How to Build a Smart Yet Simple Social Media Marketing Plan [Template]

How to Build a Smart Yet Simple Social Media Marketing Plan [Template]

But one thing that can make your decisions more straightforward is establishing a channel plan – an advanced directive for how your brand can and should distribute its content marketing efforts on rented channels like social media, and what you expect to achieve. But plastering your brand’s content across every social network, trendy news site, and video platform that comes along is not a channel plan. Remember: Your content marketing strategy should define your social media marketing strategy – not the other way around – because it’s always best to evaluate each social channel against your strategic goals and audience needs before you distribute content there. And when you turn this evaluation into an actionable plan, everybody on your team will know where, when, and what they should be posting on each channel, as well as what their efforts are meant to achieve. Let’s take a closer look at each one: Social media channel choices The nature of each channel and the engagement preferences of its core community will play a major role in deciding whether your content is a good fit. What kinds of content will work best on this platform? If your responses don’t reveal a compelling opportunity to engage on that channel or if the platform’s environment isn’t well-suited to your brand’s content vision and mission, it may be best to step away and reserve your team’s resources for channels that are a better fit. Current events As trending topics come into the spotlight, they can present timely distribution opportunities. The following is a snapshot of the information I recommend accounting for in your initial channel plan, but you can also download a copy of the template I built (go to “File > Download As >” and select the format you would like), and customize it for your needs: Who we will reach: The persona(s) most active/engaged on this channel Target goals/benefits: What this channel will help accomplish; any unique opportunities that can’t be achieved elsewhere Featured topics: Subject areas/conversations likely to resonate with this community Target velocity: How often and what time of day to post on this channel; how much time to spend monitoring and contributing to other relevant conversations Tone and rules of engagement: Conversation style and voice that works best; special criteria or considerations to follow (e.g., “140 characters or less,” “avoid enabling videos to play automatically,” “emphasize visuals over text”) Team resources: Team member in charge of communication on this channel; other personnel authorized to post on company’s behalf; whom to notify if questions arise or issues escalate Call to action: Owned media/conversion point to drive traffic to Key performance indicators: Metrics to gauge content performance against goals Editor’s note: While CMI was used as a reference for this template, the sample data shown here does not represent our channel plan. You may also want to consider including the following data: Target keywords/hashtags: A list of the keywords you are likely to target will make you more effective at including them in the content you post Potential distribution partners: Any influencers, industry experts, or network connections you may have at your disposal who can help manage and amplify your outreach on the channel Promotion opportunities: Tools, paid campaigns, and other opportunities you can leverage to support the content you post Conclusion No matter how far and wide your business intends to extend its reach, successful content marketing distribution often comes down to having a strategic, systematic, and scalable approach.

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Editor’s note: Given the ongoing need for brands to use social media strategically, we are sharing this article updated from its original publication last year.

Concerned about how Facebook’s latest algorithm updates might affect your brand’s performance on the platform? Questioning where your Facebook ads might appear across its network of sites, including on Instagram and Messenger? Curious as to whether user trust has deteriorated to the point where social media is no longer a safe space for your brand to play at all? You’re not alone.

Brands typically have a lot of questions when it comes to marketing to consumers on any third-party content platform. Social media can be particularly puzzling as the rules, opportunities, audiences, and value propositions vary greatly from one channel to another – and can shift gears abruptly without a moment’s notice. But one thing that can make your decisions more straightforward is establishing a channel plan – an advanced directive for how your brand can and should distribute its content marketing efforts on rented channels like social media, and what you expect to achieve.

Think precision

Many brands mistakenly assume they need to post their content anywhere and everywhere to maximize its potential reach. But plastering your brand’s content across every social network, trendy news site, and video platform that comes along is not a channel plan. That social media approach attempts to go as far and wide as possible, but it holds no regard for whom it reaches, how they might be impacted, or how that impact might reflect on the business.

Remember: Your content marketing strategy should define your social media marketing strategy – not the other way around – because it’s always best to evaluate each social channel against your strategic goals and audience needs before you distribute content there. And when you turn this evaluation into an actionable plan, everybody on your team will know where, when, and what they should be posting on each channel, as well as what their efforts are meant to achieve.

Here’s how to create and implement a channel plan for social media marketing that will enable you to do just that.

Make informed decisions

There are two core steps to the channel-planning process — understanding the value proposition of the platform and creating the use case for your brand to engage there. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

Social media channel choices

The nature of each channel and the engagement preferences of its core community will play a major role in deciding whether your content is a good fit. For example, your audience might be open to connecting with your brand in a Twitter chat but prefers to reserve Snapchat for conversations with personal friends. Long-form content might play well on LinkedIn or Medium, while memes and captioned photos on these platforms would be inappropriate. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of each channel and its corresponding community before joining the conversation.

Use case

With a short list of potential channels in hand, map your existing content assets to the most appropriate channels for their distribution.

Answering the following questions (adapted from CMI’s Social Media Survival Guide) will help you decide whether a channel is a good fit, and may provide some clues as to how to position your content to compel the audience to take action on it:

Who uses this channel and what are they using it for?

Will it help us meet our objectives?

Does it fit in with our editorial mission?

  • Will our content be viewed as unique and valuable or will the community find it intrusive or irrelevant?
  • Have our competitors established a strong presence or is there a chance to lead the conversation?

What results do we want to achieve?

  • What should we be asking fans and followers to do after engaging with our content? Share it? Comment? Visit our site? Subscribe to our newsletter?
  • Is this an action this community is…

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