7 Guidelines to Design An Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

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We all know that social media is a key part of modern marketing, but how do you get started? How can you be sure that your efforts on social media are strategic, and that you aren't just "marketing at random"?

So you need to create a social media marketing plan. Big deal, right? Many of us struggle to iron out exactly what that is, let alone how to build one from scratch.

To be successful on social media, your social marketing strategy needs to include high-level objectives, as well as specific action items. In other words, you need a social media marketing plan.

Every action you take on social networks should be a part of a larger social media marketing strategy.

As Hootsuite explained, "Every post, reply, like, and comment should all be guided by a plan that’s driving toward your business goals. It might sound complicated, but if you take the time to create a comprehensive social media strategy, the rest of your social media efforts will follow naturally. Everyone can do this if they approach it correctly".

Let’s get started:

  • Define Goals

A famous goal-setting axiom by Stephen Covey goes to say that we must "begin with an end in mind". In a social media context, you can craft your posts to encourage your fans and followers to react in a certain way:

Common reactions include:

1. 'like' a post
2. share/retweet a post
3. leave a comment
4. directly message you
5. click through your destination URL in the post

How you craft your post may get your readers to take action on their own, but to encourage engagement, you can regularly prod them with instructions like "Please share this post to your friends. I'm sure they will find it interesting," or "Please like this. Thanks!" or "To learn more details, please click the link to the next page."

Knowing what your goals are for each of your social media posts will help you determine how you are going to craft them, what content formats would be suitable and how you are going to mix up content on a weekly basis.

  • Define S.M.A.R.T. metric goals

By definition, S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific: Visits, leads or customers
  • Measurable: Provide a number
  • Attainable: Understand benchmarks
  • Relevant: Relates back to overall end goal
  • Timely: Include timeframe


  • Identify target audience

As someone in business, you should already know your main target demographic—the people most likely to purchase from you, so you begin with identifying the followers whom you are going to focus on.

Some criteria for your target audience to consider include:

1. Geographical location
2. Occupation
3. Which social networks they frequent on
4. Gender
5. Marital status etc.

Of course, creating and referring to a detailed buyer persona profile would simplify the process of defining your target audience.

  • Identify content types and formats to post

Some suggestions on how to mix up your social media postings:

Format: short text (one- or two-liners), a 600 x 400 graphic, an infographic, video link, website link
Type: questions or quiz, invite followers to share experiences, product/problem feature, news, trends, quotes
Tone: serious, funny, informative, reflective, inspirational, educational
Published content should also fit with an overall business theme so the content on your social media pages is consistent with your business’s areas of expertise. A consistent brand positioning will help you convey your knowledge to your readers more effectively.

For example, we at iSmart vary our content across themes and topics which help us come up with blog content more effectively:

Example Themes: lead generation, social media, landing page design etc.
Example Topics: main topic, weekly sub-topics

  • Identify actions and strategies to effectively manage social postings

1. What content to publish throughout the week?
2. Who is responsible for various social media roles e.g. publishing, engagement, graphic design, content research, paid advertising etc.?
3. When should the content be created by and published?
4. How much to set aside for paid social media promotion?

  • Editorial calendar

You do not have to design an editorial calendar from scratch. Google "social media editorial calendar" and you should find some in various designs. Customize them to fit your needs.

An effective calendar should have the following features: 

1. Social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram)
2. Post
3. Format
4. Date
5. Staff responsible

Most likely the calendar is designed in an Excel spreadsheet. Create new tabs for each month. Plan out the content to be published for one full month in advance.

  • Track, Analyse and Optimize

Social networks have their built-in analytics with to analyse the click-through or engagement performance of your posts. Discern which topics work best for you and perhaps you may consider focusing on these topics more often.

1. Did certain types or formats of content get more shares or 'likes' than others?

2. Which days of the week get the most readers?

3. Which social networks do you find the most comments or engagement on your posts?

These are questions you can ask to help you improve your social media marketing efforts.

As another saying goes, "Fail to plan and you plan to fail." Having a social media marketing plan is better than none as it helps you to think ahead creatively what content to publish regularly so that you can extend your online reach to attract more fans and followers to your cause.

A great social media strategy is never set in stone. It is a constant work in progress that changes when necessary. So get out there, create a strategy and start optimizing it as you continue to grow and learn more about your business and your audience.


For more information about implementing effective internet marketing strategies, you can read more here

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