So you’ve decided your business needs a social media presence, or maybe you want to step up your game. You are one smart entrepreneur because over 2.6 billion people use social media (eMarketer, 2017) and almost 70% of Canadians are active social media users (We Are Social, 2018). Facebook has 2.23 billion (that’s billion, with a “B”) active users, while YouTube has 1.9B, Instagram has 1B, and Twitter has 335M (We Are Social; Kepios; Various sources, 2018). It’s very likely that your audience is on one of these platforms.

Wondering where to get started, if you need to create accounts on all these platforms, and where you will ever find the time? Don’t worry; we’re here to ease some of your fears. Just like anything else in life, you won’t know everything when you are getting started, but let’s dive into a good place to start: your social media plan.

First Steps

  1. Setting Goals & Objectives:
    • Consider your goals: Why do you want to launch social media marketing for your business? What do you want to accomplish? For example, you might want to engage with customers, share updates with clients, or generate new business.
    • Set SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Some examples: increase followers by 15% within six months or generate 10% more leads to the website within six months.
    • Start thinking about how you will measure success—can you easily and accurately measure the stats that you are trying to achieve?
  2. Defining Your Target Market
    • Most marketers will likely tell you that you can’t get anywhere without figuring out who your target market is. That’s true, and in fact, this will help determine many of your business decisions, even beyond marketing.
    • Do your research! If you’re already operating, you can find customer information in your CRM system, Google Analytics, or social media analytics. If not, information is likely available to help define your industry and who your customers are based on who the biggest users of your category of products and services are. Also, be willing to do some primary research—get out there and talk to your potential customers (not just your Mom and best friend), or use a survey.
    • Factors that will define your target market:
      1. Geographic – urban vs. rural, city/province/country
      2. Demographics – age, gender, occupation, etc.
      3. Behavioural – stage in purchasing process, benefits sought, brand loyalty
      4. Psychographic – personality, lifestyle, etc.
    • You may have more than one target market, so define each separate group.  
    • Your target market(s) will generally remain consistent…
  3. Defining Your Target Audience
    • …but your target audience may differ based on which medium you are using to connect with them. For example, your youngest customers may be your audience on Instagram or Snapchat, while your older customers may seek you out on Facebook.
    • Don’t make the mistake of trying to sell to everyone—you can’t be everything to everyone.
    • Consider creating personas to guide your interactions—this will help you define different audiences within your target market.
    • Check out HubSpot’s definition of a buyer persona plus a free template on how to create them.
    • Where are your target audiences hanging out online? Find out from tracx.
    • Whew! Okay, that was a lot of information! But this is an incredibly important step in your social media plan and overall marketing plan. Once you know who is buying or will buy what you’re selling, you will have a much easier time deciding on and implementing tactics.
  4. Competitive Analysis
    • When analyzing your competition, you can consider the following:
      1. Who are they targeting and what platforms are they using to reach their customers?
      2. How many followers do they have?
      3. How often do they post on social?
      4. What kind of content do they post and what works best for them?
      5. How much engagement do they get per post?
      6. If you want a more in-depth competitive analysis, check out this Sprout Social guide.

Look Inward

  1. Social Media Audit
    • The word “audit” may evoke some unpleasant feelings, but don’t worry—this one won’t involve the CRA. It will help you document, evaluate, and optimize your profiles, as well as assess what you’ve already done, and what is or isn’t working.
    • Here is a great and fairly simple example from Hootsuite.
  2. Brand Voice and Persona
    • Your brand’s voice and persona will be based on your branding documents, like voice and tone guides, value proposition statement, etc.
    • Don’t be intimidated by the terminology—just imagine your business as a person and describe its personality! The purpose is to give anyone working on your social media an idea of how you want your business to come across on social.
    • Just like you might share different content or use a different tone across your personal social media accounts, your business should too—be aware of the typical tone used on each platform and how your audience communicates.
  3. Budget
    • Businesses use social media for marketing because it’s free, right? Not necessarily—just because it can be free doesn’t mean it must be free.
    • Consider things like hiring a part- or full-time employee or contractor to manage your social media accounts, or using paid ads.

Tools and Tactics

  1. Posting
    • How often and when to post?
      1. Be consistent—choose a frequency and stick with it. Consider your audience, what your competitors are doing, what you are capable of keeping up with, and don’t let your accounts go silent.
      2. Some general standards:
        • Facebook: 5-10 times/week, post between 12-4pm
        • Twitter: 3-5 times/day (but can do 15 or more; really no limit), post between 1-3pm (but test throughout the day)
        • LinkedIn: 1 post/day, post between 10-11am
        • Instagram: 1-2 posts/day, timing is not as important, but test different times with your audience
      3. Timing will also depend on your audience and their time zone.
      4. *Experimentation is key.*
  2. Content
    • Take advantage of scheduling, content creation, and analytics tools to help simplify your life:
      1. Hootsuite or Buffer for content scheduling
      2. BuzzSumo for content research, creation, and insights as well as competitor analysis and influencer marketing
      3. Google Analytics to analyze your results, and much more! 
    • What types of content will you use? Will you use images, videos, gifs, infographics, blogs, ebooks, checklists, user-generated, live video?
    • You can create your original content, curate content from others (always give proper credit!), and share user-generated content from your customers.
  3. Paid Advertising
    • Changes to the algorithms of popular networks mean paid advertising campaigns and boosted posts may be necessary to reach new audiences.
    • The Facebook Ads Manager is fairly user-friendly and robust and allows you to advertise across Instagram as well. Facebook Blueprint also provides training for those who are new to or want to learn more about advertising through the Facebook platform.
  4. Content Calendar
    • Allows you to plan ahead, organize content and ideas, share information across your team, and test content and posting times.
    • Just do a quick Google search, and you will find a ton of content calendar examples and templates. Here are a couple:
      1. Hootsuite
      2. Social Media Examiner

Put a Bow on It

  1. Supporting Documents
    • Your social media plan may include supporting documents, such as:
      1. Roles and responsibilities
      2. Social media policy/governance document
      3. Crisis management plan
  2. Measuring Your Impact
    • Most social platforms or content scheduling apps have built-in analytics, or you can look at your Google Analytics for a more in-depth look.
    • Create a spreadsheet to compare the stats that matter to you over time.
    • Start with simple metrics and expand on those as you gain experience, or consider hiring external help.
    • Be excited—at this point, everything is an experiment! The best statistics are the ones that you will build and discover as you go along!

Check out our other blog posts about social media marketing for your small business: Social Media Marketing Tips and Tricks for Small Business, Easy Social Media Analytics Tips for Small Business, Social Media for Small Business: Which Platform Should I Use?, and 16 Social Media Basics for Small Business.