keywords: transactional, informational, and navigational. A transactional keyword attracts people who are looking for the best or cheapest. An informational keyword touches on the “what” and “how,” while establishing you as an expert. A navigational keyword helps people find what they’re looking for and usually includes a brand name.
Finally, outline the content for each section. Break down your blog content into four sections:
- Introduction: pose an interesting fact/statistic.
- Body: divide the information into bite-sized chunks.
- Conclusion: summarize the topic.
- Call to action: download a free guide or join a webinar, for example.
Once you know what content you want to create, you need to create a content plan similar to the one pictured below. Columns might include Month, Publish Date, Title/Description, Due Date, Type of Content (blog post, video, infographic, etc.), Target Audience, Distribution Channels (Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, company blog, etc.), and Keywords.
Once you know what you’ll be blogging about and when, as well as where you’ll share it, start developing the supporting content you’ll publish on social media.
#6: Build Trust Through Consistent Engagement
Social media is about more than just publishing content. To establish yourself as a thought leader and trusted resource in your industry, you need to engage in two-way conversations. The more open you are and the more you use social media for customer service, the more likely your audience will feel safe. This puts them one step closer to purchasing from your business.
On average, it takes eight “touches” before a potential customer will buy from your business. With this in mind, think about ways you can use social media to shorten the process and turn a potential customer into a paying customer that much quicker.
For example, suppose you meet a potential prospect at a tradeshow. You then follow him on both LinkedIn and Twitter. To engage with your prospect, you comment on one of his LinkedIn posts or retweet one of his posts on Twitter.
The prospect then sends you a direct message through LinkedIn. You ask for his email address and arrange for a 30-minute discovery call. The call goes well, so you set up an in-person meeting. After your meeting, you send a follow-up email and agree to start working with the prospect.
#7: Measure Progress and Adjust Course
Measuring your success is the final step in your social media plan. You need to know if your efforts are delivering results for your business. Let’s break this down into three areas: conversion, reach, and engagement.
Conversions help you determine whether you’re driving sales from social media. If you’re not, you’ll need to change things up.
To help you analyze conversions easily and efficiently, you can download a social media dashboard that integrates with your Google Analytics. This will then give you all of the social data you need to measure conversions.
Reach is the number of people you have had an effect on with your content. This metric helps you gauge how well your social media content is resonating with your target audience. Here are some ways you can assess reach:
- Connections on LinkedIn
- Followers on Twitter
- Followers on Instagram
- Likes on your Facebook page
- Views and subscribers on your YouTube channel
- Website visitors
Finally, look at engagement metrics to see how many people are interacting with you online. Here are some metrics to measure:
- Clicks on social media posts
- Retweets and mentions
- Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn shares (including LinkedIn Pulse comments and likes)
- Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn comments
According to Statista, the number of worldwide social media users has reached 1.96 billion and is expected to grow to 2.5 billion in 2018. The question is, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
Putting together a social media plan can help you increase engagement and trust with your target audience, and help your business thrive.
What do you think? Do you have a social media content plan for your business? What tips can you offer for creating a successful plan? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.