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7 Steps to Strategic Social Media Planning

There’s no rocket science involved but there are logical steps that need to be made.

Global Influencer

Global Influencer
Global Influencer

As a social media influencer, I get a lot of questions every day from small business owners who want to know how to get more followers on social media. They want to know the magic formula that will have millions of social media followers knocking down their door to buy their product or service.

It’s like anything else though; it is all about strategies and planning. You’ll constantly see the 6 ways to do this or the 8 strategies to develop a plan but to me it comes down to about 7 headers that will help you identify the right strategy and how to make it work for you.

There’s no rocket science involved but there are logical steps that need to be made in order to get a social media strategic plan together that converts to sales for you. I suppose that creating a plan that will be effective needs a buy-in from all stakeholders in your company as well as a strategy that will be doable.

By the way, if you already have preconceived ideas based on your favorite social media platform you will need to have an open mind. Depending on your circumstance using certain platforms without focus will lead to ruin.

1. Define your Goals and Objectives at the outset.

Do you have a modest goal of just ‘getting your name out there’ to the masses and hope for the best? Ahghg, please stay clear of me. I am currently creating a strategic plan for one of the companies I partner with that has two goals in mind –brand awareness and finding investors for their clients. Considering that you should promote, share and engage your social media followers you will need to have clear objectives to follow. Some thought leaders believe that you should spend 80% on educating your followers and 20% promoting your brand. Successful brands will not have a sole goal of converting followers to sales.

2. Consider the Appropriate Social Platforms to work on.

I’m a Twitter (TWTR) nerd and don’t particularly use Facebook (FB) a lot but both work spectacularly well for certain goals. According to Pew Research, Twitter only has 13% followers who are between 50 and 64 years old which is the usual demographic for my investors. This might not suit my goal of converting followers to investors for our clients. With 38% daily interaction they are engaged and the cool thing is that 94% of followers who have found a company on Twitter will buy from them. Sixty –seven percent of women use Twitter for research before buying online. The highest income demographic is 25% of people earning $50-75k.

Facebook is made up of 66% male users with 79% of all users having an income of more than $75,000. Seventy-nine percent of users are in a really good age bracket, 30-49 years old, for the investors I’m looking for and with 71% of US adults, of those on the internet, as users this could be a gold mine of opportunity.

Another favorite platform of mine is LinkedIn (LNKD). With 56% male this is the primo business focused platform. Seventy-five percent of users earn more than $75K and 50% of them love B2B. It’s such a great networking tool that 76% of users rely on those recommendations you see on user profiles to help them with decision-making. Besides Facebook is famous for its’ geo-targeted ad reach. You can direct paid ads to a single city block in the financial section of your downtown if you wanted to.

I have a fondness for Instagram because I use it for fun. I post photos of my guitar collection and like others – food. This is a young demographic (55% in the 18-29 age group) with an urban centric bent. Coffee shops would do well with this platform.

3. Create the Social Media Accounts that work for you.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there is a social media platform that will help you in the promotion of your business and the conversion of lookers to buyers. While a lot of people may think more social media platforms are better, it is a double edge sword. You may reach more but your search for prospective clients will drain your resources very quickly considering someone will have to keep the fires burning on these platforms. Don’t get caught in the trap many do where the owners are doing their own social media poorly or not having dedicated resources, i.e. people managing your social media.

4. Content is always King!

As I mentioned, some thought leaders suggest that your content should be 80% educational and 20% promotional. Another way of looking at this is to split it into thirds – share, promote and engage. People are consumed with knowledge and suck it up if it is relevant. Research what your competition is doing and find out what people are reading and needing. A good idea is to direct your social media content back to your blog where it is easier to explain your product or service and convert them, get 25% of your content from other interesting users and share leaving 25% to focus on lead generation.

As far as content goes you will need to understand the types of content people want. Video is the medium today and even a very short one is better than none. You need to figure out the frequency of posts to your social media. If your focus is on North America and you use Twitter, for example, figure on four time zones to catch everyone and then spread the same content over a few days separated by intervals.

Now that you have identified your market, demographics, media platforms and what content you will distribute, figure out who will be delivering it. Sure you can use Hootsuite to disseminate your info spread over predetermined intervals but people like to ask questions and see engagement. Because I have so many followers (600k+) people assume my accounts, especially on Twitter, are done by a robot. I get the question often and when I respond immediately after a tweet it messes with their head.

Once you have the content figured out cross-collateralize it. I write articles here at Equities, cross promote it to Twitter, Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn many times in a week. It’s all good and hits different users at different times.

5. Create a Schedule

I hate using a calendar that has my day or my staff’s time struck on a schedule. I’d prefer to have people think how many times, where to and what they need to post than seeing them become robots. The people I work with are professionals and they instinctively know the rules of the game. Be creative, make someone accountable or go the automated Hootsuite approach.

6. Test, Analyze and Make Adjustments

I was never good at statistics at university but Google and the social media platforms make it easy. I like to use the A/B testing model (in marketing and web analytics, A/B testing is a controlled experiment with two variants, A and B) where I will run Facebook ads to a specific age group watch the results then switch the age group in a week to analyze the differences. Twitter will tell you what Tweets got the best results, when your tweets reached the most users, etc.

With a close monitoring of your accounts, campaigns and results you will get a quick understanding of what platforms are the best for your situation.

7. Engagement and more engagement.

In retail it’s location, location and location. In social media results come from the amount of engagement you have with users. If all you do is fire off content without answering questions, giving feedback to others whether it’s good or bad and being a good member of society understanding the people factor you might as well go back to firing off your paper flyers waiting for those 2% to respond. Those days are gone.

Social media marketing may not be rocket science but it is logical and results are based on empirical evidence. With a little effort and analysis you will have an online marketing campaign that will convert users to sales. Good hunting!

Check out my latest book, “Social Media Rockstar – Social Media Marketing for Entrepreneurs and Business” on Amazon

*Gary is the Adjunct Professor of Social Media Marketing, School of Management, New York Institute of Technology (Vancouver Campus)

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