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7 steps to a social media plan that works

Social media lies at the core of online marketing and networking in today’s digital world, and this holds true for brands across industries. Companies that leverage their social media plan and presence well reap the rewards of increased reach and engagement among target groups.
In a world that moved on to Web 2.0 and open source branding a while ago, and where the countdown for Web 3.0 has already begun, it is becoming increasingly important to master digital content marketing in order to get more leads into our sales funnel. By definition, Web 2.0 lays greater emphasis on collaboration and user-generated content – in short, what assumes great importance is the way content is designed, generated and used (O'Reilly, 2005). It is also characterized by a huge growth in social media. In a scenario where Google AdSense has long ago replaced the double click, social media management, if planned and executed carefully, can yield rich dividends to digital marketers and social media managers of brands.
Kietzmann, et al, 2011, define social media as mobile and web-based technologies creating highly interactive platforms via which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. A more pithy definition is:
Social media = Web 2.0 + User generated content
Read on to arrive at 7 steps to a successful and effective social media plan that can maximise returns for your business.

1) Start with an audit:

A brand audit will show you where your brand is today

Alpha Stock Images –

To start with a successful social media plan, first conduct a social media audit for your brand (Armelini, and Villanueva, 2011). When we talk of interaction, collaboration and user-generated content, it is imperative to know your brand and analyse its core strengths and weaknesses. This should happen before you even start working on a social media plan. This step is also important to help tailor-make your social media strategy best suited to your brand, because in online marketing more than anywhere else, one size certainly does not fit all. A social media audit will help determine your current audience and interactions. It will also help you get an overview of your pages, accounts and other presence. This will also help you decide which of these you want to delete, merge, or continue.

2) Set your social media objectives and map your goals:

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals will take you closer to success

Accepting where you are may be an important first step. What is equally important is to identify where you want to go. These are the two most important steps that will determine the path that you have to follow to get there. Also keep your focus on larger business objectives; this will also smoothen your way to getting support from top management, and more importantly, approvals for any investments you might want to make. This is important more so because online networking seems to be largely perceived in many places as not contributing significantly to business objectives. Hence, a critical step here is also to determine how you will measure success and return on investment.

We highly recommend setting S.M.A.R.T. goals here. If your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound, there is a much higher likelihood that you will be successful in achieving what you set out to achieve (Moran, 2013).

One quick example of a S.M.A.R.T. social media goal could be: ‘We will make 5 posts a week on Facebook directly related to our products benefits to achieve 50% increase in people who like our FB page’.

3) Select relevant social media platforms:

Being present in the right groups is as critical as deciding the right message

Most critical to maximising reach and engagement, is to ensure that you get the relevant content across to the right groups (Armelini, and Villanueva, 2011). The focused question you need to ask yourself while selecting platforms is: is my target audience present here? It also helps to ask how the platform is used by users. Understanding your audience is a crucial step in creating a winning social media strategy. It is always better to maintain an impactful presence on fewer social media platforms, than to try to be present everywhere without being able to create any real impact. Air BnB’s ‘live there’ campaign inspired its target audience with the feel of living in, and not just visiting different destinations (

4) Study the competitive landscape:

Learning from other brands’ success, or failure, can act as an inspiration

A great source of inspiration, especially when just starting out, is looking at what other, more successful brands are doing on social media platforms. Learn from what is working for them, and sometimes, also what did not work! Uber leveraged the power of using word-of-mouth marketing by offering incentives to riders in return for a share on social media (

5) Plan your content:

A well-planned content calendar is a pre-requisite for a successful social media plan

Content planning cannot be emphasized enough if you want to achieve success with your social media plan. So, while content will probably come from both internal users and external stakeholders, it is important to have a plan in place. Your social media content calendar will decide how often, and who will post, or create content, and what will you post about. The content calendar will also help you keep abreast of schedules for posts, so you can plan well in advance. The calendar should include a plan for normal daily posts, as well as any social media campaigns you want to build on. To round it off, include a plan for promoting the content.

6) Find your tone:

It is important to find the right voice and tone in your social media posts

Depending on what your brand personality is, you will arrive at the type of posts; you will also determine how you want your audience to perceive you. How often you post is important, but so is having a strategy on what type of content to post (Armelini, and Villanueva, 2011). For example, video content on Facebook gets the most engagement. Red Bull, with over 48 million followers on Facebook, is worth mentioning here, for their amazing video content that strikes the perfect balance between entertainment and information (

7) Measure, Measure, Measure:

Measuring effectiveness will help you keep your social media plan on track

Above all, this is a step I’d like to emphasize strongly for creation of a successful social media plan. What metrics you use to determine success, or otherwise, of your social media plan, will vary between industries and brands (Armelini and Villanueva, 2011). However, metrics are an important tool to determine whether the plan is working, or whether a course correction is needed. With the dynamic nature of internet marketing being such, you should use a varied set of metrics to measure effectiveness. Evaluating and, if need be, adjusting and modifying, your social media plan to achieve your goals is important for success. Constant change and evolution is key to success for your social media plan.

The thing about social media plans is that they are continuously evolving – so have fun with yours! And get great results for your brand!



Tim O’Reilly “O’Reilly Media, Inc.”, 23-Sep-2009

Kietzmann, Jan and Hermkens, Kristopher and McCarthy, Ian P. and Silvestre, Bruno, Social Media? Get Serious! Understanding the Functional Building Blocks of Social Media (April 1, 2011). Business Horizons, Vol. 54, 2011. Available at SSRN:     

Armelini and Villanueva, Adding social media to the marketing mix,The power of word of mouth, June 2011

Moran, Gerry, 2013, Smart goals to get your social media strategy in shape-Marketing Think


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8 Replies
  • Keerti lele

    March 2, 2018 at 14:55 CEST

    Good read! Step 7 is crucial to fine tune the campaign. Loved it.

    • Shalini Sharma

      March 3, 2018 at 06:08 CEST

      Thanks for the feedback, Keerti!

  • Ruben Diez

    March 14, 2018 at 14:10 CEST

    Great blog! Very instructive!

    • Shalini Sharma

      March 14, 2018 at 15:05 CEST

      Thanks Ruben!

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