Lately, a number of marketers with “Social Media” in their title have posed questions online about having a plan for their social media marketing efforts.  One marketer asked if a social media plan should look like a marketing plan or an SEO plan.  The answer is “yes” and “yes.”

Because why would the steps or format of a plan for social media be any different than a plan for any other area of marketing?

In my undergraduate Internet Marketing class, we’ve spent the semester covering the various specialty areas of Internet Marketing:  website design, SEO, PPC, Email marketing, digital public relations, blogs, podcasts and videos, mobile marketing — and social media.   So far, we’ve written plans for 6 of these areas, with 3 more to go.  And EVERY plan basically includes the same key sections:

1.  What objectives are we trying to accomplish?

2. What’s the current situation — what’s our client currently doing in this area, and what are competitors doing.  (Specifically for social media: Is the brand being mentioned online?  What is their current social media audience on each platform?  Which posts have generated the most interaction?  Which posts have been shared?  Which posts have driven the most traffic?)

3.  What strategies do we recommend for achieving the particular objectives?  What are the best practices we should use in each area?

4.  What action items are recommended to fulfill these strategies?  What types of content and posts are needed?  What should we test?  Should we use paid posts as well as organic posts?  For paid posts, how should we target and test?

5.   How will we measure success?

6.  What’s the timeframe for each action item?  When will we re-evaluate the current strategy?

7.  What’s the cost (if any) for each action item?

Social Media Marketing is part of Marketing — and having a plan BEFORE you jump in, as with any other use of your time and money, is the best way to proceed.  MarketingSherpa found that 33% of companies had jumped into social media without a plan, 40% tried it with few results, and 23% decided they needed a plan first.   Why don’t 100% of marketers know that you have a much better shot of getting where you want to go if you first create a plan to get there?

Do you have a plan for your social media efforts?