How to Create a Basic Social Media Plan

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There is much more than cute memes, photos, videos and catchy phrases when it comes to creating a strategic and tactical social media plan. This blog post provides a high-level view of creating a social media plan. Future blog posts will cover each platform on a more detailed level along with social media content curation, automatic scheduling and more.

Step One:  Define Your OBJECTIVE

Are you looking to maintain a general presence, rub virtual shoulders with influencers, media, bloggers or looking to build relationships with your fan base or all of the above? Keep reading, we will cover the main points here and dive deeper in future blogs. 

 Step Two: Identify your ideal social platform(s)

Not all social media platforms are created equal or relevant to your target audience. Each has their own culture, voice and audience. Choose the platforms that reach & resonate best with your target audience.  

Step Three: Plan Your Content

This is vital. Even more important is that you plan your business by the quarter or year so that your social plan can support and align with your business objectives or you'll be wasting your time posting scattered content. 

Let's look at Objectives:

General Presence:

If you want to simply maintain a presence on social media, posting twice per week is acceptable. Some people wish to maintain their social presence but social media is not their key traffic driver. Display ads, Adwords, print media or other outlets may be the key traffic driver for your business. If this is the case, then don't spend too much time on a hefty plan. 

Rub Virtual Shoulders:

If your objective is to become an influencer in your industry, then you would focus on what is called Influencer Marketing. 

Example: If you want to Entrepreneur Magazine to be aware of your most recent article, you would like their business page as your business page.

Search for their page

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Click the three dots to the right and choose “Like as your page”

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Locate their “Tag” – it starts with the “@” and is under the profile image

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Now when you create that great blog post (keyword - great), tag their page and thank them for their inspiration.

Example: I read a great article in @EntMagazine which inspired me to do…. Thank you @EntMagazine for your helpful, inspiring publication!

Follow a similar protocol for Twitter. Locate the page and be sure it’s the right one because there are some very similar tags for pages that are not what you may be looking for. The last thing you want to do is to tag a page that portrays the exact opposite of what your business stands for.  After locating the proper page, click the follow button and you will be able to tag the page. 

Keeping the current 140-character count in mind, compose a Tweet that tags your target.

Example: Thanks to @EntMagazine I was inspired to write this blog. <add link and photo>

*Note: Twitter uses 23 characters for each link, no matter the link length

This accomplishes is exposure, exposure and more exposure. When you tag anyone on social media they are alerted. If you do it often enough and with great content, they will “get to know you” and be open to perhaps featuring/sharing or otherwise engaging with you which exposes your brand to their huge audiences and if your content is good enough, they may invite you write a featured article or it could lead to speaking engagements.

Relationship Building:

It takes about 90 days to establish social trust, so consistency is key. Talk to your fans as if they are your friends. Even tell them if you're having a rough day. Show them the bloopers, behind-the-scenes accidents and mistakes. Doing this makes you relatable on a human level and that is what customers are looking for. They want a personal connection to brands and to feel invested in the company. The use of emoji's, using your customer's name, and appropriate humor goes a long way with relationship building. 

If you are selling services, products, etc. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% relevant content in the form of blogs, sharing articles, memes, photos, inspiration, jokes and 20% selling. Upend this rule and you will alienate your fan base.

Social Media Content Planning Structure:

Keeping in mind that everyone has their own process for this, I will share what I have found to be most helpful when creating social content.

Be sure that you have your business objectives clearly outlined for the quarter or year. Once you do this, the plan can be created in support of your objectives. If you don't have a plan, your customers will be able to tell as it will show in the inconsistency of your social post schedule and topics.

If you are struggling with this, I will offer this side piece of advice. Think in themes. 

Example: Each quarter encompasses a season, so I will use that as a starting point. September through November is Autumn/Fall. Quarterly Theme: Fall into Happiness

Weekly Breakdowns:

  • Week One 
    • Fall into Fun with this fall-themed cupcake recipe to make with your kids
  • Week Two 
    • Fall into Romance with our in-demand boudoir Photo Sessions
  • Week Three
    • Fall into Comfort with our coziest pair of fleece-lined leggings yet
  • Week Four
    • Fall into Relaxation with our spa bath bombs which are sure to help you de-stress after a long day

If you preplan your business objectives, you will be way ahead of the game. Support your themes with fall graphics, ads that support your themed language and blogs that support the overall messaging. 

Social media content calendars can vary based on the size of your business, your objective and platform.  It is acceptable to post three times max to Facebook daily but the top influencers on Twitter post 180 times per day.  It is important to know your platform and your audience so you are not over or under posting or you will lose followers.

Phase One: Lay out the skeleton

When I begin to plan a content calendar for the month, I look at quarterly sales objectives, national days, well known events and local events. I plan my posts based on audience activity and past engagement (a topic we will cover more in depth in a future post).

As you can see, I plot out the content based on the client, holidays, national days, review generation (very important for social media), sales, feel good stuff, fun and engagement. 

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For quotes, I like to use www.quotegarden.com or even do a Google and Pinterest search for the topic+quotes.

Example: I want to create a quote to connect with my audience about beach life. I would search “Beach Life Quotes” and see what comes up on image search. From there, I’d choose my quote and create my design. You can use the design app or software of your choice for this. (Canva, Adobe Spark)  If you need imagery, refer to my blog post on the acquisition and use of free images and copyrights as there are a lot of great resources there for free, legal-to-use images.  Create your design with the quote overlay.

When adding web links to your posts, I recommend creating an account with bit.ly or goo.gl to shorten the links. You can then go back and see how many people clicked on that link to help with tracking engagement. Example of blog link tracking:

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Things to keep in mind:

Ideal length of social posts for greatest engagement:

Facebook: 40-80 characters

Twitter: 100 characters

Instagram: 138-150 characters

LinkedIn: 50-100 characters

Allowed length of text:

Facebook: 63,203 characters

Twitter: 140 characters

Instagram: 2,200 characters

LinkedIn: 700 characters

Pinterest Board Description: 500 characters

YouTube Video Description: 5,000 characters

Best number of hashtags for Instagram:

Instagram: 5-10

Hashtags should be 24 or less characters

*data sourced from our friends at SproutSocial.com

Phase 2 : Create either an Excel or Word Document with the date and platform noted.

Example:

November 3

Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram/LinkedIN: In honor of #NationalSandwichDay today, here is a new spin on the classic #Rueben! Click here to get this tasty recipe. <insert shortened link here> If you try this recipe, leave your photos and comments below <attach image>

Twitter: In honor of #NationalSandwichDay, we put a new spin on a classic #Reuben #sandwich <insert shortened link here> Let us know how you like it! <attach photo>

(This post character count is 112, then add 23 in for the link and you have a total character count of 135 while utilizing hashtags and getting your message across.)

 (this post stays within the recommended 700-character limit for LinkedIn)

YouTube: In honor of #NationalSandwichDay today, here is a new spin on the classic #Rueben! Click here to get this tasty recipe. <insert shortened link here> <Upload Video>

(Add keywords, category and other info as needed)

Phase 3 – Proofread!

Set your plan aside, get some coffee, go for a walk and then come back and proofread because misspellings can affect your credibility. I am guilty of this and have learned the hard way.

Phase 4 - Schedule

Once you have proofed your content, it’s time to schedule.

Within Facebook, there is a scheduling feature that allows you to schedule posts for the future.

1.     Go to your business page and choose “Publishing Tools” 

2.     Choose Scheduled Posts and then choose Create

3.     Enter your content, add images

4.     You then can choose to Schedule, Post, backdate (In case you missed an important event) or save as a draft for later.

If the thought of manually posting your content to all of your profiles is exhausting, there is a way to auto schedule to all your social platforms. The trick to that is paying attention to the different character counts and unique user tags.

There are a lot of auto scheduling tools out there, but my favorite is Buffer. This company is the bomb-diggity and they are so down to earth, friendly, helpful and just great to work with. Most of us only have a few social accounts so if you have more than 1 profile per platform (as covered in the Free account) then you can upgrade to the Awesome plan for $10/month. I love the Awesome plan. (This is NOT a paid advertisement, I just love the company)

Within Buffer, you connect your profiles.  You then choose your platform, add your posts, images and links and schedule to send. You can schedule your own times, or use their tool to schedule at the optimal time your audience is online per the learning algorithm Buffer uses.

Keep in mind: All platforms except Instagram can be auto scheduled. You can add the Instagram posts and Buffer will notify you when it’s time to post via the Buffer app.

*Remember, do NOT use exclamation points and all caps constantly. Use terms that denote enthusiasm. IE: We are thrilled to announce….., We are so excited for….., We are pumped about…..We’ve been holding our breath over….but now we can tell you, etc.

Make great use of your thesaurus.

Please add your questions or comments below or in our Facebook Group!