7 Steps to Create the Perfect Social Media Plan for Your Brand

The Loomly Team

Social media marketing can be a tough nut to crack, but there’s one thing that successful brands use, and that’s a social media plan.

Building a strong brand is a long-term process, and a social media plan is critical to your social media marketing efforts and overall growth strategy.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to create the perfect social media plan so that your brand consistently shares its authentic story through high-quality content.

Your free social media plan template is included at the end of this guide: make sure to scroll down and grab your copy.

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What is a Social Media Plan?

A social media plan is a comprehensive overview of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on social media, including your:

  • Business goals and objectives
  • Social media content
  • Approval workflows
  • Performance measurement and analysis

For example, here’s a snapshot of the CMI social media channel plan:

social media plan cmi example

It includes the following sections:

  • Channel – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Purpose – Target audience, goals
  • Editorial – Featured topics, cadence, content formats, tone/voice, and resources.
  • MeasurementKPIs to measure content performance against goals.

Why Your Brand Needs a Social Media Plan

A social media plan is essential to ensure the success of your overall social media marketing efforts.

A social media plan ensures your brand:

  • Maintains a consistent posting schedule across social media channels.
  • Creates content ahead of time that tells a consistent story.
    • (Avoids any last-minute dashes to find relevant content to share.)
  • Publishes only on-brand, proofread, appropriate, compliant content.

In short, an effective social media plan helps your brand work more efficiently and publish high-quality content at the right time.

How to Create a Social Media Plan in 7 Simple Steps

Now you understand the importance of having a social media plan, it’s time to create one following these seven simple steps:

  1. Set your goals and objectives
  2. Prepare your publishing schedule
  3. Fill your calendar with content ideas
  4. Create and customize content for each social network
  5. Review, approve, and schedule your content
  6. Engage with your audience
  7. Measure and adjust your plan

Step 1: Set your goals and objectives

The first step is to set your business goals, target market, brand identity, and editorial line.

1. Establish your business goals

Always start by setting your business goals so you can measure your success and return on investment (ROI).

  • Objectives define what and where you want to go.
  • Goals define how and when you will get there.

Some examples of social media goals and objectives include:

But these goals must help you achieve your overall business and marketing goals. For example:

  • Business: increase customers
    • Marketing: increase leads and conversions
      • Social media: increase followers and engagement

Once you decide on your goals, add some specific metrics so you can measure their success. For example, if you were using Instagram to increase followers and engagement, you might use:

  • Followers – Increase the number of Instagram followers by 5% in Q1.
  • Engagement – Increase the number of likes, comments, and shares on Instagram posts by 10% in Q1.

2. Define your target market

Next, you’ll want to define your target market. Knowing who your audience is and what they like determines what type of content to create.

Research your audience demographics and your competitors so that you know:

  • Age ranges
  • Gender breakdown
  • Geographic location
  • Competition in your market

3. Maintain your brand identity

Your brand identity is formed by elements such as color, design, typography, and logos that combine to make your brand instantly recognizable. Plus, the writing, audio, and video styles in your content.

One place you can maintain your brand identity is in social media profiles. You can create the same identity on each social platform. For example, look how PlayStation uses the same handle, colors, logos, and description:

social media plan maintain brand identity playstation example facebook

social media plan maintain brand identity playstation example twitter

social media plan maintain brand identity playstation example instagram

4. Craft your editorial line

You can craft your editorial line by answering a few simple questions:

  • Personas: Who are you publishing for?
  • Themes: What topics do you want to cover and avoid?
  • Hashtags: Which hashtags do you want to use? e.g. branded, popular, etc.
  • Angle: What style do you want to use? e.g. educational, informative, entertaining, etc.
  • Voice: Who is “speaking” in your posts?
  • Tone: How do you want to address your audience? e.g. assertively, collaboratively, etc.

Step 2: Prepare your publishing schedule

The second step is all about planning your content ahead of time so that you can tell a consistent brand story. The last thing you want is to be rushing around at the last minute, desperately searching for something to post. That won’t work.

Planning your content also ensures you keep a regular schedule. It’s better to publish one high-quality post each day rather than going berserk with 5 posts one day, nothing for three days, followed by another couple of random posts. When you publish regularly, your audience knows when to expect your next post.

You can either plan your content in a tool like Airtable, a spreadsheet template, or a professional, dedicated calendar, such as Loomly.

1. Determine your editorial cadence

Editorial calendars are typically set up on either a monthly or weekly cycle:

  • Monthly calendars can help batch content work together to get a lot done faster.
  • Weekly calendars can help you quickly pivot and adjust as you adapt to new trends more frequently.

Choose the cadence that best fits your team’s requirements.

2. Define your approval workflow

Your social media workflow should cover the process of reviewing and approving content before it’s published, to make sure the right post gets published at the right time, in the right place, by the right person.

3. Choose your social channels

When you’re deciding what social media channels to use, you need to consider which ones will help you achieve your business goals and which networks your target audience uses.

Hint: You don’t have to be on every channel!

A useful starting place for a side-by-side comparison of social media demographics is the Pew Research data:

social media plan prepare publishing schedule select channels

4. Decide your publishing frequency

Next, you’ll want to decide how often you’re going to publish content. This can vary from platform to platform, so, for example, you might want to post three times a day on Twitter and once a day on Facebook.

In general, more posts are better to keep your audience engaged. But, as mentioned earlier, we highly recommend focusing on how many high-quality posts you can commit to posting every week or every month.

Step 3: Fill your calendar with content ideas

With your editorial cadence and publishing frequency defined, you can start filling your calendar with post ideas:

1. Enter important dates for your brand

Start by listing events that are important to your brand and your audience, such as:

  • Product releases, sales promotions, and special events.
  • Brand or company milestones such as anniversaries, achievements, and awards.
  • Major holidays and events in your industry/niche.

2. Select the best publishing days per channel

After you’ve added fixed dates, you need to consider the best days to publish your other content.

Based on proprietary research and third-party studies, and more importantly, your own experience, select the best publishing days per social media channel.

3. Fill in the gaps with evergreen ideas

Finally, fill in the remaining gaps with evergreen ideas. For example, you could:

  • Feature user-generated content
  • Curate relevant content
  • Replicate previous high-performing posts
  • Repurpose competitors’ content ideas
  • Include social media trending topics
Loomly Tip: You can leverage Loomly’s built-in Post Ideas feature to fill your social media calendar. From Twitter Trends to RSS feeds, date-based events, and evergreen advice, you will never run out of inspiration.

Step 4: Create and customize content for each social network

The next step in your social media plan is to allocate time and resources for creating content. You’ll also need to allow time for customizing content for each of your chosen social networks.

1. Assign the publishing time

You’ve already decided on topics and dates for your content, but the final tweak is to select the best publishing time for each social network. You can base this on your previous publishing experience, plus other proprietary research and third-party studies.

For example, you might decide it’s best to publish on Facebook at 09:00 and Twitter at 12:30 and 17:00.

social media plan best time to publish on social media

2. Craft your copy

When you’re crafting the copy for your social media posts, you’ll need to consider a few core components, such as the words, links, mentions, hashtags, and emojis.

You’ll also need to customize each post to fit each social network’s technical limitations, community best practices, and audience expectations.

For example, if you plan to post the same content on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you could have a base version for Facebook, a short and snappy version for Twitter, and a longer, more formal version for LinkedIn.

Loomly Tip: When you create a post in Loomly for multiple social networks, you can define some generic content that will be applied by default to all channels, and then customize that generic content for each platform.

3. Create your visual assets

Alongside the copy, you’ll need to create your visual assets, such as:

  • Photos: Static images and animated GIFs are great to convey an instant message.
  • Videos: Uploaded files, Live presentations, and Stories share more information in an accessible format.
  • A combination of the above: Slideshows, albums, and carousels encourage your audience to interact with your content.

All of these visual assets could be original material, user-generated content, or stock images. But either way, plan to store them in a central repository for your team to access now and in future posts.

Loomly Tip: You can store, organize, and use photos, videos, notes, links, and post templates in Loomly’s built-in Library Asset View.

Step 5: Review, approve, and schedule your content

Your social media plan is taking shape, but before any content gets published, you’ll want to ensure it’s been reviewed and approved.

The size of your organization will determine who needs to be involved in the review and approval process.

For instance, you might have a cross-functional team involving professionals from all departments in the company:

  • Sales: to check the correctness of any sales messages.
  • Product: to check the accuracy of product information.
  • HR: to ensure the updates are in line with company policy.
  • Finance: to ensure there are no budget issues.
  • Legal: to ensure there are no liability issues.
  • Third-Parties: any clients, agencies, or contractors you may be working with.

Whatever size team you use, make sure everyone knows what tasks they’re responsible for and allow ample time for reviewing, approving, and potential editing.

1. Review your posts

Reviewers need to have a clear preview of the post – including text and visuals – as it will appear on each social network, so they can confidently sign it off.

Loomly Tip: Loomly automatically generates Posts Mockups for you and your team before you hit publish.

2. Approve your posts

Approvers need to check your posts for:

  • Consistency with brand values (message).
  • Compliance with brand guidelines (format).
  • Alignment with brand strategy (goals).
  • Any potential contextual risk (trending news).
  • Typos and grammar errors (image).

Ideally, you want an approval system that allows you to keep track of team feedback, save post changes, and make collaborators accountable for their actions.

Loomly Tip: Loomly offers an end-to-end collaborative review workflow including approval statuses, commenting system, and version history.

3. Schedule your posts

Once your posts have been reviewed and approved, you can schedule them for the planned publishing date and time.

Scheduling your posts in advance ensures they get published at the correct time. Instead of constantly checking your calendar for notifications and prompts, you can focus on planning and creating quality content for your next cadence.

Loomly Tip: Loomly includes a built-in scheduler that allows you to automatically schedule your posts once they’re approved, and saves you copying and pasting from spreadsheets.

Step 6: Engage with your audience

Having planned, prepared, and published your content, it would be easy to miss this next step.

But social media is all about dialogue. No other marketing channel allows you to engage in direct conversation with your prospects and customers. So make sure you build time into your social media plan for interacting with your community.

  • If you’re using social media for customer service, you’ll definitely want to focus on quick response times, so customers are not left hanging around.
  • If one of your goals is to build a community, you’ll want to proactively like and share your member’s content.

The more open and transparent your interactions, the more customers trust you.

Step 7: Measure and adjust your plan

The final step is to measure the response of your audience to the content you publish.

Tracking performance metrics helps you identify what did and didn’t resonate with your audience so that you can fine-tune your content next time.

It also gives you a way to determine whether you’re achieving your business goals and objectives.

Some of the most important social media metrics include:

  • Engagement: Likes, comments, shares, and clicks.
  • Awareness: Impressions and reach.
  • Share of voice: Volume and sentiment.
  • Customer acquisition: Referrals and conversions.
  • Customer care: Response rate and time.

Whether you use each platform’s built-in analytics or a dedicated analytics tool, you should get pointers about:

  • Where to post: Are there social networks where your content performs significantly better than others?
  • When to post: Is there a pattern in terms of days of the week and times of the day when posts perform significantly better than others?
  • What to post about: Are there topics, themes, subjects that your audience visibly enjoys and engage with more than others?
  • How to post: Does your audience tend to interact more with certain types of content, such as photos, videos, stories, or slideshows?
  • Who to post for: Looking at your audience’s demographics, are you able to identify patterns between fans and followers who consistently engage with your posts?
Loomly Tip: Loomly’s Advanced Analytics features provide you with Account, Post, and Link metrics to measure your brand’s performance.

The bottom line:

Measure what content your audience likes (and dislikes) and leverage those insights when planning new content in your next publishing cycle.

Your social media plan should be based on a cycle of continuous improvement where you plan, execute, measure, and fine-tune your content to achieve your goals.

Free Social Media Plan Template

It can come in a variety of shapes and forms:

  • If you like to work locally on your desktop/laptop, here is your free social media plan template in .xlsx format.
  • If you like to work online, here is your free social media plan template as an editable Google Doc file.

Creating a Social Media Plan, in a Nutshell

Creating a social media plan is critical to the success of your overall social media marketing efforts. It ensures your brand:

  • Maintains a consistent posting schedule across social media channels.
  • Creates content ahead of time that tells a consistent story.
  • Publishes only on-brand, proofread, appropriate, and compliant content.

An effective social media plan will help your brand work more efficiently and move your audience towards your business goals.

Loomly is the Brand Success Platform that helps your marketing team develop & implement a solid social media plan: start your 15-day free trial now.