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How to make your social media plan result in business success

Jan 3, 2013

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Here’s how to make your social media plan result in business success in 2022. In sum, you must take a company-wide perspective and prioritise potential benefits for all parts of your business, and must start with strategic objectives, and specify ways for monitoring result. Now, let’s look at the details.

Social media plan’s strategy link

Source: sproutsocial 2020 data

Connect Your Efforts to Your Business Goals

Your social media plan must be anchored by your business objectives. Then, break down into social media goals, which then break down into a series of tactics using various social media.

But before we start talking about planning your social media, let’s spend a moment on what social media’s potential vantage points are for your business, and the nuances offered by the various social media channels.

5 Vantage Points of Social Media

social media plan
Include KPI for listening and engaging
in your Social Media Plan

From a sales & marketing point of view, your social media plan should touch upon the 5 vantage points of social media:

1. The ability to listen .. to customers as well as competition and industry participants.

2. The ability to learn … who customers are and what they want and need.

3. The ability to engage .. with prospects and customers. This engagement should stretch beyond the direct sales function into the pre-sales and customer services functions as well.

4. The ability to influence … and transform dissatisfaction into loyalty

5. The ability to analyse, reflect on and respond to market inquiries and needs.

Social media plan by channel choice

While there is great overlap between social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, We-Heart-it, Pinterest, Instagram, and others, in terms of features and audiences, each social media attracts different audiences and induces unique consumer behaviour and thus offering different communication opportunities.

For example, it could be argued that Facebook is a better tool to get to know a person (personal values, likes/dislikes), while Twitter offers a better aid in understanding what a person does. Pinterest is where people specifically plan fun projects visually: from DIY home decor, travels, knitting to parties. With overlapping shades of social media benefits. Linkedin is where people build personal brands and networks to gain work.

Your social media plan should take advantage of the different benefits between social media channels out there and pick channels that best suits your type of business and marketing objectives. If you are in fashion, obviously you must be on Pinterest, Polyvore, Instagram, as well as We-Heart-it, Flickr, and Tumblr, to name a few. However, if you are a B2B widget seller…. or, to stay in consumer markets: if you are a resort owner and must fill up your summer vacation rentals, your social media plan will probably include Facebook and TripAdvisor but not Polyvore, and solicit completely different interactions.

Social Media Planning for your entire business

The social media opportunities go beyond direct social selling. Social media can benefit Sales, Marketing and Service, and may even facilitate the delivery of your products and services. So, be sure to take a company-wide perspective and include the full range of business objectives in your social media plan.

Social media can also be used for internal collaboration

When social media is used to improve collaboration within the business, your social media plan must have sections on how it is to support internal teams and supplier integration.

In this case, the vantage points of social media are exploited to improve internal and supplier communication efficiency and responsiveness as well.

Some companies include social media in their crisis support management. What’s important to you depends on your business.

Social media’s moving centerstage

As enterprises evolve their use of social media and cloud computing for internal communications and business operations, social media will take centerstage as a fundamental communication tool. Obviously, an increasingly holistic social media strategy plan is needed to manage the process.

6 steps to create a social media plan from scratch

  1. Set your strategic goals for social. These are your anchors. Define your metrics for success to match.
  2. Assess your strength and weaknesses with social. What’s working, what’s a challenge; and be sure to address these in your plan.
  3. Ideate and brainstorm creative ideas to address your strategic goals. Flash out the best ones. Peak (and peak again) at competition.
  4. Create a 3-months-rolling daily calendar as your social media planner: the first month is to execute (fully detailed and supported with images, links, blogs etc), the second and third month to plan ahead (creating social media content takes lead-time!).
  5. Use shared tools, such as Asana, for the execution. Allocate tasks and responsibilities
  6. Put dates in the diary for reviews and update. Measure against your goals.

Fresh ideas for your social media plan, if you already have one

Here is an overview of fresh ideas to make your current social media plan stronger – no matter what your stage of social media adoption is. Use these suggestions to develop a better strategy, to improve your social listening, and to measure result.

Ideas for your social strategy

  1. Write up a plan.
  2. Cultivate long term relationships.
  3. Automate ‘boring’ tasks.
  4. Socialise your culture, not just your technology.
  5. Calculate the value of your ‘social customer’.
  6. Give training and require ‘certification’ for employees to represent your company on social media.
  7. Extend your company social media strategy with governance and principles that employees can follow
  8. Monitor and guide employees’ social engagement to correct brand compliance and actual engagement.
  9. Write a strategic blog content plan, to be shared on social, and realise that it can take years to execute it all — attack it in do-able 30-day chunks.
  10. Ideate and present your blog content in different formats: video, tables images, infographics, tip sheets, white papers, eBooks, etc.
  11. Tactically fill in that content plan, with trendy topics (that no one is writing about and knows about as much as you).
  12. Build relationships through your content.

Ideas for Social Listening

  1. Listen to people talking about your brand. Be sure to respond, but also keep track of what is being said. Invite opinion leaders to help you further your business.
    Tag both brand detractors and brand advocates. Detractors can help you strengthen and resolve what’s can be improved. Brand advocates can help you sell more and become better known. Be sure to use them for new product launches, in review strategies etc.
  2. Listen to how people talk about your brand. And I don’t mean just good or bad: listen to the words and phrases they use. Those are the very words you need to use in your marketing.
  3. Collect competitor information. Often, how peer companies resolve problems offer good ideas for your own marketing. Consider ‘competitors’ broadly: what problems are your buyers initially looking to solve. Search with those terms to also find ‘hidden’ competitors.
  4. Learn what’s new and hot and well as trends and developments in your industry. Tag industry influencers.
  5. Be a thought leaders. This means you lead the conversation rather than merely chime in. You eh… need to put some thought into this.
  6. Generate leads and sales. Listen for leads’s product questions and recommendation requests, and other opportunities.
  7. Use social media to offer amazingly fast and fantastic customer service. Be sure to respond to all questions fast.
    Take issues privately and accept accolades publicly and give those ‘a stage’ online. Be sure to collect common complaints and feed that back to the product team — you knew that.
  8. Social should be included in your crisis management plan. Be sure to have a process of customer (and employee) communication in place, for when in need of one.
  9. Use social media to improve your advertising performance. Listen for social responses to your ad campaigns.
    Track ad-specific keywords, hashtags, phone numbers and urls; track tradeshow conversations as well as any brand mentions.

Ideas to boost your social media engagement

  1. Surprise and delight fans, e.g. with a Cyber Monday coupon for followers. Take some time to be creative and think up what would surprise and delight your customers and social community.
  2. Be sure to invite customer input via social media. People love being asked for their opinion. They will often volunteer their best ideas for free. 10 years ago, we use to call this ‘crowdsourcing ideas’. 10 years before that, we called this ‘market research’.
    But all we were and are doing today is inviting prospects to give their opinions on our products and services. Embrace the bad and do something about it, embrace the good and be sure to market that. And handsomely reward all those who participated, encouraging others to do so in future.
    Make your interactions as human and authentic as possible as this will help your brand being seen as approachable.
  3. Follow good social media etiquette. So, short and sweet: do followback, be authentic and human i.e. have a face (as opposed to being faceless and a robot); be consistently responsive and engaging.
  4. Develop a pleasing interaction cadence. Wonder how to do this? Follow this simple formula: give, give, give, ask. Give 3x as much as you ask for. Don’t talk about yourself all the time. Be helpful.

Ideas to improve social media measuring

Measuring social success via KPIs and ROI is tricky. But this is where tools like Salesforce Marketing Cloud Social Studio can help you out.

  1. First up, listen for how much of the industry’s conversation is about your brand. This might small, but significant.
  2. Measure a goal with a date: your increase in brand engagement in terms of # of likes, shares, conversations (mentions, comments), sales leads, customer service cases and quick service Q&A’s via DM you’ve provided, by 20% by end of the fiscal year.
  3. Document the benefits your business has been getting from social in non-numeric terms.
  4. Develop social media engagement ‘stories’ of sales, service and R&D, that illustrate the business benefits of your social media plan at work. Those anecdotal stories can carry more weight then micro-measurements: # of retweets, likes and shares.

Pardot and Social Media Planning

Did you know… that you can use Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement aka Pardot for your social media planning and posting?

 I first wrote this article in January 3, 2013. Now, nearly 10 years later, I thought this article deserved a makeover! Date of this latest updated: July 27, 2022.

By Astrid van Dorst

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