Does Your Social Media Plan Tell A Story?

A social media plan is a strategy document but also a selling document that usually takes the form of a written report and a presentation. One of the most effective forms of written and oral communication is story. Before a social media plan can help a brand sell, it has to be sold.

Below is an outline of the main parts of a social media strategy placed on a dramatic arc to ensure you are telling a compelling story to your client or boss. Take them on a journey of discovery of how your solution will help them overcome a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Make their brand the hero against competitors to meet real business objectives.

Social Media Plan Outline Template Strategy Story and StorytellingAct 1 Introduction/Exposition: This is where you introduce the background of the brand, their history and mission. The client or your boss obviously knows this, but you are letting them know you know and making sure you are all starting from the same setting such as, “Open on a hundred year old company founded on the values of …”

Additional context comes in explaining the industry including latest trends and main competitors. Identifying the main competitor establishes the antagonist. Most businesses have someone they are trying to catch up to or keep from catching them.

Complete the exposition of the story by describing who the brand is trying to reach. A well-defined target audience is a key to success. Understanding the perspective and motivations of the target is important as most clients are not themselves in the target market.

Act 2 Rising Action/Conflict: This is where you spell out the conflict of the story. There is usually an inciting situation – the reason they need a new strategy. Often the incitement is something getting in the way of business objectives or something that can help the brand reach those objectives.

Clearly identifying the problem or opportunity ensures that you and the client are working towards the same end goal. Making this a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound objective ensures from the beginning that your plan will be able to be measured for success against what the client cares about most.

Reporting the results of a social media audit adds additional context but also adds complications. The results of the social audit often reveals unexpected insights that conflict with current beliefs and/or strategies. The truth of these complications can raise tensions and anxieties as anticipation builds for a solution.

Act 3 Climax/Turning Point: This is where the climax or turning point of the plan happens. The high point of the plan and your presentation should be the reveal of the big idea that is going to solve the problem or seize the opportunity against the competitor.

Don’t just reveal it – sell it. Explain how the idea is more than creative. Point out how it is also a strategic solution. Describe how the research insights from everything before this part of the plan led to the big idea as the solution. This is the turning point, because the solution has been revealed and everything after this is result of that solution.

Act 4 Falling Action/Results: This is where the results of the research and insights and the big idea play out in specific social media actions. Recommend how the brand’s social media presence should change. Which social media platforms are ideal for the big idea, message and target audience? Which social media platforms need to be left behind? How does paid social media play a role?

Also explain how the social media idea integrates with current marketing efforts and other forms of traditional marketing promotion such as advertising and public relations. Show the full potential of the solution by explaining how social media can integrate with other areas of the business such as operations, R&D, human resources, customer service or sales.

The last action of the big idea should be examples. Paint a picture of what the strategy will really look like. Show the client sample content posts in each of the selected social media channels. Prove the solution works with a multi-channel social media strategy.

Act 5 Resolution/Denouement: The conflict is resolved. The client can now see the victory over the competitor. The final resolution is given and any remaining tension of not knowing how to solve the problem is released with a tying up of loose ends.

The final outcome includes a content calendar that shows when, where and how the plan will take place across the various social media platforms. A sample social media content calendar can be a great start.

Complete the path to their goal by explaining how success will be measured. This can be demonstrated through a social media metrics table that clearly links social media specific platform metrics to the business objectives established in the beginning of the plan.

The last loose end is cost. Let them know a how much the solution will cost. A social media budget template can help estimate these costs. The solution is made clear as the story ends and you have told the story of their future success. What is the unique plot of your plan?

16 Free Tools for Digital and Social Media Marketing.

Are you looking for ways to improve and practice digital and social media marketing? Below is a list of valuable free online tools you can use now to test and learn various digital and social media strategies and tactics.

1. Google Trends (trends.google.com/trends). You can use Google Trends to identify topic ideas for blogs, websites, social media posts or other online digital content. Brainstorm ideas and then use Google Trends to compare topic options and to optimize content subjects. Look for data such as interest over time, interest by region, related topics, and related queries by category and type of search (Image, Video, News, Shopping).

2. Hemingway App (hemingwayapp.com). Clear, concise, and easy to read copy is essential to effective online writing for websites, email, social media posts and content marketing. Copy and paste your writing into this tool to identify areas for improvement including sentence readability, complicated phrases and words, over use of adverbs and adjectives, and passive voice. This can be great in a draft stage, but be careful not to lose your voice by over simplifying. You don’t have to follow all the recommendations.

3. SEO Analyzer (neilpatel.com/seo-analyzer). Search Engine Optimization is important to draw search traffic to your online content. This tool analyzes an existing website and up to two competitors. It provides scores and recommendations in key areas such as keywords, key phrases (long tail), alt tags, heading tags, meta descriptions, speed, back links, and indexed pages.

4. Google Competitor Research (www.google.com). Search marketing is important to digital strategy. Get insight into keywords and ad copy with competitor research in Google search. First, try different keyword phrases to determine which are used when people are looking to buy (commercial intent) or to learn about a topic (informational intent). Next, get alternative keyword ideas by scrolling to the bottom to see “Searches related to …” Then, view the ad formats, copy and landing pages competitors are using. For more see Gary Victory’s post on the Kissmetrics Blog.

5. Answer The Public (answerthepublic.com). The challenge of Content Marketing and Public Relations is to know what to create. Answer the Public provides auto suggest results based on Google and Bing data. Enter a keyword and get questions people are asking based on the Five Ws of journalism and more (who, what, where, when, why, how, are, can, will). It also provides lists of related prepositions, comparisons and topics. There is a graphical interface and you can download results in a CSV file.

6. Zurmo (demo.zurmo.com/demos/stable/app/index.php/zurmo/default/login). Customer Relationship Management holds other digital efforts together. Have you wondered what it is like to work within an online CRM system if you don’t have one? Zurmo provides a live demo of their open source CRM application with social integration. Filled with test data, you can find an active customer email list, create a task for a follow up, create an opportunity, schedule a meeting, search a leads list, find opportunities, and add a note to colleagues.

7. Banner Sketch (bannersketch.eu). Display advertising can be an important way to increase sales, improve brand awareness and raise share of voice. Banner Sketch is a free web banner ad generator. Select your size and shape, choose colors and background, enter text and frame, add a border and color, and create the banner. The tool supports both moving (gif) and stationary banners with templates and allows you to upload your own photos.

8. Viral Video Chart (adage.com/section/the-viral-video-chart/674). Viral Advertising Videos can be a successful part of a digital and social media strategy. But how do you know what will go viral? While there are no guarantees you can see what has worked in the past and what is working right now. Ad Age’s Viral Video Chart tracks the weekly top viral videos by total social media views provided by Visible Measures.

9. Headline Analyzer (coschedule.com/headline-analyzer). Headlines drive traffic, shares, search results and opens. Use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to improve headlines for websites, blogs, social media posts and email subject lines. After a free sign up, analysis includes word balance of common, uncommon, emotional and power words. It also analyzes length, keywords and sentiment with suggested improvements and provides Google search and email subject line previews.

10. Likealyzer (likealyzer.com/). Do you want some insights into what works for brands on Facebook? Metlwater has created Likealyzer to analyze Facebook brand performance by front page, about, activity, response and engagement. Scores are provided for each category along with specific recommendations and similar pages for brand competitor comparison. Valuable summaries include posts per day, average post length, pages liked, number of events and number of native videos. Also see response rate, response time, people talking about this, total page likes and engagement rate.

11. Followerwonk (moz.com/followerwonk). Followerwonk is a Twitter tool created by Moz to find, analyze and optimize for social growth. With influencer marketing becoming the fastest growing part of digital and social media this tool can help identify top influencers by bios/profiles. You can also analyze influencer followers and analyze the users they follow. Logging in with your Twitter account provides insights into brand current followers, and provides tracking of new and lost followers.

12. Mobile-Friendly Test (search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly). Are you looking for a simple way to test if your web page is mobile-friendly? Try Google’s mobile-friendly test site. This tool provides a nice preview of what your website looks like on a mobile device. It also provides details on any issues found with suggestions for improvement.

13. SimilarWeb (similarweb.com). SimilarWeb provides a report on any website with estimates on total visits over time by mobile and desktop, average visit duration, pages per visit, bounce rate, and traffic by country. It also provides traffic by source from direct, referrals, search (organic and paid), social, email and display ad. Within each of these categories you get a look at each source by percentage such as websites for referrals and social media channels for social. SimilarWeb also provides audience interests, visited websites and competitor/similar websites.

14. Website Grader (website.grader.com). Website Grader is a tool created by HubSpot to analyze websites for inbound marketing across the categories of performance, SEO, mobile and security. Enter your website and email address and you are sent a customized report for factors such as page size, page requests, and page speed. It also looks at browser caching, page redirects, compression, and render blocking. SEO is analyzed by page titles, meta description, headlines, and site map.

15. Psycho-Demographic Profile (applymagicsauce.com). Personalization is an important strategy in digital and social media. This tool gathers information from your Facebook and Twitter accounts to give you a look at the digital footprints you are leaving and what marketers can predict about you from that data. Get ideas about how to target digital and social media content. But also consider the ethical ramifications of accessing and using this behavioral targeting information.

16. Native Ad Quiz (marketplace.org/2013/12/03/tech/quiz-story-ad). Native Ads have become an important part of digital advertising, content marketing and social media strategy. Test your knowledge in this quiz to determine the difference between journalism stories and advertising stories. Then determine best practices for creating native ads and ensure you follow FTC requirements for native advertising.

These are just some of the free online tools I have found to be helpful. For a more complete and updated list of over 300 free and paid tools and resources see postcontrolmarketing.com/links.