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Published March 9th 2022

The 5-Step Social Media Marketing Plan

We cover what goes into a successful social media plan, from finding the right metrics to identifying your target audience and more.

What makes a successful social media marketing strategy plan?

Aside from being clear, concise, and measurable, it also needs to outline your goals for the year, or a set time period, and how you’ll achieve them.

In this guide to effective social media strategy planning, we will look at five actionable steps that you should take to ensure your brand produces an ambitious yet attainable social media marketing strategy.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Audit your previous social media performance

Before you can start considering your social media marketing strategy, it is crucial that you gain an in-depth understanding of your brand’s social performance in the previous year, half-year, or quarter. We’ll speak in terms of “years” for the purposes of this guide.

Look carefully at the metrics from each social channel so you can see where and how you have generated leads, driven traffic to your website, pushed social follows, and increased conversions.

Make sure you align these results with the goals you set for the previous year. Although a high number of likes and shares of a particular campaign you ran may look encouraging, ultimately you need to ensure every campaign is achieving its specific pre-defined objectives.

Tracking social metrics in relation to your brand’s social goals will allow you to monitor whether your social media performance has been successful in terms of ROI (return on investment).

After you have fully audited your year’s social performance, you will have a clear understanding of your 2020 successes and failures. You can then use this information to plan an effective social media marketing strategy for 2021.

 Step 2: Define your social media marketing goals for 2021

Social media marketing goals should always be closely aligned with your company’s wider goals. Marketing goals can vary greatly depending on your industry, the size of your company, your audience, your competition, and many other factors. However, potential goals could include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Building a community on social
  • Generating leads
  • Boosting sales

Your social media audit should also feed into goal setting, as it will give you a clear picture of what needs to be achieved in the coming year.


  • When setting goals for your 2021 social media marketing strategy, use SMART criteria to determine what success will look like for each of these goals, and how to track what is contributing to this success. SMART stands for:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Break each goal down, documenting what you want to achieve, so you have measurable and attainable objectives to work towards. Then identify which key metrics should be used to measure your progress toward your targets.

For example, if you have a goal of generating leads, what metrics should you track and what are the measures of success?

  • Number of leads: Specify how many leads you’re aiming to collect, and how this number breaks down across the different social media platforms.
  • Content metrics: Track metrics based on content type, designs, images, ad campaigns, etc., to understand what content is performing the best.
  • In-depth data: Dig down to determine the long-term impact your social goals are having on your business. Analyze which social channels, campaigns, content, and other elements are driving leads that then convert into paying and returning customers. This data can then be used to prove ROI.
  • By defining your goals, and what metrics to track to measure their success, your social media marketing strategy immediately becomes a useful and workable document.

It is inevitable that you will have numerous assumptions about your audience. But to truly understand your fans and followers on social media, you need to analyze your data. Social analytics will enable you to identify key information like:

  • Demographics such as age, gender, interests, education, employment, etc.
  • Topics discussed, comments written, hashtags used, and posts liked and shared.
  • Overall numbers across networks.

Once you have a better insight into your audience, and how they are behaving on social media, the next step is to create audience personas.

Step 3: Create audience personas

Whatever your business, your audience will be made up of different audience ‘groups’. Break down the data to find out who your different audience groups are, where they all hang out on social media, what content they are engaging with, and more.

For each audience group, you should then create a persona, helping to clearly define who your followers are.

The insights gleaned from your audience personas should be used to tailor your social media marketing strategy and help you to develop clear strategies to ensure you engage with all target audiences on social media. Audience personas should inform content creation, marketing campaigns, ad targeting, and more to ensure conversions against your goals.

Step 4: Identify distribution channels and key times to post

It is important that you identify your key distribution channels and define your strategies for each channel. Last year, Statista identified the most important social media platforms for marketers worldwide.

According to Statista, 59% of marketers said Facebook was their most effective social channel, with Instagram at 17%, LinkedIn at 14%, Twitter at 3%, and Pinterest at just 1%.

However, although these generic stats are useful at providing a bigger picture, knowledge of how your own brand and audience interact on social is much more powerful.

Research will show the social media platforms where your audience is most active and engaged with your niche and brand. This will help you determine where to focus the majority of your resources.

Determine the purpose of each social media platform

Your marketing strategies will differ for each social media platform. For example, it may be that you will use Facebook to create an interactive community via your Facebook page and groups, while on Instagram you promote your products through beautiful images.

Your social media marketing strategy should document your brand’s purpose on each social media platform. You can then adapt your content and actions on each platform accordingly. Use your audit from 2020, as well as your audience data and audience personas, to help you determine each channel’s purpose and what content performs best on it.

Here is a rule-of-thumb breakdown for each of the major networks:

  • Facebook: Often geared towards news and entertainment, you might want to keep your content light and entertaining. And video content performs the best here.
  • Twitter: Twitter is more a news platform. Curation and retweeting are thus encouraged here. You definitely want to focus on trending hashtags and topics.
  • LinkedIn: The professional network where industry articles, interesting data and short, to-the-point sentences go a long way.
  • Instagram: A platform well suited for visual brands. Pictures, call-out quotes, and short videos are doing well here.
  • Pinterest: Also great for visual brands as it’s completely geared towards imagery. Most users look for inspiration here.

Decide the key times to post

Much research has been done on when brands should be posting. By understanding when your audience is most active on social, you can post content at the optimal time for your brand, ensuring the highest levels of engagement.

Data collected from a wide variety of sources has enabled us to identify the top days and posting times on social media. Let’s take a look.

  • Facebook: Best days to post are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with the key time being 12 – 4 pm.
  • Instagram: Best days include Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, while the key time is 11 am – 1 pm.
  • Twitter: Best days to post are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday around 12 pm.
  • LinkedIn: Look to post between 5 and 6 pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

For more information on optimal days and times to post, along with the stats to back up this research, check out our article on the best times to post on social media.

Of course, along with this data, you need to study your own audience and when they are most active on social. Combining these findings will enable you to identify exactly when your brand should be posting on each channel to ensure you connect with your target audience.

This info can then be used as part of your social media marketing strategy to create an accurate and successful posting schedule.

Step 5: Check out your competitors

The last step to creating a social media strategy is to check out your competitors. You should identify:

  • Who are your closest competitors?
  • Which social channels are they using to connect with their audience?
  • What are they doing well and not so well?
  • What content are they producing and how is it performing?
  • Where do they need to improve on social?

The most effective way to do that is with social media listening.

Monitoring the sentiment around competitors’ brands and within your niche is also important. This will help you to understand which key industry terms are trending, which content and campaigns audiences are responding to, and how competitors’ strategies are changing over time.

By understanding your competitors and how they are interacting with their audiences, you will gain a better understanding of your market. You can then use these insights to better inform your social media marketing strategy.

Final thoughts on creating a social media marketing strategy

As you can see, there is much to consider for your social media marketing strategy. Use the data from your previous social media audits and dig deep to find key information on your social media performance, your audience’s behavior, and your competition’s actions.

This will ensure that you are well placed to create a precise, workable, and goal-driven social marketing strategy moving forward.

Need help making sense of your data? The Brandwatch suite is here to help.

To find out more, request a demo today.

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