How to Build a (Basic) Social Marketing Plan

How do we make the most out of social media? Should we even be on it? What will we do there that can help the business? On this latest partnership with Writer’s Block Philippines, I discussed a basic mindset (and framework) to help build a working social marketing plan.

Two Major Themes

First: let’s get this out of the way. A “social marketing strategy” is not some magical, out of this world strategy that only a select few understand. It’s essentially your businesses’ marketing strategy – applied and experienced in a social world.

Second, we must understand that to build a functional social marketing plan, we need to divide it into two major themes.

There’s the part where we explore opportunities on social – the real problem we are trying to solve – and then, the possible solutions for these problems.

Then there’s the part where we identify the role of social (super important), and high-level content themes – the ‘big picture’ content that dictates what we should communicate on our social platforms.

Six Actionable Steps

For the first major theme, our task is to essentially unlock a meaningful role that a brand can play in people’s lives. It’s why we buy a certain laptop, use a certain service, or visit a certain store. It’s more than a logo: it’s unexplainably meaningful to us in one way or another (and it’s useless to try and explain it, believe me).

  1. Begin with the end in mind. Before we are even allowed to think of creative executions, we must be aware of the clear and present objectives. Why are we doing this in the first place? What is the picture of success at the end of this social marketing campaign? Objectives will help set the team on the right track, and ensure all efforts are single-minded in their purpose.
  2. Unlock the Truth. Great ideas are infinite, we like to say. But great insights, on the other hand, can make or break a social marketing campaign. We must be clear on what the human insight is, what ‘the north star’ of the campaign will be. What is the single, powerful, powder keg of a Truth that we can communicate on social?
  3. Find the meaningful role. The brand, regardless of category or industry, must be meaningful to its consumers in one way or another to survive, let alone succeed. Meaningfulness can mean many things; useful, helpful, entertaining – the list runs long. The role that the brand plays in people’s lives will help it stand out and be far more mentally available for consumers, new and current.

For the second major theme, our task is to discover how people will experience our brand (and its message) on social media. This part can be tricky as deep knowledge about the consumer, strong familiarity with how the brand is perceived, and of course social platform know-how are required.

  1. The consumer journey map that never ends. The issue I have with journey maps that end with ‘brand loyalty’ is precisely the fact that they end; we hit a wall. What if we go for ‘brand advocacy‘ instead? What if we create social marketing campaigns that, at post-brand-experience (literally), people can’t help but feel good about the brand that they talk about it on the most social of spaces?
  2. Pick battles smartly and wisely. We don’t have to be on every social platform to be successful. We can thrive by being excellent on two to three, and learn/innovate on other platforms if the need arises. We also shouldn’t forget that each of the moving parts of our social marketing strategy cannot work in isolation – we must ask, “How will each of these work with the other?
  3. Take people on an experience journey. High-level content themes serve as guides, to direct what the audience experience on social. We can start by identifying their maturity based on the consumer journey map. Where they are there should guide the types of experiences they get via our content themes. There’s no sense in introducing a product to a frequent buyer group who are ready to join an email subscription list, for instance.

Hack Sheet:

  • The Fundamental Social Strategy Framework. Please see Slide 13 in the companion deck in this article. This framework is a list of questions that need to be addressed in order to build the social marketing plan. Feel free to empty out the boxes and print them out for team members!

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