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How to Create Your Own Social Media Marketing Plan


The social media landscape is ever-changing.

We’ve seen live video develop into an exciting way to interact with users in real time through Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter’s “Go Live” feature.

We’ve seen saw polling opportunities emerge from almost every network, allowing us to gain valuable feedback from our audiences.

We also saw new technology, like virtual and augmented reality, propelling us into the future of social media marketing.

This guide walks you through the social marketing planning process and how to adapt your strategies to industry standards. This guide will help you:

  • Set realistic social marketing goals to align with overall business objectives
  • Determine how you will measure the success of your social marketing efforts
  • Integrate emerging trends and best practices into your 2018 social media marketing strategy
  • Plan your best 2018 with editable planning worksheets to simplify the strategy-building process

Be careful not to set sail into 2018 without first establishing a clear social marketing plan. Use this guide as your resource to a more effective 2018.

Setting Goals and Choosing Metrics

Before you start considering which ground-breaking social marketing content you will create in 2018, consider why your business has a social presence and the business goals you hope to impact and achieve through social media. Here are some common goals for businesses on social media and the metrics you can track and measure to determine their business impact.

Increase Brand Awareness

According to the recent Sprout Social Index, the biggest goal for social marketers is to increase their brand awareness.

With the growing number of people adopting social media, and integrating social into their daily activities, marketers are relying on social media to increase brand awareness.

Using a social media listening tool, you can track your potential impressions over a specific time period and notice any trends in the number of impressions your posts receive.

sprout listening potential impressions

And with a social media analytics tool, you can track the growth of your audience, determine the number of new followers for each of your social profiles, their engagement rate, and much more.

Listening audience breakdown from Sprout

Increase Brand Engagement

Increasing engagement was the second biggest goal for social marketers from our latest Index, and for good reason. Social media provides an effective platform for businesses to interact with their customers and potential customers.

If audiences are not finding value in the content you share, however, they will unfollow you. The 2016 Q2 Sprout Social Index found brands posting too many promotions on social media were those consumers found most annoying.


It is important for social marketers to track brand engagement to determine the effectiveness and desirability of the content they share.

Social media analytics enable marketers to determine audience engagement levels for their various social profiles. On peak days of engagement, brands should dive deeper into the type of content that was shared, who was engaging with that content, and which platform is driving the most engagement.

Sprout listening engagement report

Drive Website Traffic

The third biggest goal of social marketers is to increase their website traffic.

Your website is the hub for all information related to your business, its products and offerings, and the people behind your brand. Your website also serves as a place for people to gain a sense of your brand personality.

Based on the effectiveness of your website to showcase your brand personality, people will determine whether or not they want to do business with you.

Google Analytics is an effective way to evaluate social’s impact on website traffic. You can compare each of your digital marketing tactics to determine how social media ranks as a driver of web traffic.

Google Analytics also lets you dive deeper into the data to pinpoint the social networks that are driving the most traffic, enabling you to readjust your strategy to leverage your most effective networks.

Generate New Leads

Social media presents marketers with the opportunity to reach a continually growing audience. With the huge number of people now on social, it serves as a great tool to attract people into the top of your funnel, or to simply introduce them to your business for the first time.

Picking Objectives and Key Results

Seasoned marketers will always set clear objectives before planning or implementing a new social campaign.

Objectives can vary greatly depending on the industry or the brand. For example, some brands want to tailor their campaigns to increase customer retention, while others are focused on amplifying reach in the marketplace.

Your objectives can be fairly broad, but should be the guiding principle behind the rest of your campaign plan.

One method is the Objective and Key Results (OKR) Method. This is used to identify broad objectives that are supplemented with specific, numbers-driven key results that align with predetermined success metrics.

These success metrics could reflect engagement metrics including shares, likes, and comments, or could focus on conversion tracking to determine business value of shared content. Here’s what a social marketing objective could look like for your brand:

Your main objective above is to increase web traffic driven from social media. Success for this objective will be determined by the number of unique page visits and the click-through rates attributed to your selected social channels. Your key results should define what metrics you will analyze, what success looks like, and how you will determine if your campaign has positively impacted overall business objectives.

Organic Content or Paid Content

The organic content you share on social has a tremendous impact on SEO and the community-building process around your network.

Organic reach is dwindling with the amount of noise circulating the social space, however, meaning that the best social marketing campaigns are now supplementing their organic content with paid advertising.

As you start your social media marketing planning, consider whether or not paid social will benefit your business. Let’s dive into the difference between organic and paid social and how you can boost your organic efforts with a paid social strategy.

Organic Social

Using social media tools to share posts, respond to customers, and interact with your social community.

Paid Social

Paying to display adverts (text, image, video, carousel etc.) or sponsored messages to a specific group of social network users based on user profile.

While auditing your content, try to identify your most effective content pieces.

Was there a specific blog post that performed better than others when you shared out on social? If so, would boosting that content with a paid advertisement make a significant impact on your lead generation or conversion rate? Organic content is essential and your archive of assets can still prove beneficial in the new year.

Think of ways you can retarget or update your content to ensure that what you share on social is reaching your target market through the right channels— and don’t be afraid to invest (or reinvest) in your top-performing posts.

A Detailed Plan

After you’ve determined your objectives and key results and have considered the role of organic and paid content, you can start building out a detailed plan that outlines your target audience, the type of content you will produce, where it will be shared, and any resources or budget you need to implement the plan.

To help make the campaign planning a bit easier, we’ve constructed campaign planning worksheets for social marketers to use that align with where their customers are in each stage of the buyer’s journey.

This particular worksheet is specific for top-of-funnel marketing efforts during the awareness stage, and helps outline the specific goal of the campaign, which call to action to use, where to share content, the type of content being created, who are the target personas, and which social conversations to join.

A New Generation of Consumers

By 2020, Generation Z will account for an astounding 40% of all consumers, according to Fast Company. And brands are quickly trying to figure out how to appropriately communicate to that demographic.

There are definitely some major differences in the needs of this generation compared to previous generations, and they can often be attributed to the fact that Gen Z (those born after 1995) was immersed into a world with thriving technology and mobile devices. IBM’s research on Gen Z revealed some interesting facts:

  • 74% of respondents spend most of their free time online
  • 75% cite their smartphone as a “most frequently used device”
  • 66% frequently use more than one digital device at the same time

For marketers, this means that our social strategies—and even all of our digital marketing efforts— must be optimized for mobile and multiple devices if we hope to reach this demographic. It has become important for businesses to adopt multiple social media profiles in order to reach the upcoming generation, who may be actively engaging in multiple profiles simultaneously, through different devices.

Marketing Messages Must Provide Value

Generation Z has developed an incredible ability to filter out unnecessary or irrelevant content from their lives, including advertising and other promotional content. Less than 25% of Gen Z has a positive perception of online ads, according to a report by Millward Brown. This generation wants brands to help them solve problems and make their lives simpler.

Get to the Point

The average attention span for Gen Zers is eight seconds, according to a study from Sparks & Honey. If you want this demographic to engage with you on social—or even stop to view your content at the very least—you need to get right to the point and provide value vast. Be upfront about why they should care and how it will either help them or entertain them.


As you start planning, be sure that your social media efforts continually support the goals of your business.

This guide walked you through the initial steps of planning your social media marketing strategy for 2018. You learned how to track and measure the metrics that matter most to your business and establish objectives that align with overall business goals. You were also introduced to emerging trends in the social marketing industry with examples of brands who are excelling at implementing new technology and network capabilities.

You are now ready to start planning your social media marketing strategy. Good luck!

More Marketing Resources


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