A good social media proposal will help you win clients, and a great one will help you keep them.
A cross between a pitch and a contract, proposals formalize plans with clients, establish expectations, and—let’s be honest—show off just how socially savvy you are.
If you’re a freelance social media professional or social media manager at an agency, it’s likely that you have been (or will be) involved in creating a social media proposal at some point. Follow these steps to make sure your next proposal checks off all the right boxes. And then use our free template to create your own in minutes.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.
How to write a successful social media proposal
Depending on the context, proposals appear at different occasions within a company’s workflow. They may be a part of a sales development process, client pitch and acquisition bid, or just a regular re-evaluation of marketing initiatives.
But, before you can write a winning social media proposal, there’s an important research and discovery process that should happen first.
Step 1: Determine business and social media goals
Start with some key questions. What are the goals of my client’s business? What are they working toward, and how can social media help them achieve those goals?
Use the S.M.A.R.T framework to make sure your social media goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Step 2: Learn about your client’s audience
Don’t make assumptions about the client’s audience in your proposal. Collect as much data as you can and use it to develop and support your strategy. Begin by gathering general social media statistics and delve into more specifics, such as social media demographics. Then, if you can, dive into industry specific statistics.
If you already have a relationship with the client, ask them to share any data they have about their audience. And if you already have access to their social media accounts, use analytics to your advantage. If not, see what data you can glean using other social media analytics tools.
Once you’ve amassed as much information as you can, consider creating audience personas.
At this stage it doesn’t hurt to go back to Step 1 and review your goals. With these audience insights in mind, do they still make sense? If not, tweak accordingly.
Step 3: Get to know the competition
Who are your client’s key competitors? Try to identify at least five strong competitors to benchmark against. Are there any brands in analogous industries that are worth looking at?
Now that you have a clearer picture of your audience, look at the brands they are following.
Once you’ve identified competitors, make use of social listening tools, like Hootsuite streams to monitor their activity and audiences. Consider creating a matrix to map out how competitor social media efforts are positioned in relation to each other. Look for white space. It may be the gap you can fill with your social media strategy.
Improve your competitive analysis skills with this quick guide.
Step 4: Conduct a social media audit
Unless your proposal marks your client’s first foray into social media, you’re not starting from scratch. A social media proposal should take into account how the client’s current social presence can be evolved or improved upon.
Do some investigating to find out which social media channels your client is currently using. Which platforms are they strongest on and why? How have their previous social media initiatives measured up?
It may help to put your findings into a social media audit template, which you can find here.
Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.Get the free guide right now!
Step 5: Develop a content strategy
With steps 1-4 complete, you have the raw data to get to work on a content strategy.
This is where you should work out what type of content will be created or curated, how content may vary by platform, and when and how frequently it should be posted. Tone of voice, design and style should also be defined.
Use your client as a resource as much as possible. A brand mission statement, style guide, or brand book are important references if your client can provide them. You should also ask your client what brands inspire them.
Here are a few more steps to factor into a social media marketing strategy.
Tips for writing a social media proposal
Now that you’ve conducted research and developed a strategy, you’ll need to put your findings into a logical and presentable framework.
Write the executive summary and introduction last
Obviously this should come first in your social media proposal, but you may find it easier to write this part last. In this section, provide an overview of proposal. Summarize the need(s) for the proposed project, anticipated results, and budget and resource requirements.
Don’t forget to introduce yourself! Briefly present your company, its mission statement and relevant experience, and the team members who will be involved in the current project. (If it’s a large team, then focus on the client-facing employees, or the key members.)
Address the client’s needs and objectives
This section is an opportunity to show the client that you understand the needs and goals of their business. Keep it simple and be as specific as possible so that you leave little room for discrepancy or ambiguity.
Leverage your research from Step 1 and Step 4 to clearly identify the organization’s needs and/or problems. You can use point form to list each one. Follow this by stating your client’s business goals or objectives. Make sure each goal passes the S.M.A.R.T test (mentioned above).
Present social media goals and objectives
State approximately three to five social media goals. Again, these goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Each objective should specify the platform(s), the metric, and an end date. For example: Increase Facebook followers by 25 percent by the end of the year.
Remember, these goals should help achieve the client’s overall business objectives. And don’t overpromise. If you set goals that are too ambitious, that will likely become clear as you layout your tactics and schedule. Clients like ambition, but overselling will either weaken your proposal or damage your relationship down the line.
Outline your tactics
This may be the most important section of a social media proposal. Here you’ll bring your strategy into play, backed by learnings from your audience research, and social and competitive audits.
That may sound daunting, but remember to keep things simple. Start by providing a scope of work. This may include:
- Social media promotions and campaigns
- Content creation
- Social media monitoring
- Social media engagement
- Social selling
- Lead generation
It goes without saying that these tactics should align neatly with your social media objectives. If one of your objectives is “to increase Facebook followers by 25 percent by the end of Q4” it should be clear to the client what tactics you will use in the service of accomplishing that goal.
Provide a schedule and budget
Use the charts in the social media proposal template below to create a detailed timetable and budget overview. Provide enough detail for the client to get a comprehensive understanding, but don’t bog these tables down with too many line items or details. You can always elaborate in the appendix.
Describe how you plan to measure success
Propose how your social media plan will be evaluated. Will you be providing regular updates? What analytics will you be monitoring? Which measurements will be the clear indicators of success?
Include an appendix
Your social media proposal should be succinct and straightforward. Use an appendix to breakdown more comprehensive research findings, a detailed budget, and anything else that may need additional support or elaboration.
But don’t just throw things in there without an outline. Remember, your client may circulate your document to sell your proposal internally, so make sure the appendix shows your work and strengthens your rationale.
Creating a winning social media proposal involves a fair amount of work, so don’t forget the basics. Make sure to include your contact information, and indicate that you’re available to answer any questions that may arise.
Bonus: social media proposal template
Now that you know what goes into a winning proposal, use our free template to create your own in minutes.
To fill it out, simply click the File tab in the top left corner of your browser, then select Make a copy from the drop-down menu. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have your own version to edit and share with your future clients.
Use Hootsuite to easily manage and monitor all your (or your clients’) social profiles. From a single dashboard you can schedule posts, follow relevant conversations, engage with the audience, and measure results. Try it free today.