How To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan In 6 Steps

By Evan LePage | 11 months ago | No Comments

So now you need to create a social media marketing plan. No easy task, right? Many of us struggle to iron out exactly what that is, let alone how to build one from scratch.

Put simply, every action you take on social networks should be a part of a larger social media marketing strategy. That means every Tweet, reply, like and comment should all be guided by a plan and driving towards pre-determined goals. It might sound complicated, but if you take the time to create a comprehensive social media plan, the rest of your social efforts should follow naturally. Everyone can do this if they approach it correctly.

Learn what a social media marketing plan should include, and follow our 6-step plan for creating your own:

What is a social media marketing plan?

A social media marketing plan is the summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve for your business using social networks. This plan should comprise an audit of where your accounts are today, goals for where you want them to be in the near future, and all the tools you want to use to get there.

In general, the more specific you can get with your plan, the more effective you’ll be in its implementation. Try and keep it concise and don’t make your social media marketing strategy so lofty and broad that it’s unattainable. This plan will guide your actions, but it will also be a measure by which you determine whether you’re succeeding or failing at social media. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure from the outset.

Step 1: Create social media objectives and goals

The first step to any social media marketing strategy is to establish objectives and goals that you hope to achieve. Having these objectives also allows you to quickly react when social media campaigns are not meeting your expectations. Without these goals, you have no means of gauging your success and no means of proving your return on investment.

These goals should be aligned with your broader marketing strategy, so that your social media efforts all drive towards business objectives. If your social media marketing strategy is shown to drive business goals forward, you’re more likely to get executive buy-in and investment. They should also go beyond vanity metrics like retweets or Likes, in favour of more advanced metrics like leads generated, sentiment or website traffic referred. Strive to approach these goals using the SMART approach, meaning they should all be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

A simple way to start your social media marketing plan is by writing down at least three social media goals. Make sure to ask yourself what the goal will look like when completed, and use that to determine how you will track it.

A Social media marketing plan should have S.M.A.R.T. goals


For example:

For Instagram we will share photos that communicate our company culture. We will do this by posting 3 photos a week that will achieve 30 likes plus 10 comments each.

Step 2: Conduct a social media audit

Prior to creating your social media marketing plan, you need to assess your current social media use and how it is working for you. This requires figuring out who is currently connecting to you via social media, which social media sites your target market uses and how your social media presence compares to your competitors’.

We’ve created a social media audit template that you can follow for each step of the process:

Social Media Audit Template 1

Social Media Audit Template 2

Once you’ve conducted your audit you should have a clear picture of every social account representing your business, who runs or controls them, and what purpose they serve. This ‘living inventory’ should be maintained regularly, especially as you scale your business.

It should also be evident which accounts need to be updated and which need to be deleted altogether. Reporting fraudulent accounts will help ensure that people searching for you online are only connecting with the branded accounts you manage and your approved messaging.

An important part of your social media marketing plan will be to create mission statements for each social network profile. These one-sentence statements will help you focus your attention on a very specific goal you want to accomplish using Facebook, Twitter or any other social network. They will guide your actions and help steer you back on track when these profiles become less effective. They also force you to realize that not every social network is good for the right thing. Instagram might be great for selling a clothing brand, but for construction supplies Facebook might be a better medium. Take the time you need to determine the purpose of every social profile you have. If you can’t figure out its purpose, you should probably delete that profile.

Mission statement example: We will use Instagram to showcase our company culture to recruit new talent.

To help with creating these mission statements, learn about your audience on each profile by using Forrester’s Social Technology Profile Tool. This will provide you with data that classifies consumers into seven levels of how they engage with technology. By profiling your customers’ habits on technology, you’ll be able to gain a clear perspective on where each of your social media profile stands with your customers.


Step 3: Create or improve your social accounts 

Once you’ve audited your accounts, it’s time to hone your online presence. Choose what networks best meet your social media goals. If you don’t already have social media profiles on each network you focus on, build them from the ground up with your broader goals and audience in mind. If you do have existing accounts, it’s time to refine them and update them for your best possible results.

We’ve created a guide on How to Set-up Facebook, Twitter and Every Other Major Social Network to walk you through that process. Every social network has a different audience and should be treated definitely. See how you can optimize your profiles themselves to meet any of your business goals. Optimizing profiles for SEO can help generate more web traffic to your online properties. Cross-promoting social accounts could help you grow the reach of content. In general, social media profiles should be filled out completely, images and text optimized for the social network in question.

 For your social media marketing plan make sure your social media profiles like your Facebook bio is complete

Step 4: Get social media inspiration from industry leaders, competitors, clients

One of the most important reasons for being active on social media is that your consumers already are. That usually means, so are your competitors. That might not be comforting, but it actually means that there’s a wealth of knowledge already available to you which you can integrate into your social media marketing plan. Turn to your competitors for inspiration when it comes to what content types and information get the most social media engagement. Also, use social media listening to see how you could distinguish yourself from competitors and appeal to consumers they might be missing. 

Consumers can also offer social media inspiration, not only through the content that they share but in the way that they phrase their messages. See how your target audience writes Tweets, and strive to mimic that style. Also learn their habits, when they share and why, and use that as a basis for your social media marketing plan. 

A final source of social media inspiration is industry leaders. There are giants who simply do an incredible job of social media marketing, from Red Bull and Taco Bell to KLM Airlines and Tangerine Bank. Companies in every industry imaginable have managed to distinguish themselves through advanced social media strategies. Follow them and learn everything you can. Don’t be afraid to do research and see if they’ve shared any social media advice or insight elsewhere on the web. 

Here are a few suggested sources of inspiration:

  • Content marketing: Unbounce, Virgin
  • Social media customer service: Tangerine, Warby Parker
  • Social media advertising: AirBnB, the American Red Cross
  • Facebook strategy: Coca-Cola, Walmart
  • Google+ strategy: Cadbury, National Geographic
  • Twitter strategy: Charmin, Oreo
  • Instagram strategy: Herschel Supply Co., General Electric

Step 5: Create a content plan and editorial calendar

Great content will be essential to succeeding at social media. Your social media marketing plan should include a content marketing plan, comprised of strategies for content creation and content curation, as well as an editorial calendar.

Your content marketing plan should answer the following questions: 

Content Marketing Plan Questions to help your social media marketing plan

Your editorial calendar lists the dates and times you intend to post blogs, Facebook posts, Twitter messages and other content you may plan to use during your social media campaigns. Create the calendar and then schedule your messaging in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day. You want to work hard on the language and format of these messages anyways. Be spontaneous with your engagement and customer service rather than your content.

 An example an editorial calendar for a social media marketing plan
An example editorial calendar

Make sure your calendar reflects the mission statement you’ve assigned to each social profile. If the purpose of your LinkedIn account is to generate leads, make sure you are sharing enough lead generation content. Hootsuite’s Senior Director of Social Media Jaime Stein recommends establishing a content matrix that defines what share of your profile is allocated to different types of posts. For example: 

  1. 50% of your content will drive back to the blog
  2. 25% of your content will be curated from other source
  3. 20% of your content will drive enterprise content
  4. 5% of your content will be HR and culture

If you’re unsure of how to allocate your resources, a safe bet is to follow the Social Media Rule of Thirds.

  • ⅓ of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • ⅓ of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • ⅓ of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.

Step 6: Test, evaluate and adjust your social media marketing plan 

To find out what adjustments need to be made to your social media marketing strategy, you should constantly be testing. Build testing capabilities into every action you take on social networks. Track your links using url shorteners and utm codes. Use Hootsuite’s social media analytics to track the success and reach of social campaigns. Track page visits driven by social media with Google analytics. Record and analyze your success and failures, and then adjust your social media marketing plan in response.

Surveys are also a great way you can gauge success. According to Jaime Stein, these work both online and offline. Ask your social media followers, email list and website visitors how you’re doing on social media. This direct approach is often very effective. Then ask your offline customers if social media had a role in their purchasing. This insight might prove invaluable when you look for where to improve. 

The most important thing to understand about your social media plan is that it should be constantly changing. As new networks emerge, you may want to add them to your plan. As you attain goals, you may need to adjust them or find new goals for each network. New challenges might present themselves that you need to address. As you scale your business, you might need to add new roles or grow your social presence for different branches or countries. This is a plan that is meant to change, so be flexible and open to these changes. Rewrite your strategy to reflect your latest insight, and make sure your team is aware of what has been updated. 

Learn more about how to measure social media ROI for your business.

Enhance your social media marketing plan with a social media management tool.

Sign up for a 30-day Free trial of Hootsuite Pro!

Enhance my social media marketing plan 

Denise 5pts

Thanks for the article.  I was glad to see that you do not believe that every business needs to be on every type of social media.  It looks like I have a lot of work to do to develop my campaigns. 

Denise 5pts

Thanks for the suggestions.  It is good to see

George Koukeas
George Koukeas 5pts

Good article, Evan.  I think systematically and therefore like the "Steps" format you put your info in. 

madhi 5pts

Thank you so much ... Very informative article for my studies .... Thanks !!!!!!

Andrea Guarini
Andrea Guarini 5pts

Evan, thank you so much! It is defenetily one of the best articles I have read  recentely. The difference with the others is that it is so concrete and useful in day by day activities.

JewelRahman 5pts

Hey Evan,

Really awesome post. When I search in Google about facebook marketing strategy then discover your useful post. Here you discuss how to create social media marketing which can bring a success for me. Social media objectives is very good point which I like. Over all nice post. Thanks a lot Evan.

Lamineric 5pts

I'm a social media manager for 3 years now ! And this is the best article i've read so far. And it's for free. Thank you  Evan. 

evanlepage moderator 5pts

@Lamineric Thanks so much for the kind words. Glad you found value in this post!

LawrenceWisdom 5pts

Don't normally comment on these kind of things but just had to tell you how helpful this was! Great post. It's definitely realigned my social media focus to where it should be. Thank you.

nora_flint 5pts

Great Article !! Above mentioned plans are quite useful. Thanks!

manchic 5pts

Thanks for posting. Great article with useful information 

Darcy Grady
Darcy Grady 5pts

Appreciate the post.  The 6 steps are very useful!  I really like the social media rules of thirds. 

Nina 5pts

I love this article!  Very helpful and informative! I especially love the example editorial calendar. Is there a place I can find this template? 

writerthanmost 5pts

This was so helpful! Thank you very much for the awesome insight.

JamesWiliam 5pts

Nice post, just shows how many great plan there is out there! Above mentioned plans are quite useful. Thanks!

Atul Kumar
Atul Kumar 5pts

Thanks for this great social Media management plan which is shared here. 

Katherine400 5pts

Thanks for the post.  I'm interested in your opening comment 'you cant just wing it anymore'.  How do you think social media management/strategy has developed over time?  A lot of firms still seem to start just because someone (often young and relatively junior) is keen to do it.  Do you think this progression is changing?



evanlepage moderator 5pts

@Katherine400 I do think the times are changing, as businesses see big brands putting a lot of time and resources behind social media campaigns. Once major brands start taking the medium seriously, smaller businesses tend to follow suit. Plus, mistweets and other social screw ups have made brands hesitant to leave social in the hands of junior employees. Thanks for reading Katherine.

shaherzad 5pts

thank you for all these special information ..


adityageeky 5pts

Thanks ! will be applying the tactics you've analyzed deeply 

AlistairHann 5pts

This is a great post. But would be nice to see some examples of small companies using social media well. e.g. I create all content and manage all channels for my company (in between writing all marketing copy for web and print). So although I can take some inspiration from the activity of Coke and Wallmart, it mainly depresses me because there is simply no way I can implement a plan even 1000th as good.

social Media Singapore
social Media Singapore 5pts

These 6 steps are the efficient way to create social media marketing. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful ides. 

Louise H
Louise H 5pts

Hi Evan, I've used this guide for setting up Hootsuite and getting started at my new job. Thank you. As part of my new job I've inherited two Facebook sites .... targeting the same audience. Any advice - should I remove one and lose loads of followers? eeeekkkks

evanlepage moderator 5pts

@Louise H Hi Louise. This is a tough one. Are the followers on both of these pages engaging with your content? The number of followers only matters if they're actually engaged and participating on your pages. I might drop the page whose followers are less engaged and then focus my attention in full on the other page. Short term loss in follower numbers could lead to long term gains in engagement, which is more valuable to you and your business. Good luck!

Will in DC
Will in DC 5pts

Hi: @evanlepage Does this apply to public sector/governments as well? I find that a lot of social media marketing blogs and tips are really for $$$ profit corporations. Which is fine but sometimes I wonder if it's all transferable to cause stuff (non-profits) and governments services (even at international level) who either have a different mission other than profit and "branding" or they have different governancs structures. 

This is more a question than a criticism, but I wonder what you and others think. 

evanlepage moderator 5pts

@Will in DC @evanlepage Hi Will. Great question. I think the same principles apply for public sector and government orgs. They still need to identify the goals of their social presence (probably awareness vs sales for example), conduct sm audits, create accounts, track analytics, etc. Public sector orgs do have additional considerations to take into account however. They face greater security challenges and compliance restrictions for example, and all of these should find their way into their social media strategies.

Shaylah 5pts

Great information, thank you!

DavidJackman 5pts

Great blog bud. Im currently trying to establish a social media presence for an NGO, would you have any suggestions on how to optimise our reach through twitter, instagram etc.? Thanks a load.

andieshire 5pts

I just wanted to say this post has helped me tremendously and thanks so much for sharing such wonderful tips! Now I have a marketing plan and can only hope in time it pays off.

Dan 5pts

There’s a reason why nearly all the major corporations spend millions a year to keep their web presence active and engaging.

Strengthening your image on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest lets your customers interact with you on an entirely new level.

Simply put, the longer you can keep your company in the heads of those motivated customers, the better the chance of them coming to YOU when they need your product.

Punchy Social Media can keep that online presence fresh, interesting and providing amazing value at the same time.

SusanCaldwell 5pts

I really like the way you have elaborate the social media marketing plans ,I really like your content plan strategy and visual screenshots are great way to explain ..

Jon Whitbeck
Jon Whitbeck 5pts

Incredibly thorough! Even if I can't implement all of these, you offer some rich strategies to improve the effectiveness of my social media reach & engagement.

Sue Peterson1
Sue Peterson1 5pts

I agree with Trevor.  We are also very lean and it's tough to get good content coming in at a steady stream let alone trying to monitor the social media sites.  What do you recommend when we need to start small and then eventually hire somebody to take this responsibility? 

Jon Whitbeck
Jon Whitbeck 5pts

@Sue Peterson1 Social media requires strong and consistent efforts. Strategic, quality content is key, but regular, active engagement is critical for success. I think it's really difficult for most folks to do social media marketing and management effectively. As you say, start small, but eventually you'll likely need to enlist qualified support.

K_Cisnero 5pts

@Sue Peterson1 A social media marketing plan is essential for any big or small company. It's like your company's handbook to social media. And if you start early you'll be able to succeed later on when you do get bigger. You'll also be more equipped for when your engagement on social media increases.

Steve Walsh
Steve Walsh 5pts

Good list, but it's more than steps. It's clearly identifying your ideal customer sets, each with their own personas. Then aim to build a long-term relationship with them. Sometimes you need a Pro to help you.

TrevorRasmussen 5pts

Do people really have time to create a detailed social media posting plan? Maybe if I had someone around that was focused on JUST social I could see that happening but we are too lean. 

JBL Online Marketing
JBL Online Marketing 5pts

@TrevorRasmussen Try setting your editorial calendar up well in advance.  I would start really small, with one goal and one channel.  While this is an excellent article and filled with great information it can be overwhelming trying to do it  yourself when your small and starting out.  :-)