How to Make a Social Media Plan: Crafting an Effective Strategy

September 11, 2023 12 min read

Joe Manna

Joe Manna

How to make a social media plan

To stay relevant on social media, you need a good strategy that caters to your target audience. It’s tempting to automate your social media content strategy, but the problem is that you must figure out what will work and when it will work.

A solid content plan can help you reach your marketing goals and business objectives. Also, it can amplify your brand’s voice and drive traffic to your website.

We’ll take you step by step through creating a social media marketing plan that helps you achieve your business goals.

Understanding the Importance of a Social Media Plan

Every business should create a marketing plan to boost its social media presence. 

A social media marketing plan is no longer a luxury but a necessity. This roadmap helps to align your social network activities, such as social posts, with your business goals.

Planning out your social strategy is more than having social media accounts on various platforms. These social media channels allow you to resonate with your ideal customers and engage them effectively.

And while social media is primarily used to advance digital marketing efforts, it’s common to involve other departments like customer service and product development. Doing so ensures that you’re not pigeonholed into merely posting tweets. 

So why do you need a social media plan? Perhaps this research from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) will describe why it’s critical for small businesses to invest in planning and operating their social media usage.

B2B marketers with a defined content strategy outperform those without one
Marketers with a defined content strategy tend to outperform those without one (via CMI)

Given that social media and content strategy are hard to separate, businesses with well-defined content plans generally outperform those that do not have them. 

It’s ideal to commit resources who can brainstorm scroll-stopping campaigns and give input on content creation to stay out front. 

Before you scope out the types of content and formats, you need to think about your ideal customer and your business objectives.

Unlike traditional marketing, the interactions are bidirectional. This introduces risk to some organizations. Your social media plan should anticipate customer pain points and define internal workflows. 

Social media plan checklist

What should you include in your social media strategy template? Here’s a quick checklist of what it should entail.

  • Current reality (SWOT)
  • Brand voice and positioning
  • Ideal customer research
  • Top performing content
  • Competitive examples
  • Analytics and KPIs
  • Business goals/workflows
  • Budget and resources

Leveraging social media to achieve marketing goals

Social media has reshaped how businesses connect with customers. Companies can use it to communicate with customers, build relationships, and create a community.

Businesses can learn a lot about their customers through social listening. They can discover what customers like, what they need, and their pain points. They can then use this information to improve their products, services, and social media campaigns for customers.

Moreover, social media platforms have become a key source of information for consumers. People turn to social media to discover new products, read reviews, and seek recommendations from their peers.

Benefits of a Detailed Social Media Plan

A well-structured social media marketing plan affords many benefits. It allows you to focus on outcomes, address internal and external challenges, and ensure your team understands your priorities and needs regarding social media. 

Here are some of the noteworthy benefits of a robust social strategy. 

Business integration

Social media functions aren’t on an island. They roll up to broader business objectives such as customer support, marketing, and product development. Clearly outline your social media goals to fit your business strategy. A social media marketing plan helps you to advance goals like brand awareness, website traffic, leads, and sales.

Effective posting schedule

A well-structured social media plan allows you to maintain a consistent posting schedule. Consistency is crucial in social media marketing, as it helps build brand recognition and keeps your audience engaged. With a social media content calendar, you can plan and schedule your social posts ahead of time.

Performance evaluation

Lastly, a social media plan helps you to analyze and track your performance on social media. Track engagement rate, reach, and click-throughs to see if your social media marketing is effective. Reach and post engagement are also quantifiable, even if it’s not about driving traffic to your site. 

It helps to perform brand social media audits to see what kind of content is doing well and the type that falls flat. Apply these insights to tighten your publishing workflow. 

Steps to Make an Effective Social Media Plan

With a clear understanding of the importance of a well-structured social media strategy, let’s delve into the essential steps required to create an effective social media plan.

Step 1. Define your social media goals

Defining social media goals and objectives is essential to having a clear strategy. Articulating your social media goals helps you to focus on social media and measure success or find improvement areas. 

When brainstorming social media goals, consider the overall purpose of your business. Avoid vanity metrics or simply growing followers. People quickly tune out brands that don’t give them a reason to listen. 

Social media goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For instance, instead of saying “grow followers,” a SMART goal might be “increase Instagram engagement by 15% over the next three months.”

Typical social media goals to consider include:

  • Increasing engagement
  • Scaling product and brand awareness
  • Website traffic growth
  • Speeding up social support response times
  • Growing attributed sales leads and pipeline

However, you have to present them in the SMART manner.

Step 2. Research your target audience’s social media platforms

Choosing your company’s social media channels is vital for reaching individuals in your target audience. But which social networks do they use? 

Go beyond simple demographics. By developing a few buyer personas, you can segment your social media content around a few archetypes in your customer base. 

Consider interviewing those who appear to be your typical customers. Seek to learn how they consume social media, where they get trustworthy recommendations, and the top publishers and brands they follow. 

Begin with some hypotheses and test them. Find your future customers and the content around your industry, including that of competitors. You might need to adjust your plan if you can’t find real-world examples.

Here are some considerations for each of the top social networks.

1. Facebook: A powerful platform with 3 billion users for reaching a wide audience. Personalized advertising options lead to effective campaigns. The algorithm showcases content to interested users, ensuring targeted outreach.

2. Instagram (IG): Popular among the under-34 demographic (70% of users); ideal for visual-focused businesses like fashion, food, or travel. Showcase products through captivating images and videos. Use relevant hashtags to expand reach and consider creating new ones.

Social networks by age group among U.S. users - Edison Research
Top social network by age group among U.S. users (via Edison Research)

3. Twitter (now “X”): Directly engage with your audience and provide customer service through succinct tweets. Perfect for news sharing and conversations. Limit the use of hashtags and posting links to your site for increased reach.

4. TikTok: Fast-growing platform for creative video content. Engage younger audiences by following trends and using popular audio, hashtags, and influencer collaborations. Showcase brand through entertaining content that aligns with trends.

We recommend using Instagram and TikTok for consumer brands; there are some cases when B2B brands can excel on them, but it’s more difficult. 

If you serve professionals or B2B clients, LinkedIn is your best bet. It’s great for long-form content and for engaging with others, and it skews heavily on sales and marketing. You can network, share industry insights, and establish your business as a leader. 

Twitter is generally an effective channel for sharing company updates, but true brand-building tends to revolve around individual personalities rather than corporate brands. 

Top social networks B2B marketers used- CMI
Top social media platforms B2B marketers used (via CMI)

Step 3. Creating engaging social media content

When you plan your social media strategy, focus on creating exciting content that people will want to share because the content is vital in social media marketing. But what exactly does engaging content look like? 

Let’s explore some types of content that you can share on social media to captivate your audience.

Types of social media content

FormatDescriptionBenefits and Tips
ImagesHigh-quality visuals catch the audience’s eye and convey emotions or messagesSpark interest, stop scrolling, and evoke emotions; select/edit images aligning with the brand and audience
VideosShort, engaging videos tell stories, showcase products/services, and connect personally with the audienceCapture attention, engage viewers, and provide tutorials or testimonials; optimize for mobile and add captions
Blog PostsShare in-depth articles to drive traffic and position the brand as an industry thought leaderShowcase expertise, provide insights, and establish credibility; craft intriguing captions for higher clicks
InfographicsVisual representations of complex data or information that captivates the viewer’s attentionEasily digestible insights perform well on visual platforms
Customer MediaShare user-generated content to build trust and create a sense of communityHumanize the brand, show social proof, and encourage sharing

Now, let’s dive into greater detail.

  • Images: High-quality images can spark interest and increase engagement. An appealing image can catch the eye of your audience and make them stop scrolling. Images of a beautiful landscape or a delicious dish can convey a message and evoke emotions. Take the time to select and edit your pictures to ensure they align with your brand and resonate with your target audience.
  • Videos: With mobile video consumption rising, creating short, engaging videos can help you reach a larger audience. Videos allow you to tell a story, showcase your products or services, and connect personally with your audience. 

Videos can capture attention and keep your audience engaged. They can show behind the scenes of your business, provide tutorials, or share customer testimonials. Remember to optimize your video content for mobile viewing and include captions for those who prefer to watch without sound.

  • Blog Posts: Sharing blog posts from your website can drive traffic and position your brand as a thought leader in your industry. Blog posts provide an opportunity to dive deeper into topics that are relevant to your audience. They allow you to showcase your expertise, provide valuable insights, and establish credibility. 

When you share blog posts on social media, create interesting captions that make people want to click and read the entire article. Consider adding a captivating excerpt or a thought-provoking story to build interest and curiosity.

  • Infographics: Infographics condense complex information into easily digestible, visually engaging formats. They can communicate insights, data, processes, and more in a manner that holds the viewer’s attention. Infographics perform incredibly well on visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
  • Customer Media: Build trust by showing user-generated content and social proof. This will create a sense of community and give your brand a more authentic, human voice. Make it easy for fans to tag and share their experiences with your brand on social media.

When you’re posting on social media, here are some tips to bear in mind.

  • Keep it simple. Short and clear messages work best because people’s attention spans are really short these days. Make sure you focus on one main point in each post.
  • Call to action. Don’t forget to ask people to do something after they read your post, like asking them to comment or share. This is known as a “call to action.” Just give them a little nudge to get involved.
  • Hashtags can be tricky. They were once a staple of social media to reach and connect you with more people, but hashtags aren’t as helpful anymore. Hashtags tend to reduce reach and engagement on Twitter. Proceed with caution when using hashtags, and be aware of less flattering interpretations.

Related: 10 Ways to Spark Social Media Conversations (with Examples)

Step 4. Scheduling and posting your social media content

At a tactical level, knowing your publishing schedule allows you and your team to make decisions faster. You will know the volume of the content, the tools, and the resources you’ll need. 

But it’s not just about randomly throwing your content out there. Think through when and what you’ll post to stand out to your target audience. 

When is the best time to post on different platforms? 

Well, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. The ideal posting time can vary depending on the platform and your specific audience. However, here are some pointers to get started.

Best times to publish on social media

Social Media PlatformBest TimeBest Day(s)Worst Day 
Facebook9 a.m. – 11 a.m.Wednesday, Thursday, and FridaySaturday
Twitter9 a.m. – 12 p.m.WednesdaySaturday
Instagram11 a.m. – 2 p.m.TuesdaySunday 
LinkedIn9 a.m. – 2 p.m.Wednesday and ThursdaySunday
  • Weekday mornings and afternoons are the best times to post on Facebook. Most people take a break from work or school and scroll through their newsfeeds between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
  • Weekday mornings and afternoons are the best times to post on Twitter. This is likely when people take lunch or quick work breaks.
  • People are most active on Instagram weekdays in the late afternoon and early evening. Posting between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. can help you get more likes and comments on your social media posts.
  • Posting content on LinkedIn during business hours performs better than on weekends. The best times to post are usually between 9 a.m. and early afternoon until 2 p.m. Only post on weekends or late evenings when professionals are less active.

Related: Noteworthy Social Media Trends for Business Growth in 2023

Step 5. Using social media management tools

As a part of a well-rounded social media plan, consider the following elements and workflows.

1. Feedback Handling

  • Negative Feedback: Have negative response templates ready to respond to unhappy customers. Keep feedback polite and try to resolve issues.
  • Positive Feedback: Acknowledge and thank people for their kind words. These positive response templates boost your online image.
  • Crisis Management: Prepare a plan for handling unexpected issues or controversies. Swift and transparent communication is key.
  • Escalation: Identify who should deal with serious matters. If something needs urgent attention, know who to bring it to.

2. Reporting and Analytics

  • What to Measure: Define the social media metrics to be tracked, such as engagement (likes, shares, comments), reach, and click-through rates. These show how well your content is performing.
  • Sharing Results: Share these analytics with your team regularly, as they help everyone to understand what’s working and what might need tweaking. It might be helpful to share with other business leaders as well. 

3. Access and Content Removal

  • Access Control: Limit who can post on social media from your team. Not everyone needs access.
  • New Content: Provide a pathway for internal team members to request or suggest new content to be sent out. Rather than operating like an order taker, consider these as a starting point to collaborate with them to create a successful campaign. 
  • Content Removal: Have a clear protocol for removing inappropriate or outdated content. Quick action helps uphold a positive image. Juggling different social media sites can feel like a lot, especially without a proper workflow. That’s where social media management tools like Nextiva come in handy.
Social media management software by Nextiva
Social media management software by Nextiva 

These tools can make scheduling and posting content on many social media channels easier. You can make a calendar for your social media content, then schedule your posts in advance and automatically dispatch them at the best times for more reach and engagement.

In addition, these tools provide valuable data and information to track audience growth, engagement rates, and which types of content perform best. This data can steer your future social media marketing strategy and help you make data-driven decisions.

Related: Social Media Management: What It Is and How to Do It Well

Step 6. Measuring and adjusting your social media plan

Reviewing your social media performance can help you meet your objectives. When setting goals, think about the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your dreams. To generate leads, track click-through rate, conversion rate, and cost per lead.

Monitor and use this data to tweak and adjust your social media marketing plan. To see if your strategies work, compare your social media metrics to benchmarks. To improve your social media marketing, track KPIs and compare them to your goals.

Nextiva simplifies social media performance tracking
Nextiva simplifies social media performance tracking

Generally, measuring engagement, follower, and click-through rates can show how well you’re doing on social media. These metrics show how well your social media marketing works to catch and keep your audience’s attention.

  • Engagement rate. This metric gauges audience interaction with your content, including likes, comments, shares, and clicks. It reflects the content’s resonance and interaction.
  • Follower growth. This signifies growth in your social media reach, indicating the effectiveness of your strategy in attracting new followers and expanding reach. SocialInsider benchmarked the average engagement across the top four social media platforms. TikTok had the highest engagement rate at 4.25%. The rate is more than 400% higher than other platforms.
TikTok has up to four times higher engagement than Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter - SocialInsider
TikTok has up to four times higher engagement than Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (via SocialInsider)
  • The click-through rate (CTR). It measures call-to-action clicks in social media posts, indicating successful traffic redirection. Monitoring the CTR enables evaluation of the call-to-action effectiveness and aids in optimization for improved outcomes. As a tip, not every social media post must drive clicks—it’s best to optimize your message on social media platforms. 

Luckily, social media analytics tools make it easier to report on these metrics. 

These tools show how well your social media is doing and let you efficiently study your data. They provide reports and visuals that help you see trends, find opportunities, and track progress.

Related: Best Brands on Social Media: 10 Inspiring Examples to Follow

Charting Your Own Path to Social Media Success

Now that you know how to make a good social media plan, you can create a strong brand that stands out from your competitors. It’s a lot of work — from creating great content, planning out publishing, and setting goals to connecting with your audience. 

The fusion of creativity and data-driven insights paves the way for sustainable growth. Remember, social media is ever-changing, so stay innovative, fresh, and willing to learn. 

Ready for a social media workflow tune-up? See how our social media management tool helps nimble marketing and support teams stay on top of social media. Check it out today!

Joe Manna


Joe Manna

Joe Manna was a senior content marketing manager at Nextiva. He blends his marketing acumen and deep technical background to improve people's lives with technology. His expertise helps companies large and small serve more customers. He enjoys a rich iced latte and a non-fiction business book when he's not pressing words.

Posts from this author
Call badge icon