How To Make A Social Media Marketing Plan For Your Business

You want to create a social media marketing plan for your business, but you’re not sure where to begin. As a marketing consultant, I’ve helped create social media marketing plans for everyone from Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop shops. Here’s how I do it, broken down into six easy steps.

While this post speaks to small business owners and solo entrepreneurs, its strategies can easily be adopted for larger businesses, nonprofits and other groups.

You can also check out a sample social media marketing proposal I created for a client – opens in Adobe PDF.

1. Determine capacity and need for training.

Start creating your plan by asking yourself how much time and money you can reasonably devote to social media marketing each day. How much time do you need to spend? It depends on three things:

•  The size of your business

• The size of your budget

•  The size of your goals

If you’re a solo entrepreneur who just wants to expand her reach, you may not need to spend more than 15 minutes a day on social media marketing. If you’re a business such as The Hershey Company, with dozens of brands, you’re going to an entire team of social media marketers in place.

Also ask yourself how much social media knowledge you’re bringing to the table. Be sure to factor in time and associated costs for necessary training. This can be as simple as downloading a few free eBooks, or as complicated as taking a week-long social media workshop.

2. Listen.

Before you start planning what to post, check out social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see what your customers are already talking about. This is also a good time to find out which of your competitors are online, what kind of content they’re posting, and how often.

A good way to monitor the chatter – and find influencers in your market – is to perform a keyword search in directories such as WeFollow or LinkedIn Groups. What topics seem to generate the most responses? What topics go ignored? Jot down any trends you notice. They’ll come in handy when you’re crafting your own content.

3. Choose your mediums and monitoring tools.

Most social media users can be found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You may want to choose one social media site to start, then move into others when you feel more comfortable. Or you may want to create marketing plans for all three, plus a few niche sites. Whatever you choose, just make sure your social media marketing plan is sustainable over the long haul.

Next, figure out how you’re going to monitor each social media account. Will you set your Facebook profile to email you whenever someone posts on your page, or will you check in manually? If you check in manually, how often?

For Twitter, you can set your phone or social media browser to alert you whenever someone sends  a reply or direct message. You should also consider setting up a Google Alert of your business name to monitor any mentions happening outside of your account.

Hootsuite Screen Shot

You can also choose to monitor the web using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Seesmic, or any of the new social media monitoring tools that keep popping up around the web.

4. Crafting Your Content

Fourth, figure out what you’re going to post on each social media account and how often. If you have a schedule of special promotions or events, you may want to schedule some posts and tweets leading up to each event.

The timing of your posts can greatly impact the effectiveness of your social media marketing. As you post content, you may want to try different times of day and different days of the week to see which ones generate the most responses.

You may also want to make a list of potential sources to pull information from, for when you’re having a slow week. (I keep mine in a folder in Google Reader.) These posts doesn’t have to be scheduled, but it helps to have their sources identified beforehand so you don’t have to search for them later. Otherwise, your social media channels may start to look like this:

Social Media Ghost Town

5. Planning Your Responses

Fifth, brainstorm all the possible situations that could happen on your social media account. Perhaps someone posts a legitimate complaint to your Twitter profile. Maybe they use your Facebook page to complain about something that’s not legitimate. How will you judge? How will you reply?

Maybe someone uses your Facebook page to promote his business, or post obscene photos. What will you leave up? What will you delete?

When mapping out scenarios, remember to account for the good things, too. What if someone posts a compliment? Will you respond? Can you create a strategy that leverages positive feedback in future marketing?

It helps to have a response mapped out for every situation, especially if you’re responsible for the social media marketing of a large company or group of people. That way, you don’t have to worry about making the wrong move.

6. Evolve

Eventually something will happen that doesn’t have a planned response. Adapt your social media plan as needed. You may hire an assistant, and need to create an appendix to the social media plan that spells out who’s responsible for doing what.

By getting everything in writing, you have a living document to guide your efforts and clue you in to elements you haven’t yet considered.

For more social media resources, check out this awesome online database of social media policies from companies around the globe. You can also check out the top 10 sites for social media marketing trends, as collected by Pivot Conference:

Have you created a social media marketing plan for your small business? What have you learned along the way? Let me know in the comments section.

17 Responses to How To Make A Social Media Marketing Plan For Your Business

  • Ken Mueller says:

    I feel your pain, but I suspect a lot of this frustration is due to the fact that you’re an insider. I have a troll who is in the marketing business who constantly posts passive aggressive comments on Twitter like “Oh, just what we need, another post on such and such a topic”.

    I finally called him out and said “Then don’t read them. They’re not for you anyway”. As marketers we follow a lot of marketers and therefore we see a lot of the same stuff. But despite the number of marketers that follow me, my posts aren’t really for them. My posts are geared toward small business owners and those that work for them. People who don’t have a marketing department and can’t afford to hire one. I can’t speak for others, but that’s who I’m trying to reach.

    As for plans, I work with each client individually to help craft something that works for them, however I’m more in the education and strategy/tactics realm, and less in the actual implementation realm. I don’t “do” the day to day social media for my clients so it changes things up a bit.

    And I like your four-step plan. I think the key to a plan is to make a plan, but be flexible. It’s just like life…it doesn’t happen on schedule.
    Ken Mueller recently posted…Social Media is Everyone’s Job

  • People who don’t have a marketing department and can’t afford to hire one. I can’t speak for others, but that’s who I’m trying to reach

  • Kelly Watson says:

    Thanks, Ken. Great insights. I very much agree.

  • Kelly Watson says:

    Perhaps a little, but I think the people who sound like used car sales men will get weeded out pretty quickly. No one responds to a hard sales pitch on social media, so they’re not going to get many results … and eventually they’ll give up or find a new, less aggressive method.

  • Kelly Watson says:

    Great tips, Sandy. Thanks for sharing them!

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  • Karrie says:

    What just surprised me is that although your blog has a Facebook button for liking a post I cannot find you on Facebook even though I have searched. Originally clicked LIKE on a post but when I couldn’t find you I then deleted it and fairly confident that as I tend to follow blog posts from within FB and never use RSS cos I don’t see taht page … I will highly likely forget you and your good posts exist!! What think you?

    PS Yes our website is being re-designed as we speak!!

  • Kelly Kautz says:

    Thanks for letting me know, Karrie! I decided not to have a separate One Woman Marketing Facebook page, but the blog is connected to Facebook via Networked Blogs, and you can always “friend” my personal page. There’s a link at the top right.

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  • Christopher Kimball says:


    Great post. I am the type of person who lives by a plan, and I believe that it has helped me to have the successes I have had in my life. Step #6 is so important for people like me. Sometimes there are incidents that come about that you have not planned for. To be able to proactively handle unforeseen issues is a sign that you have taking your communication abilities to the next level. I am always estatic to learn about proven proposals and tools.

    I have experimented with monitor tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck and have found that I waste more time using these tools then when I use the various traditional social media interfaces. That being said, I still struggle with the amount of time I am dedicating using social media. For personal branding, do you have any additional suggestions to have continued success while miminize time spent online.

    Wonderful blog and I look forward to following you more closely in 2012. Happy New Years!

  • Kelly Kautz says:

    Thanks, Christopher! To answer your question, I would focus your efforts on the mediums and audiences that have the most impact for you. I’ve tried driving new traffic to my blog through forum participation, for example, but have never had much success with that method. Doing guest blog posts is a much better use of my time. That won’t be true for all businesses, but by tracking your results closely you can tell which methods give you the best results. (The Pareto Principle is also a good thing to keep in mind.)

  • I’ll go out on a limb here.. and suggest to just pick two.

    Yep, two social media platforms.. and do them well. In other words spend time on the two you’ve selected and truly build meaningful relationships, rather than be scattered.

    I believe it’s more beneficial to your business and it’s a heck of a lot less stressful.

    dee :)
    Dee@ SmallHouseLife recently posted…IKEA Small House Plan 621 Square Feet

  • Kelly Kautz says:

    Great advice, Dee. Just doing two social media platforms well can be a full-time job in itself!

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  • Great article, however what about Youtube? It says most users can be found on Facebook, Twitter & Linked in? Not true. The best web site for many social media campaigns is Youtube. We’ve implemented youtube strategies with a number of clients from various industries – and this worked really well for us. Some of the last success stories – is getting 1,200+ visits to our web sites off a $60 product review for one of the online stores. Imagine what you can do with larger budgets.

    Sergey Kultyshev
    CEO of Matreshka Social Media Marketing Agency
    Sergey Kultyshev recently posted…Matreshka Flyer?

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