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How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

I met Nadja Specht recently — she runs a social media marketing company for small busineses.

I asked her some questions to help us figure out how to create a social media marketing plan.

Social Media Marketing Nadja Specht

Social Media Marketing Nadja Specht

Q: Let’s start off with your definition of social media marketing, Nadja.

I would like to start out by breaking the term down into its two components: social media and marketing.

So what is marketing? It is the systematic approach to generating interest in your products and services.

You start out with strategic questions such as:

  • “Who is my ideal customer?”
  • “What is my competition doing?”
  • “What should be my overall message?”

Then you decide which tactics to use (print, TV, online etc.).

What about social media?

Social media sums up the suite of tools and features that are available online to share information and collaborate with peers.

Now, what is the result if you combine the two?

Social media marketing is best illustrated by highlighting the following three steps:

1.  Integrating with the overall marketing plan

Social media marketing starts out with the integration into the overall marketing plan. It has to follow the same strategic direction that was developed in the overall marketing plan (remember the marketing questions above?).

2.  Deciding on the right social media tools

A key element of social media marketing is to decide which social media tools should be used. This depends heavily on the specific situation of each business, which should be reflected in the marketing plan.

Not only do you need to decide on the right tools, but also on the right sequencing and how they interact with each other in your social media ecosystem.

3.  Creating a community

Now that you have decided on which tools to use, based on your integrated marketing plan, the next task is to identify the right content and format that your audience is looking for.

Again, this needs to be in line with your overall messaging. But be aware that once the content is out, it takes on a life of its own.

That’s my long-winded explanation of what social media marketing is!

Q: Should all businesses have some type of social media marketing plan?


However, the extent of the social media marketing plan might be very different from one company to another.

Take a company that manufactures and sells wheel-chairs to elderly people as an example.

If studies show that their ideal customer base are not tech-savvy with only 30% being online (illustrative number), then your social media marketing plan might be almost none existent.

However, you need to go through the full exercise of marketing planning and social media planning in order to come up with that conclusion.

In addition, a few years from now the situation might be very different, so you should lay some social media groundwork for the next generation of wheel-chair users.

Q: What social media marketing strategies are effective for a business to grow, profit or organize?

There is really no single perfect strategy – it all depends on the specific situation of each business. The strategy will flow out of your overall marketing plan.

Q: Would you share some basic social media marketing tactics that businesses could do right away?

While you work on developing your social media marketing plan – which everyone should start right away – start doing the following things:

1) Make any existing content that you already have online shareable

The best way to do this is by adding a share button from AddThis . This is a button that allows a visitor to use dozens of different forms (email, Twitter, Facebook, bookmark, etc.) to share the content they are  reading on your website.

Don’t worry – it is very clean and simple to use. You just have to get the code from the AddThis website and add it wherever you want on your website.

Have a look at my website for an example. Please note that there are a variety of providers that offer share buttons e.g. ShareThis, Addtoanny and more.

2) Start writing a blog

What’s key is that you develop a repository of valuable information that people will find when they search for a specific topic on the internet. Blogs are a great tool for doing this.

Even if you want to hold off with installing a blog on your website, start writing content for your future blog anyway and save the blog posts on your computer for right now.

A blog becomes basically more of a traffic generator for your “main” website pages that include information about your services and products.

For example, an immigration attorney that specializes in helping Mexican immigrants should start writing a regular blog about issues and new laws concern his client base.

When someone goes on the internet and searches for answers in that field, they will very likely end up on his blog.

3)  Play around with it

Theory only gets you so far with social media. To truly grasp the magnitude and potential of the various social media tools, you have to experience it for yourself.

So start setting up personal accounts for all the major tools (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) and play around with them.

Do it on a regular basis for a couple of months and you will start to get a feel for how this world works.

With some experience, you will be much better equipped to decide which tools to use for your business.

Q: When we had coffee, you mentioned a software tool called Hoot Suite — would you describe what that allows?

HootSuite started out as a web based twitter application that developed into a full fledged social media management tool. HootSuite recently started integrating Facebook and LinkedIn.

Now you can manage profiles, schedule updates and track clicks for all three major social media tools conveniently from one interface.

A variety of neat little features come with HootSuite such as link shortening, tracking of clicks on your individual updates (if they include a link), multi-column view and more.

A key element of social media success is to be very productive during a pre-determined period of time you spend on it each day.

It is easy to get sucked into it and spend half a day on checking tweets, wall posts and more. Hence productivity suites such as HootSuite are a must.

Q: Since you run a social media marketing agency, I’m curious, when do you think businesses should outsource their social media marketing to a firm likes yours (versus doing it in-house)?

There are three scenarios where I recommend outsourcing your social media activities:

1.  You have no talent in-house and don’t plan to hire someone (and you are not inclined to learn all the details yourself).

2.  You have no time to dedicate to social media or think that your time is better spent on some other parts of your business

3.  You don’t enjoy social media and basically have to force yourself to learn about it and to actively participate and grow your social media ecosystem.

You might be surprised that I don’t mention cost as a key motivator for outsourcing. With social media it is all about quality!

Think about it: your brand is shaped and sharpened by your social media activities — you directly interact with customers, prospects and potential advocates.

Therefore this is an area that you don’t want to outsource to the lowest bidder, but to someone that truly understands the social media ecosystem and is willing to learn all about your business.

Q: What are some secrets of social media marketing that you’ve learned that you believe most businesses don’t know?

I would like to sum it up in one word – “Patience.”

Business owners need to be aware of the following points when starting their social media journey:

  • It takes time to build and grow a community.
  • You might not see an ROI right away.
  • You need to be truly committed to it
  • It’s not a sales vehicle

Q: Do you have a favorite social media marketing blog you read (other than your own)?

Mashable is definitely the authority out there on social media. I receive their daily digest to stay on top of what new developments are on the horizon.

It’s definitely not a blog for the social media novice and requires some pre-existing knowledge, however  everyone should be able to get there fairly quickly.

Q: Your firm Nuvota provides a number of social marketing services. Would you describe them and tell people how they can get in touch with you?

Sure! So as it relates to social media, we provide the following three types of services:

1) Social Media Planning DIY Kit

We specifically developed a DIY (do-it-yourself) kit for business owners that would like to do the social media planning themselves and just need a structured guide.

Our DIY kit ensures that you think through all the key questions and end up with a very tangible and measurable social media plan.

2) Social Media Coaching

This 6-week program is designed for the complete social media novice who prefers to interact with a social media coach.

In weekly 60-minute one-on-one sessions, we will teach you all the key social media fundamentals you need to know and guide you through the completion of your own social media plan.

3) Social Media Outsourcing

Here we offer to take complete ownership of your social media activities.

First we develop a social media plan that we validate with you. From there we implement the various social media tactics (Facebook page, Twitter account etc.) and maintain them on a regular basis.

Each week you will receive a detailed report on what’s happening in your social media ecosystem (what people are saying about your brand, how many people became your fans, etc.).

We are also currently offering a free report titled “Top 50 social media tools every business should know about.”

For any questions you can best reach me at [email protected].

Thanks, Nadja!