We know a marketing plan sounds like a big scary undertaking, something you and your team have to spend hours (perhaps even days) you don’t have ruminating and refining, but honestly, it doesn’t need to be like that!
If you’re a small business with a limited time and budget, then your marketing plan doesn’t have to be a huge document, and it certainly doesn’t have to be something you stress out about.
Because even a simple set of guidelines, targets and objectives you’ve agreed will help you a lot when it comes to escalating your social media presence.
Indeed, the key point here is not that a marketing plan needs to be complicated or ground-breaking when it comes to social media success – just that you need one!
And need one you do, because without at least a basic plan, it’s really going to be hard to know what messages you are putting out into the world of digital marketing, who they’re aimed at and what you’re trying to achieve.
If you’re still not convinced, or if at least you’re still not quite sure, then here are our top 7 reasons why a marketing plan (even just a simple one) is crucial for your social media success as a small business…
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#1 Gives You Aims and Targets
So first up, the key reason why you need even a bare-bones marketing plan in order to achieve social media success is because, without some sort of strategy, it’s pretty impossible to know what your aims and targets are, both in terms of social media and your business more widely.
A marketing plan should help you define these goals more clearly and concisely – reminding you where you want your business to head, how you’re going to get there and what measures of success you’ll use to judge the journey.
Yes, any basic marketing plan should list most of your aims and targets, which might be in terms of sales figures, increased exposure, a growing network, new subscribers or better partnerships.
Whatever the aims and targets you list in your marketing plan, it’s likely they’ll be predominantly based around your business strategy as a whole, but can also be used to shape your social media strategy.
Indeed, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the goals of your marketing plan and social strategy should be aligned; with the former both helping, and feeding into, the goals of the latter.
Having a marketing plan that lists aims and targets, which can help shape and align goals and objectives when it comes to your social media, will be crucial in your success.
Furthermore, knowing where you’re heading (and trying to get to) will also be pretty crucial for gaining the results you want across all digital marketing platforms.
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#2 Gives Direction to Your Content
Once you know where you’re headed in terms of goals and aims, it then becomes a lot easier to work out the direction your social media content should take.
Essentially, you want to make sure that all your content is tracking towards the goals you laid down – both within your social media strategy and then, more broadly, within your overall marketing plan as well.
In this way, a top-level marketing strategy, even in its simplest form, will help shape your direction on social media, especially in terms of what you choose to post and why.
This may include the type of content, the messaging, the frequency, the time you post, as well as the words, images and colours you use.
In essence, the whole thrust of what you create and showcase on social should be informed by a marketing plan if it’s going to help you track towards your goals and bring you the largest degree of success.
A marketing plan will help bring direction and shape to your social media content, ensuring it stays onbrand and showcases both a clear and direct purpose.
#3 Defines Your Audience
And part of this very clear purpose is who your social media content is speaking to.
In other words, who are you trying to reach with your content, who is it designed for?
Any marketing plan, even in its most basic form, should define the target audience for your company (or the audiences, if you have more than one product or service).
Knowing this will then greatly help your social media success, as your content can become more targeted both when being designed and executed.
This will greatly impact your success, as you’ll know who you are trying to reach with your social media content and why.
This will also help you market your brand better to your chosen audiences and make your social media presence more refined and relevant.
With a clear customer in mind, you’ll also be able to chart your success on social media more easily – analysing and monitoring whether you are, in fact, reaching the audience you intend to.
#4 Defines Your Voice
But it’s not just who you are trying to reach on social media that a marketing plan will help you ascertain, you’ll also be able to define more clearly how you want to reach them and in what ways you want to put your message across.
This largely comes down to your communication style, i.e. the tone and voice your brand will adopt when speaking to their customer base.
Is this voice professional and corporate? Light-hearted and upbeat? Humourous and jovial? Authoritative and commanding?
There’s many possibilities here, and all are valid, but you need to choose the best approach for your brand and its aims, and script that, accordingly, into your marketing plan too.
Having this on paper and clear in your mind, will help inform the way you communicate with your audience across all social media platforms – ensuring your voice is consistent and clear.
This will, of course, not only help build your social media community inline with your aims and targets, but also help build your brand cohesion and integrity, letting your audience know what you stand for and why.
#5 Clarifies Your Message & Purpose
As we’ve just covered, a marketing plan will help you define who you want to speak to on social media, as well as how you want to speak to those people.
However, we can’t forget the other key thing that a marketing plan will also help inform – that is the message you are putting across (on social media) too.
In essence, your message relates to what you are saying through your content, rather than who you are saying it to (audience) and how you are saying it (voice).
Having this spelt-out in your marketing plan will be of huge benefit to your social media content, as you’ll know exactly what you’re trying to say with each content piece that goes out, as well as how this feeds into your overall purpose for the platform.
Because, at the heart of any marketing plan, should really be your brand purpose – that is your reason for existing (beyond profits of course!)
Your brand purpose is the driver behind your business and all the decisions you take. It’s the plumb line everything feeds back into.
At the core of your marketing plan, your brand purpose will inform all of your marketing material, including your social media content, giving your presence on these platforms a strategic relevance and meaning.
#6 Clarifies How You Want to Portray Your Brand
And along with a strategic purpose and meaning, your marketing plan will also help you define how you want your brand to be portrayed, including across social media.
From logo and profile images, to about information as well as any brand colours, fonts and standard descriptors, having this standardised in a marketing plan is crucial for ensuring your social media presence reflects your brand in every way.
Having everything consolidated and cohesive will also help you look professional and ensure your social media accounts impart the right messages to the right people in the right way, leading you to the right aims and outcomes.
#7 Allows You to Monitor & Track
And, talking of aims and outcomes (and going almost full circle to where we started!) a marketing plan that makes these clear, will also allow you to track and monitor your success.
After all, if you don’t know what you’re aiming for or where you’re trying to head to, how can you successfully ascertain whether you are moving in the right direction?
Having specific, quantifiable goals in your marketing plan will allow you to then craft clear goals for your social media strategy too.
In turn, this will help you set out markers that will allow you to chart and track your progress as well.
With stipulated goals, you’ll be monitoring your outcomes in line with specific definitions of success, making them effective and meaningful, rather than arbitrary.
You’ll also know which markers within social media hold greater value for you – be that increased follower numbers, higher rates of engagement, greater clickthroughs to your website, increased brand awareness, elevated lead data or better sales figures.
Not all of these are applicable to every business and their aims, so ensuring you know which are a priority for your business will then help you track and measure your social media success in a much more meaningful way.
The What, When, How & Why
And finally, we come to the last entry on this list of why a marketing plan is so crucial for your social media success.
This point draws together the overarching theme of the article, which is that, in essence, an overall marketing plan will help you craft a social media strategy, which is the primary way to gauge and achieve success on these platforms.
After all, success is a fluid term, so unless you know what it looks like for your business, how can you ascertain if you’ve reached it?
A social media strategy, derived from a simple but clear marketing plan will help you do this; giving shape and providing a purpose to all the content and work you conduct on each platform.
After all, as we all know, social media can be a massive time drain and posting things randomly, without a cohesive strategy behind them, is absolutely the fastest way to spend a lot of time on these digital marketing platforms without seeing a lot of success.
Essentially, a marketing plan allows you to map out the “what, when, how and why” of a social media game plan.
In its most basic form, this amounts to… what content are you going to post? when are you posting it? how and where are you posting? and who is posting it?
With these most basic of elements in place, your success on social media just took a huge leap forward!
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So there you have it, our top 7 reasons why a marketing plan is crucial to your social media success.
As we said at the beginning of this article, this really doesn’t have to be an over-complicated and deeply sophisticated document – we know that puts a lot of small businesses off.
However, even having a simple set of marketing guidelines about what your purpose is, what you want to achieve and how, can put you in a much stronger position to level up in the world of social media.
Hope that’s been helpful guys!
If you need any help developing your brand guidelines, overall marketing plan or a social media strategy, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at [email protected]